In 1923, the grandfather of modern advertising, Claude C. Hopkins, said, “to properly understand advertising, or to learn even its rudiments, one must start with the right conception. Advertising is salesmanship. It is not for general effect. It is not to keep your name before the people. It is not primarily to aid your other salesmen. Treat it as a salesman. Force it to justify itself. Figure its cost and result. Then you will not go far wrong.”
Despite that being written 90 years ago, many marketers still struggle with creating a solid demand generation plan and most have trouble understanding the true ROI of all their efforts.
One effect of the global recession was that companies were forced to look closer at where every dollar was being spent. The result was that modern marketers were no longer being judged by what happened at the top of the funnel. Overwhelmingly, marketers are being asked to contribute much further down the pipeline and expected to prove their contribution to the bottom line.
Many marketers like to jump right into the tactics. But, before you start sending emails, booking tradeshows and planning your next direct mail campaign, it’s important that you spend time on an overarching strategy and create a plan. It’s great if you can create a plan at the beginning of the year, but it’s never too late to get everyone in alignment. I’ve heard it said that you should spend more time on the strategy and then the tactics will become clear and easy to follow.
Our Demand Map is something we developed while going through the planning process with our clients over the years. Featured at the top are your big goals for the year; then, it’s broken up by the key areas we recommend you think about for your plan (further explanation on creating your own Demand Map to follow in coming posts; however, in the meantime, you can download it here).
If you wanted to generate $1 million, $5 million, $10 million or $50 million in revenue for the year, how many qualified leads will it take to get there?
History is the greatest predictor of the future so utilize your historical data to help drive your planning. We like to start by creating a top-down plan. Your revenue goal and your average deal size will tell you how many closed won opportunities you need. From there, look at your conversion rates for each stage of the funnel to arrive at how many inquiries, marketing qualified leads (MQLs), sales accepted leads (SALs), etc. you will need to build your demand generation strategy around to reach your number.
If you don’t know your conversion rates for each stage of your funnel, use industry benchmarks from folks like SiriusDecisions (and also use this as an opportunity to think about what needs to be setup at your organization to measure your conversion rates in the future). SiriusDecisions provides the below benchmarks* for B2B organizations, which can be adjusted up or down depending upon your average deal size and revenue goals.
Here’s what the numbers would look like.
Your top-down planning would look like this:
In this scenario, you’d need 4,000 inquiries at the top of the funnel to reach the number of qualified leads, and ultimately closed won opportunities, to reach your revenue goal. Of course, this is where things can get more complicated. You want to have a clear definition of a qualified lead established between marketing and sales. Who you reach out to, what channels you engage prospects with, your offer strategy and your messaging will all play a factor in your success.
We’ll pick demand generation planning up again in a future article and discuss ways that you can get tactical in forecasting where your leads will come from.
Until then, your action item: Figure out your demand map goals so you can create a clear path for success.