CLASS #2
Demand gen channels & campaigns
2.0 How to build a Demand Generation Machine
All marketers need to think strategically about revenue generation. If you are a CEO or sales leader with no marketing experience, it's time to learn the fundamentals of scaling demand. Hiring sales is no longer a growth strategy. You have to balance between short term pipeline growth. What tactical plans can start quickly? At the same time, and in parallel, have a vision for the broader, long-term strategy. If you only focus on the former you will find results are sluggish 6 – 9 months into your plan. It’s an art to get right.

Your goal is to create momentum that is going to build a 10x growth mechanism rather than getting focused on singular activities within a campaign. Get buy-in for building a strategy with two work streams for short term impact on sales and longer term investment in the brand.

Avoid the traditional representation and interpretation of data in silo format. Instead of focusing on the results from each type of marketing activity, focus on the cohesive process and the full pipeline view as the owner of the revenue funnel.

If you can convince your CEO that the future of marketing is about interconnectedness, and that it’s critical to optimise each channel creating leverage off one another, to impact revenue more effectively, you’ll be in a good place. And if you can build credibility and trust to believe in the longer term execution you will be far more likely to succeed. The results will come when you’re strategic — interconnected planning results in your tactics actually driving some real results.

Always think ahead.

Always think about how your growth channels will work together (by channels I mean content, events, digital, nurturing, channel etc etc…).
Think simplicity, challenge yourself to have connected experiences, not complex funnels.

This is how to win the game of B2B marketing.
2.1 Marketing Team Structure

2.12 Reading: thinking through your marketing demand structure
I’ve often been asked how to scale B2B demand, usually by CEO’s or CRO’s in the growth stage. Their business has grown organically, through networks. But now they are in a position to build the marketing function with a lens on scaling and process. This is where I help map out their future team structure. And hiring.

Most of the time, hiring plans are designed by marketing leads with marketing outcomes in mind. Hiring happens without thinking about sales outcomes.

If you are in B2B, you need a marketing team that builds on a sales-driven model.

You need a structure that aligns with all teams and revenue numbers. The CEO’s strategy. The go-to-market. The lead generation acquisition process.

Let’s say the business is making ARR of between £2M – £5M. You have a team, but need to reorganise it. On the marketing side you will need to hire 4-6 people rising in-line with your sales revenue projections. The scaled-up sizing will need more roles added (listed below).

To grow you need:

  • 1 leader or CMO (or Marketing Director), and at least one senior generalist under him/her. Alternatively, if at a smaller stage hire 2 mid-level marketers. One with an expertise in Demand Generation and one with Product Marketing experience — this combination will cover off demand generation and brand.
  • 1 content marketing manager, mid-to-senior level (but you’ll get more value adding a senior hire with a track record) to own strategy and content execution.
  • 1 data-driven demand generation manager who will own end-to-end data, CRM, campaign management, inside sales, outbound, sequences, automation. Preferably from an inside sales background with a strong appreciation for sales.
  • Sales Development Reps (SDRs) to support each full-time sales rep in the organisation. Don’t hire SDRs on their own, always make sure you hire x2 at the same time (or a team at once if you can to foster competition). Buddy them up. Let them learn from each other and feed off one another. Place the SDRs in the marketing org — in my opinion. But this debate is never as straightforward as many believe it should be in the sales org.

See more here — Should SDRs Sit in Marketing or Sales?

  • Probably 1 Field Marketing, or virtual event marketer (we’re talking B2B here) who looks after all events, owned and paid. This hire could be at the junior scale. Unless you are in the higher revenue model and own events £1M – £3M+ covering larger execution scenarios such as Dreamforce. You can look to add so much more to the field marketer role now post-COVID — reporting, campaigns, internal comms and much more. You can use this resource to do much more than just “events”. It’s morphed into a Go-to-Market Manager role in many cases.
  • Revenue Operations. Some see this as a cost. But it’s not. It’s fundamental to scaling a revenue machine. It’s all about insights.

This basic team structure is the foundation of your growth. Yes, you may think this is a lot more than you’d thought (especially in marketing) but if you want to scale, that’s a starting point. It depends on your revenues, growth projections, funding and other factors (take that into account). These are the basics of scaling.

In scale mode (£5M – £25M+ here is a good structure you can copy):

  • CMO / VP Marketing
  • Head of Demand Generation
  • Head of Content Marketing
  • Inside Sales Manager
  • Field Marketing or Go-to-Market Manager’s
  • Performance Marketing Manager or Digital Marketing
  • Content Marketing Manager, Senior Copywriters, Technical Writers and add freelancers to build a virtual organisation
  • Revenue Operations
  • Designer
  • x4-8 SDR’s in specific vertical markets

Note for CEO/ CRO: Please don’t put Sales Development Reps in the sales function. They should be owned by Marketing (get a leader who understands sales and marketing). Focus efforts on MQL to SQL conversion / prospecting to free up the sales teams.

Innovative companies will be transitioning away from a "volume" outbound model, focused on just booking meetings. The future SDR role will be delivering social engagement, content syndication/ brand building and insight gathering, to drive demand. It’s the missing link between sales and marketing. The “traditional” SDR will no longer exist in certain markets in several years.

