Employee advocacy: unlock this powerful marketing channel

Advocacy drives earned media, and as growing earned media coverage should be part of every content marketing strategy, how to drive advocacy should also be top of mind for every marketer.

Earned media builds awareness and establishes brand trust, so the sharing of content via earned media (beyond your owned and paid media) is what opens up exponential growth in awareness, engagement, and customers.

What is advocacy, and how does it enable earned media?

Advocates are customers, prospects or stakeholders who willingly share their personal endorsement of a product or service, often by recommending it to their network. This kind of public endorsement is earned based on an advocate’s good experience and level of satisfaction.

By successfully identifying and engaging with potential advocates, and then activating them successfully, it is possible to attract and engage more of the right kinds of customers, prospects and stakeholders very efficiently, and at scale via earned media.

Advocacy extends your brand reach, builds more brand awareness, strengthens a brand’s positioning, and can also increase loyalty of existing customers.

Employees are your organisation’s most important stakeholders. Being able to successfully activate employees as advocates should deliver great reach and outcomes from earned media via employees’ networks.

Advocacy from employees in particular should build strong levels of trust in your organisation, brand and products – relatively rapidly. People trust people they know more than they trust ‘faceless’ businesses, so your employees’ public endorsements of your organisation or brand (e.g. via social media) will help you activate earned media in a way that other marketing techniques won’t be able to.

Make advocating easy for your employees

Employees have the audience and trust of their peers. Harnessing that power of social media for your company means that your employees need to get involved.

Here’s how you can help them:

  1. Provide ready-made banners for employees to add to their social media profiles.
  2. Tag employees in social posts so they see the posts and can easily like or share.
  3. When you have posted something on social media that you would like your employees to share, send them the specific link to the post via email or your internal messaging app.
  4. Provide software for your employees that makes advocating quick and easy. Examples include:

Consider starting a dedicated employee advocacy programme

We recommend trialling your employee advocacy programme with your most highly engaged employees initially before pushing it out company-wide. This allows you to test the process and iron out any issues.

Here are the steps to start an advocacy programme:

  1. Set objectives for your advocacy programme. These should be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, timely), and should support the strategic marketing goals of building brand awareness and positioning your brand in the best way.
  2. Create content that can easily be shared by your employees – whether that be social posts, blog content, podcasts, or videos, you need to be able to create and publish a steady flow of content that your employees will want to share as the content is relevant and valuable to their networks.
  3. Set sharing guidelines. Providing a short list of ‘dos and don’ts’ will give your employees confidence to share more as they will feel comfortable about what they’re sharing. You should also communicate to your employees the benefits of sharing content and practical considerations for how they get hold of the content.
  4. Provide training for employees on how to use social media and how best to advocate for your organisation and brand, should they wish to do so.
  5. Share content ideas with your employees on the kinds of things to post and share.
  6. Measure the value of your earned media – once your employees have started sharing the content, you can measure the success from your employees’ efforts. Compare them back to your initial KPIs and SMART goals. Compare how this introduction has increased your revenue or sales.

Employee advocacy is generally overlooked as a great opportunity to slot something compelling and impactful into your marketing. Those who pay attention to this area and execute on employee advocacy well should find their efforts help them stand out from competitors – achieving the all important ‘cut through’ that is so precious in the attention economy of today.

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How to get all the marketing skills you need – when you need them

At a recent Renewd virtual roundtable discussion that I was privileged to chair, we heard from our hugely impressive and inspiring guest speaker Monique Ruff-Bell of TED Conferences.

The overall round-table discussion theme was “Leadership challenges and opportunities in a post-pandemic world”, and during this very dynamic session the following key points really stood out for me:

  1. How important it is for business leaders to really understand the perspectives of those ‘further down’ in the hierarchy of an organisation, especially in roles they themselves have not worked in. Only by trying to put ourselves in their shoes, can we see the value they can offer and how to help them grow and reach their full potential.
  2. How we need to embrace diversity in all its forms if we are to build better businesses, including diversity in ethnicity, religion, gender, personality, and also importantly – how people think, and therefore, communicate.

This got me thinking about a key marketing problem in nearly every business I have encountered over the past 10+ years of consulting and running an agency. And this may well be the biggest thing holding your business back – especially if you are looking to scale profitably.

And here it is…

Many business leaders, most of whom have never held a marketing role, expect the impossible from their marketers. They have never walked in their shoes, or even tried to.

One person is expected to have strong competencies in a wide range of areas that vary greatly and require completely different skill sets and natural strengths. Businesses often expect the same marketing person to be great at copywriting AND tech implementations, or database development AND design, etc. 

Businesses often hire junior, inexperienced people as marketers (because they’re cheap and available), and then don’t provide the support and training these people need to succeed. 

Sometimes they hire more senior and experienced marketers, and because they’re paying them more, expect them to deliver a depth and breadth of tasks simply impossible for one person to handle. They want strategically strong people to also be very good on all things ‘hands on’.

This results in frustration (for all parties) at best, and failure of a marketing function at worst.

To counteract this issue, it is important to recognise the five marketing skill sets that every business needs (see our blog from December 2020), and accept a diverse team of marketing ‘thinkers and doers’ will be needed to deliver all the skills you need.

Some of these marketing skill sets can sometimes be combined into one role – if the person in the role has the experience, aptitude and interest in the relevant areas.

And it is important to recognise that certain elements of marketing, particularly the very technical aspects, are often better outsourced – for three reasons:

  1. Certain types of marketing specialists are scarce to the extreme (especially in data, martech and analytics), so are difficult to hire and retain.
  2. An ‘all in-house’ marketing function that includes all resources and skill sets you need, full time, can become expensive and difficult to manage. Some specialist skill sets and flexible resources needed may best sit externally – to compliment what you have inhouse.
  3. There are some marketing specialists you may not need full time, all year-round. Often to be most effective, a marketing specialist’s work is best focused on specific projects that are time-bound, and with set deliverables. Unless they have a pretty full quota of ‘business as usual’ tasks to work on a daily basis, then project based resourcing, using consultancies, agencies and/or freelancers, may be a better option.

The most successful marketing functions we have seen over the past ten years have found ways of working in a highly collaborative and integrated way with strong external partners – over a long period of time. This has enabled them to easily outsource elements of their marketing as and when needed, and thereby always have access to the best skill sets and a good amount of flex in a stable and scalable hybrid marketing team.

Circling back to the Renewd discussion, it is important for business leaders and marketing leaders to take full responsibility for building diverse and fit-for-purpose marketing teams. They need to walk in their shoes, and see their perspectives when it comes to working out how best to build a strong marketing function.

This includes supporting them in working out what needs to be done inhouse and what should be done by external partners, and then ensuring the right level of executive sponsorship is in place to support the marketing function to succeed.

Want to know more about Renewd and the online round-tables you could join?
Find out more at https://renewd.net/. Join the community with a free basic membership here.

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If you don’t integrate marketing & sales – you can’t grow

Scale requires well integrated sales and marketing.

‘Sales and marketing integration’ feels like one of these jargonny terms that we’ve all started screening out.

It’s over-used in the content marketing pushed out by martech and salestech providers who promise the world – and frustratingly often seem to underdeliver.

Why is that?

Because, the people and process piece is MUCH harder than the tech piece.

While the tech companies are delivering the tools, the ‘people and process’ piece on how best to use them is failing. The teams in the businesses buying and using the tech are not developing and following the strategies and processes needed to make the tech work. One might argue it’s the responsibility of the tech vendors to offer more support on the ‘people and process’ piece. But, regardless of who will do it – it needs to be done!

Since 2014, MPG has been working with business leaders to grow their B2B brands – enabled by marketing strategy, analytics, tech, data and digital. The sales and marketing alignment piece is usually a problem when companies approach us to help them achieve better outcomes from their marketing. And this is what we have witnessed in the most dysfunctional businesses:

  • Sales people are determined to defend their turf – wanting to claim revenue as ‘sales revenue’, even when marketing makes a significant contribution. Why would marketers want to work hard to support sales if they don’t get at least some of the credit (or the commission)?
  • At the same time, marketers are still not being held accountable for commercial results, often hiding behind ‘tech and data jargon’. They’re usually very, very busy, but are not taking responsibility for the outcomes of their spend on tech, data and all those very busy marketing people.
  • Senior executives – including Sales Leaders and Heads of Marketing – are not taking real responsibility for the close collaboration, joined up processes and combined KPI’s that the integrated marketing and sales funnel should deliver.

