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).