03/10/2020

Effective Marketing Needs a Spear, a Rod, and a Net

By David Masulli

One of the biggest mistakes we can make in marketing is to go after all prospects in the same way. Companies that understand this are embracing a combination of Account-Based Marketing (ABM) inbound and outbound marketing — learning to look at their prospects through distinct lenses. For a long time, marketers have chosen to use outbound or inbound marketing exclusively. Whereas an outbound approach once took precedence, just in the last 15 years, we’ve seen the pendulum swing to inbound. It was believed that if you practiced any outbound in the past decade, you were seen as behind the times. However, I have always struggled with the all or nothing approach marketers took, as the key to success is an integrated plan of outbound and inbound strategies.

The Old thinking: Net vs. Spear

Jon Miller of Engagio describes it well. He shares that traditional demand generation is like fishing with a net. He says, “You put your content out there and start catching fish. You don’t care what fish you catch, as long as you pull in enough of them every month. You then nurture them and score them until opportunities come out the other end.” But he says Account-Based Marketing is fishing with a spear. You don’t wait for a targeted account buyer to wander into your net. You reach out to target accounts directly—going after the big fish only. 

With digital marketing now giving us the ability to meet potential clients where they work, learn and play we believe the magic happens when you divide your prospect list into a spear approach, a net approach and a rod approach.

Why Nets, Rods and Spears are all needed.

Rather than arguing over whether to implement ABM or outbound marketing Unbound B2B’s Shawn Hadden makes a case for using both: “by understanding the strengths of each strategy, a case can be made for actually using both these strategies to turbo-charge the results that sales and marketing seek.”

Consumer behavior has helped dim enthusiasm for developing outbound strategies. Savvy consumers are getting good at tuning out many traditional forms of media, but that doesn’t mean that outbound strategies should be entirely ignored. While outbound tactics are often seen as “top of the funnel” strategies, successful campaigns can give you a better insight into which fish are ready to bite and can help to inform your inbound targeting strategy. 

Today digital marketing allows us to cast nets in more places than ever before. There are now millions of consumers on social media, and the internet that we can reach. Today, digital marketing lets us be more targeted than traditional marketing with our nets. With the right keywords and demographics, we can be ready and waiting for the right-sized fish to come our way. Plus there is an upside to outbound marketing. While a Google ad might get passed over by hundreds of people in a day, it can also attract clicks from targets who are specifically looking for the exact solution your business is offering. 

The right digital strategy can also help boost the work our rods are doing. Fishing with a rod takes more nurturing than with a net, but results in greater benefits. A rod approach involves more personalization and requires that targets are gaining value from our business. While they might not be ready to buy from us immediately, the right type of content can pull them into the marketing funnel. 

By identifying a prospect’s pain points, and then creating thought leadership content tailored to them a relationship can be nurtured from these targets. With engagement insights from the campaigns, sales can then assess each leads’ level of interest, share additional content and collateral if necessary, or sell them on their services if they are ready to buy. The downside of this approach is not every sales team even has time for this type of nurturing.

The spear approach is much more specific. What is powerful about ABM is that marketing embraces the challenges that sales face—with the number one challenge being the pressure to hit their quotas. Sales reps often feel like marketing doesn’t understand the pressure they are under when all marketing is willing to focus on is inbound leads. ABM brings sales and marketing together, closing the gap between each team to work towards a common goal.

So, when should each strategy be used?

The Spear Approach

Marketing and sales work together to determine who the top 25-100 companies they believe are the best fit for them. This approach requires extensive research to understand the companies’ needs and why your company is a good solution for them. These prospects are the “whales” and will have the attention of your executive team. And to execute requires marketing, inside sales and outside sales all working together.

Top Benefits:

  • Clear ROI
  • Highly personalized
  • Sales alignment
  • Goals and measurement tracked clearly

The Rod Approach

There are another group of prospects who you believe could be a good fit and you are willing to invest in nurturing them to see who rises to the top. This approach is usually for thousands of prospects. It is important to provide content that speaks to the industry trends, overall pain points of your targets and ideally, would have personalization. Marketing is driving the majority of effort for this approach with support from inside sales. Only getting outside sales involved when there is a lead that is “leaning forward.”

Top Benefits:

  • Grows pipeline; ability to reach new markets
  • Nurtures leads
  • Builds brand awareness
  • Positions company as a thought leader

The Net Approach

Outbound marketing can be more predictable and less time-consuming than ABM or inbound strategies. It requires less personalization, is more scalable and can be correlated to how much revenue is invested in the strategy. While the net approach isn’t personalized the way a rod approach is, through digital marketing it can be targeted and used for retargeting those that used to be in the funnel. One successful approach for developing leads from net marketing is that marketing drives targets towards a gated asset. They gain valuable information from your brand, while inside sales gain a lead that is interested in a problem you can solve.

Top Benefits:

  • Reaches new markets or can be used for retargeting.
  • Faster and takes less planning.
  • Leads might be fewer but can be actively responding to marketing.
  • Great for researching and informing what works. 

Whether it’s digital ads, landing pages, direct mail, emails, social posts, or high-impact direct mailers, the right mix of campaign tactics can make all the difference in piquing the interest of your leads. To achieve these strategies, it’s clear that sales and marketing need to work together to accomplish better sales outcomes and nurture leads through all stages of the funnel. Figmint’s can help. Our fully integrated marketing strategies optimize a combination of digital advertising, account-based marketing and inbound tactics. We close the gap between your sales and marketing teams, nurturing leads through the funnel and only handing them onto your team when they are ready to talk. If you are ready to close the gap between marketing and sales check out services to see how we can drive repetitive, scalable results.

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