There is one question that haunts every experienced marketing executive as it relates to spending money on demand generation: what is the optimal mix of demand gen marketing campaigns and if we have extra money to spend, where should we spend it and why? Lots of advanced marketing tools are available and new ones are released all the time. But none that I’ve seen exactly answer these questions and the reason is because optimizing your mix demand generation activities is just as difficult as optimizing your mix of personal investments (ie – stocks, bonds, real estate, CD’s, etc). So why not steal a concept from the investing world and apply it to marketing? I’m talking about Portfolio Theory.
Regardless of your ideal mix of demand generation programs, I’m willing to bet that most of them are designed to bring prospects to your website in the hopes of later converting them to a paying customer. It doesn’t matter if your solution is hardware or software and it doesn’t matter if your sales model is zero touch or requires full-blown field sales reps. The path to prospect conversion surely passes through your website at least 90% of the time.
If you agree, then also realize that even a perfect mix of demand generation programs can be totally destroyed if your website doesn’t do an effective job of facilitating conversion. In this context I’m using the word “conversion” in a generic sense because for some companies that might mean the prospect downloads a free trial while for other companies it might mean filling out a contact request form. But in all cases, I’m referring to the final desired action a prospect could take from the website along their path to becoming a paid customer.
Are you a SaaS company that has an icon like this on your website to promote a free trial offer to interested prospects? If so, once they start the free trial do you do anything specific during the trial period to “nurture” the prospect to increase the odds they convert to a paid customer? If not, this article is for you.
Business prospects are now accustomed to taking themselves through 60% of the sales journey (see related article titled “Prospects Take Themselves Through 60% of the Sales Journey“) but at some point they commonly need a legitimate interaction with the company. Videos are more personal and engaging than white papers and case studies and they are certainly are an important asset for customer acquisition. But what else can you do for those prospects that want more interaction than a video but less than a phone call? Invite them to a webinar (aka webcast) and use this article to increase webinar attendance.
You have a product that is ideally suited for a channel-based distribution strategy. But every time you approach a prospective channel partner, they expect you to already have landed some customers and already have an opportunity pipeline of deals to hand them. In other words, they are looking for traction and they probably also perceive risk with your value proposition, possibly because you’re at such an early stage or maybe because you’ve never done business in their country. So now you’re sort of stuck and don’t know where to go next to start building out your channel. I have an idea to try.
I recently heard Dr. Robert Wiltbank from Willamette University use this analogy and loved it so much I had to share it with others. Entrepreneurs are, by nature, very optimistic. It’s one of their core survival skills. But this often makes it hard for them to recognize signals of negative feedback. This applies to things like the success of their product and progress towards the business plan targets. But it also relates it to investor feedback while pursuing fundraising, customer feedback while pursuing a sale or vendor feedback while trying to secure a partnership. Experienced sales professionals are trained to listen for negative feedback and use various techniques to assess the real viability of the opportunity. But most co-founders aren’t experienced sales professionals and the techniques I’m referring to aren’t easily learned from a blog post or a book. I’ll explain further.
You’ll hear phrases like inbound marketing, digital marketing and Internet marketing used somewhat interchangeably. What is all this newfangled stuff? Prospects commonly take themselves through 60% or more of the sales journey (see related article titled “Prospects Take Themselves Through 60% of the Sales Journey“) and this “newfangled stuff” is what helps them find you and learn as much as needed about you.
Check out my other blog posts related to marketing here.