December 6

The Future of Marketing: Conversations not Campaigns

Marketing Strategy


Marketing is undergoing a remarkable evolution at this moment. The multitude of mediums we can use to speak to our marketplace is revolutionizing how we work. I believe the days of campaigns – where we start-stop-measure-tweak and start all over again – are over. Today, for marketing to effectively drive revenue, it must be a continuous, meaningful conversation.

The most successful marketers will know how to lead that conversation both internally and externally so they can communicate to their customer the right things in the right way at the right time. Here’s a snapshot of what I mean and some of what I plan on sharing in Barcelona:

You speak through channels: make sure what you’re saying makes sense

If you’re going to say something to customers, make it meaningful to them. Here’s the One slide acid test: anything you tweet, email, or blog should be valuable to them even if they never buy from you. And if you lure them in with that tweet, email or post, make sure that conversation stays on track throughout the sales process. Consider an experiment that the MECLABS Conversion Group conducted with NetSuite:

  • They optimized a pay-per-click (PPC) ad to specifically outline what makes them stand apart: the world’s #1 on-demand software with 6,459 customers worldwide.
  • They changed the landing page that customers were directed to from the PPC ad. The page’s messaging and images continued the conversation by directly connecting to key messages on the PPC ad. There was no question that customers knew they were in the right place doing the right thing.
  • They changed the order form, a place where many clients experience anxiety about whether they should proceed, to reiterate what motivated them to start the transaction in the first place.
  • The result: a 272% increase in responses to their lead generation form, 268% more projected revenue and a 302% increase in monthly profit.

You use channels – in this case, the PPC to a landing page to order form – to converse with the customer. Make sure the entire channel is optimized, not just an ad, not just a web page.  When you conduct marketing in a vacuum, you start a different conversation in a different way over and over again with the same audience.  If someone did that to you in real-life, real-time, you’d get annoyed and walk away.

Pinpoint the best time to bring sales into the conversation

I worked with a marketing organization that generated more leads than the previous year, but conversion-to-sales remained dismal. It turns out sales really didn’t think they were getting useful leads – their definition of a lead was vastly different from marketing. So sales and marketing huddled and gained consensus on what a lead was and agreed on:

  • When that lead would be handed off to sales or stay in marketing for nurturing. (Sales really wasn’t interested in leads unless they were going to buy within six months.)
  • What sales would do with the lead once they got it.
  • How sales would report on progress and close the loop with marketing 100% of the time.
  • When the lead would go back to marketing for further nurturing if the sale wasn’t moving forward.

The result: 200% more opportunities in the sales pipeline and $4.9 million in additional sales pipeline revenue growth in eight months without a significant budget increase. All this was essentially driven from bringing sales into the conversation at a different time.

Speak the language of the C-level

When you start driving more opportunities, more sales, and more ROI by carrying on a strategic conversation with your customers and your sales department, of course, you’ll want to report your success to the C-suite. So speak their language – real metrics, real results.You’d think that would be a no-brainer, but only about half of the marketers surveyed in MarketingSherpa’s just-released B2B Marketing Benchmark Report spoke to the C-suite about metrics that are important to them or explained results in a way executives can relate to. I can’t help but wonder what the other half are doing.

Think about the conversations you’re conducting with your customers, your sales team, and your leadership. How are you leading the discussion? Are you giving them what they want to hear in the way that they want to hear it? I look forward to hearing what you – and the marketers in Barcelona – have to say.

If this topic interests you, you can learn more by taking a look at this article I just published in Frost & Sullivan’s GIL eBulletin and watch the wrap up webinar recording of this year’s MarketingSherpa B2B Marketing Summit.

How to do lead management that improves conversion

Lead Generation: How using science increased teleprospecting sales handoffs 304%

Stuck on words: how can marketing connect with customers better?

5 dials to tune in your lead generation process

Lead Nurturing: Build trust, win more deals by helping prospects – not selling them

About the author 

Brian Carroll

Brian Carroll is the CEO and founder of markempa, helping companies to convert more customers with empathy-based marketing.

He is the author of the bestseller, Lead Generation for the Complex Sale and founded B2B Lead Roundtable LinkedIn Group with 20,301+ members.

  1. Great post! You have to understand as a marketer that obtaining new clients at a consistent pace requires a constant program, not a campaign. There is no “quick fix” to generating leads… you have to have a process in place. When you look to outsource these types of services, it’s important to understand what kind of results you should expect. Thanks!

  2. Good stuff, Brian. Very informative. I’ll be looking forward to your post when you’re in Barcelona.

  3. These are all excellent points and exactly what marketers should be doing but I don’t think the secret of driving increased sales is really in having ‘conversations’ (I know this is a bit of a heresy to say this these days).

    The Netsuite example is a better form of persuasion for sure. They are priming their prospects, creating momentum and ensuring nothing gets in the way of making the sale. If they engaged in a two-way conversation I’d imagine they’d get lower results over a longer period.

    Of course, some more complex sales do require conversations (ie that go back and forth between vendor and prospect). But even here, at a marketing level this tends to take the form of exchanges of information/content that narrow a prospect toward the sale – or at least to a meeting with a sales person who has a real conversation with them. This is why we’ve seen the explosion in content-based marketing (a good thing IMHO).

    Agreeing what constitutes a qualified lead and managing up to the C-suite certainly do require conversations of exactly the type you describe. It’s amazing that even after all these years, these kinds of conversations and relationship building are so rare. Such a missed opportunity.

    Thanks for the post, good stuff for sure. Enjoy Barcelona.

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