Marketing ideas that rarely work

Lead gen, lead gen, lead gen.  For lots of SaaS marketers, these are their top 3 priorities. 

They’re under pressure to deliver leads to feed the sales pipeline… every week, every month, every quarter.

So, I understand the temptation to try find a shortcut to lead generation – a quick and easy way to deliver on the quota. 

Resist the temptation.

Any advice you get that points you toward some quick and easy way to deliver leads… ignore it.  (See “Why I’m not a fan of marketing hacks.”)

Here’s a few of the ideas that are likely to tempt you.

The magic bullet:  Under this scheme, you search for the one perfect marketing tactic, guaranteed to open the floodgate to qualified leads.  It means building the one viral video, finding the can’t-miss email list, hosting the perfect webinar, or going to the one event guaranteed to put you in front of all of your hottest prospects. 

I’ve seen all of these tactics and even tried a few myself.  They do not work.

Or to be more specific, they do not work all by themselves. 

When you’re selling a B2B solution, you typically need to reach a prospect several times through a variety of channels.  (See “Sometimes prospects just aren’t ready to buy.”)  One touch, no matter how clever, won’t do it.

Set it and forget it:  You cannot put your lead gen efforts on auto-pilot.  Tactics that are working for you now probably won’t work forever. 

Sometimes competitors may interrupt you.  For example, they’ll outbid you on particular paid keywords.  Pay-per-click and SEO campaigns need regular attention and fine-tuning.

Other times, prospects stop responding to tactics the same way they used to.  Anybody remember “dimensional mailers” or “business reply cards?”

To quote Tower of Power, “What is hip today may tomorrow be passé.” 

Let the partner do it:  There are times that partnerships can be helpful.  Teaming up with a larger company could help expand your visibility and attract more opportunities. 

But partnerships do not work by themselves.  They require care and feeding.

Imagine you’re partnering with, for example. Though you’re connected to a well-known brand and have access to an impressive menu of sales and marketing resources, you can’t just slap the partner logo on your website and put out a press announcement. 

It’s work to get your company and your solution to stand out among the thousands of other partners in the AppExchange.  It requires effort to get the attention of the salesforce account execs or prospects within this universe.  None of this happens just because you’re a certified partner.

All sizzle, no steak:  This is how I describe a lead gen process that’s all about tactics and nothing about a message or value proposition.  One program follows another to get in front of potential prospects, and most of the focus is on efficient execution. 

But without an effective message, you probably won’t have much impact.  Prospects need to know who the solution is for, what problem it solves, and why they should buy it from you.  If the marketing programs don’t deliver answers to those questions, expect them to fail.  (See “Spend first, think later:  Bad idea.”)

We’ve all seen email campaigns, highly-produced videos, or free trial offers that invite people to evaluate a solution, but they don’t give a compelling reason why.

Before you spend lots of time and money on marketing programs, develop a compelling and consistent value proposition.

I’ve been marketing technology solutions for a long time, so I get it.  There’s pressure to deliver leads.  Sometimes your compensation even depends on it.  But avoid jumping in on an easy fix.  It may sound tempting, but it rarely works.