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  • Chris DeMartine

There's a common process across many sales and marketing organizations that begins with the four P’s of marketing (product, price, place and promotion) and ends with a problem. Ad content and sales pitches often lead with product when they should be uncovering or addressing a business need or problem. The product is a solution, and the value of that solution is directly related to its relevance and effectiveness in solving a client’s problem.


So why are so many ads focused on features and benefits? Maybe it’s just easier to push out what you know and go to work for every day, or to go a bit deeper—it’s just more naturally to think of and promote ‘we’ before truly understanding ‘you’. After all, isn’t that what market research is supposed to do—find out what the customer needs and build around that? If you’ve been around the block for any amount of time, you’ll realize that is not always the case where ‘shiny objects’ appear more appealing than clear objectives.

Defining clear objectives and prioritizing those objectives, is a necessary first step in the process of promoting your own product or service. Objectives support the broader, long-term goals of an organization so keep that in mind when defining them. For example, if the overarching corporate goal is to increase revenue by 40 percent over the next 3 years, then a supporting objective would be to deliver 23 qualified leads per month in order to achieve that. Let’s break it down:


A) Current trailing 12 months revenue = $15,000,000

B) Growth (40 percent) revenue goal for 3 years from now = $21,000,000

C) Projected attrition (10 percent) from current business = ($1,500,000)

D) New business needed to achieve the goal = $7,500,000

E) Projected average annual revenue from new customer = $25,000

F) Projected average 3-year revenue per NEW contracted customer = $37,500

G) Total new contracted customers needed to reach goal = 200

H) Average lead to contracted customer conversion rate = 25 percent

I) Qualified leads required over next 3 years to achieve goal = 800

J) Monthly qualified leads requirement = 23 ( 800 / 36 months, rounded up )


The same S.M.A.R.T. approach to goals can also be applied to their supporting objectives. So is this objective specific, measurable, assignable, realistic and time-related? The answer is yes, but something very important needs to be addressed. How much is it going to cost to get those 800 qualified leads? Empirically speaking, this is where many big picture thinking executives grossly underestimate the resources required to deliver even close to this objective. This puts marketers in a tough spot, pressed on every side from bosses, stakeholders, sales leaders, and vendors who commit to lead volumes with no guarantee of whether or not these leads are truly qualified.


Therefore, the lead generation process must begin with a clear explanation of what determines a qualified lead—and what does NOT. Unqualified leads simply do not convert at the same rate as qualified leads, and have a far greater cost when sales resources are factored in. There is an opportunity cost every time a sales resource is assigned to a lead. Fortunately, the best commissioned sales professionals are incentivized to pursue the opportunities with the greatest personal income potential. However, many organizations are structured in a way that requires rigorous follow-up on inbound inquiries. For that reason, the last thing marketers should be doing is creating distractions that lead to frustration and a lack of confidence amongst sales leaders. The definition of a qualified lead varies based on the organization, its products and services, sales process, terms and conditions and more.


Nevertheless, here are a three qualification questions to consider:


1. Does the prospect have an immediate need or problem to solve?

2. Does the prospect have sufficient budget to invest in solving the problem?

3. Are there competitive implications on doing business with the prospect?


These questions can be easily adapted and applied to any contact form on a website or landing page. Keep in mind that there will always be some trade-off between asking for too much information (lower response rates) and not asking for enough information (unqualified leads). Publishing web contact page forms with the right questions built-in and properly training live chat representatives can both be highly effective ways to get the job done right.


To sum it all up, the process of setting S.M.A.R.T. goals and objectives requires mental discipline and the ability to not get distracted by shiny objects like 'opt-in' lead generation programs built on piggy-backing principles that are applied for monetization with little thought as to the level of qualification. Most often, the top quality leads that convert are the ones that are most difficult to generate.

