So, you didn’t meet your key performance indicators (KPIs) for Demand Generation success last quarter. Or maybe you did, but your revenue targets for next quarter are much steeper.
It’s no secret that demand marketers at B2B organizations are facing significant challenges in 2018. A B2B International survey of North American and European marketing professionals revealed communicating the value of products or services to target customers was the top challenge for 48% of marketing organizations. 45% of B2B marketing teams anticipate no increase in their marketing budget for the year to come, according to the same survey.
Understanding the right demand generation strategies to reach your target customers (with a stagnant budget) has lead many B2B marketing pros to wonder, “what’s next?”
Hiring a consultant may seem like a possible solution, especially if you’re having trouble navigating common demand marketing challenges like scaling, gaining efficiency, or low-quality marketing leads.
But is it the right choice?
Does My Brand Need a Demand Generation Consultant
Sometimes a consultant can level up your team and provide game-changing recommendations. Other times, a consultant is a waste of time and money – not because the consultant isn't knowledgeable, but because your team doesn't need a consultant in the first place.
To be clear, Integrate is not a demand marketing consultancy. We’re not selling anything in this blog since we don’t offer consulting services. However, we can offer a neutral, outside perspective on whether a demand generation consultant is the right step for your organization.
4 Signs You Need a Demand Marketing Consultant
Outsourcing is common at B2B marketing organizations, though there’s little industry data to reveal how commonly demand marketers outsource strategy to a consultant. A 2017 Fronetics survey found 92% of B2B marketers were outsourcing some of their marketing activities, though most were outsourcing to services firms for help with assets, content or design.
What is clear, however, is the fact many demand marketing strategies will become more complex in the year to come. The 2017 Benchmark Survey by Demand Gen Report asked demand marketers to identify all of the new tactics they will deploy or test.
- 59% plan to test ABM
- 50% will try multi-channel lead nurturing
- 31% will use multi-channel attribution
With many B2B marketing programs expanding and including sophisticated new tactics, consultants may offer value to some firms.
Here are some signs your organization could benefit from third-party expertise:
1. Your Team Needs Training
If your B2B team doesn't have any talent gaps, count yourself lucky.
The HubSpot 2017 State of Inbound report revealed that 54% of marketing organizations will be hiring new team members in 2018. Many organizations are facing severe talent shortages for marketing analytics, user experience design and other hard-to-fill seats, and it’s hard to hit your KPIs if you’re short on talent.
While this is definitely a very real barrier to success, it’s not a sign you need a consultant.
A demand generation consultant may be the right solution if you’re facing the challenge of knowledge gaps, which are not the same as talent gaps.
Maybe you’ve got people who know how to use your marketing automation platform and create stellar multi-channel content, but you’ve recently shifted to a full-funnel approach and need knowledge on how to better align your goals with sales, increase your top-funnel program efficiency or measure full-funnel performance.
Some demand generation consultants specialize in training. Others can assess your existing team’s strengths and identify areas where additional knowledge would boost your results.
If you’re staffed up with great, talented people but still struggle to move forward, you may need to consider hiring a consultant.
2. You’ve Stopped Hitting Your KPIs
What if your demand generation team hit your revenue goals for the first two quarters of 2017, but failed to meet KPIs in the second half of the year?
If you’ve succeeded in the past but are struggling to drive results with demand generation tactics that used to work, you may be wondering which new tactics to add to your strategy and how to adjust your budget.
In this case, you may able to benefit from third-party expertise.
A demand marketing expert could help assess your marketing performance data, and recommend new activities or cutting-edge campaign concepts. An individual who has industry-specific knowledge of your market or niche could be the best way to get value.
3. You’re Out of New Ideas
If you need to elevate your demand generation strategy and maintain your competitive edge but you’re officially out of fresh ideas, a third-party expert could possibly bring much-needed insight and innovation to your team.
Most of the time, a few short sessions with a consultant can get the creative wheels spinning and motivate your team to innovate again.
The B2B marketing landscape is evolving quickly. Today’s most game-changing demand marketers are using many different tools, tactics and ideas to drive results. For some organizations, a demand generation consultant can be a powerful resource to infuse next quarter’s strategy with fresh ideas.