This is all very dangerous, because how B2B customers buy has changed in a BIG way.

Customers are buying very differently now to how they were 2 years ago, and if Sales and Marketing Leaders don’t get their heads together and work out how to optimise the full customer experience, their businesses will:

  1. Lose customers
  2. Be less efficient
  3. Be less profitable
  4. Struggle to scale

It is incredibly important for your marketing and sales teams to be integrated if you want to grow your business. If you support sales effectiveness and efficiency by ensuring marketing is well set up with the right strategy, processes, tools and resources, you will be able to:

  1. Reach and engage with a larger number of potential customers
  2. Qualify and nurture leads better to achieve higher conversion rates, higher average order values and shorter sales cycles.
  3. Measure important KPIs critical to achieving growth.

 

To learn more about how you achieve faster and more profitable growth by integrating your sales and marketing function better, thereby ensuring the whole, combined funnel is fully optimised, download the MPG’s guide here.

 

This resource walks you through the following 3 stages of the sales and marketing funnel:

 

#1 Awareness (top of funnel)

  • In this stage, prospects are indicating there is a problem or opportunity that they may be able to address by investing in your product.
  • Prospects are starting to educate themselves, conducting research to understand, frame, and give a name to the problem or opportunity they are facing.
  • This is where you should focus marketing efforts on building brand awareness, interest and an audience of relevant prospects through inbound marketing and data acquisition. Email marketing targeting relevant people should also be used at this stage of the funnel, especially for very time-sensitive campaigns, such as those that support B2B events.
  • Here your aim is to draw in as many of the right people as possible – with the overall goal of pushing them to your website.

 

#2 Engagement (middle of funnel)

  • In this second stage of the funnel, the prospect has defined their issue or opportunity, and they want to do more in-depth research to understand all the available approaches or methods for addressing a challenge or making the most of an opportunity.
  • Due to widespread, rapid adoption by consumers of more digital behaviours, and preferences for more control of their own buying journey, marketing needs to play an important role here in terms of serving up content-led and product-led messages across multiple channels and tactics – all working together with joined up messaging.
  • At this stage of the funnel, marketing needs to grow engagement and convert people who pay attention to their marketing into qualified leads – giving them ways to signal their intent and readiness to buy – before they are contacted by a salesperson.

 

#3 Conversion (bottom of funnel)

  • This third stage is where sales people need to get involved – and as part of a joined up process with marketing, ensure they call the right people (i.e. those people marketers have identified as relevant and ready to buy) at the right time (i.e. soon after they have indicated intent – because at this time they’re probably also talking to your competitors).
  • Marketing still needs to play a part here in terms of further nurturing your leads until sales people get the opportunity to speak to the prospect. It can often be quite difficult for a salesperson to pin down a prospect for a call or meeting, and in that time they can go cold or pay more attention to competitors. So marketing needs to play it’s part here by continuing to engage and persuade this lead with strong content and collateral – where the USPs and benefits of your product come through loud and clear in regular reminders to your lead that they should be picking up the phone when your salesperson calls.

Unfortunately, what often still happens, is that both marketing and sales work on the awareness stage, but only sales focuses on the engagement and conversion stages. This means that sales people have less time to spend on selling, and they are trying to sell to people who are not yet ready to buy. This has a negative impact on sales cycle length, average order value, conversion rates, the number of sales made and amount of revenue one sales person can generate.

What should happen is that marketers take full responsibility for the first two stages of the funnel (awareness and engagement), and be held accountable for the quality, quantity and sales-readiness of leads being delivered to sales. This then means that the sales team can spend more time focusing on conversions i.e. doing the actual selling that they’re so good at.

 

You need to get your funnel working in a way that enables more scalable digital marketing to reach and engage more people in the top two thirds of the funnel, and therefore have your sales team focused on conversions at the bottom of the funnel. Once you have achieved this, you would have unlocked profitable, sustainable growth with economies of scale baked in to your business in way that will generate higher profits and add significant value to your business.

 

To learn more about how to manage your scalable, profitable integrated sales and marketing funnel download MPG’s guide to B2B Sales & Marketing integration.

Do you need your marketing team to deliver more leads for your sales team?

Team MPG can help you attract new clients with targeted, lead generating marketing campaigns. We can also help create marketing and sales performance dashboards so that you can measure your joined up marketing and sales KPIs and ROI.

Get in touch today to find out how we can help you.

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MPG Newsletter | Summer 2022

Newsletter • Summer 2022

As live events roar back in 2023 – are you ready to take the top spot?

For the past two years we have seen great uncertainty across almost every part of our lives. This uncertainty has created particular challenges for organisations that rely on live events for revenue, profit and growth.

The good news is that MPG has seen bright green shoots in live events – indicating they are already making a strong comeback.

For the 2022 live conferences and exhibitions that Team MPG has been working on, we’ve seen registrations and revenue matching 2019 figures. Based on these results and strong engagement in event marketing metrics we’re tracking, 2023 looks set to be a strong growth year for many.

When it comes to achieving strong growth for 2023 conferences and exhibitions, there are two important things to consider:

  1. Every event should be treated as if it is a new launch: many delegates, sponsors and exhibitors have fallen out of the habit of investing their time and money in your event, so they need to be enticed back as if they were new customers. Your event product also needs to match the higher expectations that customers now have around value, convenience and experience.
  2. In 2023, the new order of market leadership in events will emerge – and it’s an open field. Events that were front-runners pre-Covid will need to work hard to reclaim their top spot, and the challengers now have a unique and limited opportunity to claim the leading position.

We believe that the way in which your event is taken to market will make all the difference to successfully winning back customers and acquiring new ones. To be the #1 ‘must attend’ event in your space you’ll need to have a robust, data-led event marketing strategy, well set up digital marketing and data infrastructure, and the very best, on-target and on-time event marketing execution.

And to make sure 2023 is as strong as it needs to be, you need to start working on your event marketing strategy and investment plan sooner rather than later!

In this edition of our newsletter we focus on some recently published MPG Insights blogs and resources that focus on the biggest revenue growth opportunities, including: commercial marketing, expanding into new markets, and advocacy marketing.

We hope you find the guidance and insights in these pieces useful as you push ahead with your future growth planning!

 

You are not currently a subscriber to MPG Insights, but we want to make sure you received this newsletter anyway as it addresses some of the most urgent marketing issues many organisations are grappling with at this time. To become a subscriber (it’s free) – please sign up here.

#1 Commercial marketing to grow sponsorship revenue

Over the past 3 months, we have seen a significant increase in the attention being given to commercial marketing.

Commercial marketing is a broad term we use to describe the marketing that supports the generation and growth of commercial revenue, i.e. revenue from sponsors, exhibitors, and advertisers.

By using the right mix of marcomms and marketing automation, you can generate and nurture leads of potential sponsors and exhibitors to efficiently drive strong growth in commercial revenue.

 

The best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing.
Tom Fishburne, Founder & CEO, Marketoonist

 

Interestingly, the methodology required for commercial marketing is similar to what is used for high-value subscription or membership product marketing (and also SaaS product marketing). The difference with commercial marketing, especially if focused on event revenue, is that it is time-bound. Therefore, the approach used needs to reflect that urgency required.

See our recent MPG Insights piece, where we explore the opportunities and challenges around investing in commercial marketing for revenue growth:

READ THE FULL ARTICLE


#2 Marketing considerations when expanding into new markets

Do you have a growth strategy that includes entering new markets? Here are 6 practical marketing considerations from an MPG Insights piece we published in late May:

  1. Be clear about your specific goals
  2. Understand your target audience very well – your messaging may need to be adjusted for a new market
  3. Find and activate the right brand advocates in your new markets
  4. Manage your data well, including considerations around GDPR and other country-specific data privacy and marketing laws
  5. Invest in the right marketing technologies to enable expansion and scalability
  6. Develop a marketing dashboard to monitor expansion progress and ROI

READ THE FULL ARTICLE


#3 The importance of leveraging your advocacy marketing

Advocacy marketing has become more important as brand trust becomes a bigger issue. Advocates lend you important credibility and help you get past innate cynicism (especially in B2B!).

Here are 4 ways in which advocacy marketing can help your business be more resilient and potentially grow faster:

  • Advocates helps extend your brand reach and build more brand awareness
  • Activating advocates can be a quick, easy and cost-effective way to find new customers
  • Advocacy can increase loyalty from existing customers
  • You can semi-automate your advocacy efforts, so your reach via advocates can be huge at minimal effort and cost

These points are important if you want to grow your business using advocacy marketing.

