Lead generation marketers have dominated the B2B marketing landscape over the last decade, in large part, by focusing on generating short-term results – sales leads —and positioning marketing as a precise science where all waste can be eliminated and all actions can be tied to a dollar outcome.
By positioning brand marketers as wasteful, lead generation marketers have wrestled away control of marketing budgets and wrestled away credit for sales growth. However, we’d argue that lead generation is much less the science it claims to be and, instead, is much more the art it claims to replace. In particular, we bristle at the idea that lead generation produces more sales for companies than brand marketing. The marketing science makes clear that lead generation captures demand but doesn’t really create demand.
Why is it that lead generation doesn’t really create demand?
Because the 95-5 Rule makes clear that 95% of category buyers are not “in-market” for goods and services at any given time, which means lead generation can capture only a percentage of the 5% of buyers who are “in-market.” Conversely, because future buyers represent such a bigger pool of potential buyers – up to 95% – reaching even a small percentage of future buyers can produce an impact on sales that may be far greater than reaching current buyers.
So if lead generation doesn’t create demand, what type of marketing does create demand?
The below data makes clear that memory generation – reaching future buyers to link a brand to buying situations – generates traditional market share by first building mental market share (mental availability).
Mental availability, as described by Professor Jenni Romaniuk at the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute, is “about increasing the probability your brand comes to mind in different buying situations.” In all categories, the brand that gets remembered more is the brand that gets bought more. Thus, purchases are mostly a function of “memory generation” – not lead generation. Brand marketing is what produces memories.
Now that we’ve established the brand that gets remembered is the brand that gets bought, here is our “RMB” framework for making sure your brand marketing gets remembered:
R - Reach the whole category
M - Message around several relevant category entry points
B - Brand everything.
While we’ve been critical of the lead generation marketers, we do celebrate the quantitative and financial approach they take to marketing measurement. We encourage brand marketers to follow suit – to identify and measure the brand metrics that really matter.
For better or for worse, “what gets measured gets managed,” and this famous management theory quotation holds true in marketing. Because all companies are valued on future cash flows, brand marketers need to start focusing on the marketing metrics that help generate future cash flows – and make the link between brand marketing and future cash flows.
Below we’ve listed several brand marketing inputs that link to financial outputs:
In our increasingly digital, data-driven world, advertisers have adopted hyper-targeting and click-maximizing “performance” marketing tactics mostly because the data is easy to track, not because the evidence shows the tactics generate more sales. However, as we’ve argued above, brand marketing – when practiced and measured properly – is the real “performance marketing.”
Which is why we’re introducing “performance branding.”
We believe so deeply in “performance branding” that we’ve launched the B2B Edge program, which uses first-party LinkedIn data and years of B2B Institute expert-led research to help clients take a much more rigorous approach to their brand strategy, creative, distribution and measurement – an approach that will help them build mind share to build market share. Reach out to your LinkedIn Marketing Solutions representative to see if you’re eligible for the B2B Edge program.