The C-Suite’s Guide to Strategic Demand Marketing

Building Trust Between the CEO and Marketing

How is the relationship between marketing, sales, and the C-suite? C-Suite executives outside of the marketing organization often operate under the false assumption that marketing cannot drive pipeline. And marketing teams that are comfortably “hitting their numbers” without tying their activity-based efforts to pipeline and revenue are not motivated to close the loop between their campaigns and pipeline. In order to bridge this gap and truly drive growth, C-suite leadership often needs to step in and lead the shift from a tactical demand marketing approach to a strategic demand marketing state.

Marketers, traditionally responsible for brand awareness, are struggling with the transition to revenue-based KPIs. The reality is that when marketing can’t make the transition to revenue-focused KPIs, sales will often take steps to generate demand themselves – distracting from selling and leading to misalignment between the two organizations. When this happens, the CEO, CRO, or even a new CMO usually gets involved to start sorting out the misalignment. If that’s you (or could be you soon), here are 11 things that the C-suite needs to know about a successful demand marketing strategy to judge whether or not your marketing team is up to the task.

1. Deciding on Tactics is Not a Strategy

Many organizations fall into the trap of executing “random acts of marketing” and continuously run campaigns without focusing on outcomes. That type of tactical approach makes it impossible to drive sustainable growth. Reading this, you’re either nodding along or you’re not quite sure if that’s what your team is doing. If you fall into the latter group, I strongly suggest reading one of our most popular blog posts to find out if you’re committing random acts of marketing. Deciding on tactics is not a strategy, and will not help you achieve growth goals. Instead, a successful demand marketing strategy should be focused on driving outcomes that support business expansion and customer retention; on driving growth.

2. Increasing Budget Doesn’t Always Equal More Leads

There comes a point that spending more money on a tactic simply won’t drive any more demand. For example, increasing spend in pay-per-click doesn’t increase the number of people searching on key terms. Tactically-driven demand generation is expensive and eventually runs out of room to grow. Knowing how to optimize investments against sales outcomes is how you can achieve sustainable growth, but is a challenge for most organizations because there’s no end-to-end visibility. How do you know what’s working if you can’t track it? Measuring ROI and adjusting appropriately is one of the most important parts of a demand marketing strategy. If this is your immediate concern, read: Why Can’t Marketing Answer the ROI Question? to find out more.

3. Volume Is Not Always the Answer

When sales demands more leads, one of two things will usually happen. Either marketing will ask for more budget or sales will start trying to generate their own leads (which they absolutely should not be doing). In either scenario the becomes generating a large volume of leads, but don’t be surprised if increased volume doesn’t translate into more pipeline. The goal of a successful demand marketing strategy is to generate quality leads that translate into closed-won sales.

4. Technology Is Not a Strategy

Regardless of what you may hear from your marketing department, strategic demand marketing is not about marketing automation. Yes, it is a component, but technology is a tool – not a strategy. There is no magic product that will suddenly make all of your marketing challenges solvable. Instead of buying more products, focus on how your tools can help you Engage, Nurture, and Convert your buyers to create an orchestrated buyer journey. Unfortunately, most organizations today are using their MarTech tools to blast outbound emails – not orchestrate engagement. When that’s the case, not only are you wasting money by not fully leveraging your tools, but you also risk doing serious damage to the customer experience.

5. Strategic Demand Marketing Is Perpetual

Strategic demand marketing orchestrates an always-on buyer journey. It is always responding to the needs of your buyers with relevant content while simultaneously qualifying each individual person by monitoring engagement and response. It adapts to the buyer’s interests as those interests evolve. In fact, it should foster evolution of interest by nurturing them through each stage of their journey. Strategic demand marketing creates a dialogue with the buyer, it doesn’t spit out a monologue.

6. Invest in Your People

There is a very good chance your marketing team will need additional training and skills development in order to implement a strategic demand marketing approach. That may sound daunting, but it’s one of the best investments you can make. We think that special attention should be paid to marketing technology roles, and dig deeper into that topic in the post, “The Secret Ingredients to the Perfect Demand Technologist, but everyone from marketing, sales, IT, and leadership has a role to play. Your org chart can make or break your success, so it’s important you’ve planned for any change management along the way.

7. It Is Not Just About Marketing

Sales has to play a big role in this and there must be alignment from marketing and sales. Discrete steps in the buyer’s journey should be identified and documented using both first and third-party research, and marketing and sales should come to consensus on those steps. Steps that lead to qualification are especially important for this consensus, as well as the process for the handling of leads once they are passed to sales. Once that’s in place, there’s no more debate between the two teams as to who is or isn’t delivering quality. Instead, everyone is on the same page and has agreed upon a process that supports efficient lead qualification.

8. It Will Require Change

Change management is key to implementing and adopting a strategic demand marketing mindset. You will most likely need to change the skill-set of your personnel, the reward structure based on changes in goals and performance metrics, the organizational structure to align to the buyers purchase path and the traditional way of thinking of both marketing and sales. Not everyone will think the system is broken, and there may be some resistance to change. You will need to make sure everyone is aligned around the same goal. This can be a tricky task to manage, especially as expectations for success change, so we offer some helpful advice in this piece about stakeholder alignment for demand marketing initiatives.

9. Your Success Metrics Are Probably Wrong

Strategic demand marketing is an outcome-driven discipline. It’s much more than measuring opens, clicks, new followers, or levels of brand awareness. It’s about pipeline contribution, customer lifetime value, and increasing market share. If you’re not sure what metrics you should be measuring, we recommend reading the article, “Demand Marketing KPIs and Metrics You Need to Monitor.”

10. Change Does Not Happen Overnight

Moving your organization to a strategic demand marketing state takes time and effort. Be patient but continue to drive for results. There are successes you will achieve along the way, but true demand process maturity does not happen overnight. Take a phased approach to transformation and chart discrete goals along the way so that you can celebrate every success.

11. It Takes Leadership and Support Across the Organization

Change is hard, and people will resist—your buyers, marketing personnel and sales team need your support and leadership in order to make strategic demand marketing pay off.

Most B2B Enterprises have trouble shifting from a tactical approach to a strategic one, but a clear, defined demand marketing strategy is what changes marketing from a cost center to a growth driver. 

For more reading, we recommend:

Making the Critical Shift from Tactical Demand Marketing to Strategic Demand Marketing

Demand Marketing Transformation: The Path to Strategic Demand

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