Wednesday, July 03, 2024

Looking for a man in finance? The challenges of B2B Lead targeting

 

Yes, it's an incredibly catchy/cheesy (depending on how you feel about it) song in vogue right now - and no, this article is not about dating. It's about the question of lead targeting for SaaS companies.

The phrase was funny and relevant because the B2B world often consists of tiny volumes (compared to B2C). The BBC Radio Four show 'More or Less' recently estimated that only seven such individuals fit these requirements in the UK. 

Have you ever been asked to find a similarly small segment as a marketer? (Six foot five, blue eyes, trust fund, works in finance.) OK, perhaps not a segment with only Seven out of Sixty Million. But volume is a perennial B2B Marketing problem, I assure you.

- The more you segment, the smaller your target ad or campaign group becomes.

Over the years, many of my marketing campaigns have been driven by the need to find the right job title at the right company at the right time—what used to be called BANT qualified (Meddic has now overtaken it, as has Jon Miller of Demandbase's ideas of 'buyer groups'—at least for large enterprise ABM deals).

I have plenty of experience working with both early startups (20-100 employees), and mid-sized companies (100-2000 employees). Both types of companies have different challenges. 

Today, however, I will focus on early startups since the problems I describe are particularly pertinent to them.

In these types of companies, I sometimes work with Investors and founders who, by their own admission, 'do not know much about B2B marketing'.

In addition, I often work with CFOs and finance professionals, who at small startups, can be particularly demanding about driving ROI in a relatively short time.


If you look at the latest LinkedIn/Ipsos Mori data, which includes interviews with over 2000 CMOs globally, you can see that this is one of their top concerns. 

This CMO challenge is magnified many times in a startup, where you have to 'hit the ground running' and 'prove your ROI,' often under pressure and in very short periods. It's not for the faint of heart.

In the current climate, startups have struggled with a particularly critical problem in smaller companies: lackluster growth. 

The William Burroughs adage, 'when you stop growing, you start dying,' is more important for a company with 20 employees than one with 20,000. 

Founders know this, investors know this, and good startup marketers should know this, too.

From my own experience, and according to industry research, there are a few critical reasons startups stop growing:


Product Market Fit

If your startup has stopped growing, it may be due to poor product market fit. Your product must satisfy strong market demand and address a specific problem for your target audience. 

This is crucial, as 42% of startups fail due to a lack of market need

A good indicator of fit is if over 40% of customers would be "very disappointed" if your product disappeared

Too much competition, a niche product, or losing customers after trials are other signs your company does not have Product Market Fit.

Lack of Funds

Failing to plan for funding can lead to failure. Postponing funding rounds too long is a common mistake.

29% of startups fail because they run out of money. 

Early and thorough planning is essential to avoid stressful, last-minute funding scrambles. A clear long-term strategy and plan are crucial for later-stage funding where investors seek stability.

Talent Acquisition

Poor hiring decisions can hinder growth. Whether you're trying to do everything yourself or not hiring the right people, it all falls back on you. For a small business to grow, owners must use their time wisely. 

While great sales and marketing teams drive growth, having organized administrators and assistants is equally important. 

No HR department? - that could be a problem

No Head of IT? - again, if your employees aren't supported, that could negatively impact the entire business.

These roles keep the business running smoothly, allowing you to focus on strategic growth plans rather than time-consuming tasks that others can handle. 

Ineffective Marketing

A strong marketing plan is essential for startup growth, identifying potential customers, and establishing effective channels.

In the competitive US market, where I built my career, businesses spend $190 billion annually on advertising, and marketing generates the most leads by far (90%).

EMEA and APAC regions are different. Nevertheless, good marketing in those regions can be even more critical. 

Startups must build a strong marketing presence to avoid being left behind

Identifying and addressing marketing weaknesses immediately can lead to significant growth and success.

One area that founders and investors are often preoccupied with is 'finding the secret marketing sauce' that will create large amounts of sales revenue. This drive could show up in any number of ways:

Each of these ideas is fantastic, but one of them alone will not solve all your marketing needs.

