An old boss once commented:
“75% of marketing is just being in the right place at the right time.”
You can quibble with the percentage, but, overall, she had a point. For more companies than not, marketing success is rarely about convincing a given individual, on a given day, to buy what it is you’re selling. Rather, it’s a question of being the company that the buyer finds, or thinks of first, when the relevant need occurs.
In 25+ years of running a marketing agency, I have rarely gained a client who wasn’t already thinking at some level about hiring an agency or seeking outside marketing assistance. I am not convincing people that they need to hire an agency. I just try my darndest to make sure that we’re the agency people contact when they’re ready to do so.
Now, partly that’s because people know that marketing agencies exist, and what agencies do, and thus recognize the need when they see it. You might be thinking: “Sure, but we’re marketing a technology solution that few people know exists, or even that they have the problem in the first place.” And yes, in those cases, educating the market is a critical first step in order to generate the need.
But even then, I would argue, marketing – and demand generation in particular – isn’t wholly about convincing the buyer that they have the need you can solve, and that they need to solve it today. Buying, after all, is a journey: awareness, consideration, selection, and so on. The buyer is the one who determines the pace and timing of that progression, with all its detours. You just need to put your company in a place, and at a time, that coincides with the buyer looking for a solution provider.
It can be tempting, as marketers working in a world of intent data and ABM and AI, to buy into the hype that any short cuts are possible, that sales cycles are made to be compressed, and that sales-ready leads can be created on demand. Yes, marketing is more efficient and data-driven than ever, but, even then, for most companies, it’s still fundamentally a game of building and maintaining relationships, awareness, and credibility. And being the company that buyers contact when they have a need, whenever that might be.
What does that translate to, tactically speaking? A few suggestions:
* Reaching and engaging with prospective customers at every stage of the buying journey
* Creating content that appeals to those different stages (and not just active buyers)
* Building trust and credibility through ongoing thought leadership
* Constantly reminding prospects and customers alike of what you do and when to call
* Running “always on” campaigns (social media, SEM, display) that make your company findable
More often than we marketers care to admit, successful marketing is an accident of timing. Buyers decide when they have the need and when they’re ready to act. You just need to be there when they need it.