Without a competent B2B marketing engine you will end up hiring sales reps with nothing for them to do. Don’t do this. There will be limited prospecting and nurturing. For an effective demand generation process, expect to invest in a team that can deliver better marketing. Hire sales last. Without pipeline, sales will not close deals. And remember a BDM’s weakest skill is prospecting.
2.13 Homework: leadership discussion

What structure works best for your
Go To Market?
Sit down with the key stakeholders.

This should include your leadership, recruiting, CRO to CMO.

Here is some homework:

  • Get the CMO and CRO/CEO together. What are the goals/ metric outcomes and what are the expectations you wish to set marketing? CMO needs to understand, reflect and design the structure that fits.
  • Create job descriptions based on the role(s) above to validate with recruiting.
  • Check that the Go To Market model fits with Inside Sales, because not all B2B plays need an SDR team. (SDR’s are not a magic bullet).
  • Map a 12-18 month view of how the team will scale. Start the engagement/ hiring process with that view. Recruiting takes time and a lot of effort.
  • Create and embed the playbook process you will use to onboard, scale and motivate the team. Don’t wait until your team has started. You will be playing catch up from the off.
2.2 Inbound demand: the scaling business’s playbook
For this section I’m aiming at series A / B companies looking to scale, not start-ups.

As a start-up it’s hard to scale inbound demand with limited resources. Setting up outbound and generating leads should be your focus. But do think about what specific tactics you could deploy for creating more brand awareness.

As a Series A / B company that is scaling, inbound will need to be carefully structured to help the business reach the next level of growth. It’s the crucial leverage to support demand generation. It needs a well-planned architecture and long term view on how it will drive the revenue funnel in the medium to long term. Don’t delay getting started.

Inbound marketing is notoriously hard to scale.

It requires a long-term view.

If you’re already getting a trickle of inbound leads each week, how can you scale that to the next level? Here are a few tactical ideas to start thinking through.

1. LinkedIn automation tools

Use LinkedIn automation tools to raise brand awareness campaigns. Don’t bother with trying to send messages or Inmails, that ship has sailed and the conversion is low. LinkedIn automation can make a difference if you consistently run brand awareness campaigns to your ICP. I’ve used numerous ones over the years including Zopto, Salestools and others.

Make sure your LinkedIn profile is optimised for inbound awareness. This should be consistent across the whole team.

The Number One fail of Linkedin automation is... Send a connect, send a pitch, follow up the pitch, send a reminder on pitch. You have to do better than this process. Think deeper about the value exchange. Automation must be used in the right context. It is no magic bullet for lead generation.
The same correlates to the sales process — do the same with your customer. Don’t send pitch messages, but do raise awareness.

2. Increase content marketing focus

Create more inbound leads with blogs, LinkedIn posts, and other assets like white papers. Typically most won’t work, so be conscious of that.

Keep your aspirations simple. Pick niche personas to appeal to, and develop insightful content for each stage of the buyer journey. Don’t try to compete in the general world.

Instead, go in-depth.

Also think about what content is most valuable. I’d recommend you produce a simple, easy-to-execute content calendar that you can measure effectively. Start with realism in mind. The biggest mistake most people make is trying to do too much. Start with simple strategies.

For example, your first strategy could be to list the top 10 sales objections in your sales process. Produce 10 thought leadership pieces addressing these objections. This is a super simple way to get started. And build momentum.

Remember, you are competing in a highly competitive market. Don’t think you must create lots of content. Think about creating impactful, deep and insightful content. Less is more.

3. Optimise your landing pages and website

As a CMO, it’s easy to ignore the website. Be different. Pay attention to the small details:
  • Are relevant CTA buttons above the fold?
  • Are colours consistent with the brand guidelines?
  • Do all the links work?
  • Is the UI experience good?
  • Does your site get “to the what” quickly enough?

Pay attention to the basics, cross check and follow customer journeys through to the end yourself. By testing yourself, you’ll have a closer eye on the (critically important) minute details that can make or break a sale.

Your marketing site should really be even better than your product. Perception is everything when competing for attention, and scaling. To create the right impression, it’s important you add depth to your site. Read more about this here.

4. SDR structure

For Sales Development Representatives (SDR) design a set of SLAs around key issues:

  • Minimum time to respond
  • Follow-up method
  • Journal of types of response, stock replies
  • Structure for moving forward with prospect conversations

Your inbound SDR (or MDR — Market Development Rep) will need as much support and training as the outbound team. Your inbound SDR can be used to drive marketing conversions. For example, have them focused more on MQL to SQL conversion rates; funnel velocity; lead analysis and more. Give them more responsibility to drive these outcomes than your outbound reps.

Remember, they’re your B2B marketing front line.

5. Set up the conversational marketing approach with inbound

Make sure your website uses the latest tools like Drift, Intercom and Hubspot. Having someone on hand to answer queries might not be possible straight away. Instead, create workflows that automate the early stages of the conversation based on standard questions you expect people to ask. Here are a couple of suggestions on how to segment inbounds through a chatbot form (especially when looking to solve the problem of poor inbound qualities or startups — if focused on Enterprise):

  1. Remove startups — be more explicit with who you are seeking and people might qualify out (if that's what you want).
  2. On the form add extra variables so you can route appropriately. i.e. An extra drop-down like Startup / scaleup etc / & Funding Round: A / B / C or raised to date. At least then you can prioritise leads that come from inbound. Point 2 would be a good idea because unfortunately when it comes to Inbound; you often get startups — dependent on the market of course.

