Sunday, May 23, 2021
In the last year especially, businesses in the IT Channel have had to evolve their demand generation techniques. Some have managed better than others and it’s clear many will struggle if they don’t reset for the future.
We aren’t teaching anyone to suck eggs here. Everyone has an inkling change needs to happen if we're to be better at business development and demand generation.
We feel it's worth going back to basics to see what Best Practice looks like and where things could maybe do with a brush up to achieve higher performing demand generation.
1. Do your Research
It’s not all about you! This seems like an obvious point, but missed by so many. Whatever you’re trying to achieve – more leads, greater awareness, building a community – it’s irrelevant if what you’re churning out isn’t what your buyers are interested in. They decide what’s relevant, they hold the £’s and will switch off in an instant if you don’t keep it front of mind.
Very few B2B technology businesses we’ve worked with (and there have been many over the years) spend money on buyer behaviour, research, or simple A/B testing for campaigns. If they do, it’s a one-off rather than an evolutionary ongoing activity that’s part of the go-to-market process. Many feel it’s more of a B2C requirement, but with social channels blurring the lines between B2B and B2C, it’s becoming more important than ever.
A bit of work up front reaps rewards
Not doing campaign research is like building a house without foundations – it may look great to start with, but it’ll disappear in the storm of information that resides in our media. Once you've found a successful campaign formula, you can scale it to reap the benefits of better performance and ROI.
2. Lazy data target practice
Remember that a great deal of the customer data held is riddled with bad contacts. Not maintaining data is one of the worst mistakes to make, not only from a relationship perspective, but it sets up failure to reap revenue rewards.
There are a multitude of tools and platforms that enable selection and management of data to create highly targeted campaigns. It’s never been easier with the wealth of data and information available from channels such as social media, email, video and so on, so there’s no need to take a scattergun approach.
Commit to the time resource and budget needed to maintain, analyse and enrich data rather than spraying content out to all the data held and hoping for the best.
Not forgetting GDPR
Without going too much into the depths of GDPR and compliance, every business has a duty in law to maintain data quality. Many IT Channel businesses don’t have robust procedures in place, even though they’re better placed than many to know the rules.
3. The right Martech and the right skills
Suffice to say, modern technology has made it easier than ever to keep track of your customers' behaviour and use it to your advantage. Unfortunately, many businesses use this data to craft marketing campaigns, but then they fail to track the performance to identify areas for improvement.
Whether you’re just starting out with automation, or whether you’ve been using it for a while, most businesses only end up using a fraction of its power. Industry figures state an average of a mere 20% of functionality is used. The missing 80% is the clever bit that turns an average campaign into a high performing one.
Don't make assumptions
Martech only automates processes, it doesn't create leads. Basic training that comes with a deployment isn't all it takes, it's just the start. Along with the license fee, investment is needed in the skills it takes to administer, analyse and fine tune campaigns to maximise performance.
Nail it and you'll
• improve predictability of sales cycles
• create sustainable performance
• increase the likelihood of meeting growth targets
4. Point of Difference
“Technology” is very crowded and competitive, if it’s not crystal clear on what you’re offering you’re missing out from the get-go.
Wherever a business sits in a value chain, it needs to figure out its value. A PoD should always shine through the tactical outcomes defined in campaign activity. This doesn’t mean simply adding words like “better”, “leading”, “most valuable” or other unsubstantiated claims of superiority. They’re vague and opinionated and don’t help an audience understand how the product or service will benefit them.
'Out the box' content and activities
Keeping PoD in mind, if you’re a channel partner relying on vendor content, you need to ask yourself what that’s saying about you? Why would a customer engage with a you if they can go to the vendor direct?
Conversely, if you're a vendor relying on a channel partner’s relationship with buyers, support needs to come throughout the buyer’s journey. The funding provided needs to help them be better at selling your brand whilst leveraging their valuable customer relationships. That also means evolving measurement to be beyond the quarter.
5. Lead from the front - say "no" to quarterly based, one and done!
The most successful companies do whatever they can to tailor their marketing strategies to reach new prospects. Quarterly-based, tactical activity that relies on cold-calling cold lists, offers a very poor buying experience and won’t encourage prospects to engage with a brand.
The way funding is structured in our Channel doesn’t help. Vendors want to pay partners through MDF to pay partners for events to access customers and prospects.. Partners without systems and a regular communications programme in place will struggle to fill them and resort to “cold calling” to get bums on seats. This results in high non-attendance rates and poor quality attendees causing frustration to all parties.
6. The art of cross-sell, up-sell, renewals and the 80:20 rule
It’s a well-known fact that creating a new customer is five times more expensive than selling to an existing customer. However, the majority of campaigns target net new logos.
Yeah, we’ll contact them at renewal!
Customer relationships and service have never been more important, so not bothering with them until a month before their renewal or because you want them to fill a seat at an event is a missed opportunity and, actually, quite rude. Far better that you invest budget in communicating to them continually because they're valued customers with special offers, discounts and so on, as well has offering free insights into the market they/you are representing.
7. Cost of Resource
Skilling up with the right resource is expensive. The reality is every business needs strategists, operational teams, content writers, creatives, martech experts, data analysts, to create the right sales outcomes. To bring this in-house it would cost c. £240K including all this, staff headcount and associated overheads.
Because of this, businesses tend to hire in only the bit(s) they think will deliver the most value. This is one of the key reasons why they don’t achieve best practice and performance – simply because they don’t have the right skills to apply on an ongoing basis.
The Amigos Network - how we help
Fully managed service
Market Activation is our plug-&-play which includes everything needed achieve revenue goals – clever thinkers & planners, technology and licenses, writers, creatives, and data analysts - all delivering on pre-agreed revenue goals. Performance management and visibility dashboards built in for guaranteed results.
Our Channel Automation service is an extension of Market Activation which enables full visibility of buyer engagement with partners via a sophisticated channel portal.
Project based support
Of course, a managed service may not be right for you. We offer all the elements of our managed service as individual project-based engagements.