Marketers…We Still Have Work to Do

Last week, I had the privilege to serve as one of the presenters at the inaugural Interact13 event, a conference focusing on content marketing, social media, and other interactive marketing media for the B2B and B2C marketer. Some of my co-presenters were Joe Pulizzi of Content Marketing Institute, Joel Book from Exact Target and John Fimiani from Oxiem.  I must confess, I was a little skeptical going in.  But my concerns were quickly alleviated upon my arrival and the subsequent participation. The Interact13 team and sponsors did a wonderful job of putting together a first class event.  

I not only had the chance to present, but also had lots of interaction with many of the close to 200 attendees.  As one can imagine, most of the conversation I had revolved around the content for my presentation, one that focused on Demand Process.  And although I was encouraged to see that there was tremendous interest among marketers to bring maturity to their demand generation programs, these conversations also left me feeling that many marketers have a long way to go.  Here are some observations based on my time and discussion at Interact13.

Non-Technology marketers seem to be lagging behind

Anecdotally, it seemed that many of the attendees represented companies outside the technology vertical. Given the Midwest location for the conference (central Ohio), it would make sense that there was a higher concentration of companies from manufacturing, transportation, building products, etc.  What I gathered from speaking to these folks is that processes and technologies that many tech companies now find common place are not even on the radar for non-tech companies.  For example, during one of my sessions, I asked if anyone was using a lead scoring process. One out of an audience of approximately 50 raised their hand.  When I asked who was using marketing automation, no hands were raised.  No judgment, simply an observation based on anecdotal data.

The good news?  There is a tremendous opportunity for non-tech companies to significantly increase their revenue and marketing ROI by implementing a process based approach to demand generation.  And people at Interact13 were ready to learn!

Marketers don’t understand their buyers

Before the conference began, I was speaking with a marketing director who asked about our firm.  After giving the elevator pitch, we talked about her role and the difficulty she was having developing content. Knowing that content should be aligned to the buyer’s purchase path, I asked a few questions with regard to how she and her team seek to know the buyer. The response? Crickets. This was just one conversation that indicated room for growth in this area.

The point that marketing must understand the buyer was punctuated during the ending keynote by Jeff Rorhs from ExactTarget. Jeff presented research that indicated a great disparity between what buyers want to hear from companies and what marketing messages are saying. 

I’ll just say it again: it all starts with understanding the buyer! So the event helped to hit that point home and help marketers grasp that concept.

Marketers don’t view revenue generation as their job

This was another point that was made evident at the beginning of the day, and continued throughout.  There is still a mindset among many marketers that when it comes to demand generation, the job of the marketer is to hand off a lead to sales. Then it’s sales’ job to worry about revenue.  This mindset is keeping many companies from significantly growing.  I did my best to counter this line of thinking by showing how marketers need to move from a “lead generation” mindset to that of “Engage-Nurture-Convert”. This mindset should be shared with sales, and together, both should build a buyer centric process that speeds up the revenue generating process.

Perception that technology will save the day

This last observation is not inherent to Interact13, but I see it so often I have to mention it here. This mindset that technology will solve any and all challenges still pervades the thinking in many marketing and sales circles today. Many marketers will verbally agree that technology is just a tool. However, when they start describing their process or their plans to improve their process, you’ll often hear things like, “Well, we use “XYZ CRM” to manage leads or drive campaigns.  

We’ve said it before….if your process is chaotic, all technology will do is automate the chaos.  First steps first. Establish a demand process that is buyer centric and revenue focused.  Once the process is defined, think about how technology can optimize it.  

Marketers are always willing to learn and improve upon existing processes and ideas. That was very evident at Interact13.  We just need to remember we are not all using best practices…yet. It starts with the understanding the buyer and the rest will follow.

Author: Jay Hidalgo @jayhidalgo is Chief Revenue Officer and Principal, ANNUITAS


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