All these desires spring from human nature: wanting to achieve great results fast. That is a laudable aim, but you will still need a structured marketing plan.

Genius startup founder and billionaire investor, Bela Hatvany waxes lyrical about how, over the years, when powerful investors pushed him hard for a deadline for results, he'd tell them that he'd achieve them in 'the fullness of time'!

Investors no doubt found his comments infuriating! I certainly wouldn't use that exact phrase myself to a client. But he has achieved great success in business by being patient. 

Pushy marketing rarely works, especially on larger deals.

B2B buyers are getting increasingly savvy and don't appreciate being pushed into buying. You need to nurture a relationship with them over time. Building such a relationship requires brilliant insights and nurturing a great network, community, and brand and above all, time.

Gartner recently produced a graphic demonstrating a typical B2B buying process. This process requires a sophisticated, light touch. 



In short, your startup creates exciting, creative, and innovative content that engages with your audience across all the main channels and draws them into your company. This will include:
  • Email Campaigns
  • Ads
  • Webinars
  • Roundtables
  • White Papers
  • Case Studies
  • Video
You need to take some risks here - you cannot just produce a lot of vanilla or AI-created content (AI replicates formulas; it's not innovative or creative, which requires breaking out of those patterns to form entirely new ones).

Such stellar results can rarely be achieved overnight. They can be best accomplished if you remember to:

  1. Create high-quality content 
  2. Work with creative and inspiring content strategists
  3. Build a psychologically safe environment that supports innovation and testing
  4. Value, support, and trust your marketing team

 Though segmentation and targeting in B2B marketing are valuable, startups sometimes undervalue the power of great ideas to motivate the right buyers to come to them. After all, that is what inbound marketing is all about. 

Sunday, May 26, 2024

The dark side of 'grit' at work

 


'Grit' is the essential ingredient of success according to Angela Duckworth, the author of the book of the same name. She tells us that success doesn't depend on talent, or even intelligence. It depends on intensely focusing on a goal with passion and perseverance.

The concept of 'grit' gained significant traction after the release of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance in 2016, which swiftly became a New York Times bestseller. Her TED talk, which has amassed over 13 million views, further solidified this concept in the corporate world. 

Angela Duckworth states, 'We need to have an unrelenting belief that our business and ideas will defy the statistics and become the success story that we have always strived to achieve.' 

She also quotes the popular children's author, J.K. Rowling: 

"Anything is possible if you've got enough nerve."

This 'gritty' worldview is particularly pertinent in the world of startups and entrepreneurs, who often have to have logic-defying self-belief to continue in the face of adversity.

However, such views are also prone to cognitive biases, as highlighted by Finance Professor and author Alex Edman. In his book 'May Contain Lies,' he shows how many influencers, such as Angela Duckworth, Simon Sinek, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Steve Bartlett, 'cherry-pick' data to make their points. 

It's relatively easy to take ten or even a hundred cases of success and identify one common theme. But that is using hindsight, confirmation, and/or survivorship bias.

What about all the startup founders who had 'grit' but failed? Let's face it—four out of five startups do fail. Were all their founders not gritty enough?

Therefore, I dispute the cast-iron idea that grit is more important than talent or any other characteristic in determining success. 

Secondly, 'grit' has a dangerous side. It encourages us to push ourselves beyond reason, sense, or health. 

I have a very personal example of this. I had a substance abuse problem in my 20s, and I sought help for it. I have been 'in recovery' since then. I have often seen the dark side of 'grit' in my life, the recovery community, and elsewhere:


Indeed, in my own experience, I have noticed a link between gritty, 'giving it 110% culture', and toxicity at a company.

That's not to say that I reject the idea of 'grit', or becoming more resilient at work. 

On the contrary, pushing myself within healthy limits is useful. But, as the philosopher Aristotle says, success lies in moderation. 

We cover this in detail in my roundtable: Resilience at work -
Can you support your employees in becoming more resilient to combat burnout & turnover?

