Thought Leadership Interview #3: The Manticore Cannot Be Stopped: Marketing ROI 101 with Christopher Doran

OK, I struggled to write what I consider to be my usual “witty” header with this one. I did, however, get a chance to look up what a manticore is.  According to Dictionary.com, a manticore is:

–noun
a legendary monster with a man’s head, horns, a lion’s body, and the tail of a dragon or, sometimes, a scorpion

Whatever that means. Still, I’m not sure why that hasn’t been the name of a movie.

Anyway, anyone who reads my blog knows that I am basically a mouthpiece for the lead nurturing and lead management movement. There are a lot of players out there and Manticore Technology Inc. is one of the best. This interview is with Christopher Doran, vice president of marketing at Manticore. He has helped not only Manticore but the entire space in his role as a thought leader. Doran is responsible for all marketing and business development efforts for Manticore including brand management, corporate communications, strategic partnerships and execution of marketing programs for demand generation.

Previously he worked in product marketing at AMD (Advanced Micro Devices) Inc., a leading provider of next-generation computing and graphics solutions. At AMD he spearheaded several strategic initiatives and product launches that contributed over $600 million to AMD’s top line.

You’ll learn a ton from what he has to say. Check out Manticore’s blog to stay informed going forward.

1.    What are the three trends you see emerging in 2009?

With the U.S. economy now officially in a recession, we can expect to see marketers getting back to basics while using technology to increase effectiveness and efficiency while saving money. Trends to watch start with reduced spending on pure top-of-funnel lead generation. Budgets are being cut so expect to spend less on pure top-of-funnel activities.

This leads me to my second trend: increased reliance on existing leads in the company’s database.  Remember all those tradeshow cards that are sitting on your desk, or those sitting idly in your CRM database? They have tremendous value. Smart companies will re-engage these leads, nurturing them until they’re ready to buy.

The third trend will be increased use of automation. How do you engage these stale leads? How do you accomplish more with fewer resources? The answer is automation. I expect to see continued rapid adoption of demand generation/marketing automation solutions.

2.    What are the biggest challenges for 2009?

Marketers will be expected to do more with less. With budgets being cut marketers will need to execute programs that add direct value to the sales pipeline. Therefore accurate metrics are critical.  If you can successfully link marketing spend to revenue generation then marketing is inexorably linked to revenue growth. Which CEO is going to say cut that marketing program if it will undoubtedly cut revenue?

3.    What are three metrics that B2B marketers should care about and why?

I’m passionate about Cost/MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead). This is the budget I need to spend to acquire a lead that is in my target market and has a timeline.

From there I look at the ratio of MQL to closed deals; in other words how many MQLs do I need to generate to close a deal. With these numbers I know that if I spend x dollars to generate MQLs then I will generate y dollars in revenue.

Finally, the old standby ROI (return on investment) is critical. I look at this from a program level and then roll it up to types of programs and my overall budget. At the program level you can slash under-performing programs and reallocate to top performers to get the most out of your budget.

4.    What are the top oversights marketers are making regarding lead generation?

I think marketers have a tendency to focus too much on the top of the funnel as well as on metrics that don’t really matter. B2B marketers need to focus on impact to the bottom line — this includes looking at how marketing can help at all stages of the pipeline.

5.    What will you prescribe to marketers to carry out effective lead generation?

Develop a framework to track the effectiveness of marketing on your business and track the heck out of everything. Implement a set of tools to track these metrics.

6.    What three Web 2.0 applications, cutting-edge technologies or lead generation sources do marketers HAVE to consider to be successful?

The idea of outsourcing top parts of your lead generation to a company like Tippit is incredibly powerful. It allows you to turn your lead generation into a scalable variable cost. Once I can link these outsourced programs to revenue generation, I have a powerful model for rapid expansion.

A lead nurturing/marketing automation platform is critical. Sales and marketing can nurture leads through automation so that when they are ready to buy your company is on top. It allows you to drastically improve productivity without adding head count.

7.    What do you hope for in B2B sales and marketing for the new year?

I hope for peace between sales and marketing.

Craig Rosenberg is the Funnelholic. He loves sales, marketing, and things that drive revenue. Follow him on Google+ or Twitter

  • http://www.demandbase.com Jason Stewart

    Thanks for this! Chris sounds right on the money with his comments.

  • http://www.jdamico.net Joan Damico

    In terms of marketing communications mix, I’m assuming 09 will trend toward more online/interactive spending. If so, is there a specific tool or group of tools such as online video or social media that you anticipate will be more prevalent in the mix?
    Thanks!

  • http://www.manticoretechnology.com Christopher Doran

    Hi Joan;

    I agree with your assumption that current economic conditions towards online interactive spending. I think you need to look at a healthy mix of thought leadership (whitepapers, speaking), traditional PR, SEO, and social media. In my experience, video (of good quality) can be expensive and may not give you the bang for the buck.

    One area where I’ve seen clients save signifcant money is through effective tracking of their PPC spending. Eliminating buys of words that don’t pay off can pay off big dividends.

  • Jay

    Thank you for actionable information shared. Just a quick question regarding the metrics piece. Do you have another recommendation on a good metric that helps assess marketing accountability for lead generation/pipeline nurture when there is a very limited audience that sales has already targeted and engaged the majority of prospects? We always run into the issue when defining leads, who gets the credit, sales (inside sales) or marketing when most times it is impossible to discern and should probably be credited as a collaborative effort.

  • http://www.manticoretechnology.com Christopher Doran

    Hey Jay – this is a common issue (hence my wish for sales and marketing to have peace in 2009)

    Your VP of marketing and Sales need to get in the same room and define (down to the nitty gritty) – what is a sales qualified lead (SQL). In other words what industry, title, size company, etc does a lead need to be to be considered sales ready. Additionally what call-to-action must they have taken (behavior) to become an SQL – is it dropping their card in the “free Wii” fishbowl at your most recent tradeshow? Or should they have taken several CTA’s – downloaded a whitepaper, viewed an online demo, requested a sales call, etc

    Before you can actually track SQLs both teams need to agree on a common definition. Once this is in place you can allocate SQLs to marketing for generation, with the remainder needing to be sales generated.

    Sirius Decisions (www.siriusdecisions.com) cites that on average marketing is accountable for 10-15% of the pipeline. I think it would be much larger is your a small company.

    Do you guys currently have an SQL definition?

  • Jay

    Thanks. That is helpful, we do have a (very loose) definition of what an SQL is, which may be the problem and the lead gen accountability issue arises from this confusion. We are a small company and are still very much evolving when it comes to reporting lead gen activities, however after one year of measurement marketing probably takes responsibility for more than 15% of the leads, and that is using a very conservative methodology. Funny thing is I thought we had an established SQL.

  • http://www.manticoretechnology.com Christopher Doran

    I’ve been with Manticore Technology for over 5-years now and during that time we’ve grown substiantially. Our definition of has constantly evolved. When we were a small team, any lead was a great lead! Now, we’re more discerning. As we continue to grow our qualifiers will continue to become more stringent.