Marketing’s Maltese Falcon

Marketing’s Maltese Falcon by Charlie Tarzian

In a meeting with someone tasked with creating a modern global data architecture for one of the world’s largest companies, the conversation swung around to lead gen data.

“Horrendous, incredibly dirty. Much of it is unusable. High percentages from Gmail, AOL, Hotmail… And, so many aliases and, well, at least 10 presidents (some alive and some not), along with the usual cast of characters from movies, TV shows, cartoons and sports heroes.”

Anyone in our line of work knows this has always been an issue; even professional lead gen companies are plagued by the various ploys used. It is hard to fix, for sure.

But, is this really the biggest issue we face? Or, is this our version of Hitchcock’s ‘maguffin’? The Maltese Falcon, the actual artifact itself that everyone spends two hours chasing around, had very little to do with what the movie was about. Yet, it drove the plot from start to finish.

So, is bad data the real issue for us or is that we are chasing our own Maltese Falcon?

Think about it. We spend millions of $$$’s chasing individuals downloading content or attending webinars or throwing business cards into fishbowls at conferences and shows. But we spend very little on trying to figure out what is really going on inside a company of interest.

To review:

We know purchasing is a team exercise
We know that figuring out what the consensus inside of buying teams is a tough job to figure out
We value downloaded content as a proxy for team interest
Yet, as we have all experienced, an individual act tells us nothing about organizational intent
Not to mention that Babe Ruth, Homer Simpson, Tom Brady, etc… are not writing the checks
I realize what I am about to say will probably get me burned at the stake for heresy, but, isn’t it time we devalue the downloaded white paper as our lead gen currency?

More to the point, isn’t it time to evolve and begin the process of understanding the corporate body language through a variety of data points available to us? Would it not be better to understand that the almighty download can and should be part of a larger canvas where a broader, more accurate picture emerges?

Even at it’s broadest level, predictive analytics can come in some simple forms. For example:

You can use any number of competitive search tools (we use SpyFu, to understand what keywords and key phrases are collectively perceived as important when prospects begin their journey to find you
And if you look historically backwards, you will be able to see what changed and potentially why
You can also develop an understanding for Funnel Position (where companies are in the sales funnel by segmenting out keywords based on a natural progression of educating oneself: ‘big data’ and ‘business intelligence’ can show early stage, but Hadoop and ‘map r’ show how many individuals have moved down the path
You can then use that analysis to make sure your own website is in tune editorially – are you mapping to what is important at that moment in time to companies that are consuming the content aligned with your objectives?
You can find sites where these keywords exist ON PAGE in ways that align with your objectives. Page Indexing has grown up and become very sophisticated. Companies like Grapeshot ( are pushing the envelope to help us understand where the key pieces of content exist across the public Internet.
Just this simple knitting together of these two components begin to give you an indication of trends and volume of content that is out there and that your prospects are consuming
Then you can:

Use IP identification and targeting to match who you see on your site and who is consuming the relevant content across the Web. Companies like Prelytix ( and others do this type of targeting and report back on which companies are most active in consuming specific keywords across contextually aligned sites.
This gives you a marriage of your data and external data that help you develop prioritization for sales, messaging across marketing, content development and most of all – IT GETS YOU OUT OF DEPENDING ON WHITE PAPER DOWNLOADS as your proxy for interest!
Once you add your marketing automation data, revealing what companies you currently talk to are most engaged – you have a clear path to an ‘Always On’ strategy.
To review:

Analyze the competitive set to understand how everyone is deploying search and keywords
Utilize page indexing to understand where the content is
Use IP identification and targeting to tell you who and what and how many from where
Knit your own data in to complete the virtuous circle
With all of this done over time, do we need to care as much about Lady Gaga, Brad Pitt and Bill Clinton downloading our white papers?

The age of Predictive Automation is upon us. Take the initial steps needed to understand organizational intent and Funnel Position and your sales org will stop bitching about those crappy leads you send them.

Published by

Rick Vargas

Rick Vargas is a strategic and innovative marketing professional, who has a successful track record of leading teams and projects through periods of change and transformation. Rick is a metrics oriented marketer and a thought leader that brings ideas to reality. Rick's background and domain areas of expertise are in web, social, mobile, digital, direct, and database marketing. He's worked with different types of organizations, across all sectors, from small start-ups, to large multi-national corporations. "What motivates me most is the role I play and the impact I have on the success of those around me. I love what I do from social to direct." - Rick Vargas

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