However, part of that effort is recognizing that resilience is not a solo effort. Resilient employees generally work in an environment that supports them, such as one that is trusting and psychologically safe

Indeed, we can all display 'true grit' healthily in the right environment with the proper support.

Below: During World War II, researchers from the Center for Naval Analyses studied the damage to returned aircraft after missions. 

They then recommended adding armor to the areas with the most damage to minimize bomber losses to enemy fire.

But they forgot Survivorship bias; the planes that were fatally hit and never returned. 

Thus, they failed to protect the most vulnerable areas of the plane.

How many people have been fatally damaged by too much grit? Angela Duckworth doesn't ever mention them.



When I was first sober at the start of my career, I often felt bombarded with corporate messages about needing 'to go the extra mile' to achieve success. 

Often, I felt isolated at work because I didn't want to drink or wanted to avoid situations that were unhealthy for my mental health. 

Once, I was punished for refusing to meet up at a pub at the start of a three-day event. 

Another time, my manager got quite vindictive towards me for not wanting to go to Las Vegas for a company event. 

I've experienced countless incidents like this during my career.

However, I got sober in the 1990s, when there was almost zero respect for or accommodation made for non-drinkers and much stigma around substance abuse and those who did not drink. So, I accepted it - and never said a thing.

Luckily, the work environment has improved in that regard; it's become more inclusive and accepting of differences than when I began my career.

Nevertheless, a lot of the conversations I now read about 'Mental health at work' are still jarring to me:

—like the numerous companies that are supporting Mental Health Awareness initiatives but are also carrying out behaviors that clearly do not support good mental health, for example, ghosting job candidates en masse right now (known to harm mental health). 

Mental health washing is massive right now in the corporate world! 

Everyone wants to get in on the action, no matter how insincerely. 

Also, Those that promise quick fixes to solving mental health issues or problems with work culture

They seem inauthentic and 'corporate' in the worst sense of that word.

Yet, I connected remarkably with one talk: Josh Graff, Head of LinkedIn UK's mission to 'bring your whole self to work'.

He was talking about coming out as gay in the workforce. 

It worked just as well for my situation!

After all, being gay, and having substance abuse problems have both been massively stigmatized. Neither are 'moral failings,' as used to be thought.

Having seen so many accomplished and talented professionals not only suffer in their careers, but actually die, I am confident that I have made the correct judgment calls by prioritizing my mental health at work for all these years.

- My only regret is the many times over the years that I questioned my intuition and neglected my mental health in my misguided desire to be 'a perfect employee'.

Having had my experiences has made it much easier to talk about. I have also become much better at 'trusting my gut' on these questions. 

If you want to learn more about how the grit or 'willpower' approach to combatting addiction is destined for failure, check out this video by Yale Medical School.

I admire the work of my friend Marc Lewis, a Professor of Neuroscience, who investigates the science of addiction alongside his personal journey with substance abuse. 

I also gained insights from Tom Matlack, into managing my recovery in the workplace, from my first sponsor in Boston, USA, when I started my MBA at business school there in 2006. 

Monday, May 20, 2024

Surfing B2B Marketing Trends in 2024 & beyond


CMOs & Founders guide to the latest B2B Marketing trends 

I know how busy you are, particularly CMOs and company founders, so I used this blog to save you some time by summarizing the trends and patterns in B2B marketing that I've picked up over the last few months. 

I have an undergraduate law degree from the London School of Economics. This discipline developed my critical thinking. I also acquired the ability to absorb vast amounts of information and extract its value. 

I hope you find my analysis of the current B2B marketing trends useful.

Top content platforms for Account-based marketing

Account-based Marketing

Account-based marketing has existed for as long as B2B companies have needed to attract, engage, and close complex sales with enterprise companies.

But over the last five years, Account-based marketing has become a significant trend, as prominent as 'AI'.

There's now an entire infrastructure around it, including numerous ABM platforms like 6sense, Demandbase, and Terminus, CRM and Marketing automation tools like HubSpot, Salesforce, and Marketo, Ad platforms like LinkedIn, or organic content platforms like Quora that are ideally suited to this deep, penetrating, targeted marketing approach.

