Two weeks ago I hosted participated in Focus.com's Demand Gen Freestyle (replay here) discussions. Focus.com makes the world's best business expertise available to everyone, and they often run roundtable discussions several times a week. Craig Rosenberg hosted the Demand Gen centered discussion, with a panel of Adam Needles of Left Brain Marketing, Cody Young of Reach Force, and Tom Scearce of Scearce Market Development and myself. It was a great discussion. We talked a lot about what isn't working in b2b demand generation, and shared some stories about things that are working.
At the end of the discussion, Craig asked us for our final advice; what advice can we leave the listener's with as they continue on their journey of marketing to their target audience. Here's what was said, and how I interpreted it as I heard it:
Cody Young: "Let's get it started!" I think what Cody was getting at was pretty simple. Let's get beyond just talking about improving our demand gen efforts, and just get started. Put some actual movement and effort behind the sentiment.
Adam Needles: "Put the buyer back into your demand gen program." Adam is right - if your buyer is not the center of your demand gen program, make the switch NOW. Talk about wasting your time! The whole point of creating demand, whether it be a product or a service, is to bring people into the funnel. If our potential customers are not in the center of that program, we have no hope at all at filling our funnels (or clouds).
Tom Scearce (channeling Peter Tosh): "Humanize it." I'm fairly confident that Tom's direction was that buyers want to be in control of the buying cycle. They don't want to be sold to. They want to be able to absorb content and let the decision take hold. They want experts. They want people to guide them through the process.
Me: "The sales process doesn't start until a conversation with a prospect does." With all the rage of inbound marketing and marketing automation, or the sexiness of a great creative campaign, marketers can sometimes forget that the ultimate goal of every program is to get a prospect engaged with a sales person. Balance your programs with a good dose of outbound marketing activity (appointment setting, qualified lead gen, traditional telesales).
Demand Gen Freestyle (replay here)
Craig Rosenberg, the demand gen expert from Focus.com recently asked me to participate in putting together the eBook, The Focus Experts Guide: Sales and Marketing Pipeline and Funnel.
Despite my whimsical title for this blog article (little link-baiting), the eBook is full of industry expert's takes on today's sales and marketing's demand gen and selling flow -- the path from universe to prospect to client. I took a different approach to the discussion, and came up with the concept of a Demand Gen Cloud:
With the advent of Social, Sales and Marketing 2.0 techniques and tools, optimized Inbound Marketing strategies, and a much more sophisticated buyer, the days of a funnel are gone.
Buyers put themselves in the funnel where they want to be. They jump around. The influence of content and word of mouth jumps them from side to side to back and down again.
The demand gen funnel is now in the cloud. As marketers, we must constantly measure the status of the cloud and make adjustments. Combine strategies and tactics in order to maximize our results.
Harness the chaos to our advantage. Control the Demand Gen Cloud.
Get the eBook and read what these other experts had to say about Pipelines and Funnels:
Ardath Albee, CEO and B2B Marketing Strategist at Marketing Interactions
Michael Brenner, Director of Online/Social Media at SAP North America
Michael Damphousse, CEO/CMO of Green Leads LLC
Christopher Doran, VP of Marketing at Manticore Technology
Barbra Gago, Social Media Manager of Cloud9 Analytics
Steve Gershik, CEO of 28Marketing
Sue Hay, CEO of BeWhys Marketing Inc.
Matt Heinz, Principal at Heinz Marketing LLC
Carlos Hidalgo, President of The Annuitas Group
Jon Miller, Vice President of Marketing at Marketo
Adam Needles, VP of Demand Generation Strategy at Left Brain Marketing
Tom Scearce, Principal at Scearce Market Development
Matt West, Director of Marketing at Genius.com
Steve Woods, Chief Technology Officer of Eloqua
Written by Craig Rosenberg - The Funnelholic
Get the eBook here: The Focus Experts Guide: Sales and Marketing Pipeline and Funnel.
Last week, I was out with the team at Focus.com and enjoying "bourbon and proteins" with Craig Rosenberg (The Funnelholic) when the subject of campaigns came up from his point in a recent post to "forget campaigns, build a factory." We agreed completely that marketers that think in the world of "campaigns" are shortchanging their results.
Marketing programs need
- Staying power
It may be that campaigns seem normal because our needs change, strategies are modified or budgets are handed out piecemeal, but the most successful clients both Craig and I work with all treat marketing programs as ongoing efforts.
- Budget for ongoing activity - Treat it like headcount. Would you hire good talent and then shut them off 60 days later?
- Remain committed to the effort - Most common example here is when a marketer gets gung-ho to start blogging to boost inbound marketing and then stops publishing regularly.
- Results take time - In the world of B2B, sales cycles can be long. Don't try to measure pipeline results in just months. Give it time and commitment.
- Measure what you can measure - If you can't wait a year to measure revenue impact, measure tangible results: Did the introductory meeting result in a second meeting? Did the email sent result in a clickthrough?
- React - Make that adjustment -- but adjust, don't start and stop. If you see something that needs a tweak, stay productive while you are tweaking or have your vendor/team work on something complementary to the project while you make that quick adjustment.
- Conserve Costs - Lastly, consider the cost impact of starting, stopping and switching gears. There always are considerable startup and adjustment efforts and ramp-up costs. Optimize your budget by creating programs with power.
I've been participating with Focus.com as one of their contributing Focus Experts. The site is a community destination for business leaders to find and produce industry information, research, whitepapers and webinars. The content value is huge, and the knowledge generated is phenomenal and growing daily. If content syndication and webinars are part of your demand gen mix, you should explore Focus in more detail.
What's' behind the curtain? I'm conducting a webinar for them this week, The 10 Pillars of an Ideal B2B Demand Gen Platform, and having done many webinars -- and being a demand gen marketer myself -- I've been utterly impressed with the process and the team putting the event together.
I've shared webinar tips before in Lead Gen Tips: How To Produce A Successful Webinar, but one thing Focus added to the agenda for preparation was to run through the mechanics of the webinar-hosting software. We did a practice session where each presenter used the platform to push slides to the audience, comment between moderators, and deal with Q&A. I've done enough webinars to have seen most of these functions before, but the simple task of reviewing them for 15 minutes beforehand was helpful.
Also, kudos to the ON24 staff for sharing best practices. My favorite: Use the mute button as a caugh button only; don't stay on mute as you may forget to unmute yourself when it's time to talk. I've fallen victim to that before.
Join me and Craig Rosenberg, the Funnelholic
, Tuesday March 2, at 10AM PST / 1PM EST. You can register here: The 10 Pillars of an Ideal B2B Demand Gen Platform