In a further blog in MPG’s resilience series, we outlined 5 things you need to keep top of mind when creating and executing an advocacy and referral marketing strategy:

  • Find the right people to help you ‘activate and amplify’
  • Help the messenger – make advocating easy
  • Prioritise quality over quantity
  • Have clear agreements in place
  • Monitor effectiveness

When you have the right brand advocates, then you are successfully activating the most powerful marketing approach of all: WOM (word of mouth).

You also need to support your brand advocates, by making it easy and attractive to advocate for you.

Here is MPG’s guide to advocacy and referral marketing, covering how to set clear objectives, identify the best opportunities, create an actionable plan, and monitor performance

YOUR GUIDE TO ADVOCACY AND REFERRAL MARKETING


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6 practical marketing considerations when expanding into new markets

Renewd recently hosted a Renewd International Virtual Roundtable discussion, where a group of senior executives from B2B media and events businesses came together to discuss practical considerations when expanding internationally.

To receive Renewd’s next newsletter, which includes the key takeaways from this event, please join Renewd here – membership is free.

The Virtual Roundtable discussion was led by Frances Rose, Founder & CEO, The Share Theory. The attendees discussed what they have learnt from expanding, including cultural differences to take into consideration, and how to hire and effectively manage people in foreign countries.

Based on this discussion, Team MPG’s marketing strategists have been considering six important marketing elements to consider when seeking international growth:

#1Be clear about your specific goals when expanding into new markets

In order to grow and develop your customer base in a new market, you should define what the role of marketing is in this growth plan, and specific marketing communications objectives. These objectives should form part of a comprehensive marketing plan, to ensure your marketing activities show visible and strong ROI against your objectives.

#2Understand your target audience very well – your messaging may need to be adjusted for a new market

Before you write a single word of copy or design any marketing materials, you need to gain a good understanding of your audience in the new market you are targeting. MPG recommends using our community mapping approach. This is a useful tool to understand the composition of your end-user target market, which will be useful when building the right kind of monetisation model to generate revenue in your new market. You need to consider cultural differences, so that from day 1 you’re building brand trust.

Once you have completed your community map, and take into account culture in your new market, you should develop a buyer persona in order to define USPs and benefits for your key market segments. These USPs will help you differentiate your product from the competition – which may look different in your new market compared to where you have previously operated.

You can then move on to building impactful messaging by:

  • Defining the tone of voice you want to deploy
  • Creating a messaging strategy that will inform the core copy you repeatedly use. This should include a strap-line that incorporates your USP, and a series of succinct bullet points focused on your benefits
  • Execute this messaging down the whole marketing funnel. As your prospects become more engaged, ensure your messaging becomes more detailed and persuasive – this creates the ‘desire and action’ which makes them want to enquire or buy your product

#3Build the right brand advocates to help grow your business

To effectively attract and engage the right kinds of customers in your new market, it is helpful to have local team members and advocates who know the cultural differences. You need to find the right people who can help you ‘activate and amplify’.

These early community members are needed to bring others to come on board. If they believe in your brand and your purpose, they will be valuable advocates. Build on the momentum gained from these early adopters by holding open events and running community gatherings to gain more insight and build your followers.

It is also important to accept that starting and building good relationships take time. Therefore, you need to focus on this area well in advance – if you leave it too late, it could mean you have less leverage in terms of value exchange. This could lead to reduced advocacy and campaign effectiveness.

#4Data management and the importance of knowing GDPR and other country-specific data privacy and direct marketing rules and regulations

In order to expand, you will need to build a strong database of contacts by following the relevant data rules. Having a well-organised database will allow you to grow multiple revenue streams, drive higher, more consistent engagement, and make smarter investments.

When expanding into new markets, you need to take into account their various rules and regulations around data privacy, data protection and how data can be used in direct marketing. There are quite big differences between jurisdictions – e.g. the state of California has different rules compared to other US states. What counts here is where the data subject (customer or prospect) is based – not where your company is based.

It is important to do the thorough research and planning for the jurisdictions you want to expand into, because how data can be used will determine the marketing tactics allowed; as well as how your products, systems and processes are set up to be compliant.

#5Investing in the right marketing technologies to enable expansion

To scale effectively and efficiently (and follow data privacy rules), you need the right marketing tech stack.

Having a strong martech stack:

  • Improves customer experience, and allows for a smoother transition between each stage of the customer lifecycle
  • Allows you to track your customers’ progression in the customer journey
  • Helps you make impactful investments, which will mean you can monetise and scale your audiences well, in a more digital world

The right marketing technology is critical for any business expansion, including entering and growing in new markets.

#6Develop marketing dashboards to monitor expansion progress and ROI

To be able to measure the success of your marketing activities when expanding into new markets, you need visibility of your marketing metrics. The best way to get this visibility is to build dashboards that ideally pull data automatically from systems and show you key marketing metrics in real time.

To have fully optimised marketing dashboards, you need to have the right marketing analytics in place to measure the success. A marketing analysis and reporting process is useful to gain insight on how your customers, prospects, and leads interact with your marketing channels. Having your website analytics set up in the right way (with GA4) is critical for understanding how they interact with your site, and can help you create remarketing and retargeting campaigns to build your customer database.

If you’re aiming to enter or grow in new markets, then considering these six marketing elements will help you well on your way!


MPG supports Renewd in building an open network community of specialised subscription, membership, and event professionals. We help organise and participate in roundtables and other community events, such as networking dinners.
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Do you want to grow your business in new markets?

Team MPG’s marketing experts can help you develop the best marketing strategy to grow your customer base and revenue.

Get in touch today to discuss your marketing opportunities, challenges and requirements.

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Commercial marketing to grow sponsorship revenue: opportunities and challenges

At a recent Marketing Leaders dinner hosted by MPG, I had the privilege of chairing a great discussion about something that has become a big deal for many B2B media/events organisations: commercial marketing.

What do we mean by ‘commercial marketing’? This is a broad term we use to describe the marketing that supports the generation and growth of commercial revenue i.e. revenue from sponsors, exhibitors and advertisers. Sometimes these types of customers are called ‘clients’ or ‘partners’.

The type of marketing that applies here is very different to marketing we use to attract ‘audience’ i.e. conference delegates, exhibition visitors, magazine readers or website visitors. Marketing to attract new audience members tends to be more transactional, requiring a very high volume of activity executed across multiple channels simultaneously – some manual, some automated.

The methodology needed for commercial marketing, on the other hand, is very similar to what is needed for high-value subscription or membership product marketing, which is akin also to SaaS product marketing. The main difference between commercial marketing for events and the SaaS businesses is that events have a hard deadline. Therefore, commercial marketing to attract event sponsors is much more time-bound, with a great sense of urgency required in marketing processes and execution, as well as marketing messages.

Why do we believe commercial marketing has become so much more important recently? We believe there are three reasons:

  1. As we emerge from Covid, there is a huge amount of opportunity, with large numbers of sponsors looking to invest significant sums again in live events. When automation is applied to commercial marketing, this opportunity can be fully exploited via automated lead generation, lead nurturing, and lead management techniques that can be deployed at scale.
  2. Sponsors have fallen out of the habit of sponsoring the same event every year. In other words, they are less loyal. Event organisers therefore need to use commercial marketing to convince sponsors that their events are the best investments of sponsorship budgets – with strong messaging and well-executed campaigns -.
  3. Many event organisers are concerned that delegate revenues won’t reach pre-Covid levels. With many digital alternatives now on offer, and travel becoming more expensive, delegates may be more price-sensitive than they were. So, sponsors need to make up the shortfall. (It remains to be seen if delegate revenues will recover well or not – the jury is still out on that one, and we expect it will be for some time to come.).

