How to ruin a B2B marketing campaign in one easy step

Why in B2B Marketing Campaigns, Follow Up is Paramount.

At a family gathering a few years back, I was catching up with my very successful entrepreneur cousin, raving about a recent marketing project I had spearheaded for a financial services company. “The concept was brilliant,” I told him, “focused around local, freshly picked apples.” All our materials had an apple theme, with apple baskets decorated to illustrate our marketing concept – a fresh local choice – delivered to our top 25 prospects.

“And what was the result?” he asked after minutes of me recounting the campaign.

“The feedback was excellent,” I beamed. “We had several of the prospects call us immediately.”

“How many of those prospects did you sign?”

“Oh,” I said, pausing. “Well, none. Our sales guy didn’t follow up.”

My cousin smiled faintly and changed the subject.

A lesson learned. Like many marketers, I focused on the wrong things. My beautifully put together, branded campaign – painstakingly composed and implemented, was nothing more than a waste of time and money.  Certainly not a campaign to rave about, not even to family.

A marketing campaign isn’t a successful one unless it’s well thought out, thorough, and involves proper follow up. Particularly in the B2B world, where marketing and sales integration is absolutely paramount to organizational success, a marketing campaign should never be implemented without proper buy-in from the sales representatives.

To be fair to me, in the above example, the salesperson was a senior level executive that helped design the overall project and had guaranteed his part in the process. But the bottom line is that he didn’t, and the project – while a very cool idea – failed.

In marketing, there are so many different types of campaigns that involve a multitude of desired results. Most often, this involves making a sale. The above noted campaign was a ‘top prospect’ sales initiative, one specifically designed for the purpose of closing. If the marketing team cannot work with the sales team to ensure follow up, then the project should not proceed.

If your company’s business model involves direct sales (rather than inbound marketing efforts where the customer can be obtained without the help of sales teams), you must absolutely have the assistance of your sales team. In most cases, your sales teams (who are mainly compensated by sales obtained) will be very much in favour of marketing efforts, but there are times when this isn’t the case (the team may be overloaded or prioritizing other efforts above yours).

Involve the Sales Team in the Planning of the B2B Campaign.

Before brainstorming on a very cool, ‘out of the box’ marketing program, instead ask salespeople what they need. Sometimes this is more materials developed for them to leave with a prospect. Sometimes this is a better designed business card.  Or sometimes, it may involve a bunch of apples with a beautifully crafted design. Finally, before launching a campaign, the sales team must weigh-in on how they will respond to leads, and what is an effective amount of time before responding.

Outline Sales Expectations with the Team

There are numerous studies that show that responding to a lead within a specified period increases the likelihood of closing. Hubspot’s 2011 article “Responding to Leads within an Hour Generates 7x the Conversations” details the importance of responding quickly. Other studies show that responding within minutes is a best practice.

With my apple campaign, the aim wasn’t to generate inbound leads, but rather be a warm introduction for our sales reps in their outbound efforts, so response times could run within a day or so.

Before launching, the expectations have to be set that can be agreed to by the team. If they are busy with inbound calls or other efforts, then it makes sense to hold off until they are ready. In any event, when expectations are clearly outlined, there is little room for confusion.

With proper buy-in and communication, your incredibly creative marketing campaign will likely garner the results you hope. But one thing is certain:  without it, even the most artful and creative B2B campaigns will fail.