6. Brand still makes a huge impact on inbound.

Although many companies lean heavily on outbound marketing, brand still matters. How can brand be used across inbound?

  • Create original content that can be repurposed across multiple channels
  • What do you stand for? A show, a podcast, a publication? Certifications for your personas? What’s your bet for driving the brand into the market? How will you engage?
  • Disperse content over 30 days and repurpose
  • Amplify, creating a consistent stream of branded content
  • Inbound effectiveness after 12 months will have a big dependency on how well you have built the brand awareness to drive inbound traffic
2.21 Homework: 5 ways to make
an inbound rep (MDR) successful
Getting the onboarding right is everything when it comes to creating a successful inbound rep

  • Synchronise your efforts with the Product team and senior sales colleagues, training your rep fully on the customer journey.
  • Test them from the start with practise inbound conversations before they begin interacting with customers.
  • Monitor closely when this begins.
Build workflow diagrams of conversational flow

  • Use a workflow tool to provide an easy structure for reps to follow.
  • Set reps up with Hubspot, so they can coach sales calls and spot gaps.
  • From here, inbound reps can build their own templates for success.
Create scorecards with inbound reps on key issues

  • For example: time to respond, key customer challenges.
  • Ensure all inbound reps understand the customer problems inside out.
Audit inbound material

  • The website, landing pages, customer facing content, LinkedIn profiles.
  • Ensure the CX is smooth — all auto-responders, sales pages, landing pages should function well.
Use LinkedIn automation tools

  • See if there’s any increase in ‘contact us’ activity or inbound conversion.
  • Getting a custom audience from your CRM can help, because you can translate this into LinkedIn and use it to drive targeted campaigns.
2.3 Outbound demand: How to scale outbound demand in a growing business
One simple question. One giant problem in B2B marketing today:

How do you scale outbound demand in a growing business?

Most organisations struggle to scale outbound demand. In this section we are directly looking at hiring SDR’s for driving outbound. And touch upon marketing activities.

I often get asked how to build and structure an outbound team.

Typical questions are:
  • I’ve hired my outbound team, now what?
  • What KPIs should I set?
  • How can I structure the team for success?
Getting outbound right is hard.

The standard approach is to hire outbound reps and quickly ‘get them on the phone.’

That is not an outbound marketing strategy that scales.

You need an integrated outbound strategy.

Don’t approach outbound marketing like a silo-ed business function. It should interact with your events, inbound, content, customer marketing and digital strategy too.

Campaigns must be multi-touch.

Marketers are overly obsessed with automation, having forgotten the tried-and-tested personal research approach. The best reps combine a degree of automation with a highly personalised approach.

The key to a great team is coaching them well.

Don’t hire and ‘leave teams to it’. Create the framework for performance first. This framework should be thoughtful, intelligent, changeable and prospect-centered.

How you coach your outbound team in emails and making calls is vitally important. Do that effectively or the whole thing will fail.
2.31 Homework: build a winning outbound team
To get better outcomes from your outbound marketing, you’ll need to put in place a series of actions to ensure that all teams are educated, motivated and measured.

1. Don’t follow your ‘gut feeling’ when hiring

At the interview, ask each candidate to pitch you as if you’re a prospect. This early stage activity gives you an indication of how quickly they can pick things up. After the interview, ask for a template prospecting email. Do they have the ability to write good sales emails? These two tests will result in better long term hires.

2. Create a 30 / 60 / 90 day focus for the outbound team

Set specific milestones. Have the team think about how they learn the sales process and educate themselves. Organise pitch certifications to start building their sales capabilities.

3. Share best practices

In the first few weeks of outbound activity, teach and share resources on exactly what ‘good’ looks like, and what ‘bad’ looks like. Open your team’s eyes to what works, and what doesn’t. Use materials or emails you’ve personally received and coach staff carefully around why they’re doing this activity. The winning result is to create a group of people in the right mindset — whose job isn’t to ‘sell’ but to enthuse prospects about the next step. Show them it really is that simple.

4. Encourage call momentum as early as possible

Ask your outbound team to get on the phone as soon as possible. It helps to give a framework here — I call mine ‘6 Reasons to Call.’ Provide a series of frameworks for conversations and alleviate call anxiety with complete clarity on why they’re calling — an event invite, a newsletter invite, a survey, an ask for referral. Think of subtle ways you can frame calls in a more positive way, building momentum straight away with your team. Get new reps on lost leads or old opportunities to get some quick wins.

5. Train in multi-touch marketing

There’s a suite of resources available to outbound marketers today, from Hubspot, to Outreach or Mixmax. They enable outbound reps to combine approaches across social platforms, and send smart, personalised approaches.

6. Build nurture buckets

From day one, think about the visual flow of how your group leads across your marketing process. Train the outbound team in these separate nurture buckets, building them towards long-term business outcomes, over quick wins.

7. Conversations mean prizes

Finally, the most important asset any outbound marketer has is their ability to add value in conversations. Although this is common practice now, you can distinguish yourself by the quality of the conversations you have. Train them in active listening, in responses that spark a reply. Creating tension with the buyer. Make them curious, willing to take risks and striving to provoke a response by going above and beyond.

