We also discuss the importance of branding, tracking and measuring results, and the customer
experience. Don’t miss this episode to learn what not to do if you are on a mission to grow rapidly.
[00:00] Show intro
[00:22] A look at common marketing mistakes that hinder growth potential
[00:55] Only playing the short game with your marketing initiatives
[09:50] Sending low-intent leads to sales
[17:17] Measuring the wrong things
[27:21] Letting perfection get in the way of progress
[33:15] Wrapping it up
The Demand Gen Fix is hosted by GrowthMode Marketing. Visit www.growthmodemarketing.com to learn more about us.
Hey everybody, it’s Jenni from GrowthMode Marketing. You are listening to The Demand Gen Fix the podcast where our team of GrowthModers and our guests discuss the ins and outs of demand generation and why we believe it’s the key to long-term sustainable growth, especially in the HR tech industry.
Hi podcast listeners. Welcome back to The Demand Gen Fix. Today’s episode is a continuation of the conversation that we started last week where we talked about the common marketing mistakes that will kill your growth potential. We had a really good conversation, but we feel like there’s so much more to talk about that we wanted to do another podcast episode about that. So I think we can just jump right back in. And again, it’s Erica and Deanna and I, so you guys are used to us by now. One of the main mistakes that we have talked about a lot in our podcast and that a lot of people make is only playing the short game with your marketing tactics. People are really interested in getting leads really fast. They want results right now, and so they don’t look at the big picture and the long game and they don’t have patience to do that.
This is such a common mistake and I think organizations don’t even recognize they’re doing it. It stems from the fact that when you are trying to meet revenue numbers, if you’re not there, I think it’s very natural for the sales team, the executive team, all of the people that are trying to drive that revenue to turn to marketing and say, help, we need leads, we need them now. What can we do to drive some more activity? That is a natural reaction. As a marketer, I’ve been on the side of the marketing portion of it many times and I’ve certainly caved into it before. You feel the pain as a marketer, you should be concerned about revenue as well and it’s certainly your job to support the success of the sales team and the organization. But it’s a mistake because if you’re only playing the short game and you’re not looking at the long-term game, what I have seen happen over and over with our clients here at GrowthMode Marketing and even in my own experiences as a marketer, is that you never get ahead.
And what I mean by that is you’re spending all this time trying to find leads now, next quarter, two quarters down the road, three quarters down the road that you never get ahead of it. And it’s a vicious cycle where you’re just chasing your tail over and over and it feels like a merry-go-round, and you can’t get off. I think partly that happens not only because the pressures of the current business situation where you’re behind on revenue or you’re behind on the growth goals that were set for the organization, but you’re also not setting up the long-term programs, which is demand generation, because they don’t produce immediate results. And it’s really, really hard. I know from experience, I know from talking to a lot of marketers and business leaders and sales leaders, when you need revenue now you feel like you can’t afford to worry about six months down the road, nine months down the road, 12 months down the road. It really sucks though, when six months down the road, nine months down the road, 12 months down the road, you’re still worrying about if you still have your job. And I say that because that’s unfortunately the reality for marketing teams and leaders is if you’re down on revenue and it continues on and you’re not solving the problem, it puts your own job at risk.
Back to your point about you’re really chasing your tail, I think the more you focus on this short game and the more that all of your efforts are focused on that immediate result, you’re constantly going to spin your wheels. You’re not going to be able to move any of this kind of long-term pipeline build forward and you’re going to continue to struggle to build future marketing programs that are going to set you up for success in the future long-term. That’s just going to continue to cause issues with the types of content that you’re creating. You’re really focusing on bottom of the funnel type of content and focusing on things that might be really focused on your products or your services and you’re not following or planning and strategy around that content and how these types of things are going to contribute to your digital footprint.
And you’re going to start to build out this brand recognition and awareness within your key target audiences, but instead you’re going to continue again to just spin your wheels and spin your wheels and without moving that forward. I think the point here really, like you said Deanna, is you’re going to continue to be in the same position for years. There’s no way out of that constant circle without starting to look at the longer-term needs and to start to work on a strategy that’s going to bring you success long-term and building an engine that’s intended to be a long-term game and be that longer term solution for growth.
