By Debra Harrsch
In most companies. marketing is seen as an expense item. And, when something’s a line-item expense on the P&L, there needs to be accountability. To support the marketing budget, your efforts need to generate enough leads to justify the expense.
At the same time, those leads need to be nurtured and turned into conversions.
Smart companies are monitoring how they are doing each month against their goals. But, there’s another important thing to measure: momentum.
When you think about momentum, we often think about examples in sports. In baseball, batters go on streaks where their batting average jumps by a hundred points or more. When a basketball player hits four or five shots in a row, he’s got the “hot hand” and can’t seem to miss. It gives them more confidence to take even more shots.
The same thing happens in business. Sales teams get on a roll and build revenue month-to-month. When you have momentum, you are bringing in more marketing qualified leads (MQLs), nurturing them until they become sales qualified leads (SQLs), and then closing deals.
Here’s an example. We work with one of our clients as their marketing department. We pay close attention to the month-to-month lead generation. One metric we track is quarter-over-quarter growth in leads.
We saw very clearly the results of the marketing strategy and momentum. Leads in one quarter went from 1,000 to 1,300 in the next quarter. The following quarter grew to 1,500. The more the momentum grew, the more effective the efforts became. By the end of the year, the momentum generated more than 4,600 leads and 168 demo requests — a dramatic improvement.
When there’s momentum, people are seeing your advertising, your content marketing, and your social media. You are building campaigns that drive awareness and demand. Buyers are seeing your marketing efforts more often and in more places. The result is you see momentum and growth.
As you are growing leads, the impact gets magnified. Those Q1 leads get nurtured in Q2, Q3, and Q4. As you drive more leads into your sales funnel, you’re turning more and more MQLs into SQLs while continuing to deliver new leads at the top of the funnel.
Challenges to Building Momentum
One of the challenges most marketers face, however, is when the new fiscal year begins. It often seems to take forever to get budget approval for an ad buy. In many cases, the whole marketing plan may still be waiting for approval in the first quarter as companies wrestle with expenses and margins.
This makes the marketing department late for the dance. And it may become almost impossible to make an ad buy, for instance.
When the fiscal year has started, but marketing doesn’t get the OK for an ad buy until the end of Q1 (or even into Q2), we’ve seen this delay in decision-making bring marketing efforts to a screeching halt. It makes it increasingly difficult to deliver the leads needed to feed the sales machine.
You see, momentum works both ways — especially when it comes to marketing. Content marketing, advertising, and social media all have a cumulative effect, a combination of reach, frequency, relevancy, and recency. When marketing stops, your momentum can stop dead in its tracks — and it can be more expensive to rebuild it.
With a strong plan and the funding to market consistently, we see positive momentum. When inconsistency is applied to a marketing plan, however, it can create negative momentum and it snowballs. You’ll see fewer MQLs lead to fewer SQLs, which results in fewer sales.
When you cut back on marketing, you not only lose your share of mind, but also put new and existing accounts at risk. Once you lose that momentum, it takes time — and money — to rebuild it.
For B2B buyers, there needs to be enough visibility in the right places to drive buyers quarter-to-quarter.
Thomas Smith, in his book Successful Advertising, said consistency and frequency are essential. He suggested it takes five times before consumers even notice and pay attention to your ad. It’s not until the 12th time they see your brand that they actually start to think your product or service has some value, and 20 times before they get serious about buying.
Here’s the kicker. Smith wrote that in 1885 — before radio, TV, social media, and the internet. Can you imagine how many times it takes to cut through the clutter and noise today?
You need to get exposure to the right buyer at the right time on the right platform consistently to build momentum, to drive people to your landing pages and generate a lead.
Hopefully, you’re using a marketing automation platform to continue nurturing leads and feeding your CRM — building momentum to fill your funnel quarter-to-quarter. It’s definitely a year-over-year, quarter-over-quarter challenge to build momentum as you’re scaling and maintaining that share of mind.
Marketing Momentum Takes Planning
When you map out your year, recognize that there might be a delay in getting your budget approved. To avoid stopping that momentum, one little marketing trick we might suggest would be to hold back some of your budget dollars to the end of the year. Why?
You can use some of December’s budget for first quarter ad insertions and other marketing channels to keep the momentum building.
Tracking momentum also helps make the case in the budget process. You need to show ROI and value and tie your lead generation to results.
As a marketer, your goal is to build those leads quarter-over-quarter. Nurture them all the way through, so you’re bringing a marketing lead or marketing qualified lead into your CRM, scaling it up to a sales qualified lead, and then prepping for sales engagement to create conversions.
Be Digitally Agile and Know What Works
Digital marketing provides multiple ways to reach your buyers: podcasts, video, interactive, blogs and social, print, and more. It all has a cumulative effect that can reinforce and magnify your messaging and help build momentum.
The key to effective spending, of course, is knowing what works. Fortunately, in today’s digital marketing environment, we have access to a wealth of data. For instance, when you pick the right places for your ad placements, you can see what works and adjust to optimize your effectiveness.
COVID taught us the need to be agile and aware and quickly pivot when needed. Another strategy we recommend is to keep enough budget in reserve to jump on opportunities when they arise. When something’s working, you can pour fuel on the fire.
Brandwidth Solutions serves the healthcare, life sciences, technology, and contract pharma industries. We work with companies that want to make the most of their marketing – who want their marketing empowered to help drive leads – and ultimately sales. If you want to move your product or service forward in a smart way, we want to work with you. Call us at 215.997.8575.Read More