Tuesday, February 1, 2011

What To Do While You Build the Marketing Plan

Okay, this may sound like a rant or a whine but I'M NOT THE LEAD GEN GUY!

I just started a new gig and am in the process of building a complete marketing infrastructure for the company: soup, nuts and everything in between.  I know he's not being derogatory but the Sales Director introduced me to a few people by saying that I'm responsible for "generating leads and helping us with the messaging."

I could respond by saying, "I'm really the pick the segments, determine the key points of value, figure out how we compete, identify and develop the personas, build the partner strategy, quantify the lead and sales process, write all the collateral, create and execute the campaigns and track the results guy."  But he probably wouldn't listen anyway.

Yes, all that stuff has to be done BEFORE you can create and execute any lead generation campaigns that have any value.  I'm too new to the company and space to know who the buyers are, where they go for new information, what resonates with them, etc. so it would be a supreme waste of my nice new CEO's money to try to do any lead generation campaigns now.

Silly True Story to Illustrate My Point (I'm not making this up): A company I know recently bought two lists of names, 20,000 in all, of people who read an industry rag that covered its technology.  They blasted out an email to all these people who had never heard of them and got exactly 3 leads.  Not to be outdone, they followed it up with another email to the same database six weeks later and got exactly ZERO leads. And this is a 20 year old company!  A 20 year old company who doesn't understand their buyers or market.

However, the sales team, my nice new CEO and the Board wouldn't tolerate that kind of performance nor are they in a position to wait until I have the marketing plan completed before they expect results. 

What to do in the meantime?  I could Make Stuff Up (MSU) but that usually results in MABUSHI and a quick ticket to the unemployment line.  I could run screaming for the hills but that wouldn't impress SWMBO.

Instead I spent the afternoon with the sales team and my nice new CEO and we drilled into everything we already knew about our existing customers (though few), what worked, what we did, where they are in the company, etc.  The result was a moderately focused customer segment, four proven titles to call on in those target companies and a workable (though incomplete) persona for one of those titles. 

It's not efficient but it's not wrong, either.  Our sales team has a focus for the next 60 days while I flesh out the personas, refine the messaging, create some resonant content and all the rest of that "lead gen" stuff. 

Key Take Away: You have assets even if you don't know what they are.  Find them and use them while you build out your plan.

Next up: My first guest blogger.

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