Business-to-business marketing has become infinitely more complicated and less predictable in recent years. The intense cost-cutting measures and greater scrutiny that followed the 9/11 market setbacks mean companies of all sizes no longer purchase like they once did.
Corporations have slashed budgets, instituted rigid procedures, assembled purchasing committees, and delayed spending. The pace of change within these companies has also introduced a greater level of uncertainty into the buying process, so forecasting has become increasingly difficult.
These new market dynamics are chipping away at the tenures of b-to-b marketers who continue to rely on traditional “spray and pray” demand generation methods that net 2% to 3% response rates. According to Marketing Sherpa statistics, typical marketing job tenures—now just 23 months–are getting shorter and shorter.
A select few have found a survival strategy by transforming their marketing techniques to a more deliberate approach to demand generation. They’ve shifted their marketing and resource investments from brand-building creative endeavors to efficient, disciplined, and laser-focused demand generation processes that demonstrate greater value to the organization.
Business managers and marketers alike are growing frustrated by the continuous battle to meet pipeline and revenue requirements using so-called “2% programs.” These programs are costly and time-consuming. Marketers can typically only execute one or two at a time, resulting in a significant lag time between responses. So not enough leads flow into the pipeline inconsistently which is hardly enough to keep a company performing well.
With a deliberate marketing strategy, marketers can inject a consistent stream of qualified buyers directly into the marketing and sales funnel to improve funnel efficiencies and generate faster ROI. It is especially effective in the b-to-b space which is characterized by defined target markets, long sales cycles and complex buyer-seller relationships.
By targeting more marketing dollars toward deliberate marketing programs that produce faster, trackable results, b-to-b merchants can put an end to the demand generation roller coaster and demonstrate a direct and sustained effect on revenue.
The six principles of deliberate marketing
Simply put, deliberate marketing focuses on building in-depth customer insight and repeatable programs that convert leads into qualified buyers and qualified buyers into paying customers in the fastest most efficient way possible. There are six essential principles that differentiate deliberate marketing from traditional tactics:
1. Intention vs. attention
Deliberate marketing involves understanding the customer so that you can produce focused messages and programs that convert buyer interest to buyer intent. It is not about distributing high level marketing messages to a broad audience via advertising or public relations hoping to garner attention for a product or company. Those are the air wars intended to soften up the buying audience.
Rather, deliberate marketing is focused on converting a targeted segment of prospects into qualified buyers with an interest in purchasing a product or service. This involves knowing far more about your target audience than any list, database, or telemarketing firm can ever provide.
2. Role vs. title
Deliberate marketing programs do not rely simply on prospect titles. Today’s enterprises are infinitely complex, in a constant state of flux. It is no longer possible to market based on “titles.” For example, if you purchase a list or access a contact database of 1,000 communications analysts, how can you be certain that the contacts who match those titles are involved with network communications instead of corporate communications?
Titles are simply an appellation of rank, not an indication of the actual role the prospect plays in the organization or in the buying cycle. Instead, deliberate marketing programs are focused on “role,” defined by Webster’s as: a function or part performed, data that can only be determined through a direct conversation with a target company. They target communications based on organization and then each decision making unit (DMU) role as well as stage of the buying cycle.
3. Qualified buyers vs. leads
Deliberate marketing enables you to extract the most value from your marketing programs based on using the most cost-effective method to move prospects and buyers through the funnel. It is not focused on simply filling the marketing and sales funnel with contacts and expecting sales to follow-up on any lead that indicates interest.
It is about profiling the best possible buyers, recruiting more buyers that are just like them, and then executing the most effective techniques possible to move the prospect through each stage of the funnel.
4. Predictable vs. spray and pray
Deliberate marketing techniques make it possible for you to predict the results of your efforts because you know your direct programs are focused on the right buyers at the right type of company. With this approach you know you are using the right messages and the right medium to deliver that message based on the buyer profile. You also know that you are delivering this message to buyers in companies with a similar combination of characteristics as their best customers so their propensity to purchase is higher. Marketers can rely on repeatable demand generation efforts to provide a steady stream of qualified buyers to sales. You no longer have to endure the up-and-down cycle associated with typical methods for filling the funnel.
5. Nurture vs. capture
Deliberate marketing doesn’t involve capturing any and all leads, then tossing them over the fence to sales. It is about engaging with prospects, understanding their needs and scoring them based on their interests and behavior to determine their stage in the buying cycle. It’s about nurturing them with targeted communications and offers until they are ready to engage with sales. With a deliberate marketing approach you can ensure your leads receive the proper follow-up and that buyers are not discarded simply because they are not ready to make a purchase immediately.
6. ROI vs. response
A recent survey of the b-to-b Marketing organizations by the analysts at Sirius Decisions determined that the marketing departments of high performing companies significantly influenced or contributed at least 30% of the opportunities in the pipeline. Deliberate marketing results have shown that virtually any marketing organization can achieve this. It focuses b-to-b marketers on business objectives such as adding opportunities to the pipeline, increasing revenues, acquiring new customers, and maximizing the return on marketing programs.
No longer is time spent worrying about meeting or exceeding a 2% response rate. Deliberate marketers value lead quality over lead quantity, and they are motivated to move qualified buyers through the pipeline as efficiently and quickly as possible.
Putting an end to billions of marketing waste
Forrester estimates that B-to-B marketers spent more than $77 billion on demand generation programs in 2005. Factor in a 2% response rate and data that shows 70% of leads ignored by sales, and that results in massive waste of billions of marketing dollars. Deliberate marketing techniques can help eliminate that was by empowering Marketers to move buyers through the marketing and sales funnel faster and more efficiently and demonstrate greater accountability for their marketing investment.
Suaad Sait is CEO of Austin, TX-based ReachForce, a b-to-b marketing consultancy.