Don’t forget to embed outbound marketing closely with your events and content strategy — people are far more likely to respond if you’ve had a previous engagement than if it’s a general prospecting email.
2.4 Account based selling: a thoughtful, specialised approach
Account based marketing is similar to outbound marketing.

As a response to overly generic content-led marketing, ABM has emerged as a powerful new B2B approach to marketing. It is thoughtful, specialised and targeted.

ABM is also a buzzword being used by various martech vendors over the last 5 years, because they’re trying to sell a particular solution. But at its core, ABM is just targeting accounts in a hyper-specific way. At its core, it’s really just great B2B marketing. Nothing more.

Instead of looking at a market of 1000, look at engaging 25 companies.

Instead of quick wins, meetings and SQLs, think about approaching ABM differently.

Set yourself a target for positive responses, email replies or broad indications of buyer intent across a business. Use alternate metrics that focus on driving value, engagement and awareness within accounts. Measure this progress and how it builds into the revenue funnel over time.

Spend time gathering data on how many people you can reach with tailored content. Different job titles, departments and functions within the organisation you’re prospecting will all require niche approaches.

You’re trying to create B2B sales awareness within the organisation, whilst providing a marketing account map.

How can you influence a CTO vs. a Sales Director? With personalised content for each persona, at each buying stage. Gradually, your reps will build awareness across a buying team of 12-14 people that will act as a springboard for closing new deals.
Homework: How to differentiate true ABM from ordinary account mapping
ABM isn’t just an account list.

You need to be more tactical and realistic: focus outbound marketing on 100 accounts, but take a true ABM approach with 10 key accounts.

  • From here, target all relevant job titles within these 10 accounts using a range of content marketing and inbound activities: targeted adverts, tailored content and messaging campaigns.

  • Monitor the engagement across these accounts - are some being downloaded more than others? Commonalities across similar job titles in the same company will tell you something: there is a need not being fulfilled. This is a trigger for you to approach that company with your solution.
For each account, think about a tailored funnel per job title. Content will need to be matched to a segmented buyer persona, and tailored to each stage of the buying process.

  • For example, a VP of sales might want a product comparison, whereas an HR Director will have completely different interests and needs. Think about building out content to influence buyer personas at each level of the journey.
Research good ABM tools — don’t immediately jump into software here — look instead at personalised content distribution tools. You will find a full list in Class 6 on MarTech and Data Insights.

Here is a list of tools to review.

✅ Tech stack — Depending on the size of your lists and the size of your budget, it might make sense to enlist more robust technologies instead of cooking up a DIY strategy. Providers like Demandbase and Terminus can be particularly helpful if you need support on the reporting side as well.

Data Platforms


CRM


Sales Execution


ChatBots


ABM Gifting


Analytics & SEO


Customer Data


Other Tools


Speak to your VP of sales from the start.

  • Do they understand the difference between ABM and account targeting? Define a process between the two of you, and follow up with coaching sessions for the sales team. For more on sales and marketing alignment, we will discuss in Lesson 3.
2.5 Integrated activities: Why the B2B marketing playbook is broken
In marketing, everyone is using the same playbook. Think about it. How many marketing discussions have you heard that follow some variation of this narrative?

Let’s…
…get together an email campaign
…send a newsletter
…do some events
…focus on a digital funnel
…do some outbound
…implement ABM marketing

Playbooks provide an iterative framework, guiding principles on strategy and tactics. They are the options at your disposal when things aren’t going as planned. The same is true in B2B.

A marketing strategy should not only provide specific touch-points and actions. It should also provide fluidity, interconnectedness, and flexibility for when things don’t go as planned.

Currently the B2B marketing playbook focuses too much on singular touchpoints. At a time when B2B marketing is harder than ever, a more fluid, better planned and connected strategy needs to emerge.
How to write headlines that actually work?
Marketing is becoming harder because marketers now have far more responsibility for the sales cycle. The new marketing funnel is real.

Increased spending and power of the CMO is real. The buyer’s increased and exponential level of awareness to solve their challenges is definitely real. Marketing is no longer about “pipeline” but about revenue generation — clever marketers know this point.

It’s not easy. We all need to think about how to elevate our game tactically, joining up channels to avoid fragmentation.

Beware of unconnected experiences

Let’s take events as an example — a channel that’s critical for B2B. The standard approach to pipeline development is designing an events programme. The problem here is there is generally no after thought about how you tie events into your whole demand generation funnel.

A lack of leadership with sales exacerbates this even more because traditionally in marketing we feel the job is done post-event — it’s a sales issue now. That is fundamentally wrong.

Planning journeys for customers in the B2B process is imperative. This does not need to be a complex, cumbersome addition. It simply means asking:

  • What is the outcome we want when someone comes to an event?
  • What is the outcome we want after someone is sent an email?
  • What is the outcome we want after we’ve had a meeting with them?

The idea of connected work flows for prospects needs to resonate through the whole team. The role as a marketing leader is to enable that process. Sam Hurley cited that “Every brand interaction counts, regardless of perceived influence on sales!” in his predictions around 3 Hot B2B marketing trends in 2018.

We need to plan for a life beyond singular activities. This will make you truly stand-out.

Whether you’re CMO or a manager let’s move away from: “The pipeline is down five million, let’s plan an event.”

