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Executive Perspective: The CMO Dilemma

Sangram Vajre, Director of Marketing at Pardot, shares his insight on a common dilemma experienced by heads of marketing: should marketing invest in brand awareness or lead generation? 

Most heads of marketing at B2B companies are on the chopping block when it comes to delivering more leads, faster. The problem? No matter how many leads you generate, they’re never all going to be ready to buy – and only a small percentage of them will even convert to close.

70% of the buying process is now complete by the time a prospect is ready to engage with sales. (SiriusDecisions) tweetbutton

90% of business buyers say when they’re ready to buy, they’ll find you. (DemandGen Report) tweetbutton

61% of B2B marketers send all leads directly to sales; however, only 27% of those leads will be qualified. (MarketingSherpa) tweetbutton

Armed with the knowledge of your company’s lead-to-close conversion rates, your head of marketing has two options when it comes to developing a marketing program that can generate the most leads:

Option 1. Focus on brand awareness with the hope that the right buyer will find you, given that you’re in the right place at the right time. With this option, you’ll channel your resources into billboards, banner advertising, brand events, public relations — anything that can put you in front of your target audience.

Option 2. Invest in demand generation by creating content that drives leads, engagement, and ultimately, conversion. This can include PPC, content syndications, campaign management, marketing operations, and more.

The dilemma facing marketers is not just which to choose, but where they should spend their money. One can easily spend thousands of dollars buying ads or generating “opt-in” leads, but neither option would probably increase the lead-to-close rate dramatically, especially not in just a few weeks or months. Given the complex nature and longer sales cycles in most B2B organizations, it could take months or even years to get programs in place that would dramatically impact revenue numbers.

Instead of choosing one option over the other, let’s take a look at a few steps that marketers can take to start tackling this dilemma to develop a blended approach to lead generation:

1. Understand the goals of the organization. Is your organization looking for immediate return, or are you willing to invest in longer term, more profitable growth? Knowing the answer to this question will tell you which of the two options above you should prioritize over the other, and which elements you can pick and choose to create that optimum, blended program.

2. Set expectations. Once you know the goals of the organization, you can set realistic expectations, both internally and externally, as to what marketing is planning to do, including clear milestones.

3. Research and communicate industry baselines. In any industry, there are typically a couple of research firms that can help create benchmarks for your organization. Do some research to see how much budget and resources marketing should have compared to your peers in the industry. This should help indicate how much you should be investing in lead generation.

4. Share and make data-driven decisions. Instead of letting guesses and theories drive your marketing initiatives, let data drive all of your decisions for future programs.

5. Use a sales mindset. Any B2B marketer that is not on the same page as their sales counterpart (in terms of the vocabulary of sales and marketing alignment) is going to have to work harder to earn a seat at the decision-making table. When sales and marketing work together on common goals, the results speak for themselves.

Want more information on how sales and marketing can work together to develop a marketing program that can lead to maximum results? Take a look at our (free!) Aligning Sales and Marketing white paper.

sales and marketing alignment