The above is based on MPG’s perspective from working with a variety of event organisers globally – mostly focused on conference-style events for senior executives. To get the perspective of these companies more directly, here are the ‘key takeaways’ from the Marketing Leaders discussion about commercial marketing:

 

Opportunities:

  • In the short-to-medium term, conference organisers are expecting sponsorship revenues to recover and grow much faster than delegate revenues.
  • ABM techniques can be used to great effect when targeting specific companies, to attract them as sponsors for events.
  • When approached at ‘brand level’ (i.e. sponsorship opportunities promoted across a range of products in a portfolio), commercial marketing can work very well in terms of economies of scale and synergies.
  • Commercial marketing tactics can be built into existing delegate customer journeys e.g. by adding a tick box to ‘agenda downloads’ for the downloader to indicate if they are interested in sponsorship.
  • Applying automation to commercial marketing can deliver great results. Automation should be built into lead generation, lead nurturing, lead management, and lead scoring – all to help the sponsorship sales people be more efficient by giving them better quality, warmer leads.
  • Building a dedicated, benefit-led messaging strategy for commercial marketing can significantly improve results. Strong collaboration between the sales people and marketers is essential to develop the most compelling and impactful messaging.
  • Building data-led performance reports for commercial marketing gives all stakeholders strong visibility of how investment in commercial marketing grows sponsorship revenue, increases conversion rates from lead to sale, increases average order value, and reduces length of sales cycles (i.e. making sponsorship sales more efficient).
  • Having a strong marketing and sales alignment – through commercial marketing and sponsorship sales working closely together towards the same goal – can turbo-charge revenue growth from sponsors.

 

Challenges:

  • Senior executives, including sales leaders, are often not aware of, or have limited knowledge of, the concept and workings of commercial marketing.
  • Sales people can often be quite skeptical about the value of marketing, and sometimes don’t pay attention to the leads generated by marketing – preferring to rather leverage existing relationships or source their own leads.
  • It is very difficult for marketers to work on both delegate marketing and commercial marketing as they are two very different types of marketing, with different methodologies and cadences. Also, marketers who are experienced in delegate marketing are typically not trained in, or able to do, commercial marketing very well. It may be necessary to separate out delegate marketing and commercial marketing, in terms of the allocation of marketing skills and resources.
  • Marketing databases are not set up well for commercial marketing campaigns. Often the data is missing from the database, so email campaigns to attract new sponsors to events are difficult to deploy.
  • A substandard marketing tech stack can stand in the way of effective commercial marketing, as automation is not possible and data doesn’t flow in the way it needs to for marketing and sales processes to be aligned, efficient and effective.
  • In order to build marketing performance reports, data has to be managed well. All sales people need to be logging in the CRM when leads are followed up and closed. This does not always happen, which means that it is not possible to accurately track, analyse, and report on the performance of commercial marketing or sponsorship sales.

Clearly there is a lot of opportunity to grow revenue fast via sponsors – as long as the right amount of attention and investment is given to building and maintaining commercial marketing capabilities. It is important to bear in mind that not all of these capabilities need be built inhouse – some external expertise and resources can be plugged into an events business to deliver great results in a scalable and repeatable manner.

As with all marketing initiatives, having a strong strategy and operational plan in place is essential for success – with good execution absolutely critical. It’s easy to talk about commercial marketing over a networking dinner, but it is quite another thing to do it well!

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Build a resilient marketing function: start with your most important marketing channel

As the pandemic rages on, challenges and opportunities continue to emerge for B2B media and events businesses.

From Team MPG’s vantage point, it is clear that the most resilient businesses, and those that have started growing again, have certain characteristics – including: a belief in the strategic importance of marketing – shared by the whole senior leadership team; a strong understanding of what good marketing looks like and should be expected to achieve; and a commitment to invest well in marketing for sustainable growth. 

This was the focus of Helen Coetzee’s blog published on 1st January: In 2022, the most resilient organisations will have relevant and resilient marketing. In this article, Helen highlights specific areas that require focus and investment for building relevance and resilience into your marketing – and therefore into your whole organisation. 

One of these specific areas is your website, or more specifically, the website or web pages that serve the purpose of marketing your brand, value proposition and products.

The companies that have invested heavily in building high performance marketing websites, are standing out as resilient and winning organisations at this time. 

And by ‘high performance websites’, we’re not just referring to a beautifully designed ‘look and feel’ for your site – which is usually the calling card of slick creative and digital agencies very good at selling their sizzle (and making things look nice). A well designed, nice-to-look at website is an absolute must, but far too many organisations we talk to have fallen in to the trap of spending a fortune with a ‘shiny’ agency (confusing style with substance…) on a website that just looks lovely, but doesn’t actually work in terms of:

(1) Optimised customer journeys in the front end – to acquire more customers and generate more revenue, and
(2) Back-end/CMS functionality that makes the website practical and efficient (and viable!) for marketers to manage in the manner required for the website to work well within a content-led, integrated marcomms approach.

There is a very specific, specialised set of functionality requirements that B2B media/events businesses need built into their marketing websites that can be very poorly understood by many business leaders (and often their marketers too), and by the too many agencies trusted with this kind of work.

These specific functionality requirements are focused on the extremely important role your website serves as the hub of all your marketing efforts. If you want to be a resilient and growing business, your website needs to do all the following – really well:

  1. Positioning: host impactful messaging – in words, pictures and sometimes video and/or audio – that positions your brand and value you deliver in exactly the right way. For this you need a strong messaging strategy.
    See: Build a winning messaging strategy: a step-by-step guide
  2. Conversion rate optimisation (CRO): have well structured navigation and CTAs that draw customers through your marketing funnel – getting them to share their data, become a customer, and also share your content.
    See: 4 Things you should do for a high performance website
  3. SEO: use relevant messaging, content and good UX to organically attract relevant people from search engines – to then become exposed to your positioning and converted to engaged prospects, customers and advocates.

A well-optimised site attracts the right visitors, in required and sustainable volumes, and clearly communicates your value proposition – which is more important now than ever to cut through all the noise on digital channels. 

Remember that your website is the hub of all your marketing activity. Every time you post on social media, run a PPC campaign, or send an email campaign – you should be pushing relevant people to your website so that they become visitors, engaged audience members prospects, and customers. 

If your website is not in the best shape possible, all of your other marketing channels will be much less effective than they should be. There is almost no point deploying any other marketing channels (especially PPC!) until you have a website in place that looks great, and works exactly as it should in terms of functionality needed to deliver customers and revenue to your business.

Next week we will share a practical guide to building a high performance website. Subscribe to MPG Insights to get notified when the next article is published.

And in the meantime, if you’d like to speak to an MPG website expert about how to optimise the site you have, or build a brand new, high performance website – please get in touch. Team MPG includes website designers, developers and website project managers who have a deep understanding of B2B media/events business models and marketing. We know how your website needs to work to grow your customer base and your revenues. Read more about MPG’s website design and development services.


MPG provided excellent design and functionality recommendations for our website – helping us immediately put into action initiatives that would help us gain more customers and move forward as a business.

Alex Ayad, Founder & CEO, Outsmart Insight


 

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In 2022, the most resilient organisations will have relevant and resilient marketing

Along with the exciting opportunities for innovation and digital transformation that many leaders have successfully embraced, the pandemic continues to throw new challenges at B2B media and event businesses.

Once again, event organisers face issues around live events. Even those who have been able to very successfully grow their digital revenue streams over the past 18 months are immensely frustrated they cannot bring their customers together in-person. Those brave souls who have proceeded to safely host some face-to-face gatherings for their valued community members, in the midst of a pandemic, have found these ‘in real life’ experiences to be most powerful and energising.

To keep moving forward positively, senior executives should focus on building resilience into every part of their organisation.

From a marketing perspective, organisational resilience can be further strengthened by more relevance.

Marketing is all about getting close to your customers and successfully communicating to them the relevance of your value proposition. In the B2B world, this is about focusing – with precision – on the specific individuals within specific organisations who will find your value proposition highly relevant (This is of course assuming you have already achieved a strong enough product-market fit to make what you’re offering worth your target customers’ attention, time, and money. If you don’t have the product-market fit right yet, this should be your focus to strengthen organisational resilience – regardless of pandemics! No amount of marketing can successfully monetise the wrong product…).

Getting close to customers is first and foremost about listening. Listening to what they care about, what their pain points are, what motivates them, and what they need in order to get their jobs done well – right now, and in the near future. 

If you are listening properly to your customers, and responding to their needs with the most relevant products and the most relevant marketing, your organisation will be more resilient. Why? Because your customers will give you their attention and their time, again and again – no matter whether you are delivering your products online or in-person.

When you have your customers’ attention over an extended period of time – regardless of format – they should be engaged enough with your brand for you to monetise them well. And, if you can prove you can monetise your customers consistently, profitably and with economies of scale, you have a very good reason to pursue scale. Hence MPG’s mantra since the start of the pandemic: engage, monetise, scale. Building brands as community platforms is only possible if you follow this Engage – Monetise – Scale model.

