How we define B2B demand generation determines how we pursue it. So here’s an interpretation that can help you focus and refine your demand generation efforts.
If B2B demand generation had a mission statement, it would be:
“Engage prospects and customers with relevant dialogue to develop and maintain long-term profitable relationships.”
Before you pick this statement apart, allow me.
What we do: “Engage prospects and customers…”
Is your first instinct to prove the value of your offering, or to get to know the people you’re targeting? Engagement should begin with a question, not a presentation. And there’s a specific question customers and prospects always ask, but that B2B marketers may fail to answer or ask: “Who are you?”
We tend to categorize customers and prospects simply by their titles, neglecting the persona development that would reveal their deeper triggers and their connections to the influencers and amplifiers around them. Even customers we think we know well may change in terms of their needs and expectations over time, so “Who are you?” is not just a conversation starter, it’s a perpetual theme.
And asking the question is only one part of engagement. I was recently reminded of how important it is to answer “Who are you?” for customers and prospects by this classic (and funny) 2-minute video, “B2B Marketing Fundamentals Don’t Change, or The Man in the Chair”:
I was in the audience where this took place, at the Business Marketing Association’s 2009 national conference, and most of us were looking slightly guilty even as we laughed.
How we do it: “…with relevant dialogue…”
Even though B2B engagement isn’t all about us, we do have to maintain the right presence in the right places to be found by the right buyers. Once we get to know our B2B buyers, we need to use that insight to create and distribute the deeply relevant content that will attract buyers and stimulate dialogue. That means understanding:
- What stage of the buying cycle our target audience is occupying
- What kind of information is most persuasive to them at that stage
- How they prefer to consume content (videos, podcasts, pdfs)
- The channels they use to find content (web search, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn)
To put it another way, it means making content marketing a large part of your demand generation practice, in both the outreach and nurture modes. Unlike the more traditional route of pushing features and benefits, sharply targeted content offers the kind of value that invites repeat visits and dialogue. It’s a big part of how B2B buyers get to know us. Naturally, accurate data and good data hygiene are instrumental here to ensure the tight targeting that fuels relevance.
Why we do it: “…to develop and maintain long-term profitable relationships.”
This part won’t surprise anyone. B2B is a long game, and we don’t even get to know the score until we’ve played a lot of innings. That’s why, in my experience, it pays to build relationships with your best prospects through account-based marketing. Even a forthright “no” often means “not right now.” With well-targeted and timely content communications, we can stay in prospects’ sights without risking contact fatigue.
Do you choose to accept?
Does this sound like your mission in B2B marketing? Do you disagree or have more to add? Comment and let’s chat.