B2B Marketing Activity Does Not Equate To Marketing Results


It has been bothering me for some time. Why do businesses persist in pursuing B2B marketing techniques that have long been established as a complete waste of time and money? Then yesterday a colleague made a comment and suddenly the answer became clear. It is marketing activity, not necessarily results that can justify the marketing departments (or person) existence.

I still regurlay receive cold calls that start with ‘can I speak for the person responsible for x’. The chances of getting past any receptionist with the most basic of training with that starting pitch have to be minimal. If calling the business owner directly surely the response rate has to be zero.

Let’s assume a cold caller can make 20 calls / hour and they get past one in five gatekeepers (optimistic) their troubles are not over. The person they need to speak to may not be in, or in meetings, or on another call, or away from their desk so reaching the required person could easily take a minimum of three attempts. Therefore in a seven hour day of full on cold calls the caller may reach nine decisions makers (best case). How many will respond to a telephone offer? 1 in 10? 1 in 20? The numbers don’t add up.

Taking another example of banner advertising. Average click through rates have been shown to be 0.08% (Source Sizmek) and 8% of internet users account for 85% of banner ad clicks (source Comscore). Therefore the chances of reaching the target audience are minimal but the cost substantial.

Measuring the effectiveness of advertising is notoriously difficult yet businesses continue to spend significant sums with no real idea of the business the activity generates and certainly no idea how the activity relates to sales leads generated.Measuring ROI on B2B marketing activity

So why persist with these, and other tactics, that deliver little to no return. The problem is perceived activity. Those trained in sales equate activity to results. The logic behind this is difficult to challenge as failure to engage with customers or prospects in some way results in a failure to sell. When times are hard and the eyes of those in charge turn to the sales director to deliver results he or she naturally turns on the sales department to increase activity.

In many B2B organisations, especially those that are medium to small sized, one person tends to head up both sales and marketing. In the majority of cases that person tends to be from a sales rather than a marketing background. They therefore also tend to turn to marketing for evidence of activity first, results second.

Strange as it may seem most marketing people tend to want to stay in their jobs. When any evidence they present that activity based tactics are a waste of time on money falls on deaf ears they fall into line with the activity approach. Marketing process and the long term view disappears out of the nearest window.

The problem for the marketing department in many cases is one of measurement and process. With no process in place and an ad hoc approach it is much more difficult to make a case against the activity approach. To justify any other technique it is essential to have robust measurement data in place showing positive results over the medium to long term.