A marketing strategy that focuses on engagement – anchored in relevance – will make your marketing more resilient. This, in turn, will make your whole organisation more resilient.

Here are four things we believe are fundamental to building relevance and resilience into your marketing – and therefore into your whole organisation:

#1: Investment in customer insight: ongoing analysis on what your customers say and do. 

Via a set of dashboards, make sure your marketers are constantly monitoring how customers are engaging with your products and your marketing campaigns. Ask your marketers to look for and highlight trends in the data to spark questions to ask your customers about the content, networking opportunities, formats and experiences they find most relevant and valuable, and why. Data your marketers should be able to interrogate should also validate and enhance the answers your customers give you. 

If your marketers are focused on customer insight, your marketing – and your whole organisation – will be more relevant and more resilient.

#2: Specific, clearly defined marketing objectives – fully lined up behind your business goals.

Using evidence-based insight on your customers to guide you, insist on marketing objectives that are realistic, achievable, and – most importantly – focused on achieving your commercial goals. Make sure the decisions you make about marketing investments are based on these objectives, and that your marketers are tracking and sharing results and progress with your stakeholders, along with insights and plans to improve performance over time. 

If you keep your marketers focused on what is most important, your marketing – and your whole organisation – will be more relevant and more resilient.

#3: Smart, focused investment in your marketing website and your marketing database.

The website you use to attract and communicate with customers is by far your most important marketing tool. And the data you hold on your customers is by far your most important marketing asset. Sadly, these very often receive low levels of investment, or a great deal of money and time is wasted if they are mismanaged.

Decisions you make and actions you take to invest in your marketing website and your marketing database should be focused on achieving your marketing objectives (see #2 above) and your commercial goals (see #1 above).

Far too often, websites and databases are high-jacked or poorly led by a (usually well-meaning) senior executive with very little knowledge of marketing, or a mostly tactical inhouse marketing team, or – the worst scenario of all – a smooth talking agency with good sales people who are good at ‘selling the sizzle’, but who have no real regard for the success of your organisation, and therefore the ‘sizzle’ fails to deliver.

Your organisation will be more resilient if you have both a strong marketing website and good marketing database – led and managed by people who know what they’re doing, care about your organisation’s goals, and understand your marketing objectives.

#4: A flexible and agile marketing function with the right skills, strong leadership, good management, and the motivation to contribute to the success of your organisation.

With virtual working now the norm, the world is your oyster when it comes to finding the best marketing skills to form a resilient, flexible and agile marketing function. This can be achieved with a combination of inhouse resources, complimented with specialist, expert consultants and agencies – all well managed to collaborate, create powerful synergies and deliver great results.

Marketing requires a vast array of skills that can be brought together to deliver quite outstanding outcomes, as long as you’re willing to treat marketing as an investment and not a cost – and step away from a traditional and inflexible inhouse team, and/or a ‘known’ agency that may be consistently underperforming.

A resilient and relevant marketing function can be built if you are prepared to think differently, consider all your options, invest well, and set up, manage and continually support a highly collaborative, hybrid marketing team.

If you have highly skilled marketers working for you, no matter where they are based, and whether in-house or external (ideally a combination of both) – your marketing and your organisation will be more relevant and more resilient.

To achieve more resilience, keep an eye on MPG Insights over the coming weeks. We will be publishing a series of helpful guides on how to build a more relevant and resilient marketing function (and therefore a more resilient organisation!).

So, if you have not already signed up to MPG Insights – now is a good time! Subscribe here to get an email every time we publish a new blog or resource like this one.


MPG did a great job assessing our digital marketing and marketing operations requirements – considering our business goals. They developed a robust strategy, followed by a practical operational roadmap to help us further improve how we use technology to support marketing and sales performance. It has been a pleasure working with the MPG team!

Jonathan Perry, Global Marketing Director, PEI – Alternative Insight


 

Do you need a more resilient marketing function?

Get in touch to find out how MPG can help you build a more resilient marketing function, and therefore a more resilient business. 

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B2B marketing is broken. To grow, we need to fix it.

Have you built some great new products over the past 18 months? Are you monetising them as fast as you would like to? If not, what are the blockers? I expect one of them may be marketing.

Like a lot of things in this world right now, marketing in many organisations is broken – or at least, it’s not fit for purpose, and marketers know it. Harvard Business Review conducted a survey in late 2020 where only 20% of marketing managers said they were satisfied with the effectiveness of their departments.

This is a very negative viewpoint, and we try to avoid too much negativity in the content we create for our community. After all, we’re all about working on marketing projects where there is positive investment in marketing to drive revenue and unlock growth. We don’t usually spend a lot of time dwelling on ‘the brokenness of marketing’.

But, in too many organisations, the lack of marketing capability is currently a pressing issue. It is crucial to acknowledge and tackle ‘the marketing problem’ in order to fix it. Simply put, marketing needs fixing if you want your business to survive, let alone grow.

In a pertinent article from HBR, one of the ‘new truths’ about marketing after the pandemic is that marketing is at the center of the growth agenda for the full C-Suite. To quote a key part of this article:

during the pandemic, marketing has been elevated within the C-suite as a driver of digital transformation, a key leader of the customer journey, and the voice of the consumer — all of which are of paramount importance to other functional leaders. Without understanding the zeitgeist of the marketplace, in good times and bad, the C-suite cannot adjust to the threats and opportunities at hand and successfully navigate the future.


Strong marketing starts with strong marketers

To attract and retain good marketers, you’re going to have to think hard about the function that marketing serves in your business. 

If you want the best marketers in your team – whether they are in-house, freelance, or if you’re partnering with an agency/consultancy like MPG, you need to give them the opportunity to make a real impact on your revenue and growth. 

The question we always ask ourselves when deciding to work with a potential new client is: do the senior executives in this business see marketing as a key driver of revenue and growth? Or, do they simply see their marketing team as the people who ‘update the website and send out emails’?

The best marketers know that marketing is a revenue and growth driver, and want to be strategic in their approach. 

In May 2021, Mark Ritson wrote an excellent article for Marketing Week about how marketing tactics without marketing strategy is dumbing down the discipline. Not only is this damaging to marketers’ careers, but it is a serious threat to businesses in general, as strong marketing is essential for survival and growth, now more than ever. 


Fixing marketing starts with a strategic approach

A good marketer will become demotivated very quickly if forced to spend all their time delivering tactical marketing activity without a proper marketing strategy in place, with no sight of marketing strategy development being supported by the business. 

There is nothing more soul destroying for a good marketer than having to send out email campaign after email campaign, knowing they’re are not reaching the right people, with the right message, at the right time; knowing that content marketing and inbound channels are being neglected; knowing this is resulting in disengaged audiences; knowing that not only are they being ineffective, but that they are also being hugely inefficient due to a lack of investment in marketing automation, data and analytics. 

A good marketer will want to fix marketing, and fixing marketing needs to start with strategy. As Mark Ritson says in his aforementioned article, “we need an urgent re-centering of marketing back towards strategic fundamentals.”

But, a marketer (even a good one!) cannot fix marketing without executive support. Fixing marketing starts at the very top of the organisation, with initially acknowledging that a more strategic approach to marketing is needed to monetise products and ensure strong, sustainable revenue growth. Having a great sales team is always a key revenue driver (of course!), but investing in sales alone (or mostly) is very short sighted. Strong, robustly delivered, and consistently strategy-led marketing is essential for success. 


What does ‘strategic marketing’ look like?

There are eight areas of marketing that are typically neglected by a highly tactical organisation. They don’t get attention, they don’t get investment, and very often, they’re not even understood. 

These areas form the basis of strategic, growth-focused marketing. As you read about these eight things, be sure to make an honest assessment of whether these get enough attention, or are even properly understood, by the senior executives in your business.

To be a strategic, growing business you need to: 

1. Understand your total addressable market (TAM)

Know how much of your TAM you currently serve; how you want to grow your presence in your TAM (especially in your ‘core’ TAM); and what headroom remains for future growth.

Here is a helpful resource from HubSpot on what TAM is and how to calculate it.

2. Set SMARTER marketing objectives

Pin down what success looks like. Make this specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound, evaluate, and re-evaluate.

See SmartInsights’ Dave Chaffey’s article about how to set marketing objectives.

3. Have a differentiated, clear and compelling position in your TAM

Understand your full competitive landscape, and define what makes your value proposition unique in a valuable way to your core TAM.

Forbes recently published a great piece about the practical process to follow for effective brand positioning.

