Selecting the right demand marketing partner can be a very complicated and emotional undertaking. Making the choice to bring in a new vendor involves a lot of moving pieces and all too often, once vendor evaluations are underway, internal pressures to select someone quickly snowball. When that happens, you run the risk of selecting the wrong partner – one who doesn’t align with your own strategic goals. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Begin your demand marketing partner selection by arming yourself with the right tools to make an informed decision. You’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to evaluate vendors when you’re able to judge their capabilities based on a pre-defined list of requirements. While you should develop a comprehensive list of requirements, it is most important to identify those needs that are the most distinguishing.
We’ve put together a checklist of the top capabilities your demand marketing partner should have so that you can achieve a successful Digital Demand Transformation.
Partner selection comes with big costs and risks if the wrong decision is made, so it’s critical to find a good long-term fit and partnership. Seeing success with a transformation of any kind requires consistency. When considering your partner think about how well they align with your own company. A partner should act as exactly that – a partner – who works alongside your teams. They should be able to:
- Thoughtfully design change management strategies
- Translate your objectives into outcomes
- Demonstrate how all elements of the project map to the timeline of your project
- Prove success with similar size undertakings
Making sure that your partner fits within your own business strategy will help prevent any changeover halfway through a Digital Demand Transformation initiative.
Strategic demand marketing is about generating interest and providing sales opportunities that produce real, bottom-line results. Therefore, your partner should evolve your practices beyond campaign-based marketing tactics in favor of an “always-on” state of marketing. They must know how to blueprint the holistic buying journey, connect all elements together, and track performance to reach a state of predictability. Strategic demand sees buyer interactions and contextually reacts in a way that tactical marketing can’t. It’s a state where the buyer can move forward and backwards in their process and the system will be able to keep up. A strategic demand partner implements an advanced program to drive perfectly timed, relevant conversations with prospects across multiple engagement channels.
The right partner will extrapolate their understanding of your company objectives into financial impact. Marketer’s roles have moved toward having more accountability for delivering greater efficiency in marketing spend. The partner you select will prove their value more concretely by correlating their approach to specific results from benchmarks derived through their previous work. They should provide the most informed and actionable insights so that you know the direction you are heading in is the right direction with the current investments, and that course-correcting actions are most accurately delivering improved program outcomes and yielding more results.
A demand marketing partner should provide the most informed and actionable insights and must deliver a systematic approach to measuring and optimizing sales from all program investments. They should understand what’s happening and be able to identify repeatable patterns that are driving demand. Your partner must be able to constantly track performance of all initiatives within a demand marketing strategy and then provide real-time recommendations to improve performance. As digital demand marketing becomes predictable, it can drive sustainable growth from knowing exactly how much money to invest in generating a precise amount of new revenue. Only a partner with advanced optimization and data science capabilities will be able to deliver on this initiative.
A demand marketing partner needs to drive buyer centric demand. Traditional marketing initiatives are typically more product centric or sales centric and are heavily focused on tactics and channels. A common mistake most organizations make is setting the context of how their products and services work, and then trying to fit the buyer into that context. It needs to be the reverse of this. A buyer centric program, on the other hand, is all about the customer’s needs and meeting those needs through a well-designed conversation track to deliver the right message at the right time. It is important to keep in mind that personas by their very nature have limitations, no matter how well researched and accurate they are. Any persona is developed from a limited number of individuals, which makes it hard to determine if it represents the target customers and their needs accurately. This means working beyond persona to understand the higher order business needs and pain points that get to the heart of buying process and customer journey, and then building a dialogue logic that is fully focused on them—from content and channel to org strategy and technology. This type of “outside-in” strategy is critical for connecting to customers’ goals and motivations and driving ongoing demand.
Your partner should understand that specificity converts. The more relevant your offer is to your buyer, the better it is. The specific offer to the specific person will outperform the general offer to the general persons. Personalizing an experience is more than just addressing your client by name; it drives the particular path forward that is most relevant to the buyer and conforms to your business goals. Building an engine that dynamically populates web and emails with the best performing content in real-time conveys the most specific and relevant experience to the buyer. This personalized experience will act as the compass directing a contact through the critical path of conversion from an early stage prospect to a qualified lead. Well-designed personalization goes beyond just the website – it should be incorporated everywhere (nurture, eNewsletters, sales enablement etc.) and will show contacts what’s next in the content journey derived from their interests, role, and company goals.
