Inbound, Outbound, Account-Based And Demand Gen; Marketing Strategy Makes It All Much Less Complicated
With all these different types of marketing flying around today, it’s hard to know what the right approach is for your company. Some of you are trying inbound marketing, others are doing demand generation and then we have an entire set of companies putting all their eggs into account-based marketing.
On top of that, companies are dipping their toes into search marketing, email marketing and content marketing. In all honesty, we still hear from companies that have tried it all and haven’t seen any results.
Unfortunately, if you skip the inbound marketing strategy and jump into the tactics, you’re going to be disappointed with the results. When we diagnose a prospect’s current marketing situation, it’s almost always the root cause for lack of results. They didn’t take the time to build out the personas, define the stories and messages, create compelling differentiation and plan their marketing attack strategy. They just jumped in and started doing stuff.
I know marketing strategy isn’t sexy. I know it’s not something you want to pay for. I know it seems like it’s delaying the real lead generation work. But it’s a catastrophic mistake to skip it.
Here’s how marketing strategy directly impacts your ability to generate leads and close new customers.
Messaging And Stories Get People To Convert
People make purchase decisions emotionally first and then rationalize those decisions. People want to make a safe purchase decision, which means they need to know, like and trust you before they’ll hire you. Therefore, the messaging and stories are critical to getting prospects to convert from an anonymous visitor into a lead and then eventually into a new customer.
Human beings are bad at remembering and connecting with features and benefits, yet most marketers love to push features and benefits. Features and benefits don’t produce an emotional story; they produce a rational interaction. People are generally against change. They want to do everything in their power to avoid change. In most cases, what you sell is about getting them to change how they do what they do.
The only way to get a prospect’s attention is to appeal to them emotionally, disrupt their status quo and tell them a story that focuses on them as the hero. This is where messaging and stories are the difference between high-quality leads with top-tier results and less-than-expected results.
The Conversation Has To Be Planned Out
Marketing strategy also has a role in creating the ongoing conversation between prospects and your company. Yes, it’s an ongoing conversation. People who convert on your website are at the beginning of the conversation. They might visit your site two, three or even four times before they convert the first time and then another handful of times before they convert again.
Once they convert, they’re expecting you to continue the marketing conversation. Typically, this is a one-to-one conversation via email that continues to tell your story, shares disruptive content and attempts to get them to move down their buyer journey toward the decision-making phase.
This conversation must be strategically mapped out. What insights are being shared? What disruptive stories get their attention? What sequence makes the most sense? What content helps tell your story in the most compelling way? All of this should be mapped out in advance and then tested along the way to optimize conversion, lead generation, sales and the length of the sales cycle.
This mapping exercise needs to be continued into the sales conversation. After a marketing-qualified lead becomes a sales-qualified lead and sales picks up the conversation, the planning and strategy behind the story has to continue. How is the sales rep earning the prospect’s trust? What insights are they sharing? What stories are they telling? How are they making the prospect feel safe? How are they connecting emotionally? It all should be thought out and tested.
Your Goals Have To Be Aligned With Budget And Expected Results
Marketing strategy has a big role in helping you make sure your expected revenue results are aligned with your marketing budget and your expected results. In many cases, businesses set company targets based on aspirational goals. For example, we’re a $10 million business and next year we want to do $20 million. That’s great. Aspirational goals are important, but there is a direct correlation between your investment in marketing and your revenue goals.
If you want to achieve an incremental $10 million in revenue, you have to calculate how many new leads you need to double revenue. You need to know how many new visitors to your website it’s going to take to produce that specific amount of leads. Then you can figure out what activities and the amount of energy it’s going to take to drive up the website, conversion and lead numbers. We do this type of assessment and calculation with prospects and clients every single day.
The result of an assessment like this produces a more realistic understanding of the work required to deliver these aspirational goals and then an opportunity to reset the budget accordingly by increasing it or reducing the revenue goals to better match the expected marketing spend. Both are very positive outcomes from this type of assessment.
The Tactics Are Complex And Need To Be Configured
Today, marketing tactics are complex to set up and complicated to simultaneously manage. To produce significant results, you want to run tactics around web, content, email, optimization, conversion, social, off-site SEO, on-site SEO, paid content promotion, influencer work and more. Almost all of these tactics need to be connected. A thread should connect all of these tactics so they tell the same story, promote the ongoing conversation and help differentiate your business.
Who’s Going To Do The Optimization?
Not only are the tactics complex, but the more you do, the better the results. Plus, there’s a constant optimization effort that needs to be deployed daily, weekly and monthly. This is also one of the most frequently missed, skipped or underestimated components of inbound marketing.
The strategy and planning phase needs to help define who will be doing the optimization, what they’ll be focused on, how they’ll prioritize the optimization effort and what methodology they will deploy to drive their testing and optimization efforts. If you don’t know how to create a set of experiments, manage those experiments, assess those experiments, report on those experiments and then refocus your tactics based on the results from those experiments, you’ll be looking at disappointing results.
Look, no one likes doing planning, but you should be able to see that today’s marketing is hyper-complicated and more complex than ever before. If you don’t think it through up front, you end up with a lot costlier mistakes, starts and stops, and perhaps the worst-case scenario is you never learn from your mistakes.
I had a client that decided after just five months to stop their inbound marketing campaign. The program wasn’t working like they thought it would. They expected many more leads by this time. The irony of the decision is that they didn’t do all the planning work up front, they didn’t deploy inbound in the proper way and the result was a delay in the lead generation. Just a few months later, we found that leads started flowing in. We can’t predict the future, so we never know exactly how long it’s going to take or exactly what to do when. What we do know is that marketing works when it’s properly planned.
Whether inbound, demand generation or account-based marketing is right for you, it’s all an opportunity for us to help you. The secret is thoughtful planning and strategy along with the development of the key ingredients like stories, messaging and differentiation. Once you have all the ingredients, the food tastes so much better, and your company will realize the results you’re expecting too.
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