Getty Images New Embedding Policy: I’m Excited!

I’m pretty good at stringing together some words to tell a story. Images? I’m not as good at creating those. I like images a lot which is why I’m excited about Getty Images announcement that it’s allowing bloggers and social media users to embed selected Getty Images at no charge.

Images improve stories. They add texture and dimension. They set a mood. And images get into the reader’s brain more quickly than words.

Getty Images Library is huge and spans a range of topics, events, people, places, emotions and situations. So when I’m looking to emphasize an idea, I now have ready access to a large set of visual messages that can be embedded without having to either consult a lawyer or open a wallet.

I sense this is good business for Getty Images, too. It’s safe to say this policy change will drive more people to their site.  Like most good marketers Getty Images is confident that they can convert visitors into customers. And if they are good modern marketers, they have a predictive model in place that helps them reliably forecast a rosier future.

Remember, the agreement allows you to embed images only. No derivative works. No customization. No mash-ups. No white label. No offline use. For those you need to license images.

Getty Images: New Tool, Not a Replacement for Custom Design

As excited as I am about Getty Images new embedding policy, I’m still improving my visual design skills, taking more photographs and keeping my licenses for Sketch and Pixelmator. There just are too many times when only a custom image will do. A few examples:

  • Fact-based charts
  • Gradient backgrounds
  • Icons
  • Specialized items like email headers
  • Presentation slides
  • Search Engine Optimization (image “alt” tags)

… and much much more.

Today, however, is a day to be joyful about the new possibilities. My keyword searches have found many spectacular images. I feel like a kid excited about the future.

What Are the Collective CIO Priorities for 2014?

CIO Priorites in 2014? Who knows.For the past several years I’ve blogged about the Gartner Executive Program’s January announcement of Global CIO priorities for the coming year. Gartner would survey 2000+ CIOs and publish the findings. The announcement took the form of two lists. The first was a top 10 business priorities. The second was the top 10 technology priorities. My clients and I found these lists useful in understanding where  IT leaders focused their brain cycles and budgets.

This year, Gartner went a different direction with their January survey announcement,  “Taming the Digital Dragon.

“Digitalization, the third era of enterprise IT, is beginning, but most CIOs do not feel prepared for this next era.”

Yes, there was a large survey of 2,339 CIOs. Yes, they published a few statistics, such as “51 percent of CIOs are concerned that the digital torrent is coming faster than they can cope and 42 percent don’t feel that they have the talent needed to face this future.” However there are no lists, no trends and no basis for discussion.

What’s my take on this, you ask? Gartner is reaching for newer opportunities in strategy consulting for IT. In the process they are shedding a valuable operationally-focused report around vendor, budget and technology priorities within IT. Hey, it’s their decision what to do. I’m just saying that I miss the previous lists of CIO Priorities.

Bill’s Take on Potential CIO Priorities

My best hunch is that some of the following might be on CIOs’ minds:

Bill’s Picks
Prioritizing the “new four:” social, mobile, cloud and unstructured data, along side the “traditional three:” people processes and technology
Becoming as good at rapidly applying data to decision-making as Google and Amazon
Establishing policies to address mobile device proliferation, diversity, management and security
Becoming more hybrid and federated across Mobile, Desktop, Cloud and Data Center computing
Balancing disruptive innovation with operational predictability

What do you think about my list? Where do you think valid data will come from?  How are we going to have a public discussion of business and technology priorities without first having a rigorous data set? I wish I knew.

Why Sales and Marketing Processes and Terminology Matter

A short and simple question on Quora captures the essence of why it’s so hard to automate sales and marketing processes:

How can the relationship between leads, accounts, contacts and opportunities be simplified in a CRM/Sales application?

My initial answer is on Quora and is worth reading. Here in the blog, however, I’m going to expand on why sales and marketing processes and terminology matter.

Sales and Marketing is a Team Sport

marketing processes and sales teamwork

Sales and marketing benefits from teamwork

This may seem obvious, but we all know there are mavericks in both marketing and sales. How many marketing campaigns were launched to prospects before sales was trained or even saw the materials?  How many rainmakers (or floundering reps who think they are rainmakers) don’t log their calls in the CRM or keep their forecasts accurate? I’m not saying there shouldn’t be room for individuality, experiments or process refinements. What I am saying is that outcomes are more predictable and jobs go more smoothly if there is agreement and coordination between marketing and sales teams.

Just like in football, business teams need game plans, play books and trust in one another. Sales and marketing teams are no exception. But unlike football, business game plans, play books and even terminology are sufficiently different across companies to cause problems.

Common Terms Have Different Meanings

What is a “lead?: An “opportunity?” Ask people in different roles and you’ll likely get different answers. And to make matters worse, throw in the automation vendor’s proprietary terms and confusion multiplies. Here’s what I mean:

Term Generic Marketing Generic Sales
Lead Any contactable person A person or database record with the following:

  • Name, title, phone number and email
  • Confirmed interested in our products
  • Has budget, authority, clear need and a decision timeline.
Leads are prospects or potential opportunities stored in the “Lead” object.
Opportunity Any person who has shown interest in buying our products. A sales transaction that ready to be forecasted and shared with management. Opportunities are the sales and pending deals that you want to track in the “Opportunities” object.

