Walking the B2B Tightrope

Every B2B marketer walks a lead qualification tightrope, and to fall to either side imperils the reputation and success of their entire department. On one side lies the Void of Over-Qualification, where marketing sets interest thresholds too high and leads never qualify. Sales begins to ask, “what marketing even does,” and marketing struggles to provide an answer grounded in financial results. This is a terrible place to be, and many companies overcompensate by over-correcting, and plunging in the opposite direction only to land in The Chasm of Trash Leads, where the bar is so low that anyone with a pulse and an email address is passed to sales. In this scenario, sales knows exactly what marketing does: waste their time.

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How does a marketer stay balanced?

  • Recognize that marketing is more than just technology-
    Many companies over-correct lead qualification issues by trying to fix the problem with looser lead scoring in their marketing automation system, when the real issue is unappealing content. Technology connects your content to your customers. Content is what connects your customers to your company.
  • Know your buyer-
    Companies often have two kinds of content;fluffy thought-leadership pieces and salesy product-centric pieces. It should come as no surprise when someone who engages with a blog post on industry trends fails to continue through the pipeline after receiving a heavily-branded data sheet (yes, even if you send it at 2 PM on a Tuesday, which is definitively the BEST time for buyers in your space).Chart out the cognitive steps a buyer takes, and align your content to the challenges they face in each step. If someone comes in at one step, send them content that will appeal to them in the next step of the buying process you have taken the time to document. Each piece is important and where the buyer consumes the content it important too. Allow them to binge on content as well – give them the opportunity to consume content when they want it.
  • Give your prospects time-
    Many marketers have lead quotas they need to hit. Email brings in a lot of leads, and running a fast email cadence can be a dangerous temptation. Before you send someone two emails a week (every week) until they unsubscribe, take a step back and remember that buyers could care less about your metrics. Make your nurture cadence dynamic, based on engagement, so that buyers who respond to content can receive nurturing more rapidly than those who have not shown interest.

In the face of technology that allows marketers to score and nurture prospects on an individualized basis, it is easy to lose site of the other elements that make marketing and demand generation effective. Lowering lead scoring thresholds is a seductive way to ignore problems with your content. Walking the B2B tightrope requires balance between content and technology, and the understanding of your buyer to know which part is unbalanced. It also requires the strength to fix it so that the People, Process, Content, Technology and Data are always about the buyer, no matter what.

Author: Curran Corrigan @Curcor Senior Consultant, Strategy, ANNUITAS