COVID-19 Update

Lead Gen Apprentice Panel At Marketing Sherpa B2B Summit Puts Experts On The Firing Line

By Alicia FIorletta, Associate Editor

b2bsummit-logo-smallIt wasn’t quite Donald Trump’s boardroom, but four industry experts were put on the firing line this week as part of the MarketingSherpa B2B Summit 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts, September 26-28. During the panel titled Lead Gen Apprentice – Quick Hit Tactics to Boost Your Lead Gen, the panelist gave three-minute pitches on their lead gen solution to “the CEO.”

With the television program “The Apprentice” as the panel’s inspiration, moderator Dan Burstein, Director of Editorial Content for MECLABS Primary Research, presented real-life scenarios for the experts to provide quick-hitting tips and tricks on how to maximize lead gen efforts regardless of team size and budget. Panelists included: Cheemin Bo-Linn, CMO, NetLine; Jon Miller, VP of Marketing at Marketo; Jim Williams, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Eloqua; and Bryan Brown, Director of Product Strategy at Silverpop.

DemandGen Report caught up with Brown and Williams to review their lead gen strategies and spotlight some real-world challenges clients have experienced. For an efficient lead gen strategy independent of budget, Brown recommended that companies focus on a mix of traditional marketing efforts including webinars, advertising and SEO, and integrate more advanced tactics like nurturing strategies, and social and mobile marketing techniques.

“All BtoB companies can relate because it is about making the most out of what you are working with on a limited budget,” Brown said. “What was so great about this panel is that the sky wasn’t the limit.  It was about taking your current marketing efforts, and expanding on them and truly thinking like a smart marketer.”

MarketingSherpa11While Williams agreed that marketers should get savvier in leveraging social media strategies to promote content and encourage campaign engagement, budget was key in his lead gen recommendations.

“For low-budget, high-volume needs, we recommend aggressive use of content marketing and social media,” Williams said. For example, new integration options allow marketers to segment their database by Klout Score – an independent measure of a person’s influence in social media. Another scenario includes a fairly generous budget to better drive leads through channel partners, and in this case a ‘field event in a box’ campaign is recommended based on the outstanding results Eloqua’s customers have had in driving real channel pipeline through a highly scalable, repeatable event program.”

However, Williams noted that “budget and bodies” are no longer the only hurdles Eloqua’s customers face in developing a lead gen strategy. “In the digital age, those core hurdles are joined by many others, such as having adequate content to feed a demand gen machine that relies on a constant flow of engaging messages,” Williams said. “Or, keeping up to date on the latest marketing tactics and tricks in order to get highly differentiated and engaging messages in front of an audience already overloaded with competing messages.  And investing in skills that ‘traditional’ marketers simply don’t have, like business process re-engineering, statistical analysis, A/B testing, etc.”

Although planning a strategy may seem time consuming, it is a necessary step to increase long-term productivity, according to Brown. “Taking time out of their already busy schedule to think about strategy sometimes, oddly, seems unproductive,” Brown said. “Actually, it can save you time in the long run. Companies that do not take the time to plan their work, before working their plan, risk unmet expectations and a negative impact on overall market perception. Marketing automation can help address this time constraint, by freeing up valuable time to focus on the big picture.”

With a growing focus on revenue performance management, companies also realize that tracking prospect behavior is vital to understanding customer needs. Brown and Williams advised that marketers develop metrics that go beyond number of clicks, responses and leads, and tune in to overall value, reach and conversion.

“Believe it or not, it’s not just about the close,” Brown said. “Marketers should be tracking their prospects’ behavior throughout the buying cycle — paying close attention to the actions taken along the way, with an eye toward delivering content that captures attention, holds it while educating them about your product or service and how it will help solve a particular challenge and then helps to convert.”

The new reality, driven by RPM, is that marketers think strategically about how to translate their efforts into metrics that their CEO will relevant, noted Williams. The language of clicks and visits is no longer enough to engage executives at any meaningful level,” he said. “Marketers need to think beyond outcomes in terms of volume and need to start thinking about outcomes in terms of key performance indicators that determine the health of the revenue cycle like value, reach, conversion, velocity and return.”