Agreement is better than diversity when it comes to terminology. Even so, I’ve never worked with an organization that would have achieved success using any of the above definitions. The marketing definitions are often too broad. the sales definitions are too precise. And the software definition is focused on how many rows are in a particular table.

Yes the definitions I’ve shared are cliches, but they confirm the key point. Consistency across sales and marketing processes and terminology is crucial. It ensures that marketing draws the right people to your web site and passes the right people on to sales. It ensures that a marketing lead is worthy of sales follow-up. It ensures that a opportunity is qualified before receiving precious corporate resources. It allows management to examine and approve putting resources on opportunities that are outside the sweet spot. And most importantly, it enables accurate reporting on revenue and identification of impending problems.

Measurement Requires Precision … and Consistency

precision improves marketing processes

Precise reports are usable reports.

We rely on automation software to produce reports. For the reports to be useful, however, sales and marketing need to agree on definitions and follow processes based on those definitions. For example, a person who enters the lead database as part of an acquired list is valuable, but isn’t a “sales-ready lead” at the moment of import. Many companies forecast how many “sales-ready leads” are needed to fill the pipeline in a period. If there isn’t agreement on the definition of “sales-ready lead,” marketing, sales and executives will have trouble planning. Thinking of merchandising is important, building eye-catching displays that attract potential buyers, and using signage to provide pricing and other product information, all of this to increase the sales.

Complicated? You bet! But as I mentioned in my Quora response, it’s complicated because it’s valuable, important and core to your business success.

In this case you can’t eliminate the complexity, but you can make it approachable and understandable to all constituents. Here are some things you can do to help your team embrace the corporate process and terminology:

  • Publish a glossary/cheat sheet of terms
  • Create a process flow diagram
  • Present, rather than distribute, reports until you have both buy-in and understanding of the sales and marketing processes and terminology 
  • Meet regularly with stakeholders and share the detail every time

Now it’s your turn. Reflect on the sales and marketing processes and terminology in your organization. Is it complicated? Is it broadly understood? Do you have any thoughts on how to improve acceptance? Please share below.

5 Behaviors to Win at Content Marketing Arms Races

Learn how to outsmart, rather than outspend, your competitors

Avoid a marketing arms raceI didn’t expect a simple blog comment to change my thinking about how to win at content marketing, but it did.

As I was catching up on my Internet reading, I found Chris Brogan’s “Stop Making Content Just to Make It.” Since I was swimming with content deliverables for multiple clients at that moment, I clicked. And read. And thought. And then I commented.

My comment lamented that industry practices run counter to Chris’ excellent advice. Increasingly, large marketing organizations are using simplistic content marketing measures like volume over meaningful measures like conversions. And customer helpfulness—that isn’t even in the discussion. What’s worse, the flawed strategies are inspiring similarly flawed responses from competitors, hence the arms race analogy.

I wasn’t alone in my feeling. Tema Frank (‏@temafrank) and others joined in. So I studied content marketing strategies further in search for a winning solution that avoids an arms race. Here’s what I learned.

Content Marketing as Arms Race

Win at Content Marketing

Source: Google Trends: “Content Marketing”

Arms races begin when rivals seek advantage from investing in a new “weapon,” or to drop the military-speak, “tactic.” The idea of divesting the tactic while your rival continues to invest would lead to inferiority and possible annihilation. The result: both rivals invest at levels that ensure neither side gains an advantage. This is what game theorists call the “Prisoner’s Dilemma.”

Content marketing fits this pattern for two reasons. Content Marketing drives down cost of sales. According to DemandMetric, Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about 3 times as many leads. Second, competitive spend levels for online content creation, digital marketing and social media is increasing. Forbes reported on  why 5 organizations  increased spending on content marketing, but many other sources confirm the trend.

Whether content marketing escalation is good or bad is the wrong question. Game theorists confirm the behavior is rational as a way to avoid annihilation.

5 Behaviors That Will Help you Win at Content Marketing

So what is a savvy-marketer to do? Compete smarter. Here are five content marketing behaviors that are currently winning across the Internet:

  1. Set Meaningful Success Metrics – Keep your eye on corporate goals like revenue or new customer acquisition rather than dozens of content-marketing-focused key performance indicators.
  2. Understand your Audience – Knowing your audience makes it easier to focus creation efforts on meaningful, helpful and trust-building content. It also helps you invest wisely in qualified media buys.
  3. Help, Empathize and Listen – Success may start with content, but it grows from follow-up communications. Whenever possible, follow up with people who consume your content.
  4. Generate Content You Can Produce Well – Avoid the risk of undermining helpful content with poor production quality. Get good at writing, graphics and video production, if that’s what’s needed.
  5. Invest for Success – Content isn’t free. Invest wisely at levels to achieve objectives. Strive to meet business goals, execution quality and effective follow-up to avoid losing on budget size.

