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Rob Leavitt
A veteran marketing strategist, Rob specializes in issues- and content-based marketing, helping companies create distinction in the marketplace and have strategic conversations with clients, prospects, and market influencers.
Recent Activity
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Everyone talks about "solutions" these days but few seem to invest in the changes necessary to move beyond the rhetoric. For example, truly developing, marketing, and selling integrated B2B solutions typically requires both a strong focus from the top down... Continue reading
Posted Jun 28, 2011 at Reputation to Revenue
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Jon Hampson, Environment Director, for Capgemini UK, gave a great presentation last week on the top lessons for building sustainability programs at large corporations. Listening to Hampson recount the impressive strides Capgemini has made in reducing the company's environmental impact,... Continue reading
Posted Apr 19, 2011 at Reputation to Revenue
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B2B marketers in great numbers have jumped on the content marketing bandwagon and embraced the idea that marketing needs to be more like media. We have to focus on providing "readers" and "viewers" (i.e., customers, prospects, and other stakeholders) with... Continue reading
Posted Apr 4, 2011 at Reputation to Revenue
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The always interesting TED announced the winners in an intriguing new competition the other day: Ads Worth Spreading. Building on the nonprofit's overall mission, Ideas Worth Spreading, TED decided to try and make a virtue of necessity. Advertising supports the... Continue reading
Posted Mar 25, 2011 at Reputation to Revenue
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B2B marketers focused on high value solutions know that customer evidence is like gold. Great products may sell themselves based on features or price. But when you're asking business buyers to invest serious money in a complex solution, typically involving... Continue reading
Posted Feb 14, 2011 at Reputation to Revenue
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Consistently creating engaging content is one of those programmatic challenges that strikes fear in the hearts of many B2B marketers looking to take more advantage of social media. It shows up regularly in surveys on the obstacles to social media... Continue reading
Posted Jan 31, 2011 at Reputation to Revenue
Thanks John -- A great and provocative post. I love the focus on employee passion, challenges, and connecting. In the B2B tech space, where I spend most of my time, there's a clear difference between companies like EMC, Cisco, and IBM, which are trying to push and pull their enormous communities in this direction, and the larger number of firms that are dabbling in social media but not fundamentally addressing the larger issues you cite. It certainly ain't easy but I'm sure you're right that the winners and losers in the coming years will increasingly be defined by their approach to employees and culture.
Thanks Barbara, and definitely a useful post on your site. Theres almost no such thing as too much customer insight, and I agree that you need real live conversation to get there; web analytics are certainly useful, but not enough to get the real feel for customer reality that is so essential to supporting the buying process.
Toggle Commented Oct 26, 2010 on Is sales enablement dead? at Reputation to Revenue
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Thanks Kathleen; Im sure youre right on the head scratching to come. Your tough description of the old approach rings all too true for a great many organizations I see as well. On the brighter side, its a great opportunity for marketing folks to take leadership in making the necessary changes.
Toggle Commented Oct 26, 2010 on Is sales enablement dead? at Reputation to Revenue
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Sales Enablement is a huge topic in B2B these days. You can spend all day every day and still barely scratch the surface of all the dialogue, debate, and events exploring the "real" meaning of sales enablement, who is doing... Continue reading
Posted Oct 25, 2010 at Reputation to Revenue
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I was interviewing a Key Account Manager for a large tech firm the other day, and was struck by her comment that she wanted the firm's marketing people to be much closer to her customer. This is a large global... Continue reading
Posted Oct 11, 2010 at Reputation to Revenue
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Michael Shrage’s recent Harvard Business Review post, Great Customers Inspire Great Innovations, got me thinking: Why, amid so much evidence of the power of customer-centric business, are so many companies still mired in inside-out operations? Why do we hear so... Continue reading
Posted Oct 6, 2010 at Reputation to Revenue
Thanks James; I hadnt seen the editorial, but just read it now. To be fair, the editorial isnt totally one-sided, and Tom Rodenhauser, the commentator you refer to, said that some thought leadership is intellectual masturbation but some is excellent. (I agree with Tom that the quality of purported thought leadership is indeed rather mixed.) This is why I often blog about how to strengthen thought leadership, in fact. But it is a pretty strange and confused editorial; Im not at all sure what the point is other than being snarky about some of the top consulting firms. In any case, I absolutely believe that thought leadership marketing can be a powerful and essential marketing approach, and almost advocate investing more in it to my clients. The big consulting firms, for all their foibles, continue to show its impact. At the same time, quality is everything here; just calling something thought leadership (e.g., a warmed-over marketing brochure or superficial white paper) does not make it so.
