Illuminating the Future recently spoke with Avaya's Paul Dunay, who is Global Managing Director of Services Marketing. Paul has spent more than 20 years in marketing, creating buzz for leading technology companies such as Google, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, and Cisco. He's also a featured speaker for groups such as the AMA, MarketingProfs, Marketing Sherpa, BtoB Magazine, ITSMA and CMO Council. He is perhaps best known for his blog posts and podcasts at Buzz Marketing for Technology. Here's what he had to say about thought leadership marketing in an era of growing expectations:
Paul, since you’re a specialist at tracking trends in the B2B and social marketing arena, I’m curious to know what you think are the three most interesting trends or issues for marketers in the field to be following now and why you think that?
I’ll outline them by saying ROI and measurements, or metrics; social media; and then what I’d like to call the “content factory," which might be the only surprise on the list.
The first one, the stats are showing that over half, if not closer to 75 percent of marketers don’t have in place a lead nurturing platform. It’s something that I did here at BearingPoint and I’m really glad I have it, especially in this kind of economic climate. I’m able to show metrics. I’m able to show sales through from a marketing perspective and I’m able to diagnose a good ROI on campaigns.
So I consider it almost shocking that few marketers have this in place. The technology’s out there. It’s not that expensive. It's a bit tricky to get going and get set up. It may mean that you have to remove some systems or some processes that you’re currently doing. But I think it’s well worth the effort and I’m glad I did that. So, think about that from a metrics and ROI perspective. You need to have one of those lead-generation platforms in place and there’s a bunch of vendors out there that you can find through a quick search on Google.
The second one is really social media. I mean, it’s a hot topic amongst marketers these days. It covers everything from blogging to Twitter to Wikis to communities. But not all new media are necessarily “social.” Podcasts aren’t necessarily a social medium. It’s new media. So maybe you want to keep it under the rubric of new media and then there’s a sub domain of social media. Those social media are currently very hot for a lot of different marketers.
I’d like marketers to think about them as outposts. Right now, we’re using them to drive traffic back to our website and showcase things out on those outposts, be it a blog post, an RSS feed, a podcast, a video cast, a slide presentation. You’re getting people to engage and come back to our website where they can download something for more information. That’s where they end up in a lead-nurturing program. So it goes back to point number one, which was lead-nurturing and metrics.
The Swiss Army Knife, as Paul Gillin has called it, is really the blog. And I think a lot of companies these days should at least have one or be considering one in multiple ways. I also think Twitter is a very important piece of the puzzle for our firm, as far as what we’re doing is listening in the marketplace and engaging with customers and engaging with potential prospects who may be talking about BearingPoint out there on Twitter. And, believe it or not, those conversations are happening.
What do you think is the chief hurdle that’s keeping companies from jumping into blogging and using services such as Twitter?
I think it’s the process and having the rules of engagement. I think people are saying, “I don’t really know if I’m going to break any rules.” Intel just recently posted an Intel Social Media Guideline. I mean, the constitution of social media guidelines was written by IBM and, to be frank, I patterned ours, the BearingPoint Social Media Guidelines after the IBM Guidelines. If it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for us.
We made some tweaks to it. We changed a few things but that was the genesis of how we got to where we are, and opened the aperture for all of our consultants to start to comment on blogs, start to post their own blogs on our corporate blogs. But also if they wanted to start up their own or go out there and do some podcast interviews and stuff, more power to them. Let them do that.
So I guess it’s getting comfortable with that. So maybe it’s not just the process but it’s also getting comfortable with it. This aggregation of media.
So tell me about your third point, the content factory.
Yes, I’m attacking it now.
We do interviews like this. We do transcriptions. We make white
papers. There are things that hit the floor there. We need a better
way of being able to take a Q&A that’s happening like this live, a
Q&A that gets transcribed, a white paper that gets fashioned,
landing page content that needs to be fashioned in order to post all of
the above. Then there’s a blog post about it, the list of key words
that go on the landing page as meta tags, an email, a 150-word email
version that can be emailed out.
The reason I call it a sausage factory is you make one thing once but
all of these other byproducts come out at the same time. It’s been a
little bit disjointed in the past. “Oh, crap,” you end up saying. “Now
I need 150 words to write the email version to send this white paper
So, with 500 pieces that we’ve produced over the course of the year,
just figure how many that is per day and how many times are we chasing
our tail? Did we get that email out about that piece? And did we post
the blog on that piece? And run, run, run…
Is there a model for doing this right, or is this something that needs to be invented?
I’m trying to invent it at this particular point. At the front end, it
looks like a template. So don’t hand me just the white paper. Hand me
the white paper, hand me the landing page, hand me the blog content,
hand me the key words, hand me the email post and then I can get that
to the interactive team. The interactive team can just begin to
formulate it and distribute it in places it needs to be distributed.
I can post it to our RSS feed to, post it to the blog, maybe do a
podcast around it. The team can make that very systematic. I think this
is going to be key for us because the day of thought leadership being
just the white paper is over. Listen, that was what, maybe two years
ago. It was about get it, fashion it, have it written, lock it up,
post it to the website. Done.
That’s gone. These days it’s much more about: How many times and how many different ways can I slice it and dice it?