It’s essential that you think about how every campaign fits into your wider strategy. Events will bring in potential consumers and help you build relationships — it may even solve a short-term pipeline problem. But it’s just a bandaid. It won’t help you build a sustainable, long-term strategy that leads to continuous growth.

The only way to do that is to build a deep understanding of what’s wrong with your pipeline in the wider context of your sales process.

When you’ve determined where customers are falling out of the funnel, you can solve the problem. You need to find a way to provide fluidity between the touch-points. You don’t need to create new ones.

Tiny connections between each touchpoint is critical. This allows you to build, what I like to call, next step layers. They will be the crucial, fundamental moments that move customers through the funnel. Next step layers are paramount to taking people on a sequential journey — like writers, it’s all about “getting your reader onto the next line”.
Homework: How to Build a connected system
Connected touch points are integral to the process of generating revenue.
A unified playbook allows the focus to shift from the singular interaction to how that interaction will be used to propel potential customers through the funnel.

Step #1: Design a high-level process

When it comes to designing a connected funnel that will allow you to execute tactics, you really need to start with a high-level map.
Using a mind-mapping tool like Coggle, design the whole process in your head, and focus on the simplest process based on overall outcomes.
A high-level system design will allow you to visualise a lightweight approach to connected experiences while also giving you useful guiding principles based on all activities planned.

Step #2: Break-down granular activities

You need to break the overall plan down into small tactical steps that are easy to action. For example, you can break down all your activities into a simple google sheet.
And then if you want to take it even deeper and visual, you can create timelines in your favourite project management tool. This really brings all the connected experiences to life.

Step #3: Measure and change-course

Most importantly, you need to now measure how effective your campaigns and connected events are both offline and online. Using this data is key to understanding the overall success of your investments and ROI evaluation.

Tie this closely to your CRM. If you do not take the time to see where prospects were actually interacting, you will never be able to optimise, step 1 and step 2 above.

I’ve even used a timeline approach manually to review how closed deals flowed through all the various interactions with impressive insights.
Using this data, I was able to revitalise my approach and strategically re-do the high-level design, reporting on results.
2.6 Event / Field Marketing: How to build an event marketing programme
In B2B, events and now what I like to call ‘DIGI’VENTS’ are still (even with the dramatic impact of Covid) one of the key levers to building a strong pipeline.

The problem is that many businesses don’t want to invest in events. Increasingly, marketing budgets are focused on digital ad spend, because events are perceived as having a heavy cost burden. If your marketing budget is small, the impetus to put on events is even smaller.

In my view, the strongest leads will always come from some form of event. And it’s much easier to execute now we’re operating in the new world, where people are comfortable with and value remote events. We designed our events programme to do Webinars, Round-Tables and entertainment - all remote. And it worked! It’s worth investing time in an events strategy. And I believe that it’s worth thinking about each year in advance for both physical and virtual events, but even more so with the latter because the key is having “a campaign”. What I mean by that is develop a themed campaign for your events roadmap, plan it out to integrate with your content strategy and other channels. Don’t just do “one off” events because it will not create that much impact or build momentum.

The biggest challenge comes from events that aren’t fully thought out. For events to work, you need momentum. That’s why it’s worth building a structured programme:

  • VIP dinner every six weeks
  • Drinks every eight weeks
  • Seminar every twelve
  • Conferences mixed in between
This roadmap still works with remote events. And now as society opens back up I’d recommend taking a blended approach to your strategy.

As a marketing leader or CMO, don’t shy away from putting dates in the diary. This important step becomes your map. Define the purpose for each event. Segment event types and train the importance of each into your sales and marketing team.

Be brave and bold with your sales team. They might be reluctant at first, if you don’t already have an events strategy. Even if one person shows up to your VIP event, this will grow into 10-15 in the future. I remember a great quote from the CEO of XERO — now a hugely successful finance product. He said their first event in the UK had about 10 people... now XEROCON has thousands. Remember, it’s starting what matters and learning as you go. The biggest problem most companies have is the fear of starting, so momentum never builds.

Reminder. Try not to see events as a one-off activity.

It should be integrated with everything else you do. The best and fastest way to improve outbound is to have people invited or engaged in your dual content and events roadmap. Building engagement across your ICPs can only be done in a “pincer movement” involving multiple marketing channels. Even if your event is still in development, get started. Invite people. Be fearless. Once the ball is rolling, you’ll be surprised how big an impact it can have on sales.
Homework: The importance of planning an events roadmap (owned and paid)
Without a roadmap, your events strategy will never work.

  • Brainstorm programmes (understand the funnel)
List what events you want to do: VIP dinners / casual drinks / conferences / seminars. Get this into a calendar view, preferably working 12 months in advance. Pick specific dates and commit to these across the commercial function. Make sure it’s a critical part of the marketing plan.

  • Train and coach inbound and sales teams around the value of the event programme.
Be aware that there are different types of events, varied on what the event is for and who the target prospect or customer is. Make this event's purpose and value really clear.

  • Get outbound marketing on board
Your outbound team must use events as ammunition for engagement. Embed the importance of each event really heavily, so that your team always has something to fall back on. Emphasise that events have value to add. It’s part of the broader programme of connecting channels.

  • Manage expectations
Be clear with everyone — this is a journey, you’re not going to be massive straight away. Part of the journey is growth.

