Ilene Rosenthal, CEO

Ilene Rosenthal, CEO

Ilene Rosenthal is the CEO of White Space Marketing Group, fulfilling her aspiration to bring hybrid marketing expertise to the mid-market. With a deep love for the brand, and a practical passion for marketing that delivers results, Ilene runs the Strategy Lab at White Space, and serves as a fractional CMO for small and mid-sized businesses.

Author's Posts

The Case for “Fun Money” in Your Marketing Budget

Ilene Rosenthal, CEO

Here’s a question we don’t ask ourselves enough: What happens when this year’s marketing allocation actually works?

Of course, we know what happens. Better brand awareness. More customers. Increased sales. Company growth.

But what does it mean for next year’s budget?

Well, the obvious move is that you take next year’s budget and allocate it for most of the stuff that worked. This makes sense—you want more of everything referenced above, so you need the funds to keep that engine running.

I’m more curious about budgeting for the “stick your neck out” kind of stuff. The never-been-done, creative strategies you test next year with one eye firmly on the future. The long plays—the ones that might not get reported as part of your weekly KPIs, but those that represent ambitious opportunities down the road.

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Topics: marketing strategy, strategy, marketing, business strategy, CEOs, B2B marketing, Founders, B2B, small business, sales strategy

Sales and Marketing Teams: Stop, Collaborate, and Listen

Ilene Rosenthal, CEO

I’m feeling thankful as Thanksgiving approaches, as I hope you are too; thankful for the moments in my work and personal life that feel collaborative and supportive. 

When it comes to working with my sales partners in the journey toward customer acquisition, they know the equation is 1+1=3 in sales and marketing. We need each other like my turkey needs its cranberry sauce. (Corny but true: I make a knock-out version that I’m willing to share if you ask.)

But for many organizations, sales and marketing teams are not aligned.

It’s a mystery to me, but so often marketing and sales leaders—and their teams—remain siloed. Sure, there are moments where the two work together beautifully, but on the whole, it’s a relationship that’s workable at best—and antagonistic at worst.

It doesn’t make any sense. CEO’s lose patience with this petty arm wrestling. Sure, they focus on different parts of an organization’s revenue cycle and are measured on different KPIs as well, but at their core, both teams want the same thing: for customers to find the products and solutions they need, to find a provider who can solve their problems, and results to drive a profitable business.

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Topics: marketing strategy, strategy, marketing, business strategy, CEOs, B2B marketing, Founders, B2B, small business, sales strategy

Demand Generation: The Actual “Holy Grail” of Marketing

Ilene Rosenthal, CEO

Tell me if this scenario sounds familiar: 

Your company has invested an incredible amount of money—and time—in myriad tactics designed to boost lead generation.

You’ve launched ad campaigns, you have the best marketing automation software money can buy (that’s tuned up with a collection of targeted, personalized email campaigns); you’ve hired an entire team of inbound and outbound sales development reps to nurture the mountain of leads you’re expecting, and of course–there’s all the content. You’ve spared no expense, producing pricey demos, explainer videos, and long-form gated content where you’re giving away your expertise—all they have to do is surrender a measly email.

On paper, your lead gen engine is a finely-tuned machine. There’s just one problem: your pipeline is bone dry. You don’t understand. Didn’t you just invest all of this money and time so that this wouldn’t happen?

I see a lot of companies—especially those in the B2B space—prioritize lead generation over brand-building efforts. On one hand, this makes sense. Leads, and the sales they turn into, are the way organizations make money. Filling up that sales pipeline is essential.

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Topics: marketing strategy, strategy, marketing, business strategy, CEOs, B2B marketing, Founders, B2B, small business

Lead Generation in 2022: Why Haven’t We Fixed This Yet?

Ilene Rosenthal, CEO

Every year, reputable marketing publications and media sites proclaim that some aspect of marketing is “dead.” Usually, I don’t take these articles too seriously, but recently a headline from CMSWire caught my eye: “Are Lead Generation Days Over for B2B Marketers?”

After the click-bait title, the article goes on to say that no, lead generation days are not over.

It did make me think a bit, though. Our quest for marketing and sales leads may not be going anywhere, but it also seems we might be overdue for a different way of thinking about those leads. We still consider our lead pipelines in the same linear, “lead-to-MQL” approach discussed in the piece, and I think we can all agree it’s not working as well as it could. In fact, I’m not sure it has ever worked the way it was intended.

What are the factors that are preventing our collective lead generation efforts from becoming as successful as they could beand are there ways to consider retooling our approach when it comes to how we’re building those engines? I’ll unpack that below.

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Topics: marketing strategy, strategy, marketing, business strategy, CEOs, B2B marketing, Founders, B2B, small business

The Many Faces of Your Content Marketing

Ilene Rosenthal, CEO

Many of my clients give me a bit of grief because I’m always asking the question, “What is the role of X?”

But, I’m always going to ask that question, because it’s impossible to get from zero to sixty in marketing without a little blood, sweat, and tears. We can ease the path if we understand what role each tactic plays in the greater marketing strategy—and how we can map marketing activity to incremental growth.

