I don't know anything about B2B marketing. However, succumbing to the latest demand generation "hacks", content marketing trends, and cutting-edge marketing techniques over the past decade, I've found that some fairly basic activities always lead to meaningful results if you get close to them right. While some may think these are obvious, it's surprising how often marketers forget these tried-and-true tricks in pursuit of the latest shiny item. 1. Automate tedious tasks before investing in sexy tech Unsurprisingly, like professionals in other fields, marketers tend to look for technologies that have a "wow me" factor. Surprise is often more important than practicality. But it's utility that provides the bottom line. Artificial intelligence (AI) is a good example. AI is already consuming B2B marketing, and for good reason — it’s scientifically interesting and has huge potential to improve efficiency . What amazes me, however, is that while the entire industry (marketers, trade shows, publications, and technology vendors) is aware of the field of AI, most marketers continue to perform the most mundane and time-consuming tasks manually , such as lead processing and lead source management. In fact, after surveying 15 companies recently, I was shocked to find that they spend an average of 51.9 hours a month manually processing leads. That is very inefficient. When most people are still sifting through Excel files to make sure "Mickey Mouse" doesn't get injected into their nurturing tracks, it's crazy to think that B2B marketers are ready to embrace AI.
It's like recommending a smart refrigerator to a homeowner who doesn't yet have a dishwasher (or even electricity). Like smart refrigerators, AI is great, but it won't provide the needed utility until the fundamentals are automated. Now, B2B marketers need all the utilities they can get their hands on. 2. Talk to clients and prospects regularly Whether you're conducting interviews for an article you're writing, or trying to gain insights for a research report, regular interaction with prospects and customers brings many benefits. First, these conversations often reveal new ideas, angles, and counterpoints to help you hone your message. Anyone who has spent a lot of time as a content marketer knows that coming up with new topics to write about is never easy. Second, such conversations support brand loyalty among prospects and customers, who will appreciate the fact that you value their insights and opinions. Usually this widens the reach because when you quote someone in an article, they are more likely to share it. Plus, it's just a great way to meet new people at the event (the real reason we go to them). 3. Partner with complementary companies on content While the alliteration in this is disgusting, the benefits of working with other companies outweigh the effort. I often struggle with this step because it really requires adding an extra step (and headache) to an already time-pressed job for B2B marketers. But I'm rarely disappointed with the results. Like talking to prospects and clients, working with other companies on a common project provides new insights you wouldn't otherwise gain.
What's more, it often gives you access to targeted accounts and individuals that you have not yet successfully engaged with. It's like being invited to a party with a lot of people you want to meet. With this opportunity, however, comes an even greater responsibility. Make sure you can handle the weight of the workload or you might be building a bridge with a valuable partner. Also, use this opportunity to put your best face forward in front of a new audience, which means great content and timely follow-ups. 4. Use Marketing Metrics to Move Down the Funnel B2B marketing continues to evolve, and so must the way we analyze performance. Consider the book and the movie "Moneyball" - changes in the way baseball teams recruit, trade, and pay players require a change in the industry mailing list they evaluate player performance. In B2B marketing, we are currently seeing the same thing. Lead count used to be the gold standard for marketing performance, but the top-performing marketing organizations now focus on marketing attribution opportunities and even revenue. I believe we will find these metrics become more nuanced in the future. Keeping the big picture in mind is essential. Lead count only matters when leads are converted into opportunities. Opportunities only matter if they translate into revenue. Revenue only matters if it scales faster than the resources needed to produce it. Therefore, as our measurement capabilities develop, we must resolve to identify and analyze the most important metrics. 5.
Switch easily between sales and marketing thinking Sometimes the instinct to sell is best avoided. For example, when I write a marketing report or guide, I avoid selling our product because I want to demonstrate a level of objectivity and provide as much value as possible to our audience. Other times, however, such as when I'm working on a conference booth or writing an Integrate case study, I try to channel my inner Alec Baldwin and pitch Integrate's software. The difference is knowing when your audience needs you to be a sales rep. It seems basic, but I often see marketers struggling with the sales-marketing switch. When someone downloads a guide like "How to prepare for GDPR," they don't want to read all the information about your product. Instead, they seek objective, educational content to help them. However, if that person comes to your booth at a conference and asks how your product can help them achieve GDPR, they want you to promote your product with a pitch. None of the above activities are groundbreaking. Rather, they are proven ways to move your B2B marketing program forward. Before jumping straight into any new "hacking" or buying an expensive new MarTech system, make sure you have the basics. Shortcuts and techniques won't fix bad strategies - but they can amplify the effects of good strategies.