4. Divide your TAM into meaningful market segments

Prioritise these segments for targeted messaging, and have the marketing tech, digital and data infrastructure in place to track and analyse engagement and conversions for key segments.

5. Create and deploy targeted, relevant messaging

Know what jobs your customers need to get done, what their personal work goals are, and what is holding them back from getting these jobs done and achieving these goals. Create well crafted, benefit-led marketing messaging that specifically addresses these pain points, and deploy this consistently throughout all your marketing channels and campaigns.

See MPG’s step-by-step guide to building a winning messaging strategy.

6. Optimise ALL your channels

Deploy a multi-channel approach to generate brand awareness, brand understanding, engagement, and conversions.

Invest in every part of the funnel in the right way, making sure every social post, every email and every landing page is a compelling touchpoint that your customers just can’t ignore, guiding them on a journey they find informative and interesting.

7. Measure it to manage it

Define metrics that will help you track your progress against your marketing objectives. Set up your martech and digital marketing to measure how every part of your marketing is working.

Constantly use these metrics to make evidence-based, data led decisions about where to invest for growth.

See MPG’s blog: How to get more intelligence into your marketing for a stronger ROI.


Get marketing engineers to build a sustainable marketing function for sustainable growth

In so many areas of business right now, ‘sustainability’ seems to equate with ‘hybrid’. Marketing is no different. 

These days, I find myself saying (many times) to senior executives:
Marketing is now big, and deep, and wide. You need a hybrid marketing function that includes marketing generalists and marketing specialists. You therefore need a combination of internal and external resources (also a hybrid approach), or at least a dedicated team of marketing operations and digital specialists within your business to support your generalist marketers.  

Generalist marketers are essential for strategy development and overall management of marketing activity. 

But, there are definite marketing specialisms that require dedicated expertise and resources to enable marketing activity that engages and converts. These specialisms cover data, martech, analytics and digital channel optimisation – usually in 3 or 4 different expert individuals. These are your ‘marketing scientists’ if you like, the highly logical, analytical and technical gurus – the ‘engineers’ in your marketing team. Without these engineers your marketing will break, and no one will be able to fix it.

See MPG Insights article about creating a robust, sustainable marketing function: a strategic, hybrid approach.


Marketing strategy + marketing engineers = long term revenue and growth

To wrap up, here is my plea…

Take the right steps in your business, right now. Invest deliberately and effectively in marketing for the long term. Marketing, utilised properly, is an investment with measurable ROI. 

Get skilled, strategically minded marketers on board, no matter if they’re inhouse or external. Or, at least hire someone with the potential to become a great marketer, and invest in their training and development. Avoid, at all costs, hiring a lacklustre marketer with a very tactical mindset, just because you’re desperate. You will be taking your business backwards, and you will regret it. 

Motivate your marketers by making marketing important in your business. 

If you don’t invest in marketing strategy and a scientific approach to your marketing over the long term, you will stay in the frustrating hamster wheel. 

Marketing, done well, unlocks growth. Please believe in it, and support it.


Working closely with our internal team, MPG developed a strong marketing strategy focused on achieving revenue growth for a key product in our portfolio – including recommendations for a virtual offering. We were impressed by the science and rigour they put into the process. I would recommend MPG as a good strategic marketing partner for a B2B brand.

Anna Knight, VP Licensing, Informa Markets

MPG have been a valuable marketing strategy partner to Kademy’s leadership team. They have helped us decide how best to invest in marketing based on the stage we’re at with our business, and have also given us very practical advice on various marketing initiatives around ABM, content marketing, social media, PPC and website optimisation. Having MPG’s marketing expertise plugged i to our business gives me confidence we’re moving our marketing function forward in the right way.

Alex Hentschel, Managing Director & Co-Founder, Kademy


Do you need help honing your marketing strategy?

MPG’s team of experienced and skilled marketing strategists can provide your business with specialist advice on how to boost your marketing ROI. Get in touch to find out how we can help you get ahead.

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B2B events – an important piece in the membership offering puzzle

Over the past 18 months we’ve seen many B2B media and events businesses choosing to create integrated product offerings where annual flagship conferences and/or a series of smaller events are integrated with digital information membership/subscriptions, and given the label of ‘membership’. Often, these memberships also include access to online communities and in some cases also ‘micro-communities’ – carefully curated matchmaking to bring together peers with very specific challenges they can work on solving together.

One of the main drivers for this move to integrated offerings comes down to generating more recurring revenue from event audiences. Another is building more engaged audiences to then sell on to sponsors. How well this will actually work for all businesses remains to be seen..

If we work through the logic of turning ‘event revenue’ into ‘membership revenue’, it is important to look at the data. Based on MPG’s benchmarks, at a company level, event organisers of well run and valuable annual events should typically expect to see a 40-50% YOY retention rate of attendees. At an individual level this is 20-30%. A good membership offering will provide year-round relevant and valuable content and networking opportunities. Therefore, one would expect more invested and engaged customers who then renew at a higher rate – typically over 60%. Well established, high value and usually enterprise level memberships can expect 80%+ renewal rates, and the most successful membership offerings have over 100% ‘renewal to value’ rates, where upsell and cross-sell delivers more revenue from a member base that renews at 90%+ at volume level.

There are three main ways we are seeing annual flagship events being integrated into digital information membership offerings:

  1. Including ‘all access’ tickets to annual flagship events as part of a premium membership product. These tickets cover in-person attendance and access to all digital event content.
  2. Preferential rates for members who want to buy a ticket to an annual flagship event – with the discount being a membership benefit.
  3. Member only events – where customers can only access the event if they buy a membership.

What does this mean for your marketing?

When it comes to creating your marketing strategy, you can apply MPG’s community marketing model to your events and membership offering to identify marketing activities to grow both membership and event revenue. As customers move up levels, they become ‘higher value’ based on their level of engagement and therefore likely retention rate increases. It is important to focus marketing on moving customers up levels, ensuring the highest value customers are engaging well, and that engagement at all levels is growing over time.

Level #1 – Lurkers:

These are your unknowns – people who are visiting your membership or event site .You don’t have their data. They are consumers of your free content. You want to attract these ‘lurkers’ through inbound (e.g. SEO, PPC, social media, advocacy marketing) and ensure your website is optimised to get them to convert to contacts (level 2).

Level #2 – Contacts:

These are the known, relevant contacts on the database. You want to track engagement accurately with this segment and hit them with targeted messaging, strong product marketing messaging and content marketing to effectively engage them so they convert into leads and buyers.

Level #3 – Leads / Freemium:

These are contacts who are more committed and are engaging with your content in a free capacity e.g. signing up to a free newsletter, attending a free webinar, downloading your event agendas or post event reports. Again, your goal here is to increase levels of engagement by encouraging more customer interaction with your content and products e.g. encouraging them to attend more free events or to sign up for a membership trial. And here you want to start paying close attention to what they are consuming, and what they value most in the free content you are pushing out. We recommend using nurturing campaigns and remarketing to keep these leads warm.

Level #4 – Transactionals:

These are your paying customers that have made one-off purchases e.g. they have bought a single delegate pass or a lower priced membership. These are the customers you want to convert into higher value, recurring revenue memberships. It is important, at this stage, to pay close attention to what content and networking people are willing to pay for and in what formats – and how much they will pay. For these lower value members, you might want to start offering discounts for your events to encourage them to engage with more products in your mix and become ever more familiar with your brand and the overall value it offers.

Level #5 – Loyalists:

These are your paying customers who make larger purchases of renewing products. These can be members or the delegates who attend your events every year, usually with large group bookings. Typically, these loyal event customers offer the best opportunities for conversion to your high value annual memberships. This is the group you want to focus on growing fastest, retaining and upselling. Here you need some well targeted, well coordinated marketing and sales approaches, supported by well set up tech and automation.

Level #6 – Leaders:

Even if this group is smaller than groups at other levels (and it is likely to be), these are your most important customers. They are typically community leaders and also enterprise-level customers who make purchases for whole teams to access renewing products. These high profile, repeat attendees and speakers should also be the strongest advocates for your brand.

You want to encourage them to share news about your events and the benefits of membership with their network – within their organisations and externally. Make sure you leverage their advocacy in your own social channels by tagging them in social posts.

Use your event speakers as advocates for your membership products. Provide them with membership access and encourage them to share the membership benefits with their networks. Tag them in social posts as users of your membership offering.

