53% of buyers say that their time to make a purchase has increased over the last year. 80% say they are taking more time to research and 82% say they are viewing more sources[i]
On April 24th, the Virgin Money London Marathon will be taking place in the capital, and the world’s best professional runners will be joined by dedicated amateurs to complete the 26-mile course. Everyone taking part will have been training and preparing for months in order to ensure they make it to the finish and beat their personal best time. So, given that B2B lead generation has become a marathon and not a sprint, what can the London Marathon’s runners teach us marketers about staying the course and achieving success over longer distances?
Strategy and focus
Believe it or not, even the runners that choose to complete the Virgin Money London Marathon dressed as a Smurf or in some other fancy dress costume, will still have a strategy. Whether they plan to start slow and increase their speed later, or whether they intend to run a mile then walk a mile, they will have a strategy. And this should be the same for B2B marketers. Trying to generate leads in today’s modern world using siloed channels and infrequent ‘touches’ will result in lost budget and no ROI. Only by creating a comprehensive multi-channel marketing strategy based on buyer personas, will positive results be generated. Additionally, due to the ever-growing timeframes of buying cycles, it’s necessary to keep focused on the strategy and stay true to the plans and processes.
Consistency and motivation
The more serious runners that enter the marathon will have taken the time to create running ‘styles’. These can be unique approaches to hand/arm movements, stride lengths, and in some case even breathing patterns. However, having proved to themselves that their technique works, they then need to ensure they remain consistent to this during the gruelling 26 miles. The motivation to remain consistent to what works is what separates the successful runners from those that drop out before the 20-mile mark. And this is also what separates successful marketers from those that lose their budget, generate no ROI, and have to explain themselves to the C-Suite. In B2B marketing, there are core strategies that need to be adhered to, including buyer persona research, multi-channel communications, and targeted lead nurturing. By investing in these and then remaining consistent to their use throughout all campaigns, marketers can be sure to see the best results. And, once the initial leads start converting to customers, the motivation to continue will simply rise and rise.
Expertise and ability
Nobody starts out as an accomplished marathon runner. People first try light jogging and then begin to build up their strength, stamina, and technique. Only once they have reached this point are they able to venture into distance running. For B2B marketers, there is an element of this in our industry too. Nobody starts out as a marketing expert, however we can improve and learn to become one. By reviewing our results such as leads, customers, revenue, and ROI, we can see where we are performing well and where we can improve. When a skill gap is identified, this can be plugged by further learning and additional support. In a marketing team, these skill gaps can be filled by employing specialists who bolster the entire operation and take it to the next level. Like runners though, there are always opportunities for B2B marketers and their teams to improve. It’s simply a case of identifying the skills that need work, and then learning and developing them.
There’s no shortcuts (Well, actually…)
After the first 15-20 miles, marathon runners no doubt wish there was a shortcut to the finish line, or at least a bus that could take them nearer the finish, but of course, there isn’t. For marathon runners there’s no shortcuts, it’s simply a 26-mile slog from start to finish. For B2B marketers though, things are a little simpler. If the finish line is leads, sales and ROI, then there may actually be a way to get there faster… outsourcing. By enlisting the help of experts in all areas of marketing, it’s possible to generate results quickly. They will also be able to provide long-term strategy, the ability to remain consistent to the plans, and the focus needed to generate enviable results. Is it cheating? Certainly not! Marathon runners wishing they could have someone take their place and beat the likes of Mo Farah can only dream of outsourcing. But for B2B marketers, it’s an everyday solution.
To find out more about B2B lead generation and generating the best results from your marketing…