Creating a B2B Marketing Database:
10 Straightforward Steps To Reach
Success In A Complex Project
People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.
-- Soren Kierkegaard
STEP 3 - Understanding Requirements And Resources
It's time to roll up our sleeves and meet the demands that your internal clients voiced. In creating a B2B marketing database, you must come to understand quickly what the actual work entails, what resources are required to get the job done and how to prepare to use them effectively.
This is the basis for your return on investment (ROI) calculation
for your project. Fail to tackle these demands with a sound approach, and you will be sent packing to the psycho ward. The complexity in juggling the workload will break you.
By contrast, if you obey the following 2 rules, your chance of success will increase dramatically.
Rule #1: To avoid talking to a psychoanalyst, talk to a data analyst first.
There are depths to the design of a B2B marketing database. It would be fool-hearty to plunge into them without knowing what equipment to take with you through each level.
Like jumping the Grand Canyon without a parachute or penetrating a submarine cave without enough oxygen is this plunge without the right tools with you. Think of this as progressively sailing across 4 areas of knowledge that near your boat to the coastline.
You don't want to hit bottom. Therefore, the tools you take with you will determine whether each area will be a placid sojourn through the Blue Lagoon or a hellish trip across Sibelius' Tempest.
Like a spiral, each area of knowledge cycles right into the next. With each deepening advance, every area becomes more complex, more demanding and even perilous, if you don't keep you head about you when creating a B2B marketing database.
So, if you have the guts, let's begin the approach. Drop your plumb line...
Before getting your feet wet know this:
The world that you're entering now is one of abstraction and intangibles. This is not Marketing any more.
Instead this will be like looking at a Marketing MRI scan.
If you are a marketer, then you will likely need help to muddle through the following, unless you have the proclivities of a radiologist. That's what I'm here for. So contact me and ask away, if you get stuck.
Now that you've been warned, let's move on. Go ahead. Drop that plumb line...
Rule #2: To set up the project for success, get an understanding of the 4 areas of knowledge that you must move through.
As I've said, to design a B2B marketing database you must course through 4 areas of knowledge.
AREA OF KNOWLEDGE #1: Context Requires Sponsorship
You start sounding off on your approach to the coastline by shouting "Context area ahoy!" What do I mean by a context area?
A context area is the space where you determine the business scope of the B2B marketing database initiative. Your tool of choice to use in this space, depending on the culture and size of your organization, is 1 or more project sponsors.
You must secure this tool to succeed in your journey, because you need at least 1 herald to announce your trajectory - a champion to open the path for you or pull you out of danger at any time when the organization stops supporting your work. When creating a B2B marketing database, the sponsor is the defender of the context in which your project occurs.
Without a business context for your B2B marketing database there is no way to argue a meaningful purpose for the database in your discussions with the wide assortment of stakeholders that you will need to engage in the initiative.
Your sponsor broadcasts, asserts and defends that context. We're talking prophet, evangelist and priest all rolled up in one, plus champion of the cause with sling shot in hand and ample experience killing lions and tigers and bears, preferably bare handed.
The business context takes many forms. But in B2B some forms are more prevalent than others. For instance, B2B marketing organizations often claim a need for a B2B marketing database out of a desire for accountability in the form of reporting financial returns and tracking operations performance. This is a very common context for creating a B2B marketing database. But it is also a very wide context.
Compare this to a firm's desire to improve targeting to a particular
market segment for which greater account specificity is needed to position the business offerings more effectively within each of those accounts. Call this situation a Corporate Marketing vs. Field Marketing performance comparison.
In either case a B2B marketing database may come in handy to do financials, performance tracking or account targeting. Yet, when it comes to creating a B2B marketing database, the context
for each case would be radically different, because the business scope for one initiative is radically distinct from the business scope of the other.
This difference in scope is something which the sponsor must always keep in mind and ceaselessly defend. And keeping this context frozen is mandatory once you begin to venture into the next area of knowledge.
AREA OF KNOWLEDGE #2: Business Process Requires Modeling
It is by coursing within the B2B marketing database's business context that we enter the conceptual realm. By concept I mean that you shout "business process ahoy!" when you pull up that plumb line closer to shore.
The concept of a B2B marketing database represents in practice the process which that tool enables for the business. Moreover, any such process can be formulated as a workflow or as a series of report functions or as a sequence of rules in a decision-making scheme, which the B2B marketing database tool must facilitate or even make possible for its users. Without this process definition, there is no concept for a database.
Process definition begins to materialize the database. Without process definition the B2B marketing database will remain ephemeral -- an ever-evolving wish in the minds and hearts of its proponents. It will change like the wind, taking on any purpose designated for it on a whim.
For instance, the B2B marketing database as a topic
will remain a favorite hideout during staff meetings, where the incompetent runs to whenever he can't explain why his campaigns are performing so poorly..."'cause I don't have a marketing database to do my job with!"