Getting this model right so that you can create those high renewal rates takes time and a lot of hard, complex work. A well skilled and well organised marketing team is essential , and is likely to look quite different from a traditional event marketing team. MPG recommends the following as the ideal marketing department structure:

  • Acquisition marketing team: will need to focus on reaching high volumes of potential customers via inbound marketing and data acquisition. This ‘one to many’ approach is essential to reach enough potential relevant customers and to move purchasers down your marketing funnel – either to purchase your event product or your membership offering.

    The target audience for this team will consist of both individuals who are not members but their colleagues are, or individuals who have no affiliation with the membership offering. It will also contain your traditional event contacts – leads, attendees etc.

    Once you have converted one of these leads to a customer of your membership offering, they should be handed over to your retention team who should start the renewal process on day 1 of their membership! (See MPG’s relevant blog on this important subject!)

  • Retention marketing team: should be completely focussed on keeping your customers engaged to ensure high renewal, cross-sell and upsell rates. When you have events integrated into your product mix, this retention marketing is not just focussed on renewing memberships, but also ensuring members that have signed up to your events actually turn up! Your members who turn up to your events are more likely to renew their membership, and so the virtuous upward circle continues.

An important note about martech and data…

This cross selling, and cross pollination of your product mix can only take place when you fully understand the relationship customers already have with your brand. Are they a newsletter subscriber? Have they purchased an event (and turned up)? Have they taken out a free trial?

This holistic, single view of your customers behavioural / engagement data comes from a well set up sales and marketing tech stack – backed up by bomb-proof processes and workflows.

It is an exciting time to be a marketer! But, it’s not an easy time as marketing has become much more complex and in many ways more technical, requiring an ‘engineers brain’ to do some of the problem-solving that pops up every day.

It is also a time that demands a significant ‘upgrade’ in terms of marketers’ strategic thinking, knowledge, skills, confidence and profile within their organisations. The future will belong to those who are bold and knuckle down – moving fast into new ways of doing things. And unfortunately, some marketers and companies will be left behind. I will be watching with interest how this future unfolds!


I was very impressed with the marketing strategy MPG developed for Environment Analyst. The level of thinking that went into this strategy and how it was delivered has created great value for our business. My marketing manager and I now look forward to working with MPG to execute great marketing together.

Julian Rose, Director & Co-Founder, Environment Analyst


If creating strong recurring membership revenues with integrated events is a strategic focus for you, MPG can help.

Our team of marketing specialists can create, and execute on, a robust membership marketing strategy for you, incorporating event marketing to secure the revenue growth and profitability you need as we move forward into a post-pandemic world. Find out more about our approach – get in touch.

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A practical guide to building a robust B2B membership acquisition strategy

Effective member acquisition (sometimes referred to as member recruitment) depends on the fine art of building an integrated marketing and sales strategy that creates a pipeline of relevant, engaged prospects who then convert to members.

The holy grail of membership marketing is to achieve strong member retention to build high value, recurring revenues, but it all has to start with strong membership acquisition.

Through our work with companies offering memberships to their customers, MPG has developed a methodology for creating strong member acquisition strategies. Here we share with you our tried and tested 5 step approach.

5 steps to developing a strong acquisition strategy for B2B membership growth

#1 Reach your target audience – build routes to market

An essential first step to your acquisition strategy is to understand which of your market segments has the best potential for delivering the desired member growth. To do this, you will need a deep understanding of the composition of your end-user market.

Market mapping and sizing is essential to understanding what the gap is between your high growth segment and your existing database. Depending on the size of the gap, you can work out how to deploy your inbound channels, and you might need a database build project.

You can read more about MPG’s recommended market mapping and sizing approach in this related article.

#2 Create your outreach marcomms strategy

Your next step in the pursuit of new, high quality members is to build your marcomms strategy.

Creating a well structured outreach strategy is centred around getting the right messages to the right people at the right time. To make this effective based on a fully integrated communications plan, you will need to consider:

  • Brand and tone of voice – have you documented these to ensure your marketing and sales people are fully aligned? This also ensures they stay top of mind
  • Core communications and channels – not only will you determine which communications will be used in which channel, and the frequency of those communications (ideally largely automated), you will need to factor in how often these will be reviewed and revised to suit your members’ changing needs and life cycle maturity
  • Content – what pieces will resonate with your potential members, which channels you’ll be using to distribute and amplify your content, and when this content will be released? How can you customise this based on the specific profile and interests of your targeted members?
  • Quantified, measurable objectives – do you have clear objectives for each communication piece? And have you specified how performance will be measured against each of those objectives?

#3 Communicate effectively for awareness and interest

Now that you’ve defined your outreach strategy, you should turn your focus back to ensuring you deploy the most impactful, relevant messaging for each target audience group. This means articulating your membership USPs (unique selling points), and membership benefits considering the specific motivations, needs, challenges and opportunities that your product addresses, and are being faced by your target persona’s.

There is now more noise than ever with competition from your traditional competitors, and also from disruptors and new entrants who are taking advantage of rapid digitalisation to move into your space. As your competition and the noise everyone is making escalates, attracting, engaging and converting your target customers will require highly relevant and carefully crafted messaging.

If you are not sure where to start with your messaging strategy, have a look at our step-by-step guide for building a winning messaging strategy to steer you through the process.

#4 Engage and convert

You’ve grown your database, defined your target segments and relevant messaging, and built your outreach strategy. The next priority is to get those prospects to convert to leads and ultimately sales.

You need to ensure your entire customer journey is mapped out and optimised to drive those coveted conversions. A fundamental element in this customer journey is your website – you need to get more of the right people to visit your website, complete forms and ultimately sign up to your membership offering.

Investing in your website is critical to ensure all your marketing works. Good SEO and a seamless user experience, with intelligent lead generation and calls to action (CTAs) that drive conversions are all a must.

There are many factors that will impact how well optimised your website is, and in this article we share the top 4 things you should be doing for a high performance website.

#5 Measure ROI and improve

If you’ve been reading our blogs for a while, you know how much emphasis we put on the importance of tracking and analysing results to adjust and optimise your marketing approach in a responsive and agile way for the best outcomes.

It’s so important in fact we’ve dedicated articles to measuring membership marketing success and the 15 metrics that really matter in digital marketing for B2B.

When it comes to marketing metrics, it’s easy to go down the rabbit hole and lose focus on what really matters. The below areas are an essential starting point when measuring the success of your membership acquisition marketing:

  • Database size and growth
  • Marketing qualified leads (MQLs)
  • Sales qualified leads (SQLs)
  • Sales achieved
  • Length of sales Cycle
  • Revenue achieved
  • Average yield

DOWNLOAD MEMBERSHIP MAKRETING KPIS


Coming soon…

In the final installment of our membership marketing series to be published later this summer, we’ll be looking at the best way to build events (in all forms) into your membership offering. Not every events business needs a membership offering, and not every membership offering needs events (or at least large, in-person events). But when your product portfolio includes membership and events it is very important to tie them together in various ways to ensure your events support member retention and acquisition for steady member revenue growth.

So, if you have not already signed up to MPG Insights – now is a good time! Subscribe here to get an email in your inbox every time we publish a new blog like this one, or create a resource (e.g. webinar, guide or report) that will help you achieve high performance B2B marketing.


MPG’s marketing strategists provided us with clear direction on how to establish strong brand positioning. Their work for Outsmart Insight included a thorough competitor analysis, customer persona development, messaging strategy development, branding upgrade and website design & functionality recommendations. Having MPG as collaborative and creative marketing partners, focused on delivering marketing assets we could immediately put into action and gain ROI from really helped us move forward as a business.

Alex Ayad, Manging Director & Founder, Outsmart Insight


If growing membership revenue is a strategic focus for you, MPG can help.

Our team of marketing specialists can create, and execute on, a robust membership marketing strategy for you. Find out more about our approach – get in touch.

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How to get the ‘recurring’ into high value, B2B membership revenues

It is now quite common knowledge that a strong, validated high value B2B membership proposition is of great interest to senior executives in B2B media/events businesses. Strong recurring revenues generated by memberships are usually equally interesting and exciting to both existing and potential new investors.

But, it is important to keep an eye on the key word here, which is ‘recurring’. Successfully launching a new membership product that your customers are willing to pay quite a lot to access doesn’t guarantee the revenue will be recurring.

If you are not able to consistently retain your paying members at the same or higher annual yield, you will need to continually ‘top up’ with new members. This ongoing push to acquire new members can be costly and unpredictable.