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  • Chris DeMartine

With projected global digital marketing expenditures closing in on half a trillion US dollars in 2022 alone, it is no surprise that demand for programmatic business-to-business (B2B) advertising is increasing fast and early adopters are reaping the benefits. This global digital marketing marketplace has three pillars—hardware, software and content, where integration finds its foundation. Innumerable problems created by this colossal mass of digitized communications between humans and machines are yet to be identified, especially as it relates to the social, emotional and relational reality of our connected world. Thoughts, words and images exchange across the globe in seconds, but after reading a YaleNews article by Jim Shelton, this slowpoke we call the Internet still has some catching up to do. The article points out that, primarily due to network latency, Internet data moves 37 to 100 times slower than the speed of light ( 670,000,000 MPH ).

The point is this—created ecosystems would not exist without the actionable intelligence of their creators and innovation continues to advance only when the human mind is engaged in the processing. Therefore, ‘man plus machine wins every time’. It's time to put you and your team in th driver’s seat of today’s technology that powers your business growth. Information technology and the digital marketing landscape are only as powerful as we allow them to be. Algorithms can make millions of quantitative decisions in the twinkling of an eye, but they starve without the input variables provided by the truly qualified decision-making authorities—simply stated, that’s you, me and every other person on the planet who puts the machines to work for marketing efficiency. In order to do that, we need to have an organized and systematic approach to digital advertising and marketing automation. Platforms alone will not solve our complex problems, but they can and often do free our minds to think strategically about what matters most—our current and future customers’ problems, needs and desires.

So while this team of latency reducing researchers are working to build a Speed-of-Light Internet, we can be confident that the platforms currently available to us are sufficient to deliver profitable results from our B2B digital advertising campaigns.

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  • Chris DeMartine

Timing is everything and the truth can set you free, but sometimes it hurts. If you are shooting for short-term gains, then you are most likely going to have trouble coming to terms with your return on ad spend (RoAS) calculations. We waited three years to write this post, and for good reason. You can't accurately evaluate a business campaign strategy without sufficient time to include the length of multiple sales cycles.


You want results quickly, but what if the timing of your pilot program is off the mark? Our firm consistently recommends that our clients spread their programmatic campaign budget over a longer period of time. Here's why. Consider a $15K ABM investment for a small SaaS provider (under $50M) and their resulting RoAS shown below:

Advertiser A

Advertiser B

New Campaign Budget

$15,000

$15,000

Data and Media Allocation

$12,500

$12,500

Flight Dates

March 1 - April 30

March 1 - December 31

Unique Creative Assets (41)

30 Banner, 9 Native, 2 Video

30 Banner, 9 Native, 2 Video

Audiences (3)

1 CRM, 1 ABM, 1 RT

1 CRM, 1 ABM, 1 RT

Frequency Cap

10 views per user per day

5 views per user per day

Impression Volume

960,000

960,000

Average CTR

0.23%

0.28%

Total Clicks (DSP)

2,208

2,688

Related Sessions (GA)

2,195

2,771

Average Session Length (GA)

2 seconds

3 seconds

Secondary Conversions

18

23

Conversions

1

4

Closed Deals

0

2

Incremental Gross Profit

0

$83,450

Return on Ad Spend (RoAS)

($15,000)

$68,450

The above example is based on the same number of unique creative assets, the same audience composition, the same total impression volume, the same tracking mechanisms (UTM parameters) for measurement and Google Analytics, and the same budget. So why the huge difference?


Set aside the math and think like a human being and the answer reveals itself. If you have a small target audience and a small percentage of them are actually likely to be interested in and have budget for your solution, then you need to make sure you reach them at THE RIGHT TIME. With a limited budget, there are a few things you must consider.


First, if you are looking to measure a B2B campaign's performance then you must give it time. Furthermore, if 80 percent of your prospective buyers won't be in-market during your flight date priod, then you've wasted media budget on a short-sighted test.


Second, if you want success long-term, then build your plan to have sufficient runway to account for the complexities of a B2B sales funnel.


Finally, if you are working with a digital advertising agency, then why not shift to a performance-based program and ditch the hourly fees. This will enable you to spread the creative and strategy costs over time. There's a ton of talent out there, so ask for what you want and request full transparency.




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