And to your point, Erica, about the content that just relates to products and services, you have to start thinking about putting some effort and time into doing more thought leadership type things, more top of the funnel type content so that you’re not just hitting that. Try to get leads right now. People are out there reading your content so that when they are interested six months down the road your name might pop up.
We’ve talked about this certainly in past episodes, but the majority of your audience is not actually in market to buy. And that is when we talk about playing the long game. If you’re only playing the short game, you’re really trying to find what is typically 5% of your total addressable market or your ideal customer profile that are actually looking to buy today. So, you’re looking for that needle in the haystack. And this year the economy is not as healthy as it has been in the past. A lot of technology companies are pulling back on spend, cutting down on staff, they’re not spending as much as they have in the past, which means even less than 5% of them now are actually in market to buy. They’re putting off buying decisions, they’re holding onto money and cash that makes that needle in the haystack even smaller to chase after.
I don’t think that marketing in general has caught up with the way that people want to buy from a technology company standpoint, from an HR technology standpoint, we’ve gotten so used to lead generation and really going out there and chasing leads. We’ve got the whole SDR model, we’ve got lead scoring models, we’ve got sales processes that take multiple steps. All of that needs to evolve because if we’re only focusing on trying to find the people that are ready to buy now, sometimes the problem is there’s not enough demand in the market. And if you’re not focusing on demand creation and you’re only focusing on demand capture, you’re falling short. That’s part of the problem. You didn’t do anything to really create that demand in the market and it wasn’t naturally there. You’re going to have a hard time hitting your revenue numbers.
There are less people that are ready to buy now. You need to be ready for them in the future when they are ready, when the economy ticks back up, when things get better, you need to take this opportunity right now to actually plan for that future growth.
Companies that are pulling back on their marketing spend right now, if you are an organization that makes the decision to not pull back and to really focus on demand creation in the market, imagine how much better you are going to come out of this when people are ready to buy again, more freely then those that pulled back on spend. Because guess what, up to 80% of the buyer decision process is complete before they’re even willing to talk to a sales rep. These days, everybody’s trying to avoid talking to those sales reps. That means you better make their consideration set, you better build that brand awareness and trust with them before they get to that point. If they’re a year out from buying right now now’s the time to be putting content in in front of them and engaging them and giving them a reason to be a captive audience to you and follow along with your content.
When you get stuck in that short game and you can’t continue to move forward because you’re spinning your wheels it’s a problem. What we’re trying to say here is ultimately that the long game is really what matters, and the future customers are really critical to your company’s future growth and success. And the success of your marketing programs is really going to depend on how you can build out these longer-term demand gen engines.
Pushing low quality leads to your SDRs or sales team is a very costly activity for organizations and I don’t think they always look at it that way, but think about how much time and resources your sales team has and how expensive your sales team has is if they’re constantly chasing after leads that aren’t actually leads, that is time that could better be spent on working on the opportunities that really do have a real chance. I think one of the flaws and why this mistake happens that low quality leads get passed is because in many organizations, marketing teams are still measured on the volume of leads that they pass over. That means considering anyone that engages with your content, they’re a lead. That doesn’t work because it assumes that everyone that engages with your content is in market to buy. That is far from the truth.
We talk to clients and prospects all the time who will say, I had 1500 people read my content piece, I put a form in front of it, they filled out the gate. Well, if you can get that kind of response on your gated content, that’s awesome. I would take a step back and say, how many people did you turn away because you put the gate on there, you should have gotten rid of the gate in the first place. But the real issue becomes we had 1500 people submit their contact information and no one converted to an actual client or became an opportunity. Well how much time did your sales team spend vetting those leads, cold calling them, sending emails, researching them, trying to make the magic happen only to have wasted results?
That’s a good question to ask yourself. I think there’s one instance where we see this a lot and where I’ve seen this in my past as well, where sometimes within an organization sales is allowed to drive some of what marketing is doing or give the direction. This becomes a huge issue because sales might say yes, we want all of those contacts. A lot of this comes down to marketing and sales alignment as well and where that becomes an issue because sales might want some of those contacts upfront, but like you said, they’re wasting time and resource chasing.