Don’t get me wrong: member acquisitions are an important part of a membership growth story. But, without the renewals (and ideally upsell) piece working well, your growth is likely to be unsustainable at best, and negative at worst.

According to The Membership Guys, “it costs 7-10 times more on average to win a new member than it does to hold on to an existing one”.

So, when do you prepare your member retention marketing and sales strategy? This must be done before you even start your member acquisition campaigns! One of the biggest mistakes businesses make when launching a membership product is only paying attention to member retention a couple of months before the renewal date – or sometimes even later. To secure properly recurring revenues your investors will love (and expect!) starts the day your member is acquired.


MPG focuses very much on marketing to grow membership revenue, but as marketing, sales, product, account management and customer experience need to be well integrated for member retention to be successful, this blog looks at all of these aspects.

Here are the 5 key areas MPG recommends for focus to achieve good retention of high value, B2B members – to achieve that much sought after consistently recurring, and growing membership revenue:

 

#1 Onboarding

Once your customer has taken that all important step and decided to purchase a membership, you need to remind your new member why they made this purchase and how to get the most out of their investment. So, you need a ‘member onboarding programme’, which should be the first step in member retention.

Here are three things to consider when putting this together.

  • Send a highly relevant welcome email: this is your first opportunity to delight a new member, so don’t waste it with a generic welcome email that makes them feel like they’re just being pushed into your production line. Wherever possible, personalise this communication. Ideally have a real person they’re likely to engage with in future (their account manager, or customer success manager) compiling and sending this email, which should include a product tour or demo video (even if they’ve already seen it) and signposting to relevant content and product features they can immediately start benefiting from.
  • New member interview: make sure you really understand what ‘success’ looks like for every new member i.e. why did they decide to spend the money on the membership? What would a good return on investment look like for the member, and in what timeframe? This is likely to differ by customer and is especially important in the early stages of your membership product life cycle as you gather valuable customer insight. This intelligence is essential to help you further refine and enhance the membership value proposition, while also engaging with every precious new member on a personal level in a way that is likely to be perceived by the member as very good customer care.
  • Keep it simple for your new member! Don’t bombard your new member with an excessive amount of communication and requests for their time and attention. Consider how you give your new members the required amount of time and balanced support to explore your membership offering at a comfortable pace and ‘self-serve’ as much as possible, so they are fully enabled and empowered to make the most of what they have bought.

 

#2 Content

Your content is likely to be one of the main reasons a member signs up. The membership is seen as a means to solve a problem, or a series of problems. These usually include at least two of the following: acquiring new skills, getting valuable intelligence, and accessing a precious, highly relevant network. If you consider these as ‘content’ – joined up and served up in an easy-to-use way, you’re thinking in the right way!

Strong, regular member engagement with your content is important to ensure members get the level of value that is likely to make them renew.

To ensure you are serving up the right content, at the right time, in the right formats for your members, consider how you incorporate the following into your workflow and offering.

  • Relevant, visible, timely content calendar: make sure what you are serving up is relevant and timely to your member’s ‘jobs to be done’ (e.g. an annual planning and budgeting process) and also make sure your members can see what is coming up. Keep reminding them of what they will get in future at critical times so they see their membership as a  key part of their own workflow.
  • Choice/flexibility: not every member will want to consume your content in the same way, so serve it up in a variety of formats. For example, an intelligence report can be delivered as a PDF, with a highlights video, an accompanying webinar and a Q&A session in an online chat group. Not only will this mean different preferences are catered for, but it also means your high-quality content is likely to work harder for you as it is repurposed. This also helps you achieve the ‘quality over quantity’ balance right, making the quantity look & feel substantial enough, while ensuring the quality content is highly accessible.
  • Ongoing member research: ask questions as members use the product to find out what they like and don’t like about how you have packaged up membership features and benefits, and what they find most valuable and useful – and why. If you can combine a series of automated mini-surveys with personalised conversations to work out if your members are achieving their work goals via your membership, you’re likely to get the best kind of intelligence that will help you have exactly the right kinds of sales conversations to retain and upsell members, and improve the product as you go along.

“The closer you can align the way you package your value to the goal that your customer has, the more likely your customer is to trust you for the long term.”
Robbie Kellman Baxter – Membership/subscriptions advisor & best-selling author

 

#3 Engagement

Having the right content is just one piece of the retention puzzle. The next piece is ensuring members engage with the content. Here are a few ways to do this:

  • Nurturing: using email nurture campaigns, personalised to the members’ content needs, are a great way to boost engagement, and therefore retention.
  • Incentives: if you can find a way to gamify membership usage in a way that rewards your most highly engaged members, you’re on to a winner. Maybe you could unlock some exclusive content or higher value features for members who ‘give the most’ to using their membership?
  • Engagement scoring: this is simply a way to categorise your members from least engaged through to highly engaged based on specific actions that they take. You want as many members as possible to be within the highly engaged category, as these members have the highest probability of renewing and probably also buying a bigger package e.g. with more users/seats in their licence or a multi-year deal. Those that are least engaged will need some extra attention well before their renewal date.
  • Data insights & analytics: using analytics tools can provide you with insights into what content your members are most engaged with and also how they are using your content and platform. Insights around your top performing pages and site navigation can provide you with ways to improve platform design to quickly help your members get what they need – faster and in a better format. The easier your membership product is to use, the more your members are to use and get value from it!

 

#4 Pricing

Overly complicated membership pricing plans can often lead to higher member churn. You need to ensure your members are aware of what it is they are signing up for. There should be no nasty surprises in terms of what is expected and then included – or not.

When considering renewals, there a few options and considerations to build into the initial planning and evolution of your pricing:

  • Upgrades: consider how members can move up the value chain over time – in terms of what they can access and how much they pay. A strong upgrade path may attract more members and enable longer term revenue growth.
  • Downgrades: having a cheaper version of your membership, with less access to certain features or content, is a great way to retain members who may struggle to justify or afford a full renewal every year.
  • Pauses: if you can enable a pause to a membership, your customers will thank you. Giving them the option to pause rather than cancel, can be better for overall retention.
  • Auto renewals: having an auto renewal in place that is properly communicated at the time of signing up helps by removing any friction in the renewal process. The member doesn’t need to do anything to renew and only needs to act if they want to cancel at renewal stage.
  • Mid-term upgrades: you don’t need to wait until a membership is about to expire to offer upgrades. This can be done anywhere in the membership cycle. The members that engage well from the start may present your best opportunities for upgrades ahead of the official renewal date. This could be individual users with high engagement scores or companies that have multiple members on your platform.
  • Incentives: building incentives into your membership marketing strategy can help secure early renewals. In an annual renewal cycle, an incentive scheme can start from as early as 3 months out from your expiry date. Types of incentives you can offer include: remaining membership period for free on renewal; access to exclusive pieces of content; or invitations to community roundtables or networking events. Incentives are not just for current members, they can also be a useful tool for re-engaging with lapsed members.

 

#5 Measurement

As with all other marketing efforts, keeping a close eye on the metrics that matter most is essential!

We recently published a blog on the key strategic KPIs for membership marketing and sales – presenting the core metrics for both acquisition and retention. Below are the main areas your retention metrics should be focussed on:

  • Onboarding
  • Engagement
  • Sales
  • Renewal cycle/timing

DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY OF THE FULL STRATEGIC KPIS

Whether you have recently launched a membership, already have a strong membership offering, or you are in the early stages of planning, we have some upcoming blogs in the series that will provide you with practical approaches for your membership marketing strategy:

  • The ideal member acquisition process: how to build a marketing and sales funnel that becomes a powerful feeder of new business – to achieve strong membership growth over an extended period of time.
  • The best way to build events (in all forms) into your membership offering: to achieve strong member retention rates and to act as a reliable growth engine for membership revenue.

So, if you have not already signed up to MPG Insights – now is a good time! Subscribe here to get an email every time we publish a new blog like this one, or create another resource (e.g. webinar or report) that you will benefit from.


Launching a new membership offering or wanting to grow strong recurring revenue for an existing product?

Team MPG creates and executes on robust membership marketing strategies that support both acquisition and retention growth. Find out more about our approach – get in touch.

 


“I was very impressed with the marketing strategy MPG developed for Environment Analyst. The level of thinking that went into this strategy and how it was delivered has created great value for our business. My marketing manager and I now look forward to working with MPG to execute great marketing together.”

Julian Rose, Director & Co-Founder, Environment Analyst

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