We’re friends of a company that markets software into a tightly defined market of retailers. Last year they invested heavily in an inbound marketing strategy. It was designed to “soften the beaches” for the sales team, generate sales-ready leads. But they wondered if they were marketing to the right customers.
The marketing director hired a team of savvy inbound marketers. By the end of the first year, a ton of leads filled their system and social media stats were through the roof. It was time to celebrate.
The CEO didn’t see it that way. Their inbound marketing investment hadn’t actually moved the sales revenue needle. What was the problem? Did salespeople not follow up on the leads? Were the inbound leads weak? They invited ROI in to discuss the problem.
Marketing to the Right Customers
The group gathered in the conference room. ROI CEO Troy Burk moderated the discussion. He began by writing on the whiteboard:
- Who do you know?
- Who do you want to know?
- Who wants to know you?
Troy explained that each question identifies a different customer type: Referral, Prospecting, and Inbound.
Referral: The list of customers and other business and personal contacts that can make introductions and recommend you.
Prospecting: The list of accounts and contacts that are most likely a good fit for your solution and may want your help.
Inbound: The database of contacts that identify themselves when expressing interest in your company, products, and expertise.
Troy then led the group in a simple exercise. Each person around the table was given three yellow sticky notes and three green notes.
On the yellow notes they wrote a percentage of total marketing resources they believe the company invested across the three customer types. On the green notes, they wrote the portion of sales revenue they believe came from each type. Everyone placed their sticky notes on the board next to the corresponding customer types: Yellow notes to the left, green to the right.
The stark difference between left and right was obvious. The group believed that practically all of the marketing investments went to Inbound, yet practically all of the sales revenue was attributed to Referral. As they looked at the customer wins more closely, they noted that several of their best wins that year were competitor replacements referred to them by happy customers.
This simple exercise got the team brainstorming. They developed a new approach to their inbound and outbound marketing activities. One campaign would target retailers that use competitors’ products. Another would nurture relationships with people from the Referral category. And, they would also research and update lists of decision makers in each addressable account, streamlining a prospecting campaign with the sales team.
Is your team marketing to the right customers? How does your company allocate marketing resources across these key customer types? Are these investments proportional to your closed business success?