Two Reasons Your B2B Marketing Programs Are Failing
Many marketing organizations have good intentions when it comes to developing their demand generation programs: they want to increase qualified leads, sales opportunities, and closed/won revenue. At the same time, they want to provide the information buyers want through a positive experience, and use technology to effectively manage and measure the buying cycle.
At ANNUITAS, we call that Demand Process: the proactive management of the demand chain from lead-to-revenue, and from pain point to solution. Demand Process considers all elements that drive and convert demand at a people, process, content and technology level, and it spans both marketing and sales interactions with the buyer.
More often than not, the challenges facing enterprise-marketing programs can be filed into two main categories: lack of Demand Process and/or lack of Change Management.
- Deficient Demand Process (lack of strategic oversight and too much tactical focus)
Understanding how all of your program elements fit into a comprehensive strategic plan is paramount. Designing your marketing programs against existing people, process, content, or technology without truly evaluating them against how your buyer’s purchase will end up as watered down demand generation, in other words, your programs won’t be very effective. While it may appear quick to implement (given you are working with everything you already have), it will definitely not be quick to yield results. Not to say that everything you’ve already developed or implemented won’t be a fit for your program, but you must take the time to figure out if it does. To ignore that would be a waste of time.
Content marketing, email nurturing, etc., these are all tactics – not strategies. Maybe you’ve got a great social media plan, but are your buyers even using Twitter? What is the plan for those that choose to engage with your company? Is the outcome the same for each channel? When you know your Demand Process these and other important questions get answered.
Same with marketing automation and CRM, your technology systems handle your marketing and sales data and are tools to enable your Demand Process; technology alone is not a tactic or a strategy.
How do you get started with Demand Process? First, know your buyers and how they buy and align it against your marketing and sales goals. Then audit your people, process, content and technology – ask the question, does this support the overall Demand Process, yes or no? Look for the areas of greatest disconnect, there you’ll find opportunities for change.
- Failure to effectively manage change
Congratulations! You made it through the strategy phase and have designed a detailed, end-to-end demand generation plan that is poised to deliver. Now comes the next key area: implementation.
Make no mistake; launching successful, buyer-centric marketing programs is really an exercise in change management. Think about it – every group, department, and role that is customer facing or manages a marketing or sales function will be affected in getting to the desired state. Demand generation is no longer only about marketing and sales, but also IT, operations, and possibly HR. The areas which all these groups overlap should be expertly managed and communicated in order to prevent wasting of time and money, in addition to waning morale. Every seemingly minor change to the project has potentially far reaching implications.
Objectively assess the gap between your desired state (the to-be state of your demand generation program) and the current state. Again, you are looking at all areas of people, process, content and technology. What changes need to take place to get there? Where are the dependencies? How long will it take? Where can you implement changes immediately; where can you work in tandem? Create and communicate your plan: be transparent when setting expectations. Making big changes can be tough for some, so it helps that you have a clear vision of the desired state with sales and marketing leadership bought in to help drive alignment.
Change management doesn’t stop after you launch either. Track the progress and stay proactive through a set of key performance indicators (KPIs) that inform program decisions in addition to tracking performance.
In conclusion, most marketing program failures or derailments stem from a lack of coordinated planning and effort across an entire organization, not just in marketing. These are the most challenging parts of true demand generation, but with careful attention and communication the efforts are well worth it.
*Learn more about Change Management as it relates to Demand Generation here.