The great content debate

What does a good 'content funnel' look like? Or can we just secure a new customer with one amazing ad? (This seems to be the obsession of quite a few founders and CFOs—could it be a question of money?)

And then the 64 billion dollar question (Yes, inflation has affected pricing on this problem, too!): What content is the 'best'—the most likely to quickly convert a key decision maker to a sale?

Here, an organization I've worked with called Netline has some excellent data. And I have to concur with them based on their research of millions of prospects that; 

'webinar fatigue' is bogus. Webinars are still highly effective

Virtual Roundtables

Virtual Roundtables were not even on my radar pre-pandemic. What happened? About four years ago, my CMO asked me to create one— around a CPQ solution on Salesforce for publishing executives (a tool to monetize their income). It was called 'Working smarter, not harder; surviving and thriving in the new age of first-party data'.

It was a great success: Eight attendees and three new sales opportunities. I continued to run them once every few months. But then, at my next company, they had a slick new name, 'pipeline acceleration events', which the sales team loved. At that company, I was running several each month.

Here's my entire campaign, including the roundtable: 

'Working Smarter: Maximizing Productivity and Programmatic success in 2022 and beyond'

Diagram

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Since then, I've continued to run them alongside face-to-face events—particularly the 'breakfast event', which is basically a roundtable but not virtual. This has worked well for me, especially when my prospects are time-pressed and not that social (for example, CIOs or IT directors). 

Which channels are the most effective?

I firmly believe in Paid Social media, Email, Google search, and retargeting campaigns for ABM. HubSpot is an inbound expert with extensive data on which channels produce the most significant ROI.

Ebooks, guides, and white papers are still popular in the 'C' suite. But recently, there's been a surge in interest in survey-backed reports; who doesn't like to see what their peers are interested in now and where they think opportunities will be over the next few years?

Peer-to-peer content has been a vast, rapidly growing trend in B2B over the last few years. In the past, I've managed paid G2 Crowd, Trustpilot, or other company account review sites. Getting good reviews is critical to building good SEO and even closing sales. 

When I worked at the marketing attribution company Visual IQ—Nielsen, we produced a survey-backed CMO report on the State of Marketing attribution.

And here's a guide that it inspired me to produce - looking at the rising video game industry and its corollary in digital advertising: In-game advertising 

We developed a lot of rapport with leaders in the industry, whilst we built and promoted the surveys.

It's also great for generating high-value, targeted leads who are truly serious about your solutions. We started to get about 100 a month from this report right from the start—from Ad agencies, advertisers, and video game companies.

Typically, those reading large 30-page or more survey-based industry reports are 'in-market', not 'just browsing'.

One issue I've had in the past is working with bland or uninsightful content. B2B content can be dull and repetitive. Content creators in this field often shy away from the vital risk-taking needed to innovate and excite audiences. 

Also, many B2B content strategists and creators kowtow too much to senior management, who are often not content experts. It's easy to get steamrolled by someone much more senior to you into producing work you know is sub-par!

This is similar to the scenario where a rather dull senior or long-time employee constantly speaks at events when the audiences consistently report that this is their least favorite speaker.

What's the point of absolutely 'nailing' your ad campaigns, reaching your ideal buyer persona, at your ICP, and at the perfect time, but then they download your guide, and it's.......................a big letdown?

Your SDRs follow up, and the feedback is invariably:

'The prospect hasn't read the guide yet'

Or the prospects aren't responding to the SDRs at all.

Top Content Challenges 2024 (HubSpot)


You know that they were interested enough to sign up for your white paper on, for example, pick one (of my made-up titles):

1. Cybersecurity

"What's keeping CISOs awake at night: A Comprehensive Guide to Cybersecurity in 2024 and beyond"

2. Software Development and IT Services

"DevOps and Beyond: Essential Strategies for IT Leaders"

3. Digital Marketing and Marketing Technology (MarTech)

"The Digital Marketing Playbook: Insights for the Modern CMO"

4. Telecommunications and Networking

"Connected Leadership: Navigating Telecommunications and Networking"

You invested heavily in capturing these great leads, so why would you let down your entire marketing process by providing poor-quality guides or white papers?

