You have a pretty ambitious growth target. You’ve put together a strong team, as well as a great sales and marketing plan based on industry best practices. Your offerings are ready to go. And you launch your campaigns. Everything looks good, and the outlook is rosy.
A few months later, you’re scrambling. Everything worked as planned, but prospects are not hitting your funnel nearly as fast as you thought they should. Your pipeline looks pretty anemic. And you’re missing your growth targets up and down your pipeline.
If your company is like most these days, the entire company is looking at you — the marketing leader — to explain why things have gone awry and how to fix them. After all, marketing’s job is to drive the pipeline, right?
If you’re like most marketing leaders, you take a look at your campaign. Was the message right? Did we miss something in the design or execution? Then you look at your process. Is there something keeping an interested prospect from taking whatever action you were hoping they would take? Did you fail to follow up? Did sales drop the hand-off of the lead from marketing?
Your problem isn’t your sales people. It’s not your marketing people. It’s your customer.
That’s right, the problem is your customer. In my previous post, I wrote about building a better persona to get a better understanding of your customer (you all did that, right?). If you did that, then the next three steps are:
- Decide, based on what you know you can deliver, what specific concerns and aspirations your company can fulfill for your target customer.
- Decide what promises you will make to your prospects that they understand will fulfill those concerns and aspirations.
- Then, build your position and your message around those specific promises.
When you do that, every prospect that receives your message will understand instantly how you will help them and whether they need that specific kind of help. If they don’t, they are not your target customer, and you can comfortably let them go. If they do, they will be interested and will enter into your funnel quickly and easily — and of their own accord.
If you don’t get your target customer definitions, position and message right, you are marketing to no one. You are putting a bunch of messages out into the market in the hope that they will resonate with someone who will then call you. Your metrics for this type of effort (often called “spray-and-pray”) will be below your industry average, and you will be left wondering what went wrong.
We, as marketers, put a lot of effort into the process of marketing, including campaign design and the underlying technology. But marketing is still, fundamentally, about knowing what your target customer wants and needs and delivering that in a way that makes them feel like you’re doing magic for them.
If your marketing isn’t yielding the results you expect or want, the problem is not how you’re doing marketing or sales. The problem is that you don’t know — at least not well enough — who your customer is and what you can do for them.
Go back to the drawing board. Get your target customer, position and message right. Your pipeline and your company will thank you.