Marketing or Matchmaking?
A friend recently shared with me that her occupation selling sponsorships for an athletic team has become more and more demanding. The usual scope includes sponsor recognition based on the alignment of the sponsor with the team’s brand, but now she says her sponsors want “more” for their money. Specifically, they’re asking her to set up sales meetings for them with some of the vendors her team uses. They’re looking for “a direct way to trace their ROI.”
Seems harmless enough, but for my friend, this is not what she signed up for. She’s a marketer, not a matchmaker. Her contacts are salespeople looking for a door to put a foot in, and signage is not what they want to sign up for. It’s the classic clash between sales and marketing perspectives. They each need the other to succeed, yet they duel.
Sales vs. Marketing
I describe lots of stuff on scales. If we place sales and marketing as a scale, we have one-to-one transactions on the sales side and mass communications on the marketing and PR side. Imagine that account-based marketing resides somewhere near the middle. Many companies on the cusp of taking their business to the next level have built their business on a strong sales history. But they have hit a ceiling, consistently losing business to a larger and more polished competitor. This “cusp” is the prime time for brand investment, and it shows good instincts for CEOs and entrepreneurs to engage with an agency at this stage. Once branding or rebranding is complete, many want to dive into lead generation campaigns and forego brand awareness. We hear this similar justification: “I need to trace my ROI.” Oftentimes, though, the company they’re tired of losing deals to has invested heavily in brand awareness.
We understand the need to get cash flowing and the consequent lure of lead generation campaigns, but do not neglect to build your brand. In fact, particularly if you plan to run a lead generation campaign, run a brand awareness campaign beforehand and place more of your budget towards it. Focusing solely on lead gen at the expense of building your brand will keep you on a hamster wheel.
On our scale of brand vs. price, lead generation correlates to price. It’s an open hand with palm up asking for money. Visualize your brand as your hand on top, offering something and consenting to the customer to do business with you. Brand awareness buttresses your lead generation efforts. A lead generation campaign without that buttress provides an offer before building emotional alignment. It may yield short-term spikes, but brand awareness wins in the long run. Powerful brand building has most likely placed your current competition ahead of you, and you won’t catch up running inside a hamster wheel.