That's why I first got involved in content strategy and creation as a demand generation leader. 

Netline says that the C-Suite is 21% more likely to want to read a White Paper, than the rest of their B2B audience.

Remember that this is a blog post, so I will keep it succinct. However, I will add one last trend that everyone in B2B marketing is talking about: team development and team building. You need to attract and retain some of these top marketing skills in your team, to thrive in 2024 and beyond.

And even more importantly, as part of this trend, you need to be aware of, the exponential rise in freelancers and contractors 

In 2023, 52% of Gen Z workers and 43% of Millennials were freelancers. The shift is catching on globally: 

Gartner predicts that independent workers will make up 35% to 40% of the global workforce by 2025, and could be in the majority by 2030.

It's critical to get ahead of this trend to assert a competitive advantage over many companies that don't want to or don't understand how to incorporate freelancers into their marketing teams today.

Thursday, May 02, 2024

ABM & Sunk Cost Fallacy: A Billion Dollar Blunder or Comedy of Errors?

Recently, a hiring manager contacted me about a job I'd applied for, which she said I was perfect for. It looked like an excellent fit to me as well. However, the office was far from me.  

I live in Central London. This job, as head of Demand Generation, was in Manchester, which is a 4-5 hour drive, and over 200 miles from my house.

The job was described as 'hybrid.' Given the distance, I assumed this meant being in the office once a week at worst, at best, once a month, or a couple of months.

I had worked in a similar role in Cambridge, about a two-hour drive and 60 miles away, in 2019, pre-COVID, where 'hybrid' meant precisely that.

Right at the start of the interview, I explained that my seventeen-year-old daughter, Charlotte, was struggling with her 'A' levels (the final school exams that determine which university you can attend).

She is also going through some mental health issues; therefore, I wanted to be home for a considerable part of the week to support her (and drive her to school).

However, despite my explanations, this hiring manager insisted I be in the office twice a week. Her reason was that the C suite had just leased an expensive office that 'they now needed to fill.'

Judging by how this hiring manager described it, this company's investment in an office was not going well. Besides, I thought, If management wants people in the office so badly, couldn't they come up with a more compelling reason than to fill an expensive office with bodies? 🤔

The irony was that this was one of the plethora of 'company culture' companies—some of which, unfortunately, don't seem to 'drink their own Kool-aid.'

This company advocates for making the workplace more empathetic, worker-centric, and reasonable. Yet they want me to force their irrational and emotionally tone-deaf decision on me before I have even started working for them!

I suggested taking on the freelancer or contractor role since the hiring manager said she was desperate to fill this role as quickly as possible. 

- I suppose my skillset is in short supply in the local area?

However, this company, devoted to improving corporate culture, couldn't bring itself to consider such a flexible option.

That evening, I was talking with my good friend Professor Orri Stefansson

He is a professor of  Philosophy who specializes in decision theory and ethics. His current research focuses on decision-making under extreme uncertainty.

Orri was intrigued by my story. He said, 'This is a perfect example of 'The Sunk Cost Fallacy'! 

You've bought a costly yet unbelievably uncomfortable pair of shoes that you cannot return to the shop for a refund. So you must wear them every day until they are worn out!'*

This story also demonstrates that independent experts within or outside organizations can be invaluable in changing such crazy decisions.

It's one of the reasons why, in the past, I've delighted in hiring accomplished & sometimes maverick freelancers. They tend to be 'straight shooters'.

They are not charming you with flattery just to get ahead. They are typically driven by a passion for the job alone. They are direct and honest in their feedback.

And often, they are your most talented assets.

Besides, it's one of the fastest-growing employment trends, so I might as well get used to hiring contractors & freelancers before they become 50% or more of the workforce!

