Every executive has a favorite zinger, and Eloqua CEO Joe Payne is no different. “We don’t measure by anecdote,” is one of his winning aphorisms. And from the perspective of aspiration, he’s right. Everything is ultimately measurable, and we are a “measure everything” company.
But sometimes data isn’t enough to fully measure a phenomenon. Sometimes a story is required to hold all of the data together, the way mortar is needed to fix bricks in place. Here goes:
We’ve been talking about our vision for a new category – which we named Revenue Performance Management – for quite some time. We were proud to introduce it, and we were invigorated when other vendors and consultants began to position themselves in and around it. It told us, in marketing parlance, there’s a “there there.”
But it’s one thing for a vendor to give a category a name, and something else entirely for a disinterested observer to carry the mantle. So one of the milestones we assigned to the “arrival” of Revenue Performance Management was the blessing of a finance analyst.
That happened in December 2010, when Greg Thorne of JMP Securities published “Better Revenue: The Emergence of Revenue Performance Management” in his company’s quarterly newsletter. Thorne didn’t only write about operationalized revenue performance, as others have, but he actually used the term we had worked so hard to promulgate. Someone at Eloqua received the newsletter and forwarded it to someone else, then a group address received it and, in turn, zipped the article off to yet another department. Digital applause. After we tired of patting ourselves on the backs, someone asked the sobering question: “How did this happen?”
Did he talk to you?
Did he call you?
Do you know him?
Enter: marketing buzzkill. While we were delighted to see our revenue tree produce fruit, we had no idea which gardener to praise. Inspired improvisation may be the lifeblood of jazz, but trust me, it’s not the foundation upon which to build repeatable communications success.
About this time, I was working with our CTO Steve Woods to help build an Eloqua Cloud Connector for SlideShare, a social network on which we’ve long been positively bullish. Woods’ tool would allow leads captured using SlideShare’s LeadShare product to be fed automatically into the account holder’s Eloqua database (cool, right?). One of the steps in this process was for us to set up a LeadShare campaign for one of our SlideShare-hosted assets. Figuring viewers associate analyst firms with data collection, we ran our LeadShare campaign around a PowerPoint that accompanied a webinar on Revenue Performance Management conducted by Eloqua CMO Brian Kardon and Forrester analyst Suresh Vittal.
Woods built the Cloud Connector and the rest of us grew tired of trying to reconstruct the origin of the JMP article. Then one day I found myself kicking around in SlideShare’s analytics dashboards (which are remarkable, by the way) and I saw a bunch of leads captured via LeadShare I rifled through them, until one name jumped out at me: Greg Thorne of JMP Securities.
I shot a note to Payne who, with a razor’s precision, cut right to the essential: “Did he download the presentation it before or after he wrote the article.”
“Two weeks before,” I replied.
“Good. Let’s put forms in all of our SlideShare content,” he concluded, in classic Joe Payne style. (I am still unsure if he was serious.) In any event, we are indeed well on our way to measuring everything. Even the power of anecdote.