Personalized experiences, relevant content and instant gratification are what we all hope for when we visit our favorite search engine and type in a query. Marketers are people, too, so they also expect these results. But, during a complex B2B buying process, as marketers, we need to redefine what gratification means in the context of our marketing programs.
ROI and accountability are the watch words for today's marketers. We need to prove the impact our marketing programs are having on business objectives.
As a brief aside, I"ll never forget a statement David Meerman Scott made during a presentation on this subject when he asked, "What's the ROI of the landscaping around your building?" If my memory isn't failing me, David said this in response to a statement made by an executive he spoke with who insisted that every initiative marketers undertake produce ROI. Kind of adds some context, don't you think?
Before you start scrolling down to the comments to tell me that ROI is important, I got that. What I want you to think about is how we're defining ROI, AKA gratification. Otherwise it's likely that you'll be highly frustrated during 2012 - and that's not much fun.
Gratification is not:
- Instant - at least in regards to sales.
- Always measurable in a meaningful way - but the feedback from customers and prospects can be awesome! Are you using it?
- Always related to your expectations - ever had something you thought "so-so" go viral? Or the reverse?
- Based on perfection - or you'll never publish or launch anything. Test and refine, always.
Redefine Gratification based on the following (in no particular order):
- Relevance - how does the response vary from one segment to another? What can you modify?
- Engagement - does the audience find it compelling enough to pay for with their attention?
- Multipliers - how many different ways can you spin an idea to produce a variety of contagious content based on what you'd invest in time and money for just one asset?
- Conversations - can you sustain them beyond a single Tweet?
- Conversions - focus on one objective; perfect getting the desired outcome from each call to action, not offering a laundry list and praying for something to happen.
- Testing - prove your theories and distance yourself from arbitrary decisions based on gut instinct.
- Transitions - if you have #X contacts this month, how many become prospects next month? Measure the changes to each bucket/stage across the buying process.
- Share of committee - Instead of marketing to a "decision maker," how many people on the buying committee do you influence? If your prospects' average buying committee is 7 and you have the mindshare of one of them, you need to expand your reach.
- Experience - Are all the marketing channels within your marketing mix working well together? Are prospects and customers gaining a higher quality experience when they interact across channels, or is there a disconnect that diminishes interest?
- Revenue - Are your marketing initiatives tracking to closed deals? Is the deal size higher?
- Timing - Is the buying cycle shorter for prospectswho have engaged with your marketing programs?
- Sales Enablement - are salespeople using resources provided by marketing to create more value during interactions with buying committees?
Sure, the holy grail for marketers is quantifying contribution to revenues. But with a complex sale, you can't wait for 9 or 12 months to pass to report on your progress.
There are many ways that marketing programs can provide gratification to your company based on business objectives. Concentrate on incremental gratification that will roll up to the ultimate end result. All of these factors will work together to help you get there.
Relying on clicks and lead volume doesn't get to the depth of insight you need to keep refining and improving the ways in which your content marketing programs drive pipeline momentum. Get creative and consider how you can use each of these definitions to evaluate the impact of "landscaping" for your company. Everything we do as a company should be designed to impact business objectives. How are your marketing strategies and initiatives contributing to the end goals?