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Over the last 10 years, more and more B2B firms have invested in account-based marketing: treating individual accounts as "markets" and devising focused campaigns just for them. Back when my partners and I were developing some of the early methodology... Continue reading
Posted Sep 11, 2010 at Reputation to Revenue
Thanks Craig, much appreciated. I agree with the culture point as well, although I think thats a bit of chicken and egg issue: Does thought leadership culture come first and execution follow, or does successful execution, based largely on the dimension I note, help to drive culture change? Likely some of both! The Awards wont be announced until November 2 at ITSMAs annual conference, unfortunately, but they usually announce the finalists and provide some info on their programs in early September.
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I've just had the privilege of helping judge ITSMA's Marketing Excellence Awards, and was impressed in particular with the submissions in the Thought Leadership Marketing category. As recently as five years ago, thought leadership marketing was mainly the province of... Continue reading
Posted Jul 27, 2010 at Reputation to Revenue
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A friend recently had the good fortune not only to take over marketing for a successful B2B firm, but to do so with a mandate to build a new strategy that ensures a much greater impact on the business. He's... Continue reading
Posted Jun 28, 2010 at Reputation to Revenue
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Actually, I think Eloqua's new Content Grid is fabulous: it crams a complex story and a lot of information into an easy to understand infographic on a critical topic for B2B and solutions marketing. Nice job, folks! My small beef... Continue reading
Posted Jun 15, 2010 at Reputation to Revenue
Thanks for the kind words, Jim. I agree that there is a big issue around appreciating the difference between good and poor quality content. Im not sure business people cant tell the difference (sorry for the double negative there); perhaps a bigger problem is that so few people actually read the content that their own organizations produce. Ive been amazed numerous times at the cursory reviews, if that, that people sometimes give the content I produce for them, even when its going out in their names! No question that results matter most but here too, we have a double problem: many marketing organizations still struggle with measurement, and, if they do get more serious about measurement, its often tied to bringing in a better marketing automation system, which then gets a lot of the credit for improved results even if theyre starting to put out better content along the way. But its Monday and Im in an optimistic, beginning of the week mode, so Ill go with Ardath on this one and at least hope were moving up the learning curve here.
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A new report from the always excellent Project for Excellence in Journalism got me thinking a bit differently about thought leadership and content marketing and marketing as media. We all know that social media is increasingly central to how we... Continue reading
Posted May 24, 2010 at Reputation to Revenue
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IBM's hot-off-the-press 2010 CEO Study confirms again what solutions marketers already know: getting closer to customers is a strategic priority. An overwhelming 88% of large enterprise CEOs told IBM that getting closer to customers is a top business strategy for... Continue reading
Posted May 19, 2010 at Reputation to Revenue
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Everyone selling high value solutions wants to engage C-level executives. They're the ultimate decision makers. They can provide deep insight into both their own companies and emerging issues in your markets. They can give you the most powerful references and... Continue reading
Posted May 6, 2010 at Reputation to Revenue
Thanks Paul -- good question. I dont literally worry that B2B firms will start pumping out articles purchased for $5 or $10 the way some consumer sites do for the reason you mention. But I do worry greatly that they will continue to take shortcuts both on individual pieces (e.g., quick drafts with little review) and, even more important, on overall editorial strategy. Ironically, many B2B companies still spend a great deal of money on content but dont get close to their moneys worth because they accept inconsistent and disconnected editorial standards rather than putting the time in up front to build a customer-focused strategy on the types of content that matter most.
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Hi Michael -- I agree that content is an essential competitive arena for B2B but Im not sure that large companies have such an advantage. Certainly they have deeper pockets. In my experience, though, the bureaucracy and caution of most large organizations pushes against the need to create compelling content on a consistent basis. There are exceptions, of course -- mostly the big professional services companies that have always gone to market on the basis of their expertise. But more of the big companies have the same tactical, promotional orientation that you cite with the smaller firms. In my opinion, the key is the mindset, as you mention, and then the commitment to spend the time on quality content. Even the smallest companies can afford to take some time to produce content on issues that their customers care about. Im not at all opposed to contracting with outside writers (full disclosure: I earn part of my living this way!). But I dont think that off the rack content is the way to go. Instead, B2B marketers from firms of all sizes should emphasize content for education, creating and sticking to an editorial calendar, and investing in quality content that consistently reinforces your point of view on key customer challenges. Decently produced off the rack content may be better than the promotional fluff that too often represents marketing output, but it will not ultimately serve the needs for quality engagement that B2B marketers need most.
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