It will remain a mystery spot, where strategic decisions scamper out of reach, whenever the time turns ripe for Management to seize onto an excuse, again, "'cause we don't have a marketing database to help us decide what to do."
So give the B2B marketing database form. Focus on the process it will enable. That's what gives it shape.
The tool that you need to carry with you into this area of knowledge is a process modeler
. This is the realm of mind maps and flow charts and task lists prioritized and categorized. This is the space of interrelated taxonomies and glossaries. Of unique importance is to remember the role that business drivers play within this area of conceptual modeling.
What is a business driver? A business driver is a catalyst. It energizes the factors that interact and precipitate the business process. Yet as yeast is not fermentation itself, so business drivers are not themselves the marketing process. Therefore, just as yeast does not represent wine, neither do business drivers serve as representatives of the actual conceptual model for a B2B marketing database.
But, like all catalysts, nothing seems to happen until they're tossed into the mix. Then suddenly they seem to be responsible for everything. At its best that's an inaccurate perception of what is truly happening. At its worst it is a false belief that can sink your project before you even leave the dock.
A business driver gives you direction and magnitude of thrust. But without appropriate harnessing, a driver out of control can destroy your initiative no different than a random electron can cause the chain reaction that detonates a nuclear bomb.
Let's work out an example.
Consider creating a B2B marketing database and the ongoing effort at mapping conceptually its design to support simultaneously both a corporate organization and a field marketing organization at a global Fortune 1000 company.
Let's say that both groups claim to be driven
by a need to generate more leads to impact the bottom line, except that Corporate wants to produce a cross-functional composite of the marketing mix that would make evident over time the kinds of marketing vehicle and tactic combinations that might more effectively impact certain niche markets. Field, on the other hand, is determined to discover which particular messages might resonate best with certain business titles at certain local venues.
Are both groups really after just generating more leads? Why, yes! They both are. But clearly they're not after the same concept of how to do that.
In fact, their business process models and, therefore, their B2B marketing database concepts
are totally divergent, even while both teams seem
to share the same business driver.
One group conceptualizes the process as requiring a broader base of data and a longer marketing process cycle than the other. In other words, one group demands a more macro, long term-oriented look of the market while the other is after a micro, short term-oriented look of the market.
In practice this amounts to conflicting demands. The same B2B marketing database will not be able to satisfy both sets of demands. Creating a B2B marketing database for both organization will be too daunting a task to achieve quickly and economically.
So discerning with your modeler the delineation between processes and avoiding the application of a one-size-fits-all approach to process definition guarantees a sound navigation across these conceptual business model waters to give shape to you B2B marketing database.
AREA OF KNOWLEDGE #3: A Physical Database Requires a Physical Model
Concepts or abstractions can only go so far. At some point you must sink your teeth into something tangible. "System logic ahoy!" This is the area few if any marketers intentionally venture into. So don't go at it alone!
Again, to keep you from visiting a psychoanalyst visit instead with a data analyst, particularly a data architect
who will design the physical model
for your B2B marketing database based on the process model that your process modeler conceptualized
(You did understand earlier that you need that business process concept as a deliverable for your data architect, right? You won't be able to build a well thought out system otherwise.)
System modeling is all about engineering logic. It precedes any discussion involving the hard facts of technology. Not that marketers are illogical, but one place a typical marketer wouldn't catch himself dead is in a systems logic discussion.
Normalized Entity-Relationship diagrams (ERD's), Application Processing Interfaces (API's), data structures, transaction types and metadata are the stuff that these meetings are made of.
AREA OF KNOWLEDGE #4: A Software Application is Coded from a Physical Model
If you thought physical database design was a tough nut to crack, it's light fare compared with the next area of knowledge, which is the technology discussions where the actual physical database gets built or a software-as-a-service (SaaS) tool set gets configured.
What RDBMS should the database run on? What should its memory capacity be? What's its encryption strategy? What triggers and procedures will be scripted for it? What's the ETL strategy? What web services should be crafted for system integration? What's the backup and recovery strategy? Where will the system be hosted?
And that's only the beginning. Then comes actual system building, loading and testing. "Information Technology (IT) ahoy!"
Thank goodness you can count on a wide assortment of database developers and administrators to help you through this stretch. Often for marketers today, this type of skill set sits behind a SaaS vendor arrangement, unless you're interested in building a customized B2B marketing database, in which case you might need to be closer to the engineering action than any typical marketer might be comfortable with.
Either way, never forget that these engineers take their marching orders from that first conceptual model in knowledge area #2 that defined your business process. If you crash on the reefs at this stage, it's because you didn't read the depths of your business context and process conceptualization well enough early in your approach to shore
You in Marketing are at the helm. You make the calls. It's not IT's fault in the engine room if the ship runs aground.
You're now ready for Step 4: Avoiding The Typical Slip-ups
Return to Step 2 - Promise The Future, Deliver The Present from Creating a B2B Marketing Database - Step 3
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