All business leaders face two fundamental demands. They must execute their current business activities well enough to win success in today's competitive marketplace, while at the same time adapting their strategy to meet tomorrow's competitive challenges. As Jack Welch, the former Chairman and CEO of GE, once said, "You've got to eat while you dream. You've got to deliver on short-term commitments, while you develop a long-range strategy and vision and execute it."
Marketing leaders face this same business challenge. To build a well-tuned demand generation system that will produce consistent and growing revenues, marketers (and sales leaders for that matter) must simultaneously focus on both the short term and the long term.
Managing marketing efforts to deliver both short-term and long-term results is similar to the military doctrine of fighting close and deep at the same time. In military science, fighting close and deep means that you engage the enemy forces directly in front of you (fighting close), while simultaneously attacking the enemy's rear echelon forces (fighting deep). The basic idea is to weaken the rear echelon forces before they get to the front lines.
Some of you may be wondering what military doctrine has to do with B2B demand generation. Quite a bit, actually, especially for companies with long and complex demand generation cycles. In these circumstances, maximizing demand generation results requires marketing programs that cover the full depth of the demand generation arena. In other words, companies with high-performing demand generation systems engage both long-term and short-term prospects simultaneously.
From a marketing perspective, a complete demand generation system will include the five types of customer-facing programs shown in the diagram below.
The important thing to remember is that these programs impact revenues over different time horizons. At one end of the spectrum, sales enablement programs provide content and tools that support sales reps as they work with short-term sales opportunities. At the other extreme, reputation-building programs are designed to build brand awareness and credibility that will impact revenues over a longer time frame. The principal objective of reputation-building programs is to lay the foundation for your lead acquisition efforts.
Lead acquisition and lead nurturing usually produce an impact on revenue in a more intermediate time frame, and marketing to existing customers can produce both short-term and long-term results.
During the past few years, a great deal of attention has been given to the role of marketing in acquiring and nurturing leads. One reason for this attention is that, with today's marketing technology tools, it's relatively easy to connect these marketing activities to revenues and thus demonstrate the value of marketing.
Lead acquisition and lead nurturing are obviously important marketing functions, but so are the other types of marketing programs. It takes all of these programs to create a demand generation system that will deliver revenue growth in both the short-term and the long-term.