Tell Me: Do you think B2B Demand Generation is a Risky Business?

Skydive Vietnam, BFR above Nha Trang

“What are the three most valuable things a client needs to do for you to have a successful partnership and engagement?”

That was one of the final questions asked in an RFP I responded to last week, and I’d really like to know what your response would be. I’m especially curious as to whether your answer would be very different from mine.

In my 15+ years of B2B marketing experience, my most compatible clients are those who:

  • Want to go the extra mile with us.
  • Want to experiment.
  • Are up for a considered risk.

That last one has always proven critical for me. Taking considered risks—and testing “what we know works” (the benchmark) against “what could be even better” (the potential)—is how best practices are born. Of course, it helps to have proof at hand; no client wants to feel like the guinea pig for our big ideas. Here’s the kind of evidence for considered risk I share with my clients:

A large technology communications client needed help to break through to their targeted accounts. Their tactics typically revolved around email blasts that pointed to the very large, very informative, and very intimidating corporate website.

When we recommended an integrated approach that included high-value direct mail and a microsite as well as email follow-up, they hesitated. Direct mail, especially, had not been successful for them in the past. We took a considered risk ourselves in pointing out the targeting flaws of their previous program. They agreed to try a pilot program using our approach.

The pilot program results were outstanding:

  • From Sales: “This is the best marketing program I’ve seen in my 15 years in this business.”
  • 50% penetration of the targeted accounts (penetration meaning Sales was successfully able to meet with these companies).
  • 25+% of the total set of companies we targeted are now in the client’s pipeline.
  • ROI trajectory is 10-1…and growing. Deals have closed….and many more look promising.
  • The program is so successful it is being expanded to hundreds of additional targeted companies and contacts.

If you’re with me on the need for considered risk, you may also be interested in Seth Godin’s very helpful list called, “Top ways to defend the status quo.” I review it from time to time, the better to keep these trigger statements connected to my risk-means-reward responses.

Enough about me. What are some of your most successful responses to status-quo defenses like, “That will never work” (#1 on Seth’s list)?

2 Responses to Tell Me: Do you think B2B Demand Generation is a Risky Business?

  1. sterlingklor says:

    Great question, Lauren

    After 25 years in marketing, I have found that the best relationships between client and agency are when both parties are willing to take risks to help each other succeed. Succes is a journey, not a one time project and clients and agencies that understand that principle almost always treat each other with mutual respect and usually develop lasting relationships.

    I believe business is all about managing risk and reward. So yes, demand generation, like most business initiatives, is risky, but also equally rewarding if client and agency embrace the process.

    As for Mr Godin’s “That will never work” defense, I would counter with “Nothing works, but anything can work if you work it.”

    Cheers
    Achim

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