  • Prepare the groundwork before the event
For conferences the biggest determinant of success is how many pre-booked meetings you have locked in. You’ll need a good process to drive this, tied into your inbound strategy and nurture process.

  • Even if your budget is tiny, you can still plan an events roadmap
If you can’t attend every event for your industry, it shouldn’t hold you back. Get details of every relevant event in your industry and use that to drive outbound conversations — who could also be going, who are the speakers? Even if you’re not going, reach out with a personalised message.

  • Track the performance of events
Create a shared dashboard with key event tracking metrics. Use the inside sales team to qualify leads and process new data. Ensure BDMs track leads to follow-ups and opportunities. Make them work on the event.

Who’s been qualified? Who attended? What are they looking for at the event? And don’t forget to include a loop of feedback, to prepare better event content to present in future.

Don’t think about event reporting in the traditional sense. Most marketers think of measuring success through 3 simple metrics:

  1. Influenced Pipeline
  2. New Opportunities
  3. Closed revenue

The problem being this singular attribution model is not entirely accurate. This is the problem with event reporting. Why it becomes difficult to assign exact ROI. Predominantly, because in the new buying world B2B purchases are multi-touch and complex to directly link at times. You have to be more sophisticated about how you think about event reporting as a whole.

The book Category Creation: How to Build a Brand that Customers, Employees, and Investors Will Love provides an insightful and alternative view on reporting. It introduces the concept of running 2 sales funnels - pre-pipeline and actual pipeline. In the pre-pipeline stages you are watching different types of metrics in a waterfall format leading into the impact on the actual funnel.

If you can, move the conversation away from what deals did we close from that event?

Instead take a more holistic reporting approach that demonstrates multiple strands of brand value to opportunity creation. You are then on the right pathway.
2.7 Sales & Marketing Alignment: What you can do now to jumpstart alignment
There's no quick way to align sales and marketing immediately, but there are easy ways to increase alignment in the long term.

Here's 7 “Easy” Ways to align sales and marketing:

1. Stop. It’s far too easy to keep creating leads/ MQL and SQL’s.

You might think you already have a sales and marketing structure in place. It keeps ticking along, after all. Don’t make this big mistake.

The sales leader and marketing leader need to sit down and map the right metrics in the first instance. More here: The Fallacy of Sales and Marketing Alignment.

2. Decide on the right strategy that suits the needs of the business.

Not all leads are created equal. Look at the conversion ratio of your funnel and create a hierarchy of leads.

Make sure you decide whether volume or quality; or a mixture is the right combination to focus in the right areas.

3. Assess whether you should try Account Based Marketing.

Tier customer accounts and agree the right approach with marketing’s focus on campaigns, the SDRs’ focus on prospecting and sales’ focused on selling. Do this properly.

Check that you are all aligned to the right accounts and understand key terminologies like ‘account surge’. This covers velocity, volume and density.

4. Train your sales and marketing teams.

Don’t just dictate a process between you and the CRO, the CMO, or the CEO. Training should be done together. Bring both functions under one roof and get their buy-in to train each other.

Set clear direction on the value of sales and marketing alignment; get common frustrations out in the open and work backwards from the one scorecard.

5. Align your website and product marketing on the strategy agreed.

Stop acting generically; don’t try to please everyone because you’ll come across as unsure of your niche.

Act like you are talking to your accounts. Know who they are. Make sure everyone knows who they are.

Within 10 seconds on your website, prospects need to know if you can solve their challenges.

6. Stop focusing on the sales pipeline.

Focus on revenue closed. Focus on conversion ratios. Focus on the hard conversations about marketing not delivering enough leads.

Find the fastest route to your outcome. Keep this conversation a weekly discussion point. Don’t hide behind vanity metrics (both marketing and sales can be guilty of this).

7. Leads are precious — ensure you have the right people.

Those who don’t understand a joint scorecard or appreciate marketing shouldn’t be on the team. Every lead is precious and your revenue will be massively impacted by poorly performing sales reps.

Similarly, fire the marketers who don’t care about revenue. Those who don’t appreciate that aligning with sales should be their sole focus. It should be a lens on company-wide performance. If they think getting 100 MQL’s will move the needle, move their mindset or move them on.
Homework: Team discussion — which ideas do you want to implement?
One of the biggest challenges in aligning sales and marketing is deciding which ideas to implement, and which to sideline.

This post and video list several ideas for increasing sales and marketing alignment, but here are a few more ideas to get a valuable team discussion going:

  • Buddy up sales and marketing executives to understand each other’s challenges. As part of this, let them see each other’s work.
  • Organise a monthly scorecard meeting for both sides to present updates and challenges.
  • Make sure that everyone in the company knows what sales & marketing alignment looks like, what to expect and why it matters. Explain the system.
  • Ensure that marketing regularly presents the conversion funnel to sales, and leads the Hierarchy of Effects hypothesis.
  • Celebrate as #oneteam when deals are closed (especially in ABM accounts)
  • Have both marketing and sales present their strategy to each other. Sales also needs a process, although in some organisations this isn’t common practise. More on what to do about this, here.
  • Work together on the right sales and marketing stack. Agree and don’t deviate unless it’s important — get some consistency.
2.8 B2B Digital Acquisition
B2B digital acquisition is a challenge.

There is no doubt of the benefits around Digital — especially leveraging LinkedIn for acquisition. But we have to be super-clear here that we are not talking about B2C acquisition which is a simpler growth lever than B2B.

