Database Administrator or Minister of Culture?

Many keepers of corporate culture complain: how can we “force” (their word choice) project managers to log data points and narratives at various milestones and thereby keep good records that enable marketing and business development staff to field new client inquiries about relevant work? The answer is simple and can be found in the Lean framework so popular today. Hire a marketing manager to keep a marketing database that is driven by the marketing department’s needs, and tie it to client billing.

I have known three firms within the last few years that struggle with maintenance of a marketing database. All three lack a marketing manager, or marketing database administrator. A fourth firm that boasts a healthy, well-utilized database, as well as high retention in marketing staff, has a different process. This firm requires all project management staff to send client setup forms and project initiation forms — information that typically goes straight to the billing office — to a marketing manager first.

The marketing manager examines the project data carefully for quality, records it in the database, assigns the root project number, sets up files per protocol, and then passes the form along to accounting. Essentially he or she is responsible for the marketing project database, which requires 1-2 hours per day to maintain. The rest of his or her day is spent utilizing this rich database. This marketing output work provides feedback to the job of quality-checking the input data that comes from those responsible for profit and loss and their project managers. The marketing manager is the link between what clients require — the “pull” in Lean-speak — and what information the project staff provide about current and recent projects. As it grows in size, quality and relevance, the database serves all marketing staff very well, so they in turn can serve internal and external clients very well. Several goals are achieved: the marketing database facilitates nimble and thorough responses to new inquiries, while corporate culture keepers can breathe easier knowing that the firm’s intellectual property records are alive and well.

To be clear, I …

I am not saying that outbound cold calling is a “new” strategy, but I am shocked at how many people have proclaimed that using the telephone to source opportunities is dead. We have proven this model to be extremely successful, and have tied incentives to ensure that we are promoting the right behavior. For instance, we reward our inside sales team for setting up qualified appointments and provide an additional bonus if their appointments turn into closed deals. Lists on the internet are in abundance, and should be leveraged to their fullest capacity. In my experience, if you are calling a prospect with genuine intent to uncover whether a problem or pain exists, and are respectful and intelligent in your dialog, you will uncover great opportunities at every turn.

From Russell Sachs at WorkMarket, via Fred Wilson of

Brushing Up on Dark Arts

Reading the job boards recently, I came across a few open posts for university communications directors. I believe it was Harvard’s that wagged a finger at potential applicants, “Must be able to work in a highly matrixed environment.” I have pondered that dire warning ever since. In a highly matrixed environment, presumably, one has to get buy-in or sign-off from many different people: those who lead departments or silos or special programs, all of which might be funded differently and possibly compete for attention, dollars, researchers, or students. In a simpler company or organization, a communications director would simply report to the chief executive officer, helping him or her manage communications and bulletins, whether internal or external.

Pondering the matrix led me to research politicians. (And anyway, we have been watching House of Cards on television.) How are politicians different from executives in highly matrixed environments? Probably they are in fact the same, I hypothesized. In the blog literature, how are politicians advised to get their start? “Always be fundraising,” say the writers. “Be transparent. Have a budget and stick to it. Listen.”

These strategies are so similar to sales. As you advance in your career, you simply have to improve in both dark arts.

Sample Web and Social Strategy

For each social media service below, note the aspirational audience (A), message (M), and sample tactics(T) for marketing Firm X, a professional services company.
A: Warm leads; clients who are just beginning to know Firm X.
M: We can help you with your high-risk problems.
T: Maintain a unique and updated web presence. Post occasional, high quality messages.
A: Those who have hired Firm X previously plus qualified prospects.
M: We can delight your clients or team.
T: Post unique experiences and insights. (One-way communication is expected because people are reluctant to comment on a corporate blog.)
A: Those who benefit from the services of Firm X.
M: We are listening to your comments and needs.
T: Engage with followers (2/3); provide teasers for blog posts (1/3).
A: Existing staff and clientele of Firm X. Future staff.
M: Let’s entertain and be entertained.
T: Post celebration photos. Engage with friends.
Instagram, Pinterest, Soundcloud, Tumblr
How would you use these services for your firm?