Here are a few of such 'Sunk Cost Fallacy' situations, drawing from my 20+ years of experience, alongside some more well-known ones:

  1. Continuing with a website refresh that had gone wrong and crashed all our SEO traffic. I've seen this happen at two different companies.                       
  2. I worked at a company where no one acknowledged that the ABM system was ineffective. This was a different system bought before I started there. Since the company was focused on field marketing, nothing was done to fix the ABM platform.   
  3. The company's founder told his investors they had a fully functioning product. Yet even the head of product said this company did not have 'product fit.' However, the investors continued to support the company until it folded.                                                                                                                                                                                         
  4. I worked at a company that sunk a massive amount into CRM and marketing automation implementation, which involved numerous issues. I was brought in to try and fix it. It would have been easier to start again. This story ended positively for me because a few years ago, I got to implement, onboard, and train the company on a (successful) purchase of a HubSpot CRM and marketing automation platform
  5. A country invades a country and expends immense efforts to win the war, which it can't do. The government has trapped itself in a quagmire. However, it cannot accept defeat since this would mean many of its soldiers would have 'died in vain'.                                                                                 
  6. The Sunk Cost fallacy is sometimes called 'The Concord fallacy' because the French and British governments continued funding the doomed supersonic airliner long after it was likely that it would not be commercially viable.

 *My father, Sir Kenneth Parker, commented on Orri's point: Interesting on sunk cost. What might be missing on the shoe analogy is budget constraint. The purchaser might not be able to afford another pair, or money for another pair might earn a better return/more welfare elsewhere. After the War it was commonly said that Germany had an advantage because it was compelled to re-build its factories with state of the art equipment. British industry struggled on with 18th century rubbish because the cost of replacement was high and it was not clear whether the investment would improve net returns. Undoubtedly a mistake in that instance.

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Escaping the black hole of b2b Marketing: Identifying & enticing new customers

I can't believe it - in my last marketing campaign, I broke my own rules. I fell into a plethora of cognitive biases. I know this stuff so well, both on an academic and practical level, and yet I screwed up!

It shows how hard this job is that despite all my training, expertise, and dedication, I still made rookie mistakes during my last marketing campaign.


There are so many 'experts' out there who seem to have all the answers yet, so obviously, don't.


If they are so great at marketing business to business, then why does their company only have one employee?


Why do they even have to to sell us on this stuff? 


Surely they should be luxuriating on their yacht as all their dedicated workers carry out their instructions using all their marketing 'secret sauces'?


So yeah, I'll admit I still have a lot to learn. And I'm certainly not saying I have all the answers. 


I don't run the best business-to-business marketing agency in the world. I haven't even given up my marketing day job! Nor am I a multimillionaire yet.


What I do have is plenty of experience and training in b2b marketing which I'm passionate about sharing.


I am happy to share my mistakes and failures with you. Hopefully, you will find them useful and even entertaining!


Let's face it—what story is better?


—the fantastic holiday in the Caribbean where everything went perfectly?


- or the one where your plane was delayed, the hire car broke down, your hotel was a dump, and you were two miles from the beach? 


Isn't failure so entertaining and relatable?


So, with that in mind, let me share my failure. More importantly, I want to know why I failed.


During my career, I have built a tried-and-tested model for creating high-quality sales opportunities. You can look at a successful version of this—the sales team told me they liked this infographic a lot—so hopefully, you will find it useful, too. Simply click on the image to enlarge it. 



I'm not worried about sharing this stuff, because as Steve Jobs, the Apple founder, put it so well 'don't worry about sharing your 'great idea'. Great ideas are a dime a dozen. It's all in the execution'. 


Also, I am aware that prospects are human beings and don't simply follow arrows and a chart. But the picture is a loose picture of a general buyer journey.


But sure, if any of you CMOs or founders want me to come in and execute my best B2B campaigns, I'm happy to do that for you!


I know how it works - you start with a shallow engagement piece of content. Let's say it's an ebook guide 'ten steps to selecting the right cyber security provider/martech provider for your business'


You have to make sure this guide is good—that's why I started hiring content strategists and designers. 


