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The Marketing Ecosystem

By Greenfield Belser, a Finn Partners Company
August 10, 2016
The Marketing Ecosystem

Have you ever wondered how to make sense of the muddled landscape of marketing technologies? The latest research from Greenfield/Belser organizes the marketing ecosystem into a comprehensible profile of industry leading technologies. You’ll find:

  • the essential questions you need to ask about each management tool
  • the most highly rated technologies in each category
  • plus a summary of IBM’s 2012 Global Survey of Marketers that proves large companies face the same challenges as large firms.

For better or worse, brand communications—from building awareness at the treetops via advertising, pr and websites all the way to your direct sales efforts through events, pitches and proposals—are rooted in technology. The irony is that the promise of technology—more marketing efficiencies and effectiveness—often makes for more complexity, not less. It has never been easy to get different software to grow in the same backyard, but the rapid evolution of marketing technologies makes your back sore just thinking about it. We’ve set out to chart and explain the marketing ecosystem, so you can make decisions to grow on. Our methodology is simple but rigorous:

We organized all of your marketing functions into permanent media (stationery and other elements of the brand) and promotional media (pretty much everything else), internal and external.

We scoured the Internet for tools that manage the deployment of those tactics (email marketing, for example).

We discovered that many of the management tools available are industry-centric, which makes sense since the business structure of—and terms related to—individual industries are often unique. But we explored beyond professional service industries to see if other tools might be superior to tools with which you are already familiar.

We searched wherever possible for independent verification of the effectiveness of the technologies listed in this research. Those listed are either highly ranked or highly recommended.

We urge you to compile your own research and make your own decisions, but isn’t it nice to have the problem framed and the process begun?

How do you…

Manage the Brand How can I give widely distributed sales and marketing teams a way to create, customize and deliver brand-compliant marketing materials easily, on-demand?

If you build it, will they still ignore the standards? Brand standards intranets and extranets, some quite elaborate, have served large firms and marketing functions for 10+ years. As you might expect, Interbrand and other brand design firms have leveraged software they’ve designed for themselves and others into stand-alone management software. As firms grow, the pdf graphic standards manual you now use will not grow with you.

(For brand management solution providers, order your poster, 202.775.0333.)

Manage Employee Data

How can I integrate our HR database with our website, proposals, events, etc.?

Migrating data across borders. Yes, the HR database needs to be integrated with web and other content systems for the sake of efficiencies and your sanity. But you won’t find a system to do that. You’ll need smart, multilingual programmers to build a pipe for your HR data to communicate with your website so you can use that information online and in proposals.

(For employee data management solution providers, order your poster, 202.775.0333. Look, this is free. And valuable. Just call.)

Manage Events

How can I find an event management piece of software that will do everything to manage an event, from start to finish?

More time to attend to the event itself. Cvent, RegOnline and Ungerboeck automate online registration and follow-up. But so do many email and CRM systems. Choosing the right one depends on the volume and complexity of your events. We use and love Campaign Monitor because it satisfies our needs and isn’t complicated, but we’ve also heard good things about Cvent.

(For other event management solution providers, order your poster, 202.775.0333. Think of your call as an event.)

Manage Proposals

How can I find a proposal management software that will answer these important questions:

Can I leverage current IT investments? Is the platform extensible? Can we access from anywhere and collaborate without working in HTML? Is reporting versatile?

No pain. First-generation proposal management systems help leverage public website content, but working in HTML is neither user-friendly nor compatible with collaboration. Simple solutions like Greenfield/Belser’s eBriefcase and robust second-generation solutions like ANSOR are pain free—allowing packages to be assembled or proposals to be built in Word, integrating seamlessly with SharePoint, the darling of IT directors. We also urge you to check out Deb McMurray’s Content Pilot proposal generator, too, just ’cause we’re desperately trying to be honest and forthright in these critical reviews.

(For other proposal management solution providers, order your poster, 202.775.0333. Honestly, it’s late and that proposal is due. Seriously.)

Manage Email Campaigns

How can I find email campaign management software that creates, sends and tracks all without needing the help of my IT department?