4. You Have a MarTech Problem
The MarTech landscape is complex, to say the least. Maybe your organization has invested in dozens of demand generation software solutions and they’re not delivering the results you want.
Perhaps your team is resistant to adopting the system you spent months implementing. Even worse, maybe you know your marketing program has fallen well behind your competitors in technology sophistication, but you don’t know what’s next.
Some organizations may find value in a third-party expert if their MarTech stack has become more of an obstacle than a benefit.
4 Signs You Don't Need a Consultant
Even the most skilled and knowledgeable demand marketing consultant won’t be the right solution if your organization’s challenges fall outside of their expertise.
B2B marketing programs can struggle for a number of reasons. Some common challenges that may not be solved by third-party expertise include issues like the following four examples.
1. You Have Talent Gaps
If you’re facing a shortage of skilled staff, you’re not alone.
While it’s very difficult to reach aggressive demand generation goals if you don’t have the right talent, it’s not an issue a consultant can solve.
Consultants can’t create new talent, or remove the need for that talent. While they can offer training, they can’t convert a content creator into a Ruby on Rails developer.
The right consultant could possibly assist in identifying your team’s talent gaps and sourcing high-potential candidates. However, in the vast majority of cases, consultants aren’t the right answer if you’re short on talent.
2. Your Strategy Is Not the Problem
If execution is the problem rather than knowledge and strategy, a marketing consultant may not be much help. A lot of underperforming marketing teams aren’t struggling because they lack knowledge and skill. A team facing issues turning strategy into action may be struggling because of many different reasons, including poor processes, or an inability to prioritize the highest-return activities.
In these cases, bringing in an expert on knowledge and skill could end up frustrating the situation more. However, a consultant on execution and leadership may be useful.
3. You Lack Cultural Support
Change management is highly complex.
Making the shift from traditional marketing to a full-funnel, demand generation mindset usually requires cultural change. Before you can effectively align your team with sales and marketing, you need support and buy-in from upper management.
Some executives are flat-out resistant to new tactics and methods of demand generation. Others voice support, but aren’t willing to allocate budget, authorize new hires or help your team educate sales.
Kirk Sievert, a Master Change Management Instructor and President at Prosci recommends patiently pursuing change by educating your leaders on the business case for the best demand generation software and talent and the specifics of what you need to succeed.
While a lack of executive buy-in can definitely result in demand generation struggles, it’s usually one that’s not easily solved with a consultant’s help.
4. You’re Drowning at the Top-of-the-Funnel
It’s common for demand marketers to feel like they’re drowning in lead files and spending far too much time managing owned and paid lead sources manually. Maybe you’re too busy manually entering leads into your marketing automation and/or CRM systems to measure performance effectively. Perhaps you know the value of sophisticated attribution, but you lack oversight into the entire customer journey across each of your touch points.
This is another common – and complex – challenge that’s not going to be solved most effectively with a consultant’s help. Spending your days suffering away on spreadsheets reveals a need for smarter technology and processes; or tools that can introduce automation at the top of your funnel.
It’s virtually impossible to run an effective marketing program without the right marketing technology to unify your campaigns, channels, lead sources and full-funnel results.
No One Ever Said Demand Marketing was Easy
Demand marketing is incredibly complex, and it’s only getting more challenging to scale up your efforts to meet your KPIs. B2B marketers in demand generation environments are no longer just responsible for lead generation. Instead, their success is measured through multi-channel engagement, sales pipeline contribution and the adoption of new demand generation strategies such as account-based marketing.
Regardless of where your team’s performance fell against targets last quarter, it’s wise to consider high-return ways to improve your results next quarter. However, understanding the root causes of your challenges is smart before you invest marketing budget into a demand generation consultant’s services. While some programs are remarkably well-served with consulting services, others may need to invest in software to manage complex campaigns or consider outsourcing marketing asset creation to an agency.
If you’re not sure how your demand generation program stacks up against the most effective B2B marketing programs, the B2B Demand Marketing Assessment Guide & Orchestration Workbook can help you identify whether your needs are best served by a consultant, technology or other solutions. With 12 customizable worksheets, this comprehensive resource is designed to help B2B marketers measure their efforts against benchmarks in every area of demand generation.