Digital is fundamental for B2C and still important, of course for B2B depending on your product or solution, market or accounts and whether it’s an SMB / mid-market / Enterprise. In terms of value outcomes you need to be aware that CAC is harder to determine.

The digital process on CAC is easier to assume in B2C. In B2B you have to factor multiple models to understand the ROI. You must plan your digital acquisition with a lens on attribution methodologies (attribution means understanding where / what sources your pipeline is created from ultimately, as in B2B it can be a challenge).

The problem with B2B is that it is a bit blurry in creating the right type of campaigns to deliver real sales outcomes. You have to have a strategy that is not just about direct lead gen (i.e. booked meetings).

It must encompass the whole customer journey from TOFU, MOFU and BOFU (top, middle and bottom funnel content). It must be designed on long-term leverage, nurturing and prospect / customer touchpoints that build value in the overall pipeline.

It’s very very easy to create a B2B digital strategy that wastes a lot of money in acquisition ad spend without clarity on whether it will drive revenue outcomes.
2.81 Creating a B2B Digital Roadmap
In order to be successful with B2B digital acquisition. You first have to create and design the roadmap.

I would plan a minimum of 6 months and ideally over a 12 month window. The plan needs to cover the digital experience at top-of-funnel, middle funnel and bottom-of-funnel.

The key questions to ask at this stage:

  1. What investment level are you comfortable with to allocate to digital spend?
  2. What are the core outcomes i.e. brand awareness, deal velocity increase, direct lead generation, MQL growth, pipeline retargeting?
  3. How will digital be embedded across other core channels and integrated with events, outbound, SDR’s / Inside Sales and brand marketing
  4. What channels should you market? In B2B LinkedIn is the number #1 channel for growth. But will you test others, for example, Instagram (it’s easy to think it's a good idea to do this based on B2C but it’s not always a fit for B2B.
  5. What content will you leverage to drive high conversions in gated content?

The core component of a winning digital strategy is built on content.

Content that motivates your prospects into your planned funnel. It’s very easy to start digital campaigns with poor content that will be ineffective. While it’s not rocket science to understand, it’s the area revenue leaders take for granted.

The content strategy is not thought through well-enough. If this is the case then the content you produce will be average.

Think about who you are competing against. Ultimately you are competing for prospects’ attention — and attention spans are minimal. Your content on a digital platform has to be deep, granular and thought-provoking. It’s not easy to execute and requires a great deal of thought.

Second point, it’s easy to build a landing page and gated content as well as creating digital ads. Marketing will see downloads coming through and report MQL stats on the digital campaign. This is the fallacy of reporting. You will derive no value if this is your approach.

The most important aspect of the digital strategy is ‘What happens after they download and engage with your content?’. You have to map the nurture, follow up and acquisition process. It takes time.

Missing this critical step will mean you will fail to get ROI, therefore creating a pool of lost leads and opportunities.
Homework: How to create your digital roadmap
Building a digital plan needs careful planning, strategic thinking and deep consideration for outcomes. It is not straight-forward.

With the right approach, you can execute effectively to deliver direct lead generation and support deals in the sales pipeline.

Next actions:

Step 1 — Be clear on your go-to-market channels and the role of Digital

  • Analyse your strategic plan for events, outbound marketing, Inside Sales, content marketing, PR, Inbound and Brand. Map a visual time-line of how the digital plan will support key campaigns across the marketing. For example, if you have a marquee event each year, what is the digital execution to build more value from your event presence?
  • If you have a content team, make sure to get together with all key-stakeholders to brainstorm or workshop the messaging, content plans and angles of value to the prospect.
  • Agreement of goals and what success looks like for campaigns. An awareness play i.e. LinkedIn follower growth, or direct acquisition through gated content and conversion to sales meeting, or influencing current opportunities

Step 2 — Design for all layers of the funnel

  • After completion of the high-level timeline the next step is to actually map what content you need for each stage of the funnel. You will have decided to target the full range i.e. Top, middle and bottom, or pick a specific focus on one area.
  • Decide on a time-line the roll-out of your content distribution; launching top-of-funnel and cascading the subsequent funnel stages into phase 2 and phase 3.
  • Create a map of content that needs production:
  • Top-of-funnel — ads, landing pages, eBooks and/or infographics
  • Middle–customer stories, use cases
  • Bottom of Funnel — Datasheets, comparisons, technical deep dives

Step 3 — Map the digital experience workflow

  • Using a tool like Coggle or LucidChart be sure to build out what the acquisition funnel will look like post gated engagement.
  • Key workflows:
  • Post download, what is the email sequence, what is the intent of the email sequence, what actions do you wish them to follow?
  • What is the nurture process after they have gone through your workflow? Are you planning to engage them over a 30-60-90 day period, decide.
  • Managing drop off. What is your plan for all leads that go cold? What’s your drop off to re-engage strategy (this will happen with digital B2B!!)?
  • If you are scaling fast. Get a partner and/or agency to help you be successful (budget permitting). You need to focus them on helping you understand attribution, best practice, reporting and ensuring funnel optimisation is monitored and iterated to not waste money.
2.82 Digital Retargeting / Custom Audience Mapping
Custom audience targeting and retargeting using LinkedIn must form part of your B2B digital strategy. In short, it means you can pick specific accounts, web visitors, contacts in the pipeline and customers — then run ads against them to create brand awareness.

