Many SMB professional services and technology companies have traditionally relied on sales to generate leads. But as Bob Dylan said, the times, they-are-a-changing. According to Demand Gen's 2017 Demand Generation Benchmark Survey, 31% of respondents said they expected between 26% and 50% of their annual revenue to be attributable to marketing-sourced leads.
This means that SMB B2B companies are increasingly relying on content marketing and marketing automation to drive revenue growth. But many of these companies don't have the internal bandwidth or expertise to execute inbound lead generation campaigns. So they turn to outside experts to shorten the learning curve and help them get results more quickly. The Ascend2 2017 Marketing Automation Trends Survey found that 77% of respondents outsourced some or all of their marketing automation integration.
So how do you make sure that outsourced lead generation campaigns are effective? Here are a few thoughts.
The Do-It-For-Me (DIFM) Revolution
In a 2015 Tech Crunch article entitled, 'Why "Do-It-For-Me" Is The Next Big Thing', Anthony P. Lee of Altos Ventures defined Do-It-For-Me as follows, "DIFM is more than software. DIFM combines technology automation with specialized labor to deliver a complete solution to a business problem."
Another factor fueling the DIFM revolution is the growing tendency for SMB firms to outsource business functions outside of their core missions. Outsourcing HR or accounting functions allows SMB firms to access expert resources on-demand as they are needed without taking on benefits and other overhead expenses that come with hiring someone in-house.
Tip 1: Work with experts
Many of the software companies have partner marketing channels that use third-parties to distribute both the software and the expertise necessary to solve the business problem effectively and efficiently. They train their channel partners in both using the software as well as delivering services that the software enables.
Rapidan Inbound is an example of this. We are HubSpot certified partners - we help our customers use HubSpot effectively without a lengthly learning curve. We also deliver services to supplement what our customers can do internally (for example, website design and development.) We know that to be an effective DIFM vendor, we need to be on the cutting edge of HubSpot usage.
So if you're using a specific software, look for outsourcing partners that are certified by the software vendor. If you need help with Salesforce, don't work with a a generalist - hire a Salesforce Registered Consulting partner.
In addition to working with experts in your software, also look for experts in your industry. They will know the unique characteristics of your business that will allow them to drive successful demand generation campaigns.
Tip 2: Work with your DIFM partner to transfer knowledge
Many outsourced marketing partners jealously guard knowledge transfers because they feel that teaching customers limits future revenue opportunities. Make this clear when you're negotating with potential partners. While you shouldn't expect a partner to transfer complex strategy formulation processes, you should expect them to teach your team to perform everyday tasks on the software.
Let me give you an example. We will design and develop beautiful email templates on the HubSpot COS. Don't expect us to teach you how to do this. But do expect us to teach you how to use the email marketing software to use that template as part of a standard business process that you can use repeatedly in different situations. Beware of partners who are reluctant to do this!
With respect to lead generation campaigns, the whitepaper Sizing Up DIY or DIFM in B2B Marketing by DemandGen and Sales Fusion suggests the following as tasks to potentially outsource:
- Workflow and process design
- Marketing program strategy
- Customer profile design
- Email and landing page design
- Campaign design and execution
- Advanced marketing capabilities such as lead scoring, event management and nurture marketing
- Content development
- A/B test design, execution and analysis
- Campaign tracking, analysis and reporting
While you may need help with routine tasks from time to time, make sure you're not being charged high-level consulting rates for tasks that are more clerical in nature.
Tip 3: Look for partners whose services flex with your needs
One of the things we learned early on was that scoping out services for longer than 90 days was a waste of time. Changes in customer needs, both anticipated and unanticipated, dictate changes in the services your partner provides.
With respect to lead generation campaigns, the early part of the engagement generally focuses on developing foundational processes, creating design assets and training. The next part of the engagement will include execution tasks and content creation. After that, marketing firms should help with campaign measurement, lead qualification and scoring and process optimization.
Keep in mind that the nature of marketing automation is such that you will quickly receive marketplace feedback in the form of data. Use this data to optimize your campaigns, discarding tactics that aren't working and doubling down on those that are.
The DIFM revolution is here. SMB firms, particularly startups and high-growth firms, can harness DIFM expertise to effectively compete against established enterprise competitors. Keep these 3 tips in mind to get the most out of your DIFM relationship.