The whole point of B2B marketing is to get your sales people onto the short list of vendors that a prospect is considering.
That can only happen if your marketing is compelling, which will only be the case if you have identified real problems you can solve. The process of identification is a lot easier if you focus on a well-defined group of customers that you fully understand, rather than going after a large number of prospects that you don’t really understand.
Focusing on a well-defined group of prospects is what makes marketing work. Everything else might as well be junk.
The number one objective of marketing is to get your prospects to actually reach out to your sales team. These are people who are ready to evaluate potential vendors. Their numbers are likely to be small—typically under 10% of your target market.
Next to that is fully engaging the remaining 90% and gradually converting them into Marketing Qualified Leads, or MQLs—people who are interested in finding out more, and may even be willing to meet with a sales rep.
Awareness→ Curiosity→ Interest→ Action
The process always starts with the prospect’s awareness: awareness of the extent of her own problem, that there is a solution to her problem, and that you have a potential solution. You want that awareness to be converted into a curiosity to find out more, and then an interest in learning more, which ultimately leads to some action—such as a willingness to attend a webinar, download a free trial, or talk with a sales rep.
In rare cases, the above journey might only require the first email you send out because the prospect is actively searching for a solution. In other words, she was already aware and interested before she even knew you existed. As soon as she finds a potential candidate, she is ready to meet and evaluate.
Most of your prospects, however, are not aware that they have a problem, much less the type or extent of the problem. If they are aware, they don’t really think the problem is a pressing issue. It is the responsibility of your marketing team to convert a mild and vague concern into an urgent one that must be dealt within sooner than later.
That is accomplished primarily by gaining a nuanced understanding of the prospect’s world through research, developing highly relevant and engaging content around it, and then distributing that content where the prospect is most likely to find it.
Here is what you are trying to find out: did your prospect come across your message (awareness)? Did she view it (curiosity)? Did she take further action after viewing it (interest turning into some type of action)?
Key indicators are (in the order listed): Emailing or calling you based on your marketing; attending or registering for a webinar; filling out a form; viewing a video; liking/following you on social media; clicking on a link; and opening an email.
Read about the second crucial operation of B2B Sales, “Prospecting”.