I’ve been scanning other marketing blogs recently, attempting to get a feel for what other folks are doing out there at the moment. I see lots of advice on creating strategies to generate leads through social media and the creation of networks. Whilst I wholeheartedly support any efforts to get closer to prospects by creating communities and networks, that alone will not cut it when IT spend is under such close scrutiny.
Imagine this situation.
You’re a senior manager in an IT division of a large corporation who is tasked with delivering more than you did last year with less resources than you previously had. You’re technically very savvy and when a software vendor proposes new technology you quickly “get” the technical proposition and you are equally able to project the potential benefit to the business that the technology can provide. However, you also know that there is a draconian spending policy in place at the moment. A policy that says that no matter what potential justification or pay back or total cost of ownership evidence is presented, you are not able to spend a penny. So does this mean that you’re not able to spend any money this month/quarter/year? No it doesn’t. There are a small number of projects that are allowed to go before the spending “committee”. These are the projects that are imperative to the business – the funded initiatives.
So the question for the vendors out there looking to generate leads is
“What are the funded initiatives for my prospects?”
This situation came to light recently when looking at the results of a REPAMA study on the value proposition of 3 vendors in the high performance messaging market. Whilst 2 of the vendors were fundamentally taking the same value propositions to market, the other vendor was the only one to talk about a specific value proposition around risk mitigation. This risk proposition wasn’t one I would usually associate with high performance messaging and I couldn’t reconcile the difference. I discussed this with my colleague Steve Craggs and it was Steve that pointed out that the vendor was focussing on this area because in a slowdown specific types of projects are still funded. A smart move.
I recently did some work for a cloud computing/application virtualisation/DASM vendor and I have to give credit to them for understanding the above principle very clearly. Right at the heart of their marketing planning was the question:
“In what areas are our prospects actually spending money?”
This resulted in a short list of project types where prospects were spending money and this list defined their entire go-to-market approach. The logic is simple. If a prospect isn’t able to spend money, no matter how convincing the argument or relevant the technology, then there is little point in going through the motions of a sales process only to bravely lose the battle when you ask for the money.
There is no news here. It has always been this way, but the economic slowdown will bring this into sharper relief. So here are 7 steps to follow for lead generation in a slowdown.
- Understand what the competition is doing
- Understand your own capabilities and how you are different from the competition (*and change your positioning and messaging if required)
- Understand where your prospects are still willing to spend money – the funded initiatives
- Understand what pain is causing the prospect to still spend money – what are they looking to achieve?
- Create messaging by mapping your own capabilities and differentiation, to the prospect’s pains and their willingness to spend
- Retrain the sales force with the new focus/messaging
- Use the right medium to get your proposition in front of the right person in the right organisations
This is marketing 101 but it’s worth restating because as I examine vendors’ marketing strategies I see them doing the same things that they’ve always done and I see little real differentiation. And paraphrasing that wise old maxim, if you do what you’ve always done, don’t expect to get different results.