Demand gen tunnel vision: Why your company probably needs to invest in branding

If you’ve been in the B2B marketing business for fewer than 15, you’ve been operating in the first generation of data-driven marketing’s golden age. The internet and the tools we use to leverage it give us the ability to be more fact-led than ever.

And yet, despite the huge proliferation of powerful enablers, there remains a reality we should stay cognizant of: As human beings, we’re prone to ignore things that are not right up in our face.

Right now, for example, many companies are clearly neglecting their brand presence in their market. As a direct result of this neglect, all their marketing and sales efforts significantly underperform.

TechTarget, my employer, just completed a study that demonstrates this clearly in B2B tech. The yet-to-be released research has rejuvenated even my own understanding about the impact of digital “branding” tactics on end-to-end marketing and sales performance.

I’ll share a preview of this research, but before I do, let’s look at some of the reasons why many companies under-invest in the kind of marketing activity that improves brand consideration.

Martech myopia/demand-gen tunnel vision

In my mind, the cause of the problem is related to what Harvard Business School’s Theodore Levitt articulated more than 50 years ago when he coined the term “Marketing Myopia” (a quick definition here).

We all have blind spots that prevent us from acknowledging key shortcomings in our marketing plans. Information gaps, culture and other pressures can cause us to block out the facts of how our market and our marketing actually interact.

While the rise of martech has definitely given us the ability to attribute business impact to our actions, at the same time, attribution has become a key consideration in how we ourselves are evaluated. So, like business people in any role, we focus our energies on driving our KPIs. But the reality is that many of us are at the mercy of KPIs that only tell part of the story.

Dangers of KPIs not keeping pace

What if our KPIs aren’t evolving even as we learn? What if they don’t adequately represent what we really should be doing? That’s the situation many of us face.

By becoming obsessed with things like CPL (cost per lead) and MQL (marketing-qualified lead) alone, we operate with tunnel vision, blind to potential pitfalls that keep us from better performance. We’ve lost sight of the need to establish the right conditions to drive better conversion rates.

In our efforts to attribute impact to our actions, we focus most of our energy on what we personally do, often giving short shrift to the whole of what we need to better achieve our goals.

[Read the full article on MarTech Today.]