Dating and B2B – Swipe Left and Move on from Marketing Campaigns

By now, we’ve all heard the analogy “you wouldn’t ask someone to marry you on the first date” when discussing the ways we engage buyers in B2B marketing and sales. So how does this ineffective dating mentality map to methods too commonly used in demand generation? Let’s take a step back. You wouldn’t expect someone to even commit to a date based on only one conversation, text or even one really long email, would you? This is exactly what you are doing when using campaigns to reach your buyers via your marketing tactics, and you could be in danger of being perceived as one of these dating stereotypes:

The Commitment Phobe –
Campaigns are a singular, tactical, one-off conversations with your buyer that do little to build a meaningful relationship. Contrary to campaigns, a solid demand generation program creates a gradual relationship with the buyer, aligning frequency of messaging and relevancy of content with their current place in their buying journey (and it is different for everyone). Given that buyers’ accessibility to research and planning content has led to slightly longer purchasing cycles (buyers are 57% through purchase decision before engaging with a vendor according to CEB) it is no wonder that a long-term program-lead strategy is more effective than a predefined set of campaigns.

The Narcissist –
For the reasons cited above, campaigns often also take an inward-out approach to connecting with buyers. Because they tend to be singular and of-the-moment, they rarely align with the buyer’s purchasing process or need for specific information. The focus of most campaigns are generally all about the organization itself or their product. Too often the content is based on what the organization wants to tell the buyer vs. listening to customer pain points and providing answers to their questions.

The Serialist-
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Or, in the case of most B2B enterprises, try 15 or more campaigns a year as 55.8% of companies polled in the 2016 ANNUITAS B2B Demand Generation Survey. The problem with multiple campaigns is that, by nature, these standalone messages are rarely integrated and highly disruptive.

The beauty of a perpetual program is that it is “always on” vs “one-and-done.” The focus is an ongoing, strategic dialogue with targeted personas, which not only serves to pull customers through engage, nurture and covert phases, but can also work to continue the dialogue through cross-sell and upsell opportunities. By serving up relevant content based on customer needs, organizations are also seen as trusted advisors vs. message-pushers, which pays off in the long run. This is impactful because 51% of buyers rely more on content for research for their buying decisions than last year according to the 2016 Content Preferences Survey by Demand Gen Report.

The (Too) Hopeful Romantic –
If you call or email your leads as soon as they fill out their first form or download one piece of content, you may be in danger of rushing the relationship and offending your potential customer. Engagement does equal interest, however, there are varying degrees of engagement that need to be evaluated and managed appropriately or risk poor conversion rates. Although this may seem obvious, 16.8% of B2B marketers continue to send all leads directly to their Sales teams as soon as a form is filled out according to the 2016 ANNUITAS Survey.

By scoring engagements over time, a perpetual demand generation program can differentiate interest from a top-of-the-funnel researcher to a true hand-raiser who is actually ready to be contacted by Sales. Aligning lead scores with standardized lead stages ensures consistency in the definition of a “qualified lead” across your organization.

Though oft-used, the dating analogy is still relevant because building perpetual demand generation isn’t like building a relationship, it is building a relationship. And the same rules apply to dating and B2B marketing including focus and pay attention, have meaningful conversations and be prepared to see it through for the long haul. If you are looking to build perpetual demand generation, your best bet is to move past campaign-based tactics and focus on nurturing long-term, meaningful relationships with your buyers.