The Shift: Brand Focus or Lead Generation?

Brand Focus or Lead Generation for your B2B Marketing?

There's been a major shift in marketing. Where before you'd deliver reports on impressions, brand affinity, and your Google ranking, today you're being pressured to deliver reports on leads generated or revenue contributed by your department.

This shift — and its many causes — are evident in the way marketers are now spending their budgets and developing their goals.

Consider the following statistics:

  • HubSpot tells us 74 percent of marketers say converting leads is their top priority
  • Marketing technology spending is now higher than advertising spending for companies (Gartner, 2016)
  • Marketing technology represents 33 percent of the average marketing budget

The fewer companies know about their KPIs, the less likely they are to meet their revenue goals. Seventy four percent of companies that weren't exceeding revenue goals did not know their visitor, lead, MQL, or sales opportunities. 

At Flawless Inbound, I always ask my strategists to report to their clients on the following:

A) Visitors/Lead/Customer/Bounce rate/Site-wide/Campaign-specific conversion

Which will then generate:

B) MQL "Marketing-Qualified Lead" vs SQL "Sales-Qualified lead"

We all know it is not about showing at the first page in Google anymore that will help you make your number this year or in future years. The Game is shifting quickly towards content strategy that is placing the customer at the center, while positioning your organization as a trusted advisor. This will help you and your team make their number this year and for years to come.

The budget and tactic shift is happening with or without you. But you know and value the brand that those tactics and budgets represent, and branding has always been your focus. It's time for your focus to shift. It's a tough task to tackle, but a mindset shift certainly doesn't mean you have to abandon the brand value and recognition you've worked hard for.

Related: What is the Future of Marketing: Digital Marketing 4.0

How to Shift to a Lead Generation Focus and Make Your Numbers

If you believe your brand is important, and you care about ensuring content assets are properly branded, we've got great news. Branding is already in alignment with Inbound marketing. You don't have to throw out what you value in order to move toward a program focused on lead generation and revenue.

How are new-age tactics connected to traditional branding? Well, Inbound is all about attracting quality traffic and converting it into leads and then customers. Your most valuable and highest quality leads come from those who trust you, who you build a relationship with — and brand has a major effect on how your prospects will perceive you and how deeply they'll be willing to trust you. If your branding is disjointed or misaligned, trust and understanding won't come easily.

But reporting the numbers your C-suite wants to see? That truly requires a mindset shift.

First, you need to be able to understand how your efforts are contributing to those numbers. To do that, you must have a way to capture leads and how they're moving. Get an automation tool, if you don't have one already, which allows you to develop this insight. Tracking campaigns and segmenting your audience will be critical to your success as you shift toward a lead generation mindset.

As a Chief revenue officer for Flawless Inbound, my mission each day is to work on evolving and updating best practices for Inbound Marketing for our clients. I would like to share a tip for your next step.

“As you’re thinking about this shift, have you developed your buyer personas yet? Before you move forward, ask yourself: who are your personas and what are your goals? Once you have them on paper, think about your current efforts that are hyper brand focused. Are those accomplishing the goals you listed? Are they speaking to those personas? That’s where the lead gen piece comes in. Adopting the Inbound methodology will ensure your branding is on point and that it's helping you bring in the right sort of leads.”

So you need to be able to see your numbers, and you need clear buyer personas and goals. Now it's time to think about lead generation every time you create a piece of collateral. This is probably the most difficult part of a mindset shift: including the new action in your day-to-day activities. We recommend creating a checklist you'll use for every piece of branded material and every new idea. You should be able to answer the following questions:

  • Who will this asset attract? Why would it attract this persona?
  • (Further in the funnel) Who will it convert? Why would they convert here?
  • Where will that persona be in their buyer's journey?
  • How will this build trust with the prospect or customer?
  • What goal(s) will this asset help me meet?

The theme? You are thinking about what your prospects want to see, not just what you want to say or impress upon them.

Branding is subjective. Attracting quality leads? That's objective. Consequently, your reasons for doing will shift. Instead of writing a piece on your product's benefits because you need to post something this week, you'll find yourself writing a piece that features an expert on your team speaking about recent trends — because you have seen this type of content both promotes your brand as a thought leader and successfully attracts leads.

You should still continue to do everything you're doing to maintain brand identity. But if you practice thinking about the "why", in time you'll trade in doing things because you need to do them for doing things because they get measurable results and provide value to your prospects.

And that's so much better for your bottom line.

Beginning with Execution

One of the toughest aspects of moving toward a lead generation mindset is that you may not fully understand your success in this area already. So buying automation software and hopping right in won't necessarily help you get right to those major metrics you need. That's why we suggest using intuitive, easy, and free tools, like HubSpot Marketing Free, to get started.

We also like EpicBeat (the free version, of course). It allows you to see what type of content is trending so you can align your marketing efforts to your industry players' desires. You'll be able to see what resonates with people from a channel and format standpoint, so you can gain context and nail your distribution strategy. 

Aside from that, execution of lead generation programs is really a matter of intention. You have a goal, you have a mindset, and you're ready to get going.

Living in Harmony

Shifting your focus isn't actually about leaving behind brand for lead generation. It's about joining the two things together, asking yourself: "How do I start doing Inbound marketing (which will bring me to lead gen territory) in a way that also maintains my brand identity and allows me to focus on the brand? How do I integrate my traditional marketing and branding expertise with Inbound marketing in order to produce leads?"

The true mindset shift as you move from brand focused work to lead generation focused campaigns is just that: you're moving from subjectivity to objectivity.