July 18, 2013

Book Short: The Little Engine that Could

Book Short:  The Little Engine that Could Authors Steven Woods and Alex Shootman would make Watty Piper proud.  Instead of bringing toys to the children on the other side of the mountain, though, this engine brings revenue into your company.  If you run a SaaS business, or really if you run any B2B business, Revenue Engine:  Why Revenue Performance Management is the Next Frontier of Competitive Advantage, will change the way you think about Sales and Marketing. The authors, who were CTO and CRO of Eloqua (the largest SaaS player in the demand management software space that recently got acquired by Oracle), are thought leaders in the field, and the wisdom of the book reflects that. The book chronicles the contemporary corporate buying process and shows that it has become increasingly like the consumer buying process in recent years.  The Consumer Decision Journey, first published by McKinsey in 2009, chronicles this process and talks about how the traditional funnel has been transformed by the availability of information and social media on the Internet.  Revenue Engine moves this concept to a B2B setting and examines how Marketing and Sales are no longer two separate departments, but stewards of a combined process […]


September 13, 2012

How Do You Eat an Elephant?

How Do You Eat an Elephant? Credit to my colleague Chuck Drake for this one…but How Do You Eat an Elephant?  One Bite at a Time.  The David Allen school of time management (post, book)  talks about breaking your projects down into “Next Actions” so they don’t become overwhelming and can easily move forward one step at a time. I think the same is true of organizational projects – perhaps even more so.  Any time we find ourselves swirling around a big initiative at Return Path, we are at our best when we ask ourselves some questions along these lines: […]


July 12, 2012

Marketing Data: What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You

Marketers have blinders on when it comes to some aspects of data. We‘re so focused on using it to build relationships and businesses, that we don’t pay enough attention to data’s inherent risks. Those risks are real, though. Our brands are constantly under attack, and even trivial oversights in data handling can leave us—and our customers—unacceptably vulnerable. We need to better understand the risks. We need to know more. If marketers don’t develop industrywide expertise in all aspects of data use, if we can’t demonstrate that we can be trusted stewards of information, we risk losing our rights to use […]


November 3, 2011

Learning to Embrace Sizzle

Learning to Embrace Sizzle One phrase I’ve heard a lot over the years is about “Selling the sizzle, not the steak.”  It suggests that in the world of marketing or product design, there is a divergence between elements of substance and what I call bright shiny objects, and that sometimes it’s the bright shiny objects that really move the needle on customer adoption. At Return Path, we have always been about the steak and NOT the sizzle.  We’re incredibly fact-based and solution-oriented as a culture.  In fact, I can think of a lot of examples where we have turned our […]


May 3, 2011

Why Winning Matters (Especially When You’re Young)

The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) has long been a leading voice for direct marketing for nearly 100 years – back when direct marketing was really only about postal. It has evolved in that time to include phone, fax (for the nanosecond that was relevant), and then interactive tactics, including email. While the DMA has not always incorporated the new technologies in the most elegant way – the tendency has been to apply previous best practices, even when consumers have demanded a new way of thinking – the organization has made tremendous strides in recent years to re-shape itself into an […]


May 2, 2011

Juxtaposition

Juxtaposition Once I stripped out the spam and the person:person emails from my inbox this morning, here were the five subject lines I was left with: Wall Street Journal:  Osama Bin Laden is Dead [eCommerce company]:  Final Hours to Shop Our Private Sale! Wall Street Journal:  Bin Laden Was Killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan Official Says [Travel site]:  Last minute deals from NYC and more! Wall Street Journal:  Osama Bin Laden Buried at Sea Return Path (yes, my own company):  Why Whitelisting is Important to Your Email Marketing Mix The cynic in me says “wow, nice timing on the email marketing.”  […]


July 31, 2010

Agile Marketing, Part II

Agile Marketing, Part II I wrote about this years ago when I was temporarily running Marketing and was noting a lot of the similarities between running contemporary Product Development and Marketing efforts. Nick Van Weerdenburg just put up a great post called Why Marketing is Becoming Like Software Development which you should read if you run or work in, or work closely with, a marketing department.


July 15, 2010

Mental Maps

Mental Maps I recently went grocery shopping at a store I’d never been to before, Stew Leonard’s, and, no offense to Stew, I am unlikely to be a repeat customer.  While there were some things about the store that were better than most grocery stores, the experience drove me nuts.  Here’s why. The store is laid out completely differently from standard grocery stores.  Most stores, even unusual ones like Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, have a nearly identical layout.  One side is produce, frozen foods in the middle, meats in the back, dairy around the other side, standard aisles have […]


February 25, 2010

New Blog of Note in the Direct Marketing World

New Blog of Note in the Direct Marketing World Gene Raitt, Chairman of the DMA, has launched a new blog today called DM Unplugged.  It’s not an official DMA property.  Gene won’t be the only contributor — over time, other DMA board members (including me) and thought leaders in the direct and interactive marketing communities at large — will contribute as well. This is one small, though notable, development in a series of things the DMA is working on as it transforms itself.  Look for some truly “unplugged” commentary on this blog about both things happening in the industry and […]


January 20, 2010

The Beginning of the DMA’s Next Chapter

The Beginning of the DMA’s Next Chapter   As I wrote a few months back, I recently joined the DMA’s Board of Directors and its Executive Committee to try to help the association – one of the largest and highest profile groups representing marketers – advance its agenda in a few specific ways.  At the time, I noted that my interests would be on consumer advocacy and engagement, execution around interactive marketing issues and the internet community, and transparency around the organization itself.   Yesterday, John Greco, the association’s CEO, announced he is stepping down to make way for the […]


October 21, 2009

Why I joined the DMA Board, and what you can expect of me in that role

Why I joined the DMA Board, and what you can expect of me in that role I don’t normally think of myself as a rebel. But one outcome of the DMA’s recent proxy fight with Board member Gerry Pike is that I’ve been appointed to the DMA’s Board and its Executive Committee and have been labeled “part of the reform movement” in the trade press. While I wasn’t actively leading the charge on DMA reform with Gerry, I am very enthusiastic about taking up my new role. I gave Gerry my proxy and support for a number of reasons, and […]