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Creativity, Serendipity, and Championing B2B: An Interview with Adriel Sanchez

SEOmoz March 13, 2013 Comments Off

Posted by Erica McGillivray

Adriel SanchezI sat down to talk with Adriel Sanchez, Sr. Director of Demand Generation at SAP. Every day, he digs into how he can help B2B businesses and their marketers with database marketing, telemarketing, digital marketing, and campaign management services. Adriel currently leads a demand generation hub of 70+ people to support SAP's Latin America business. You can find him on Twitter @Adriel_S or blogging at Marketing…pfft!

What's inspired you lately?

Recently, I had the privilege of joining 60 other top marketing execs from Fortune 500 companies for a 1.5 day private event in NYC. If you can't get inspired with that many smart people in a room, you're either in the wrong business, or you're a zombie. We touched on a lot of topics, but all centered around driving a culture of creativity and innovation.

Some key takeaways for me? Too many people and resource can actually stifle creativity, and when innovating, think rapid prototyping and make failure an option. You need a lot of bad ideas to get to a good one.

As a champion of B2B, you often rally against the notion that B2B is "boring" compared to B2C. What are some of your favorite B2B companies doing great inbound marketing out there?

Our CMO at SAP, Jonathan Becher, likes to say that "Big glass buildings don't buy software. People do…" Tragically, there aren't a heck of a lot of B2B marketing examples out there that break the 'B to Boring' stigma. B2B marketers need to 'bring the sexy back.' (Though I'm not sure we ever had it.)

That said, I love Adobe's Metrics Not Myths campaign. Another classic example (though by a brand that's not in existence anymore) is EDS' building planes in the sky ad. It also broke out of that B2B creative mold. SAP is doing quite a bit around sports and entertainment these days that is anything, but 'boring.' We recently launched NBA.com/stats.

You wrote recently about humanizing your brand through kindness. What's a humanizing experience you've had with a brand or noticed from the outside?

I love what the current White House administration has done with their brand. Regardless of your political leanings, you can't deny that the administration focuses hard on managing that brand, from the President on down. Their response to the We The People's petition to build a Death Star was brilliant. And best of all, their approach is backed by data. The amount of testing that went into the 2012 campaign's email marketing program was unprecedented in any organization, public or private.

You moved in your career from being a direct marketer to a social media marketer. What do you want to bring from direct marketing into social media?

First, I wouldn't describe myself as a 'social media marketer.' Any successful marketer today needs to understand social and its impact on how people engage with each other and the companies they buy from.

But my biggest lesson from direct marketing was how to align my activities to business outcomes. In a world where only 3-5% of the people you contact actually buy something, you will lose a lot of money FAST unless you're laser-focused on business outcomes. I feel like some self-described 'digital' or 'social' marketers today lose sight of those business drivers.

Conversely, what direct marketing habit did you have to break to dive into social?

The majority of core direct marketing tenets remain true. That said, there are three areas where I've had to evolve as a marketer:

First, the 40/40/20 rule of list, offer creative now needs to include context. A perfectly good offer to a targeted audience may fail if it's presented in a way that breaks accepted norms for a particular channel.

Albert EinsteinSecond, I've had to embrace Einstein's quote, "Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." This one isn't easy for any direct marketer, but social media permeates everything. Try to quantify its cost or how much money it's bringing in as a stand-alone activity and you'll wind up with an incomplete picture at best.

Lastly, while we know negative option offers will almost always outperform positive option in the short-term, in today's world we need to err on the side of explicit customer permission.

What's your favorite social media medium to engage in?

Definitely blogging. Writing thoughts 140 characters at a time is fun, but it just doesn't satisfy my appetite for writing. My favorite part about blogging is actually introspection. It helps me crystallize my point of view on a particular topic.

When you're brainstorming for great content ideas, what are some of your favorite research or creative flow sources?

Definitely non-traditional sources. Whether I'm watching a video on a cool new gadget or reading about a groundbreaking medical development, I'm always trying to tie it back to my day-to-day challenges. Creativity is often serendipitous. If you put yourself in an environment and mindset where creativity can flourish, you'll notice great ideas coming from the most unexpected places.

Whether it's Grumpy Cat or the Harlem Shake, crazy social trends have caught our eye, even in the B2B space. (Heck, at SEOmoz, we did our own Harlem Shake video.) But what's something you were shocked never caught on?

I love Axe body spray's "Nothing beats an astronaut" campaign and am pretty surprised the spoofs haven't come in droves. Would it kill someone to create a "Nothing beats a marketing executive" version?

What are some innovative ways that you've seen people get their entire staff involved in their social media efforts and content creation?

Finding people interested in social is the easy part. What's difficult is achieving a sustained commitment to contribute in a way that adds real value to the community. This stuff takes time. The "what's in for me" principle is alive and well. Invest the time, and "I'll make ya famous." There's a company called EveryoneSocial with some interesting technology to help empower your entire workforce to be social media ambassadors.

If you're hiring for a social media manager, what are qualities that you'd look for?

Editorial background, above all else. I'd rather hire a someone with a journalism degree for this than an MBA in marketing. Find someone who can write, with a 'punchy' attitude, and has their finger on the pulse of current trends, news, etc., and you have a winner. Social media best practices and the ins and outs of your company's products are easier to teach than these other core skills.

A lot of people want more metrics from social media. What are three of your favorite analytics tools and what do you use them for?

We use Netbase for social monitoring and listening. It's got excellent natural language processing that takes sentiment analysis beyond the basics. It also has really good multi-language capabilities that continue improving.

Then there's a great solution offered by NextPrinciples that allows us to audit our hundreds of social media accounts across the globe against key reach and engagement metrics. It's critical to controlling the proliferation of accounts that plagues most large companies.

Lastly, social media objectives must tie to your business KPIs. We use our own CRM to track leads and opportunities that flow from social.

If you could change one thing about the way we use social media, what would it be?

I recently heard a story about a client of a major consulting company that reviewed the Facebook profiles of the consultants being assigned to his business before approving them. The client asked that a few be replaced because of photos posted on their walls. This isn't just an anecdote anymore. What we share in social media is public by default. Every picture, post, point of view, opinion, indiscretion. You have to work really hard to keep what's private private. I think it's time to consider whether private by default is the better option. Google+ goes is headed in that direction.

Thank you so much, Adriel, for a look into your world. If you're interested in hearing more from him, he'll be talking at the upcoming SES NY conference on the Building the B2B Social Media Machine panel.

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