In future posts, I’ll provide additional detail about each of the recommended behaviors.

My thinking, and perhaps others’ thinking, is still evolving on this subject. Please add to discussion by adding your comments below.

How to avoid defocusing sales process myths like “Marketing Leads Suck” and “The Rule of 45”

How many times have you heard sales people say, “marketing leads suck.” How many times have your heard marketing people say “sales doesn’t follow up on our leads?”

Focus on the right thing. "Marketing Leads Suck" is not the right thing.

I try to stay away from these discussions. Anyone with a pulse can always find leads in the system that suck. Likewise, some leads go untouched for a long time at every organization. Yup, both are true, and both miss the point.

So what is the point? Outcomes: closed revenue, new opportunities, growing interest in your company and its products. More on that later.

Why am I stepping into this debate?

Today I read a post on the Marketo Blog that speaks to the importance of nurturing leads over time. Seems like a pretty reasonable claim, but it devolves into bashing sales people as focused exclusively on short term wins at the expense of long term opportunities.

Really? On what basis?

The core argument in the article was a quoted claim: “45% of leads end up buying.”

After a bit of looking, I found no research supporting the 45% claim at all. None. The origin of the claim is James Obermayer through his website, book and consulting work. He has not published support for the claim nor have others.

As H L Mencken said, “Explanations exist; they have existed for all time; there is always a well-known solution to every human problem—neat, plausible, and wrong.”

So here I am sucked into a debate because a made up claim is quoted as a research finding in an article that influences many. Sigh.

A better focus: agreement

In my consulting efforts, I work diligently with all parties to get to a clear definition of a “sales-ready lead” along with qualification states.

Arriving at a definition of a “sales-ready lead” has required hard work across sales and marketing executives and team members. I find getting the organization to examine, debate, revise and critique the collective definition of “sales-ready lead” is fruitful for aligning the team, improving process efficiency and honing investments. Even with an upfront effort, the definition requires frequent re-evaluations and improvements. Continued debate shows that both sides care … care deeply … about the issue. And when unworthy leads arrive,  the issue is no longer do marketing leads suck. The new issue is how can marketing deliver enough sales ready leads to hit our goals.

The investment in agreement pays off for everyone. Marketing can more easily get budget to create sales ready leads, and can be held accountable for meeting the definition. Sale teams can prioritize lead follow-up in their activities understanding that lack of follow-up may result in fewer future leads without any quota relief.

In other words, agreement on definitions and process accelerates outcomes. Not only can each organization focus on contributing its expertise, they share details on whether they are upholding their end of the bargain. Bottlenecks are found more quickly. And both sides can revel in ultimate success rather that small disagreements. If the organization is delivering its revenue goals, its easy to treat improving campaign ROI or sales follow up timeliness and incremental improvements. And that is so much more useful than (un)civil war over what should be minutiae.

Do you know how many sales-ready leads your organization needs? For a limited time, Bill Freedman is offering Inbound Lead Analysis to qualified B2B technology companies at no charge. Sign up today!

Google and Yahoo Share a Headline

Google and Yahoo. Yahoo and Google. It’s 2013 and there’s a reason to talk about them in the same breath. While Google had a pretty good year, investors believe that Yahoo had a better year.

Here’s what Yahoo finance has to say about it:

Google and Yahoo Stock Performance Comparison. Source: Yahoo Finance

Google vs. Yahoo Stock Performance Comparison. Source: Yahoo Finance

And here’s what Google Finance has to say about it:

Google and Yahoo Stock Performance Comparison. Source: Google Finance

Google vs. Yahoo Stock Performance Comparison. Source: Google Finance


There’s no dispute. You’d have done better investing in Yahoo over the past 12 months than Google. Woohoo (or Yahoo!).

I learned in business school that efficient markets value firms based on the present value of future operating free cash flows. I learned during my career in the technology sector that management teams are evaluated on stock performance and revenue growth.

Google and Yahoo: Really?

Clearly Google has a much, much larger market capitalization: $290 Billion to Yahoo’s $29 Billion. They are the gorilla in the industry. I use a lot of Google products everyday. What’s more, I can’t think of a segment where Yahoo has a revenue, market or technology advantage over Google today.

In the past year, Yahoo’s has nimbly turn the battleship toward a strategy that is creating growth and investor confidence. Is it time to speak of the two companies in the same breath? Probably not. Kudos to the team. Keep up the good work. We’re watching you again.

Google and Yahoo. It’s getting fun again for investors, consumers and silicon valley dilettantes.

Disclosure: I do not hold stock in Google and Yahoo. I’m not an investment advisor. This article is not advice to buy or sell Google and Yahoo stock. Should you buy Google and Yahoo stocks? If you are asking that question after reading this article, probably not. You should be buying a no-load index fund from Vanguard.