What are the key roles you see in this content factory? Who do I need
to be hiring, and so forth? How do you see that playing out?
Well, I think it’s every player you currently have plus one. I’ll give
you the plus one and I can go into some of the individual players but
the plus one is the editorial director, so to speak, of the factory.
Every tribe has got to have a leader and every factory has got to have
a foreman and every magazine has an editorial director.
So, while I’m not saying this is a magazine, this person is seeing
everything and is making sure all the sausages come out of the factory
in order so that the interactive team can take them and just plug and
play them. Because I can’t give them just a white paper and expect
them to go. Right now I have to go back to the factory and go get a 150
words and I have to look for an email. Or I have to go back to the
factory for 250 words for a blog post – and I’m just pulling these
numbers out the air so you know, don’t take that as gospel. I need
eighteen key words from the factory.
It can’t be that I’m running them back and forth. I’m going to wear
them out. So as many people as it takes for you to run your web
presence, that’s probably the right amount. I’m not suggesting any
additional head count. And as many people as it takes to run your day
to day thought leadership content engine, it’s still going to take that
same amount of people. I think the X factor is really the editorial
director who can make sure that it all comes out.
But also, look for commonality and/or better reuse. So hey, this
sausage dream that came out could be used in Germany because they want
to talk about it. Or, it could be used in automotive and it could be
adapted to telco. So not only surfing geographies but surfing industry
verticals as well.
Right. Does this editorial director position need to be an internal
role or could that be handled by an outsourced organization?
I haven’t thought of it from an outsource perspective. I’m sure it
could be outsourced because a lot of these writers are also outsourced
as well. So, I mean, it’s managing that team.
If you’ve already got writers that are out of the house, then it makes
perfect sense to have a single point of contact, one throat to choke,
an editorial content director who sees and reads everything. Because
that’s the only way to get consistency across all that. So I could
certainly see that.
In our case we’ve got the whole thing in-house so that editorial
director sits on our payroll. And I guess that could just be a size of
the company issue.
Why do you think thought leadership or positioning yourself as a thought leader is more
important now than ever?
Oh…and thought leadership that leads to building a personal brand. I
tie those two things together as well. People just don’t buy
run-of-the-mill whatever from anybody. I mean, I’m in the consulting
business and if you don’t have your own personal brand and you’re not a
thought leader in the space of whatever it is that you’re talking about
then – and especially on Google – how do you expect them to want to
contract with you? To want to pay a premium for your hours?
Being a thought leader isn’t just a consulting thing. These days,
people are looking to build their personal brands. Just look at what’s
going on outside with the economic climate. You know, you’d want to
have a strong personal brand in any economic climate but especially in
this kind of economic climate because of the way that people are being
shed from organizations.
I would like to circle around to the beginning of the
interview. You were talking about ROI and measurements, metrics and I
wanted to just have you elaborate a little bit on what are the key
variables you’re measuring. What do you think is important to measure?
When it comes to metrics I measure three different tiers of metrics.
The first tier is reach metrics. That’s related to impressions, visits
and all of the standard stuff that you would imagine. How far did we
get our message out there?
I can tell you that those metrics don’t leave my desktop and go to the
CEO. Maybe I share them with the CMO. Maybe we share them amongst our
team but that’s really just good stuff for us to know as far as how far
did we get our message out there.
Next come efficiency metrics. All of those impressions, what was the
cost per click? What was the conversion ratio? These are efficiency
metrics that we can use to gauge how well that reach did for us. And
again, those are things that help me guide my decisions as far as
whether we made, say, a good purchase of a particular keyword. Was
that a good purchase of that banner? Does this site convert for us at
By no means is that a discussion that I would ever have anywhere with
the CEO at any given time, unless I wanted to bore him or her to
The metrics that I count on the most are the ones around pipeline and
these are the value metrics: Pipeline, bookings and ROI. I’m able to
demonstrate those, not because I had the first two – the reach and the
efficiency – but because I have them coming through the pipeline with
our lead nurturing system.
So I’m able to say that this particular click led to this person
downloading this particular piece. After a subsequent group of
activities – could be three or four or eight, nine, twelve activities –
they eventually became a prospect for us. The salesperson made a sales
call. A proposal was given to them. They signed the proposal and we
contracted for X number of dollars.
And that’s completely transparent through the system because I was able
to source that for the sales team. So here’s marketing sourcing
clients and I think you might have seen my post on Marketing Has
Clients? because I think now is the day when we’re able to do that and
we’re able to hand them a sales-ready lead by taking all of the
variables that we have into account. All of the tactics: The email,
the podcast, the Q&A documents, the blog post, the live events, the
virtual events, the web events. We bring them to bear on an individual
who’s already interacted with us and signed up. And then we graduate
them through the awareness stage into the purchase stage.
So those are the metrics that I really share with the CEO. I love to
crow about them because I have them. And if you don’t have them, that
makes the whole thing much harder to do. All you have is the reach and
the efficiency stuff. It sounds like a really good argument for
marketing but isn’t until you can show bottom-line dollars.
Well, thank you.
Yeah, no this was great. I love talking about this stuff as you know.