Is your B2B Marketing for the birds?

5 Questions to evaluate your B2B marketing. 

Marketing today is not what it was ten years ago – in fact, it’s not what it was a few months ago.

The landscape has changed, and with it, our understanding of how buyers and customers interact. The question is, why do so many marketers keep the same approach and tactics from 2015? 

A Tale of Two Birds 

Let me paint you a picture.

A man goes out to the park each morning with birdseed. Birds from far and wide flock to him, but he leaves at the end of every day disappointed. He wants to attract a very specific type of bird, and despite spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on seed, he just can’t seem find the species he’s looking for. 

You may think that the man is foolish, simply hoping for the best and playing a numbers game. You may ask why the man isn’t using specific food, or going to where the birds he wants are usually found. You may even wonder if the man has any idea about the birds he claims to be looking for. 

Well, it’s 2024 and I have news for you. Oftentimes, those you entrust your marketing with look a lot like the old man with bird seed.  
 
There are so many marketers who use lead-centric approaches that rely on funnelling hundreds of prospects to find that magical customer. However, as we all know now, only around 5% of your market is actively ready to buy. If you’re not hyper-targeting those 5% of accounts – knowing where they are, what they like and – most importantly – who they really are, you may as well be scattering bird seed into the wind.  

Except, as a business owner, that ‘birdseed’ is cash. 

In this article, we’re going to discuss questions you can ask your marketing team, agency, or yourself to see if you’re on the right track or just wasting money. 

Question 1 – Are you still talking about MQL, demand gen and funnels? 

There was a time when marketing qualified leads (MQLs) were the ultimate goal of digital marketers. You would nurture a lead to a point where they indicated a high enough lead score prompting sales to take over. It was all about taking a large group of leads and funnelling them through touchpoints, content and tests that ‘qualified’ them to be a good customer. That was over a decade ago. 

The truth is, that approach no longer works – if it ever did in the first place. 

Today, we understand that 95% of buyers are out of market at any time. That means that you can only ‘generate demand’ from 5% of your market – which are low odds to be approaching with a generic funnel approach. 

Instead, the key is to move towards targeted account-based methods – not lead-centric approaches.  

If your marketing team is still talking about MQL challenges with the funnel journey or bragging about the amount of ‘demand gen’ they bring in – you may have a problem. 

Question 2 – Are you still focused on ‘the’ buyer persona?  

If you think you know your customers because you have a single ‘buyer persona’, think again. It’s not a single person who buys your product or service anymore – it’s an entire committee of decision-makers, each with their own agendas, pain-points and interests.   

More than 80% of B2B purchases involve groups of three or more people. Thus, instead of working with a singular buyer-persona, you need to work with multiple personas within your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). It’s critical to be able to engage with each persona within the buying committee, as neglecting even one may make a deal fall through. 

A single buyer persona only gets you 1/8th of the way there. The answer is to engage with entire buying committees, understanding how they relate to one another on a fundamental level. That is the best way to engage with the accounts that matter. 

If you are ever pulled in to discuss ‘The Buyer Persona’, tell your team to come back when they have a ‘buyer committee’. 

Question 3 – Do you still have a marketing and sales department? 

Marketing and sales have long been cooperative rivals. Sales would constantly be begging for relevant leads that have value and marketing would always deflect, suggesting sales couldn’t close leads. It’s a tale as old as time – but every good tale has to come to an end. 

With a new way of working, marketing and sales should be so aligned that they almost become a singular department. Instead of focusing on marketing qualified leads or closes, they both should be chasing a singular metric: revenue. Many companies have realised this, and there are just as many names for this activity – but we like to call it ‘revenue operations’, or ‘RevOps’ for short. 

Instead of handing off MQLs to sales and ending the relationship with a buyer, RevOps works throughout the cycle. This ensures that buyers are not lost through the cracks and that teams have a full view of their buyers throughout the cycle. 

In this way, sales and marketing departments are quickly becoming a singular unit focused on one thing – revenue generation for the company above all. 

If your marketing department is quick to pass on responsibility to sales, you need to reevaluate their priorities. 

Question 4 – Are you using intent data? 

When Google took our cookies away, most businesses cried out in fear – how would they identify their website traffic? In comes the lead magnet and form to save the day. The idea was to offer something in exchange for identifying information, usually from a form. The reality is much more grim.  

Fewer than 0.5% of website visitors fill out an information form. To make matters worse, most forms only collect data about the individual, and not the buying committee as a whole. As we discussed above, to be truly effective you have to engage the whole committee and not just one person kind enough to be part of the 0.5%. 

No business can operate on 0.5% return. Good thing there’s another way. 

Intent data is a way of not only identifying who your ICP accounts are, but also the decision-makers of those accounts. You can even adjust to see what keywords they are searching for outside your website, whether they are in market or not, and where they frequent. 

Intent data can be acquired by 3rd party websites or even how your audiences engages with your own marketing materials. However, there is a wide array of intent data signals that you should consider, including: 

  • Support ticket activity 

  • Responses to your email marketing 

  • Frequency of visits to your webpages 

  • Chatbot activity  

  • Social media activity (followers, reactions, comments etc) 

  • Event attendance 

  • Employment trends (super-users changing employers, promotions, hiring positions) 

  • Community forums (questions, reactions, membership) 

  • Job listings (new roles, hiring surges, layoffs) 

  • News and events (fundraising, new product launches, press release keywords) 

The truth is, there are so many signals to consider today that you simply do not have an excuse to not incorporate intent data into your marketing strategy – and neither does your marketing team. 

If your marketing team isn’t looking at intent data, they’re essentially fine with 0.5% effort. 

You shouldn’t be. 

Question 5 – How much brand work do you do? 

It’s ironic that this post has spent so much time talking about how the old ways were misguided – only to end on a note about one of the things older marketing styles got right. A focus on branding is as old as it gets – but we seem to have lost our way during the digital marketing boom. ‘If we can’t measure it, don’t do it’, was the mantra for the past quarter century – but what if we threw the good out with the bad? 

An insightful story from LinkedIn’s Ty Heath really encapsulates this point. She says there’s an old story about two ad executives who get into a car. The first ad executive says, “I saw an ad for Aston Martin and bought this car.” The Second exec says, “but Aston Martin hasn’t advertised for years. How is that possible?” 

It was possible because the first ad exec had seen the ad when she was 13 years old, and she’d never forgotten it. 

Branding is powerful. It engages the 95% while your targeted ABM handles the 5% ready to buy. The best ads drive sales over the longest periods of time by building memories that still have the power to influence our buying decisions years later – much like the exec and Astin Martin. It’s the kind of magic that you can’t easily measure – but it’s worth it to keep your market engaged. 

If your marketing team is still repeating the mantra of ‘if we can’t measure it, don’t do it’ – they’re missing all of it. 

Ready to fly? Let’s talk. 

If you suspect that you could be reaching more people, landing more sales or just engaging better, it’s likely that your company is using marketing for the birds. By asking the above questions, you can evaluate whether those in charge of your marketing are taking charge, or coming up with excuses. 

If you’re ready to take the next step and see what marketing can really achieve, contact us today. Let’s have a conversation and see what we can do for you and your revenue generation. 

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