Or if marketing is being measured on the quantity and not the quality, that is a whole other issue where all of these leads that are pushed to sales. As marketers we really need to step back and be able to educate the rest of the organization and the teams on the importance of you can’t treat every quote unquote lead the same. If you’re not differentiating these leads between someone who’s low intent, maybe you’re saying this is a top of funnel, we see this person engaging, we can see the activity they’re that they’re doing the engagement, the steps that they’re taking, but they’re low intent. They have not done anything that is telling me they’re in market to buy. Don’t focus that effort. Let marketing handle that nurturing process and continue to feed content to those types of leads and really let your sales team focus on the high intent activities where identify what those are and what types of activities really do mean somebody’s taking that step.
One example that’s pretty common that we think of is, if somebody went to buy now or find a distributor or that kind of page on your website, you might look at that as okay, this person is really interested. They’ve looked to find whether it’s a distributor or to find a way to purchase or a way to contact us. Those are types of things where you could say maybe that’s higher intent, but otherwise we can’t be treating all of the leads the same. I think it’s up to us as marketers to really be able to educate the team and help align sales and marketing in really defining what that means.
In the case where you’ve got sales coming to you and saying, I don’t care how qualified this lead is, I just want people to talk to. It’s about taking a step back again and looking at how they’re actually measured. And I know a lot of organizations, they have activity metrics that they’re expected to hit, they’re expected to make so many calls a day, so many LinkedIn in-mails per day, so many emails sent out to show, okay, I’m doing everything I can to close these leads. And I think that is another issue that feeds into low intent leads being passed the sales because they’re trying to demonstrate and they’re probably getting pressure to deliver on those activity metrics, but all of that activity is kind of wasted effort quite frankly. And wouldn’t you rather have really good leads come into your sales team and they’re maybe making less calls and sending less direct InMails but they’re actually closing business?
Yeah, the point there I think is that not only is there have to be marketing and sales alignment, but you have to get the whole company on board. You have to get everybody’s boss to realize that they need to change and that we can’t just be ticking off numbers of people that got talked to when nobody’s making a sale.
And if leads are getting passed to sales, a challenge with the low leads getting passed to sales, the sales cycles really slow, those leads fall out, they never close and turn into business. Most sales teams forget even if marketing created our recycling program to throw them back into a nurture track to send those leads back to marketing. Now you’re not recycling leads back into your nurture program. You are not marketing to those people anymore. They just kind of fall off the face of the earth. Right? And that’s a miss as well because you don’t have the ability to try to get that person or that company to a spot where they’re actually in market and ready to buy anymore.
The moral to this story or this mistake, is that low intent leads need to be nurtured. Don’t just waste sales as time by sending them low quality leads and make sure that only high intent leads are sent over.
Another mistake that we see commonly happening is when we’re measuring the wrong things we’re doing as marketers, you’re avoiding some sort of marketing tactic or type of program that is something that’s just plain and simple, it’s hard to measure or it’s hard to kind of prove the success. What kind of examples do you guys think of when we think of where we’re just measuring the wrong things or where we’re avoiding things because we feel like it’s too hard to measure?
The measurement one is a tough thing as a marketer. I have been in the spot where the CEO, the board of directors, the investors expect us as marketers to demonstrate the ROI of the investments we’re making on behalf of the company to help grow revenue. I get that it’s important. I think data helps you make better informed decisions to help with that growth trajectory. But what can end up happening is we start avoiding tactics that are harder to measure. And I’ll use podcasts, great example of it’s really hard to measure a podcast and what influence it has on the sales process because you don’t have the ability to see exactly who downloaded your podcast, who listened to it, where they went and had conversations with other people after it where they might have referred someone else to the podcast.
You can’t measure it easily the way you can measure an email, they clicked on my link, they went to my website, I know all of the activities they’re doing digitally online. That doesn’t mean you should actually skip that tactic because you know, we can tell you because we’ve seen it in real life. Sometimes those things you can’t measure like a podcast actually become the biggest driver of building demand for your products and services and brand awareness and trust in your company, which ultimately translates to more dollars more people raising their hand and saying, I am ready to talk to a salesperson. I like what you guys have to say. It really speaks to me and I think your solution can solve the challenges that I’m dealing with right now.
It really goes back to what we talked about before, the long game. If you’re playing the long game, those are exactly the kinds of things that really can’t be measured right now. But it’s not that you shouldn’t do it because you need to build that awareness. You need to look at those future customers and you shouldn’t be gaining that content just to track it just to get numbers because you’re going to turn people away.