Let’s be careful on this point.

It is not about using clickbait ad placements for these data-sets; it is not about direct conversion acquisition.

The overall ambition is threefold:

  1. Drive ongoing awareness of your product / solution to these specific audiences in an attempt to keep your brand top of mind.
  2. Attract awareness from other buyer points within your prospecting and sales pipeline.
  3. Provide valuable content that will be interesting for the audience to consume. You can leverage different types of audience for varied segments. An example would be, if you run ads against prospects at ‘meeting’ / qualification stage in your pipeline; offer content that will support that stage of the sales process. This could be product comparisons, customer stories and/or insights into your view on the world; why you are different.

Building on those points here are different strategies you can deploy to support lead generation and sales efforts:

A. Direct Acquisition
Upload all your accounts and contacts (not engaged) into custom audiences on LinkedIn. Create a specific strategic workflow on how you will acquire them as an MQL.

For example, a piece of gated content that will be interesting for them to download. Mirroring the standard digital acquisition path you should have a plan on how to convert long-tail into a potential opportunity. Factor in how to nurture unconverted contacts with point C on retargeting and inside sales together in parallel.

B. Sales Pipeline Support
Once per month have your Head of Demand Generation update a custom audience with all prospects in your pre-pipe and sales pipeline. Run awareness ads against these contacts to provide ongoing awareness and engagement on your solution / product.

Research and find other contacts at accounts (outside of your deal contact) and look to influence other stake-holders with an awareness of what you do. Remember, latest figures show in a B2B sales deal it can mean 14-16 people are involved in a deal cycle.

C. Audience Retargeting
Create specific banner ads, landing pages and assets to support retargeting of visitors to your website and profiles. Important; think through what journey the prospect will experience in your workflows. This whole process needs to be mapped in the digital design phase with a clear strategic blueprint / process map of how to re-engage. The biggest error marketer’s make with retargeting is not thinking the workflow out in detail.

It’s easy to put up some ads with a banner. It’s hard to attribute what effect that has on your sales pipeline if you do not have a detailed plan for future conversion. Do not get started with these strategies unless you are clear on a strategy.

It’s too easy to lose money otherwise with poor attribution for success.

Done correctly, custom audience campaigns can be extremely effective. Done correctly, retargeting can be an excellent way to re-engage lost potential leads. Done correctly it’s a really clever way to broaden awareness in active deal stage accounts.

It matters if you are SMB, mid-market and/or Enterprise.

At SMB levels you need to be thinking more about the digital funnel as a clear acquisition path — if your onboarding and selling process can be more automated and you don’t require a sales cycle.

The strategies above are geared towards mid-market and enterprise accounts. It’s a thoughtful, long term engagement process that helps to close deals, drive new opportunities into the pipeline and build awareness of your brand.

It can be impactful and it’s a clever approach only a few companies do well.
Homework: Implement retargeting and custom audiences
A. Data Management
Data is the key foundation for success. You need to assess, analyse and be clear on what data-sets you want to use. I suggest mapping out via white-board all the buckets of data you can potentially use;

  • Website data
  • CRM sales pipeline data
  • Account and prospect data (segmented by vertical)
  • Email newsletter data
  • LinkedIn company page followers
  • Twitter followers
  • Other data sources

Draw out what is the overall purpose of experience and action for each data-set, is it influence, direct acquisition, awareness, conversion or re-conversion (an old lost lead or lost MQL).

Agree with relevant stake-holders the correct data-sets. This is a crucial first step.

B. Agree outcomes and ROI
Look at your budget. What percentage will you allocate to run custom audience and retargeting? My suggestion is you start small (depends on your budget naturally) with a test and learn approach. The reason for this is because a first attribution outside of direct acquisition will be very hard.

You have to put this budget line allocation in the brand spend to ensure you can justify conversations on ROI and effectiveness.

C. Asset creation
Map all the assets you will need to run multiple campaigns. The design requirements will differ for whichever strategy and approach you choose to deploy. Engage with your content team to plan what assets are required for the campaigns.

You can do this very MVP if you want to. For example, if you’re simply doing retargeting and awareness building for sales.

You really only need simple banner ads and to create a simple landing page that is specific to the audience they will land on. You may even do some form of email capture. It’s an awareness play.

D. Launch and iterate
If you have a clear plan that's aligned on budget and outcome, then the next step is the launch phase. Do not just launch without creating a careful schedule of monitoring — especially at the start make sure you pay close attention to metrics. If you understand the outcome / metric for each custom audience you can measure that against spend.

Your goal is to measure whether your ads are driving the right outcomes.

On the awareness side this will be tough to attribute. My suggestion is to keep a scorecard linked to account intent or account surge — how many views and engagements (downloads etc) are you getting? Look at this against your target account profiles.

Aligns nicely to an ABM strategy.

Keep a scorecard for each segment you are looking to influence. Over 3-6 months your task is to map data in the digital funnel against the sales pipeline. If you manage to do this right you will see the direct effects of the activity — on deals closed, more leads at the top-of-funnel or closed influence opportunities.
You have reached the end of Lesson #2 — CONGRATS! For more content on demand generation please go to www.edwinabl.com. Our next section covers content, collateral and copy.
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