This comes up a lot as we wrestle with content marketing. Specific pieces of content have a different job to do than others. As they say, “Not all content marketing is the same.” Still, a lot of businesses miss the opportunity to “create once and use often” because they haven’t determined the precise responsibility of content marketing in their growth plans.

Content Marketing Roles and Responsibilities: Website

Different types of pages on a website have different jobs to do. Some pages serve lead generation objectives, some serve the search engine gods, and all keep the human being engaged with the content they express. Let’s review…

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Topics: marketing strategy, strategy, marketing, business strategy, CEOs, B2B marketing, Founders, B2B, small business

Mind the Gap: 5 Challenges Facing Marketing Investment vs. Performance

Ilene Rosenthal, CEO

It’s a never-ending conversation: How to close the gap between marketing investment and performance.

Even with the inflation/recession conundrum, data reveals that marketers are happy to allocate dollars to their digital marketing activities. The February edition of The CMO Survey, in the Harvard Business Review, noted that marketing departments plan to increase spending by another 16% in 2023 (over the current 57%).

That’s the glass half-full portion of the story. The same study found that 30% of those surveyed said they are experiencing “average-to-no returns on their investments.” 

How can we close the gap? It’s important to understand what’s going on underneath the surface.

Top Reasons for Underperformance

It’s likely there’s no single problem impacting marketing performance. Conceptually, however, there are some common, systemic conditions that seem to exist that have been observed and noted by those who study companies large and small.

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Topics: marketing strategy, strategy, marketing, business strategy, CEOs, B2B marketing, Founders, B2B, small business

4 Things Marketing Service Providers Don’t Want You to Know

Ilene Rosenthal, CEO

As an SMB leader, you can’t always do it all by yourself… as much as it may seem like it on some days.

Even if you have internal team members to support your business operations and marketing efforts, they may not have the bandwidth nor expertise to optimize your investment.

But, before you enlist external help from marketing service providers, there are important factors to consider. As an overarching word of caution: marketing service providers often make promises they can't always fulfill.

Here are four considerations to keep in mind when hiring a marketing service provider.

1) Vendors typically have one core expertise

When I look at the vast range of marketing service providers—some of whom I compete with and many of whom I collaborate with—it looks as if we all do the same things. In fact, on the surface, it may appear that we all do everything.

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Topics: marketing strategy, strategy, marketing, business strategy, CEOs, B2B marketing, Founders, B2B, small business

The Toothpick Rule to Marketing Measurement

Ilene Rosenthal, CEO

Have you heard of the “toothpick rule” in U.S. politics?

A recent Think With Google article by Neil Hoyne had a great analogy about this rule and how it relates to measuring your marketing efforts. It evolved from practice in political lobbying—and what was “allowed” over time.

Here’s the Story…

Clearly, bribing is a big no-no in the lobbying world. At one time, though, the way to an elected official’s heart was through his dining calendar. Dinners were a common treat that led to the popularity of many steakhouses within blocks of the U.S. Capitol.

Then, in 2007, Congress said “no more!” to these hours-long meals. No lunches, not even breakfast was on the table. But they eventually landed on an exception: “food that you have to eat standing up using a toothpick” was permissible.

Hoyne’s point is, that this is not a perfect solution… But those lobbying folks had to start somewhere. Similarly, when it comes to marketing measurement, he notes: “Some imperfect measurement is better than nothing.”

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Topics: marketing strategy, strategy, marketing, business strategy, CEOs, B2B marketing, Founders, B2B, small business

In Marketing, When Is It Time to Change the Channel?

Ilene Rosenthal, CEO

As a business owner, do you ever really feel completely settled with your marketing investment decisions?

Even if you’re an established company with consistent growth, there’s always a chance your world could turn upside down. (We didn’t need the pandemic to teach us that, but it served as a good reminder.)

So, how do you know it’s time to distribute your marketing dollars across additional outlets (we marketers call them “channels”) in order to deliver on your growth goals?

Well, if you’re doing one thing very, very well, you could invest even more in that space – own it by competing heavily, to acquire greater share. Or alternatively, you may decide to layer on another channel to expand reach and engagement.

These shifts don’t have to be big swings of the bat; they can in fact be subtle shifts that tackle a new audience, or broaden beyond your biggest service offering.

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Topics: marketing strategy, strategy, marketing, business strategy, CEOs, B2B marketing, Founders, B2B, small business

Checklist: Getting a Marketing Strategy in Place

Ilene Rosenthal, CEO

Answering a question with a question may be annoying, that’s how the best advisors add value.

It's certainly how marketing professionals define exactly what’s needed to get a marketing strategy in place. Recently, I wrestled with a question around the skills of one of our outsourced providers. I have to say, I was stumped.

I know they’re experts in their field. They stay on top of those surprise changes in Google’s algorithm, they have insights from other industries, and they keep me honest when I come up with an outside-the-box idea.

But, here’s what they aren’t positioned to do: ask unexpected questions.

I do that. It’s super annoying to my favorite partners, but they know that’s where the fun starts. (They’ve even confessed to using my probes as part of their own internal checklists, which makes me super happy…)

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Topics: marketing strategy, strategy, marketing, business strategy, CEOs, B2B marketing, Founders, B2B, small business

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