EXEC INSIDER Q&A: Genius.com CEO Sheds Light On The Connected Marketer, Applying The Three R’s

Published: March 16, 2010


In our first installment, Genius CEO David Thompson shares his thoughts on recent Genius.com innovations, including a new “Connected Marketer” community, focused on helping marketers keep pace with the changing business climate.

DemandGen Report: Genius recently unveiled its new community positioned around the “Connected Marketer,” which includes a blog, white papers, a webinar and various resources.  Can you expand on what drove this effort? What are some of the “Connected Marketer” characteristics?

David Thompson: I think we are all aware that a lot has changed for marketers in the last few years. Along with unprecedented economic challenges that have dictated that marketers be more accountable to top line revenue, there’s has been sweeping changes in how we approach the market. Social media and marketing automation are just two of the many forces behind these changes. Not surprisingly, marketers are struggling to keep pace with both the tremendous challenges and opportunities that have presented themselves.

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The “Connected Marketer” is our communications platform to engage with a community that is still making sense of these changes. Together we can share, learn and succeed by connecting with each other to better connect qualified prospects to sales and sales to revenue. At Genius we have changed our online brand to be more interactive and more solutions centric. Our new corporate Web site embodies this and features the latest thinking from not only our dedicated staff, but the community and thought leaders as well.

DGR: Genius recently earned the Salesforce.com User’s Choice Award for marketing automation.  Given the company’s focus on driving better sales results with smarter, social marketing automation, what are some of the essentials to that marketing mix?

Thompson: We’re tremendously proud of the salesforce.com award as we’ve unseated some of the more traditional players in the space to win this hard-fought recognition. In the marketing automation space for less than a year, it’s a testament to what Genius has built and achieved.  Social marketing automation provides a new way for our customers to capture and cultivate prospects through both inbound and outbound marketing to ensure that no qualified lead is left behind.

The essentials to this are what we call the “3Rs” of social marketing automation: extending Reach, engaging Response and building Relationships to ultimately drive the most important “R”, Revenue. Tools like the Genius URLs (gURLS) [are designed to] enable anybody in the organization to easily create a shortened, trackable URL and place it in a social media conversation to extend the company’s reach above the traditional sales funnel and into the conversations in the clouds. Marketing automation then can help companies efficiently respond with timely and targeted communications.

With lead scoring processes in place, prospects that show themselves to be sales ready are automatically handed off to Sales for right time personal engagement to offer support, answer questions and hopefully close deals.

DGR: Moving into Q2, what are the “lessons learned” in the first months of 2010? What are your expectations for the year in relation to the broader economic recovery and the automation space specifically?

Thompson: The economic conditions have underscored the need for the entire organization to be sales focused and drive toward revenue goals. Marketers are being asked to go beyond traditional lead gen goals and prove their contribution to sales success. It’s no longer good enough to generate a lot of leads; marketers are being asked to generate quality leads that drive revenue.

The whole marketing automation category has benefited from this shift in thinking as players in the space have been in a great position to show how companies can not only do more with less (through automation) but deliver the goods (with more qualified leads to sales).  The companies that thrive will be the ones that can prove the greatest impact in the shortest period of time.

DGR: Given the company’s stress on “social marketing automation,” how does social media integrate into your business objectives & strategy?

Thompson: Certainly the “Connected Marketer” effort is our outward manifestation of this as we look to reach out and engage with the broader marketing community. Social media is a tremendous opportunity to engage in these conversations in the clouds and offer a comment or support. Our “Connected Marketer” blog and LinkedIn Group offer great avenues for us to listen and learn from the market and add value in return. Ultimately that’s going to make for better products and better solutions, and subsequently, more productive customers.

DGR: You recently unveiled a new blog.  What are some of the other new marketing tactics and/or measurements your organization intends to adopt in order to reach customers and prospects efficiently?

Thompson: In addition to the new blog, we’ll be adding new channels and media to better engage with the marketing community at large. And while we’ll be engaging in a wider variety of online methods, we will also reinforce this with increased local presence.

How we measure our success will include measuring the real impact of social marketing. Because we use the Genius Marketing Automation solution, we track not only blog and Web traffic, but leads and opportunities generated from our social media efforts.  We also look at social media indicators like topic strength, influence and reach to measure the strength and depth of our community engagement.

DGR: Are there any new solutions Genius is planning to add? If so, where do you see the category heading?

Thompson: While 90% of consumers are using social media, recent stats indicate that only 16% of enterprises track ROI from these efforts which points to both the tremendous need and opportunity to better understand the relevance of social media on the brand and on purchasing behaviors.We’ll deepen our industry leading social marketing capabilities so that company’s can understand and judge ROI from social media. We’re building interesting views into our data that provide compelling analytics about the impact of marketing on revenue.  We will also extend our CRM integration into other popular platforms.

I think we’ll also see the category look for new ways to put marketing capabilities into the hands of more people throughout the enterprise but because of how many of these solutions are architected this will be a challenging and time-consuming endeavor. Three years ago, when I started the Sales 2.0 Conference the takeway was “everyone’s in sales.” In today’s world “everyone’s in marketing.”

As CEO of Genius.com, David Thompson is responsible for creating and executing on the company’s overall vision, overseeing all business operations and working closely with customers to grow the business. Thompson also provides the roadmap for Genius.com Inc.’s marketing and product strategy and directs the company’s financial growth and business development efforts.

Thompson started Genius after his tenure at WebEx Communications, serving from 1998 through late 2004 as vice president of product marketing and then CMO. While at WebEx, Thompson shipped award-winning Web conferencing products that reinvigorated the category, named the company and directed legendary marketing campaigns that vaulted WebEx to #1 in on-demand software. Thompson architected WebEx’s industry-leading “Sales 2.0” lead-generation system, integrating innovative e-mail and web marketing technologies to drive a large volume and velocity of sales leads.

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