When I first went from Sales to Marketing in 2008, demand generation was still a phrase limited to forward thinkers. We were just beginning the journey into crossing the sales-marketing divide and automation systems were only just leaving the early adopter phase in the SMB space. So I had to learn demand generation for B2B firms from my colleagues and the bloggers leading the charge.
I found few free resources initially and thought it would be great to have a textbook for B2B marketing and demand generation, since none of my marketing courses prepared me for reality. Sure, we spoke about the 4Ps and innovation processes, but never about AB testing, content marketing, or differences between B2B and B2C. Then I saw Marketing Sherpa largely owned that space, clearly filling much of the gap—for a fee. Anne Holland saw the same gap in information I did. After a few years, I still believe we lack a comprehensive, practical guide to B2B marketing.
Eventually I came across Marketo, Eloqua, and David Meerman Scott’s blogs and writings. I found helpful guides, musings, case studies, and ideas for taking content I already had and making it work harder so I didn’t have to. From Marketo and Eloqua, I learned of the systems I had dreamed of and how I could learn more about my leads before anyone even called them. From David Meerman Scott, I learned what content marketing really meant, how I could use it, and what was possible with a real time mindset. Putting this into practice is my job.
The Real Time Marketing World is Your School
There is no textbook, course, or review of these topics. Sure, marketing is rapidly changing, so there shouldn’t be a central authority because that goes against the real time, decentralized nature of the tools we now have. I get that. But how about a near real time, curated course which is updated every 4-6 months? Such a program would allow those new to B2B marketing to establish a foundation in the field before representing your company? Either way, to learn demand generation, you need to treat the world as your school.
Learn demand generation and marketing automation from practitioners, not a textbook. – Click to Tweet.
To that end, I complied a list of possible materials, many of which can be had for free at the library or online.
I may not use HubSpot’s system, but I do use their blog. Their torrent of useful content is my go to source for understanding how to use the latest sharing tools or even learning SEO/SEM. Because of their close relationship with Google, they are the best place to find out about new features or changes I can make use of.
The other reason to subscribe to the RSS and their Twitter is to stay aware of their analyses of real time marketing. HubSpot will detail aggregate information on email subject lines, twitter, SEO, and landing pages from their 6,000 customers. Their in-house wizard, Dan Zarella, monitors social network data with the best insights—and it’s all free of charge.
2. David Meerman Scott’s Blog
I’ve been reading David’s blog since 2010 and wish I had found it earlier. His insight is real and he actively practices what he preaches. I had the pleasure of meeting David after the release of Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead, which nicely encapsulated their open source philosophy for the 21st Century.
3. Harvard Business Review’s Blog Feed
Sometimes I love this feed, sometimes I hate it. You have to monitor it for what’s relevant to you and it’s not always easy to filter out the wheat from the chaff. The blog is a bit different because you can glean summaries of key articles or hear from non-HBS thought leaders who often share unique insights here instead of their own blogs.
4. Real Time Marketing & PR by David Meerman Scott
David continues his analysis and case studies of how to use the internet to act immediately—and appropriately—to customers, prospects, and media.
5. Newsjacking by David Meerman Scott
David goes into detail of how to take advantage of the 24 hour news cycle in the best way possible.
6. Marketo’s Definitive Guide to Marketing Metrics & Analytics
For those new to marketing metrics, this is a helpful guide to understanding what can be measured and how it can be measured.
Despite my recent anti-lead scoring post, I believe Marketo’s Guide to be the best explanation for developing your own model. If only they also told you how to program lead scoring in Marketo, but I took care of that.
This critical survey confirmed what great sales people already know: the best time to call a lead back is immediately. If I were running a sales team, I would run it like Marketo or HubSpot—you call someone back in under 1 hour or the Service Level Agreement warning bells start to go off. Any sales person who believes it is ok to wait until tomorrow or until they are “less busy” should be fired immediately.
My own success in sales came from being responsive to clients and prospects, returning emails and calls immediately, even if just to acknowledge the receipt. I won a $150,000 deal with almost no work because I called a prospect 5 minutes after he sent an inquiry email. It works. Do it.
9. HubSpot’s Science of Timing (Dan Zarella)
Dan puts on this webinar periodically to analyze email time of day and day of week data from HubSpot’s customers. (Adestra also did a similar study). This is helpful information to use when starting out because he demolishes myths about the Tues-Thursday and morning-afternoon dilemma. Ultimately, you have to do your own analysis for your own audience.
10. HubSpot’s Guides
HubSpot publishes Guides to social media, email, landing pages, SEO, and SEM to help their clients, as well as establish their brand on the internet. They taught me many things about the practical nature of marketing in the real time era, and they can help you too.
You can always learn about Personas from HubSpot, David Meerman Scott, or a host of other marketers, but Adele Revella is the leader of this facet of marketing. I see very few firms successfully implementing a Persona program and I am ashamed to admit I haven’t done much work on it for my own business. It’s worth it and it does simplify marketing so you can churn out relevant content faster.
12. The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau
Chris writes about small entrepreneurs who started with a very small investment, took action, and were successful. Many of the case studies talk about the practical nature of operating an internet business.
13. Tribes by Seth Godin
A great book on how to find and lead a community of likeminded people now that you can find them on the internet.
14. Poke the Box by Seth Godin
Another provocative book to get you moving out of the doldrums of the comfort zone where “That’s the way it’s been done,” is banished.
15. Which Test Won by Anne Holland
A fun daily site for landing page AB tests with over 300 case studies and other detailed help for marketers. The full service is relatively low cost, although I often head to HubSpot for ideas instead.
16. Marketing Sherpa
The company Anne Holland founded and sold is still a leading source of B2B benchmarking data by industry. Marketing Sherpa offers a limited selection of free content and a wealth of practical information.
With the rapid pace of business and stream of new tools, a comprehensive guide to demand generation would certainly be out of date in a short period, unless it were a blog–a guide continually updated each day. Starting with the content above should give anyone a good foundation to get started in B2B marketing.
Do you have your favorite blogs or books you would add to this? Tell us below!
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Image: English106, flickr