The ultimate measurement is revenue, right? Is your company revenue growing? Are you staying steady? Are you losing revenue? That’s ultimately what matters more than email clicks, more than podcast downloads, more than those kind of vanity metrics per se. I have been in the position where I’ve measured the hell out of everything. I’ve been able to say, here’s what we measured, here’s how it’s performing, here’s how it’s trending upward. But it misses so much of the story because a buyer journey in the B2B space, if you are buying an HR technology or anything of substantial cost, it’s not likely that you clicked on a digital ad, first time you ever heard of the company, you didn’t have a problem, or you just thought of the problem and you’re ready to buy today. It doesn’t work that way. It’s usually this long and twisty journey on the buyer side where they may take several actions and research and take a year to get there or six months or you know, who knows how long sometimes three years to get to that point where they’re ready to buy.
But what is their exposure to your brand during that time? Maybe they were listening to your podcast episodes, they were also looking at your blog, they were also talking to people who are colleagues at different companies that use your solutions. They were going to trade shows, they saw some digital ads. There’s all these different things that are probably touchpoints during that journey. The marketing industry, the marketing technology industry has tried to evolve to be able to measure things to the point where I think it’s almost a disadvantage because there are software out there that have attribution models to be able to say, well this is what’s driving results, but here’s the problem. If they did all these things in the journey to get to the point where they raised their hand and they’re ready to buy, but all you really have visibility to is they clicked on your Google ad said, I’m ready to have a conversation on paper. It looks like okay, we should invest more in digital ads because this is what’s driving leads for us. But if you just did that and you got rid of all your other programs, I mean I’ve seen so many companies throw more money into digital advertising and not get better results or bigger results. And so there’s not always a direct correlation between what you can measure and what you can see and what’s actually happening.
I would agree Deanna, and I think the way you’re explaining this just really solidifies the need for that omnichannel approach where you have to understand that all of these efforts are adding up to ultimately you want to get that person to raise their hand and come to you when they’re ready to buy. As a marketer, your ability to go and educate those within your organization and make sure that people understand that sometimes. And I think I’ve had experience in the past with where really you’re just measuring so many different things that it’s hard to actually prove that value. When you’re digging so deep to try to put a ROI on a certain effort or a certain marketing tactic, it becomes really hard to prove that there was any value there or that yes, this is the tactic that works.
There’s ways to measure things and there’s ways to report on it. You’re not looking at all those other touch points between the time someone clicked that ad to the time somebody raised their hand and wanted to talk to sales. It goes back to the fact that as a marketer that’s part of our job is to be able to educate the rest of the organization and especially your leadership on what are the right KPIs to be measuring. This can take a long time to educate or convince others within the organization of what those KPIs look like and what makes the most sense to measure and to push back on. It’s not always an ROI that you’re showing it is X, Y and Z. The nature of our role as marketers is really just to be able to educate our teams and our leadership on what are the right things to measure here and how can we identify KPIs that are really going to help us tell the entire story and show the entire journey that we took someone through. Or again, that omnichannel process.
One of the things to consider, that’s a really easy change to make, to be able to measure some of these tactics that are harder to directly measure when your lead comes in the door, put on your form on your website, how did you learn about us? And see what they say because that’s when you start to hear things like, well I’ve been listening to your podcast for the last seven months, or I’ve attended three of your webinars. I’ve followed people on LinkedIn who have been talking about you or your employees who have been talking about topics that really mean something to me. It gives you more insight, it’s not as immediate, but it helps you start to see where the things that you can as easily measure actually are providing value and building that brand trust and affinity in the market for you so that you can go back to your CEO, your board of directors, your investors and tell that story of here’s the value of the programs that we’re doing today that are bringing, and here’s why it’s a long-term strategy, but it’s a really important strategy to our growth story.
That’s a really good idea to put that on your form or just even ask when you finally do meet, I have sales ask whoever, but to get that information is a really good measurement even if it’s not a number or a click or a lead.
It’s so easy to add a field to your form and I just saw somebody that made a recommendation to put in the question of how did you learn about us? Be as detailed as you want. And they said their information that came in went up significantly because now instead of someone saying, I listened to your podcast, they said, well I went to your podcast, I follow so and so on LinkedIn, I’m reading your blog articles. Some of the people were going into such detail that it just painted a much richer story for that organization. I think the key takeaway when you look at this mistake of measuring the wrong things is don’t get so wrapped up improving ROI that you miss out on actually delivering the ROI. Because at the end of the day, what matters is how are these programs delivering? Not how easily can I measure and improve it.
