Mastering B2B marketing is getting more challenging. Customers’ expectations are rising, markets are more dynamic than ever, business seems to be continually in transformation mode, and the corner office and sales honchos are screaming for “leads” (translated = “opportunities”).
With so many moving, changing parts to think through, we B2B marketers often find ourselves in a constant dilemma, masking short-term pains rather than addressing mid- and long-term needs to scale our capabilities and make greater contributions to the business.
At Integrate, we find ourselves in this situation from time to time and we see it every day with the hundreds of B2B marketing teams we work with to automate and orchestrate their demand marketing efforts.
Until recently, the much more common approach had been fixing demand gen issues with a painkiller; that is to say, generating larger and larger volumes of leads. A surge in leads helps marketers quickly meet immediate inside sales team requirements. By heaping a large volume of contacts into the top of the funnel, you can be somewhat assured that at least a few of those contacts will be nurtured into sales-accepted leads. This then becomes the accepted, yet highly inefficient, process. You get the idea – apply a quick fix first that relieves immediate pain. And then we’re hooked on the painkiller.
But where does this approach leave us for the real work that needs to get done? How do we build a scalable, predictable demand machine if we’re always masking the symptoms?
Focusing on long-term demand marketing health
In our day-to-day, we all know we need to work out, eat our greens and cut out that sugar habit to stay fit. Somehow, it’s just too tempting to take the short-term “fix” and put off the change in habits that’s good for us.
Demand marketers often fall victim to the same short-sightedness. For example, we often opt for generating lead volume when – if we stepped back and committed to a better, smarter way – we could make much more progress towards higher quality leads that turn into opportunities and revenue quicker with fewer resources.
A vitamin (long-term health) approach would be taking the time to standardize and automate your processes for acquiring, cleansing and leveraging your prospect and program data so that the entire funnel becomes more efficient.
Instead, we typically deploy the “painkiller” approach where staff manually scrubs and formats spreadsheets full of disconnected prospect data, increasing the odds of human error, slowing lead/opportunity velocity, and limiting analytical insights and program optimization.
It’s important to note that there is a time and place for painkillers. Not every demand effort, process or investment warrants a mid- to long-term re-engineering effort (i.e., a vitamin approach). However, WARNING: painkillers can be addicting. Proceed with caution.
Identifying which vitamins to take
In talking with other B2B marketers, I put out an idea to consciously prioritize where we need pain relief and where we need to make a stronger effort to get our demand capabilities fully nourished and healthy.
A simple idea is to categorize your initiatives and MarTech investments into “PAINKILLER” or “VITAMIN” efforts. In going through this process, many also discover they have a “we’ve always done it this way” mindset. This can be a devastating roadblock. You’ve been taking the painkiller approach for so long that it’s now masking the symptoms of critical long-term demand marketing problems.
A quick team session will unveil where you’re applying painkillers and where you should be applying vitamins. I asked a few demand marketing and marketing operations pros to weigh in and share examples of where you may look to identify opportunities to switch from painkillers to vitamins.
By committing to taking your demand marketing vitamins and only using painkillers selectively, you can advance your demand marketing capabilities and results. Over time – because you’re healthy – you’ll be able to adapt more quickly to business and market needs and change. Now is as good a time as any for that assessment check-up to change habits for a healthier approach to demand marketing.