B2B Demand Generation: Feast or Famine?
Growing companies run in feast or famine mode. Either there’s so much work that it’s hard to do it all or there’s so little that generating business is an all-hands-on-deck proposition. Small companies (and especially services firms) frequently run one extreme to another mostly because there’s no established marketing or sales function. Often the people who do the work are the same ones that find and close the business.
But if any company is to grow beyond this feast or famine mode — and most want to just to preserve their sanity — then one of the first things they need to implement is a marketing function that operates full time. Notice that this is not the same as hiring full-time people to operate in those functions. Although that’s good too, a company trying to transition might not be able to shell out big bucks on salaries on multiple hires and marketing budgets right away. This results in a dilemma which is tough on a small company — investing in marketing and sales for a possible return is not what warms the CEO’s heart when the critical issue is generating revenue today.
The Key to Revenue Growth
Hard as it is, most companies eventually figure out how to do both and one of the things they learn is the importance of developing marketing programs that may not run themselves, but they will operate 24/7 and bring a certain level of business in the door regardless of where the company is in its feast or famine cycle.
Getting a Benchmark: Regularizing marketing and revenue flow is therefore an important first step and it’s not that hard. Regardless of your company’s size, this exercise can be helpful at boosting the quality and quantity of deals in your pipeline. You should start by assessing your success and look for patterns. There are probably a small handful of customers and situations that your business handles well, what are they? Using analytics on your successful deals can help you develop a model of prospective customers.
Humble Brag: Next, brag about them. It’s easier today than ever to publish short case studies that say here’s the business problem and customer we encountered and here’s how we helped. If you do this in written content you can post it on your blog along with other useful solution-oriented information that goes a little lightly on selling your product but favors showcasing a solution. SEO or search engine optimization used well can put your content into the hands of the right readers whenever they’re ready to receive it.
Also, consider using more graphically rich content vehicles such as eBooks, infographics and video. None of these cost much today and best of all, you can outsource them rather than attempting to create them with your limited staffs.
Create an Expert: Finally, you might want to develop a persona for your company that prospective customers can look to as an expert in the field. Expertise given with no overt attempt to sell a product usually goes over as sincere. Many businesses use the CEO in this role but it can be anyone with demonstrated expertise.
The purpose of all this is to generate dialog with potential customers. Even if all you do is ask a few rudimentary questions to qualify visitors for a download you will generate a good deal of data that you can further analyze when you are asking questions like, “Who has a business problem like the ones we have successfully dealt with?”
None of this is hard and to a high degree it can benefit large companies as well as small ones. The key is remaining mindful that good marketing and sales are continuous activities and that you can’t turn them on and off at random if you expect to even out the peaks and valleys of demand. Once you’ve done this, it will be easier for the CEO to see the value of expanding the program.
Image Credit(s): VancityAllie