Well, we have one more mistake to cover today and this is a big one because a lot of us really do function this way and that’s letting the pursuit of perfection limit your actual progress. We’re so concerned that everything’s perfect before we move forward that we never move forward.
You want to put your best foot out there and you want really good marketing. We experience it ourselves internally at times. We see clients do it. It’s easier to recognize when someone else is doing it than yourselves, but you’re spending so much time trying to get it perfect and trying to get it right before you put it out there that you don’t actually get it out the door in a reasonable time. And if you take a step back and think about it and have a mindset of progress, not perfection, something that’s 75% there but is out there going to deliver more results than something that’s just not out there because you haven’t perfected it yet. It’s really a mindset of how we get to a minimal viable product from a marketing program and get it out there and then let’s start to refine it and make it better as we go.
We all need to give ourselves a little grace. We all need to know that we’re not going to be perfect. There’s going to be things and mistakes that come up in the things that we put out there and all you can do is fix them and refine and learn from what’s out there and just go from there eventually. Maybe it’ll be perfect but probably never will. So just make sure you’re out there and not waiting in the background. Because then you’re never going to get known or seen.
There’s not much more to stay on this specific mistake because it’s pretty straightforward, but it’s one that we’ve made for ourselves that we’ve seen clients make that I think was worth calling out because it happens in every marketing department. We all want to put really, really, really good stuff out there and that’s what we should be striving for. But things get delayed so much, we see it so much with our clients, bless their hearts. They want to rethink and rethink and rethink and the copy writers’ issue where your copy’s never good enough. You keep refining it and you keep editing yourself at some point. You just have to put it out there and see how people react to it. And if they’re not reacting the way you want, then you continue to involve it, you continue to enhance it, but at least you have something out there, right?
At GrowthMode marketing we would never say put out mediocre content. But someone once told me that putting out average content consistently will drive more results than putting out exceptional content rarely. Stop and think about that. If you take that approach with your marketing, don’t put mediocre stuff out there indeed. But if you can get it to 75% where you want it to be and then continue to enhance it and evolve it, you’re going to make progress. And that’s really what matters because perfection takes forever to get there and it really limits how fast you can grow if that’s what you have to focus on.
If you think you’re going to perfect something before you launch it or put it out there to the world, I will argue that actually isn’t going to be the case. You need to put things out there and test the message and test the approach or test the tactics that you’re using to actually effectively perfect that approach or perfect that campaign or whatever it is you’re working on. I think that’s something that I find myself reminding clients of or even reminding myself that you can’t perfect those types of things upfront. You can work on that and have 10 people internally working on the same piece of content or the same program or campaign or whatever it is, and you can say, yeah, we’re going to get this perfect and it’s going to drive this much, well it’s probably not going to be the case and regardless, you’re going tp have to go back and make changes.
That’s how marketing works. Going back to that first point of when you’re stuck playing the short game, when you are truly following a strategy and you are working towards that longer game and working more towards building a demand gen engine, this is part of making demand gen successful. Putting things out there, testing, refining, and repeating those things.
Let’s be honest, perfection is subjective. As a designer, Jenni, what one person will look at and say, this design is amazing, another person is going to rip apart. Right? And sometimes it’s like changing the color of this button is not going to drive more sales, so are we really going to get wrapped around the axle or are we going to make progress here?
We have really covered a lot in these last two podcasts. I hope you all learned something and thank you for listening, please join us again next week.
Thanks for joining us on The Demand Gen Fix, a podcast for HR tech marketers brought to you by GrowthMode Marketing. We sure hope you enjoyed it. Don’t forget to subscribe for more perspectives on demand generation and B2B marketing strategies. Plus give us a like, tell your friends, we’ll see you next time.
At GrowthMode, we combine the unique discipline of growth marketing and the evergreen principles of traditional marketing to develop integrated strategies and measurable programs that help businesses drive growth where it matters most to their vision. We help our B2B clients focus on their specific goals and ensure that their investment is aligned with their broader strategic vision.