Create, send, track without a techie. Email marketing is still underappreciated by professional service marketers. Of all the digital tools in your arsenal, email wins hands down. Smart marketers now create campaigns and adjust on the fly by seeing who opens email, which links are clicked and if mail is forwarded through social media. Ease of use and efficiency rule. Surveys say Constant Contact and Benchmark Email are very good, but iContact is better-rated.

(For email campaign management solution providers, order your poster, 202.775.0333. Or you can email us at marketingecosystem@gbltd.com)

Manage Social Media

How can I find social media management software that automates my distribution across all social media channels?

Making sense of the hubbub. Social media was basically born yesterday. So expect software that helps manage your social media distribution to grow up as social media grows up. Many players, such as HootSuite and Moxie, promise a centralized way to source contacts, distribute campaigns and measure/monitor. At Greenfield/Belser, we signed up for Sprout Social.

(For social media management solution providers, order your poster, 202.775.0333.)

Manage the Content Mother lode

Are relationships and corrections easy to make and populate across a rich site?

SAAS in the cloud guarantees the future of your software. The features war is over. All CMSs will sooner or later match the features of the others. But you’ll have to wait for those updates unless you use Greenfield/Belser’s Point & Clique V6. Version 6 follows the Software As A Service model, hosted in the cloud, so new features are available to you as soon as they appear. Open source is appealing to many buyers, but once Drupal or Joomla is on your server, you are responsible for enhancements. Actually, in truth, all software is proprietary, even open source, once it lands on your server. Problem is, you are the proprietor! Cloud-based CMSs are always cutting edge.

(For content management solution providers, order your poster, 202.775.0333. Be not afraid.)

Manage Experience

How can I sort experience by client, date, industry, location, value, service area, etc., to create a beautifully designed table of relevant experience?

What have you done and for whom? That’s the question executive buyers of professional services want answered. Trouble is, marketing data float like spores around your firm. We like new tools like Track Record (part of V6) and ANSOR for very robust experience management collation, tracking and reporting. We didn’t include Hubbard One because we understand that their proposal system and experience manager did not travel to One North.

(For experience management solution providers, order your poster, 202.775.0333. Are you experienced?)

Manage SEO

Ask if the software will… crawl the site frequently and alert us to issues we need to fix and how to do it, make on-page, specific recommendations, give us a snapshot of our competitors?

If you want to get found, find a consultant. Software can help, but the rules of the game change so often that you simply must have an SEO consultant on contract. We don’t believe even a full-time staff person is your best investment. Seomoz and Conductor are two leaders in the field. Both are approachable in ways that Google Analytics is not.

(For content management solution providers, order your poster, 202.775.0333.)

Manage Website Effectiveness

How can I find a software solution that deciphers Google’s Analytics by linking Google’s data to design and coding strategies that improve your website’s effectiveness?

Analytics provide data, not insights. We invented a category called “web effectiveness” because we believe your site should be constantly reviewed for its effectiveness in converting visitors to leads. There are a host of options providing analytics, including the best-known—Google Analytics. But Google’s goals are different from yours, and its Analytics are almost impossible, frankly, for management or marketing to understand. Respected pundits say you need a range of tools, not one, to assess your site. More important, you need talent to sort, select, interpret and make sensible recommendations from the data.

(For website effectiveness providers, order your poster, 202.775.0333. Really. We have to say this again?)

Manage Client Relationships

How can I find a CRM system that provides me with the most features and access?

Battle-scarred marketers know that people and process make or break a CRM system. But in broader B2B marketing, Salesforce.com rates best for features and functions. SugarCRM and NetSuite also top charts. Professional service favorites are still InterAction and ContactEase.

(For client relationship management solution providers, order your poster, 202.775.0333. Or call your account executive at 202.775.0333. Wait, we said that already.)

End of Story

For the record, Greenfield/Belser is not a technology consultancy. Yes, we are up to our neck in technology and its alligators because that’s what delivers great brands today. But, basically, we see our job as caring about you and your challenges, so we spend a good deal of our time trying to think about issues you don’t have time to manage. Eventually, you’ll roll over one sleepless night and say, “Hey, I should call those guys. They probably have the answer.”