Your partner should be able to leverage technology tools to help you automate with the clear distinction that automation is only part of a strategic demand state, it’s not the end goal. A mature demand process will interpret actions and respond automatically. It will regulate interaction as it senses buyer behavior and monitors all demand activity in harmony. Just like the autonomic nervous system regulates a variety of body process that takes place without conscious effort your demand marketing program will regulate demand in the same way. With a proven methodology, your partner should design a responsive system that will orchestrate and optimize demand. This system reacts to information from the external environment and insight from program operations, thereby engaging, nurturing and converting prospective buyers into customers. It will rationalize all elements of demand marketing — from content to channel to organization strategy to technology — via the buying process to optimize end-to-end marketing and sales processes and results.
Your partner absolutely must have comprehensive expertise. They must have teams dedicated to strategy, implementation and optimization with leadership that understands all three of these components. Perhaps the biggest differentiator amongst partners is the skill set they bring to the table. Developing an end-to-end demand process is a complex endeavor that requires a multi-disciplinary approach to orchestrate people, process, content and technology around the buyer journey. A team should impress you with their domain expertise and context derived from previous projects. While each person will possess a specialized skill, they will apply their mastery with a marketer’s mindset. Your partner must know how to apply their proficiency within greater context to bring the buyer journey to life. They must be builders who possess deep expertise with tremendous context for the end state in mind. Today, marketers are wearing hats they don’t want to wear or managing tasks that they aren’t good at. You need a team – people who are experts in their area, but are strong in all other areas, that work as a team to deliver amazing results and to make sure all areas are at the highest quality.
One of the most important elements to consider when selecting a partner is team chemistry and collaboration. Ninety-seven percent (97%) of employees and executives believe that a lack of alignment within teams impacts the outcome of a task or project. For this reason, the ability of a team to perform together is mission critical. Your partner should provide a positive, collaborate environment that feels like a safe place for teams to address hard questions, overcome complicated obstacles, and celebrate wins along the way. This kind of partnership translates to better outcomes in both the short term and the long run.
So now that you know what to look for in a partner, how do you find out if the person you’re considering has these qualities? With so many vendors in the marketplace, it’s essential to understand what’s out there and how it matches up with your business needs before selecting a vendor.
As you’re doing your research, here’s a simple list of things we’d recommend asking your vendor to help make the right decision:
- How does your approach coordinate all elements required to drive an end-to-end buyer journey?
- How will you serve up insights on program performance and determine which channels and content are driving our acquisition process?
- What is your process for assimilating these performance insights into concrete actions to tune the program for better performance?
- What is your process to help us gain deep insight on the higher order business needs and pain points that get to the heart of buyers’ motivations?
- How do you turn buyer insights into the content used in the demand generation program?
- What is your approach to designing a scalable and predictable demand process?
- What is your approach to using technology to power our demand generation program?
- Describe the expertise you bring to this work and each team member plays a role in our success.
Through benchmarking validated by clients, ANNUITAS delivers greater than 4x higher outcomes in engaged to win ratios over industry benchmarks. Companies turn to ANNUITAS when their investments in demand marketing fail to impact revenue growth. These companies struggle to deliver lead-to-revenue visibility and measure overall program performance. By teaming up with ANNUITAS, you can transition from interruptive, tactical, campaign-based demand generation activities to a long-term, sustainable strategic demand state that serves as the growth engine.
When selecting ANNUITAS you benefit from a proven approach that includes:
- A predictable demand process methodology that will tie investments to revenue outcomes.
- An insight driven approach that will measure the efficiency of your channel, content and technology investments.
- A perpetual state of demand vs. campaigns. Always on vs. short term, and a buyer centric demand-pull vs. push and offer-based tactics.
- Specific, intentional and personalized journey for prospects instead of a generalist approach to marketing to the masses.
- A team of skilled resources who know marketing and are able to un-complicate a complex system of marketing activities into well-defined outcomes.
Does this sound like something your company needs? Let’s connect and start the conversation.
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