Rethink campaigns in two ways to speed up ROI

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Spending decisions in B2B sales and marketing have always been high stakes – making smart investments in the right relationships, partners and tactics can be the difference between achieving business goals and not. But in today’s hyper-competitive market, the ante just keeps going up. As new tools compete for sales and marketing budgets, amid greater executive scrutiny of spend, we are under more pressure than ever to justify where we put sales and marketing resources.

One result of this is rising emphasis on measurement to quantify results, particularly in relation to campaigns (sometimes called ‘thought leadership’ or ‘insight’). Significant effort is spent capturing metrics like clicks, shares and downloads – all critical to understanding reach, awareness and profile. But these measures don’t reveal commercial value. Has the campaign generated more in revenue than it cost in time, money and internal capital to get to market?

The sales and marketing leaders we talk to are focussed on helping the business differentiate and sell, but find that campaigns – despite performing well in brand terms – are either not leading to new work, or are not doing so fast enough to help the organisation meet growth targets within the financial year. When competitive advantage is wafer thin and growth hard won, B2B organisations can ill afford to invest in campaigns that don’t deliver revenue.

Rachael and I have spent a combined 25 years in B2B, and we consistently see two factors limiting the commercial ROI of campaigns:

1. Brand-first by design

Campaigns are overwhelmingly deployed as brand initiatives – their primary objectives to raise profile, drive traffic and fill CRM databases with new leads. While the intention is for awareness at the top of the funnel to turn into qualified contacts and tangible new business opportunities over time (with more investment in content and events programmes), campaigns tend not to be chiefly designed to deliver sales.

The reality of purchasing high value B2B services – and what makes it so difficult to cut through – is that there is a relatively small pool of buyers with the seniority, remit and depth of pocket to be relevant. What’s more, you’ve probably already identified who they are. Evidence shows that trickle down economics isn’t the most effective way to deliver prosperity, and trickle down sales is a similarly convoluted way of winning work.

2. All things to all people

Anyone working in B2B sales and marketing will know how frustrating and fractious campaign development can be. It often takes months – or even years – to get buy in for a firmwide, cross-sector or cross-service initiative, to settle on a concept that delivers for all parties, to gather robust evidence, and create engaging content. By the time the campaign gets to market it’s eaten up more investment than it can possibly return in revenue, and may no longer be relevant to clients or the market.

Many good things are worth the wait, and brand-first campaigns play an important role for B2B organisations beyond revenue. But when it comes to sales, we can’t sacrifice speed and specificity and still get the job done.

We believe it’s time to rethink campaigns to deliver sales faster and maximise ROI. In the next two blogs we will lay out a new campaign model that:

Shortcuts the complex B2B sales cycle by taking a targeted, sales-first approach – focussing on your biggest bets for growth (sectors, service lines or organisations) and developing a sales proposition, business case and go-to-market designed to create and convert opportunities only you can win.

Fast-tracks long campaign development with super efficient processes – using specially created frameworks to ‘sprint’ to a client-tested sales proposition, streamlined research that proves your business case (and no more) and focussing on content that wins in the room.