Last week I came back from a marketing conference and got inspired to write after a long summer break. The conference was great, lots of marketing minds, great energy and a great experience. However, after all the hoopla, drinking, and excitement got over I realized we were just a bunch of people drinking our own cool aid and tethered to each other by our knowledge of the complexity of what we did and challenges we faced both within our companies and without. The truth as B2B marketers was that we were still trying to find a place to pitch our tent in corporate camp grounds which are dominated by product on one end and sales on the other and marketing is still a corporate communication function.
The conference speakers were all focused on prescribing the next revolutionary thing their company had developed and as always looking to us the business leaders to take it forward, fight for its rightful place in the company, implement it, hopefully succeed at it and provide a great use case and case study for them. For one such successful technology or solution how many marketers all over the corporate eco-system are churning their wheels hoping to strike gold. We know the role of the CMO as elevated by the MAT companies from a decade back did not succeed. Very few CMOs have lasted on that platform and go through revolving doors every 1-2 years. Marketing then at the highest levels and purest is still about building brands that lead companies to long terms sustainable growth and shareholder value.
Does that mean that all is lost for the growth marketer/digital marketer/demand marketer? Or is there no place in the organization for them? Absolutely NOT. The growth or demand marketer still plays the most crucial role across the entire organization to tie and maximize effectiveness across all initiatives. The revenue of today is driven by that marketer to make the company sustainable and viable while its building the brand which will create the long term growth and provide the cushion for all functions to rest on. It is the most challenging role encompassing multiple disciplines, rooted in science and technology and propelled by creativity, resourcefulness and ideation.
Thus the key takeaways to focus on while reading this article are:
1. Forget about scoring and MQL. The concept evolved 10 years back by marketing automation companies as the nirvana to align sales and marketing is a myth. So is the idea that marketing through reporting and dashboards can attribute and prove direct revenueimpact of their MQL. Unless sales cycles and deal sizes are small which makes the sales almost transactional, B2B marketers cannot do direct channel attribution of their singular technology or channel. All they can look at, at the end of the quarter or the year, is the ROI created as a result of their efforts. This is a simple computation which looks at lifetime value of bookings created due to inbound engaged accounts or leads over the total investment across discretionary spend and technology. This needs no mumbo jumbo or high tech reporting and or dash-boarding.
2. Forget too about the concept of MQA. Since the concept of MQL did not live up to its promise, those same companies or their proponents are now proposing MQA as the new concept and we, the poor marketer, will go through that cycle for the next 10 years where we take notes at every conference from every solution provider, every marketing analyst and so on.
While there is merit to both the ideas and concepts, the pitfalls are in how we preach, understand and implement. Calling an account a Marketing Qualified Account sets up the marketer for yet another failure as we strive to move the discussion away from the Qualified Lead to Qualified Account. It does not change the discussion with the Sales team on whether Marketing really qualified the account which was lead before? What was it that marketing did in getting those accounts to download all those whitepapers, serve them with a series of well placed ads and so on and so forth. At the end of the day it was sales that closed them – did they not?
By now I am sure each one of you that is reading this article is scratching their head and wondering about what it is that I am trying to say. What I want you to do is to forget the concept of ‘Marketing Qualified (MQ).’ Remember that YOU cannot ‘qualify’ anything. Period. Qualification is a meaningless concept and creates no alignment with sales. Nor does it address issues of rampant bad form fills and digital data hygiene. All, as marketeers, we can do is ‘Prioritize’ accounts and or Leads. Prioritization aligns sales and marketing conversation. Built on a framework across behavior, intent, relevance, recency, channel performance etc prioritization gets improved over time and focuses on driving the highest prioritized leads based on pipeline conversions. It also gets the marketer away from the binary discussion of whether something is a MQ something or not, hence the SDRs will not address anything that is not MQ. At the end of the day you prioritize all leads/accounts and develop your strategies and models to make each priority level more effective and meaningful and look at your channel mix and vision based on that.
And that’s all! VOILA and now I have brought in the concept of MP. What?? 🙂