There’s a very good chance that you need to completely change your marketing mindset. While there’s a shift towards content-driven strategies and social media sharing, the majority of marketing folks are still having a very hard time letting go of overt, product-oriented promotion.
Which is understandable – after all, a lot of you have been doing this job the same way for a long time, and you’ve probably had some success. And certainly the pressure from the sales team – and likely the majority of the C-suite – is to sell, sell, sell! But forward-thinking marketing is no longer about helping the sales team sell; it’s about helping buyers buy.
Because buyers have all the power now. The ubiquity of information on the web means the customer can get as much information as they want before you even know they’re interested. Those customers don’t need to sit back and wait for marketing to deliver them messages; they can get it through their social networks, third-party websites and even old-fashioned media. They don’t need to go to the trade show and they won’t even pick up the phone when you cold call. In fact, a recent study showed that 80 percent of the Fortune 100 buying process occurs before sales is contacted. To ignore that buyers are now in control of this process is to waste resources.
But you can’t just flip the switch. The VP-Sales won’t let you and the CFO won’t let you and the CEO won’t let you. They were raised with that sell-sell-sell mindset, and to tell them that they need to scrap that thinking and create a structure that will engage potential clients before you even know who they are is going to sound, at best, risky.
Hitting your sales goal is macho; nurturing buyers is not.
But it is smart. So to change organizational thinking you need cold hard facts on your side. You need to prove ROI. You need to be analytical. And you need to speak the language of business decision-makers, not marketers. As Marketo pointed out in a whitepaper on marketing metrics and analytics, you need to speak the language of the C-suite, and focus on the business impact. In other words, tell them how it will positively impact sales rather than how it will make everyone feel better about your brand.
Historically, marketing has measured awareness and top-of-the-funnel sales prospects, and stopped there. But in this brave new world, marketing needs to be accountable.
You need track metrics such as:
- Number of prospects and leads;
- Cost per sales lead;
- Time from first contact to buy/no-buy decision;
- Percentage of leads that turn into clients;
- Which SEO keywords work best and which don’t;
- Where your web traffic is coming from, and what content visitors are engaged with.
And many more, depending upon your specific industry and goals.
And then you can tell the doubters in the C-suite that big companies like SAP and Subaru have embraced inbound marketing and are having success with it.
Deep within their souls, marketers believe that what they do is critical to driving revenue. But too many times they have a hard time proving it. However, when you’re marketing online the only reasons not to be metric-driven are laziness and ignorance.
For a lot of folks, this requires a 180-degree change from the way they’re currently doing business. The dinosaurs won’t change. And we know what will happen to them.