There is no point in creating killer ads and copy and spending tens of thousands on ads, getting great, perfectly targeted leads that are 'in market' right now—only for them to read your guide and decide it's garbage. 


Then, your prospects will never engage with you again. They won't be interested in your emails or any great future campaigns you have; and most importantly, they won't want to talk to your SDRs or Sales reps. 


The second step is to invite them to a webinar. Again, you have to focus on quality. The sales team will push you to have salespeople pitch the company and ask your prospects all manner of sales questions. 


But you must always consider the prospect's perspective: 'Why should I attend this webinar? What's in it for me?'


  • Great speakers
  • A customer who can describe the buyer journey
  • Brilliant topics - do your research
  • Well executed with military precision.


You need to get sales involved only after the webinar is complete and we have the numbers—let's say 400 signed up and 200 attended.


They can look through the list and decide who the hottest leads are —the ones most likely to buy from you.


At that point, sure, have a salesperson run a ten-minute pitch at the end of the roundtable. But again, the roundtable has to provide real value to the prospect. This is my tried and tested format:


Amazing topic - a roundtable I ran in the publishing sector was - how to thrive and survive after the demise of third party cookies.'


Great speakers and good attendees (prospects must be 'hot' for sales, but there must also be a good mixture to make the discussion dynamic and interesting).


It's only at this stage, after the roundtable, that sales and SDRs will follow up. If you have eight attendees on a roundtable, you should get three or four sales opportunities. 


But of course, you also have maybe a thousand leads that you can continue to nurture to create more sales with more webinars and roundtables.


Now, what did I do wrong in my campaign, I hear you ask? Isn't failure great to read about? 


I started with an unknown brand (mine - Rudy learning about startups). Neither Damien nor I am a big-name thought leader (yet!), though we are building a good following as micro-influencers. Of course big names and big company brands do draw larger audiences.


Then, on top of all those handicaps, I made the cardinal error of ignoring my entire content funnel and jumping straight to the roundtable before my prospects had warmed to us, my message, or my brand.


The result—miraculously, I got 28 attendees signed up, spending under $1000 (Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn ads, some email blasts). However, only a handful showed up for the event. I was aiming for 15! 


What are the traps I fell into?


Overconfidence bias: Hey, I know my content strategist is fantastic, and I have a lot of good stories, and we have a great rapport. So you'll instantly think that, too, right? Nope! 


I would also add - 28 prospects signed up, so at least 14 should show up, right? - wrong! 


False consensus bias: My colleague and I both thought this was a great idea, as did a couple of my other marketing colleagues (who weren't invested in the project). So, I have at least four experts who agree that it can't fail, right? Wrong!


Halo effect: I have great feelings about how my colleague and I work (I still do), but of course, why do I assume others feel the same way? Especially when they barely know me.


Confirmation bias: I have run many campaigns like this over the years, and the success rate has been incredibly high. But I have generally followed my own guide of building out a content funnel. However the few times I didn't do that, I still had some success. I was lucky. 


Yes, you heard it right. In the past, I was fortunate. 


But this time I wasn't so lucky! However, I learned from my errors and identified 95% of the problems. So I can go forward confidently in my next campaign.


If you are interested in marketing strategies for the business-to-business market. If you want to learn more about how to generate business leads, and how to get the best ROI from your marketing, I hope you continue to read about my adventures in b2b marketing. 


I aim to escape the black hole of B2B marketing with accurate buyer-level intent data and 1st party lead generation.


I'm looking to accelerate sales dialogue with real-time insights into "who" is actively expressing intent in an account, "what" actions that person is taking, "when" those actions took place, and uniquely "where" those actions occurred.


I'm searching for ways to translate content into business outcomes and sales revenue. 


Buyers are out there—you just need to find them, communicate with them, and entice them, all at the right time. So, I will continue to share my stories as I learn more about startup marketing.


Yes, it is hard, very hard. But I continue to enjoy writing about it.