This is post #2 in a 10-part series on the New B2B Marketing Paradigm.

Picture this: A new head of marketing takes over a team. When she walks in on her first day, she can see the exhaustion on her employees’ faces. During their one-on-ones, they vent about stress and frustration. She guesses that every one of them has their résumé out on the street. But she can also tell that they love marketing and care deeply about their impact within the organization—otherwise, they wouldn’t be so bothered. She thinks to herself: This is either going to be the worst decision she’s ever made, or the best work she’s done in her life.

First, Diagnose the Problem

As the days go on, this new head of marketing digs deeper, discovering what she believes to be the root of her department’s burnout: They’re failing to give sales what they need.

No surprise. Most salespeople blame marketing for their lack of success, and we marketers are tired of hearing the excuse. But there’s a kernel of truth in it: Marketing often is misaligned with sales’ needs because we tend to focus on giving them what they ask for rather than what they need. Let us explain.

Our friend above realized her marketing team was constantly providing sales with new leads, but the leads were struggling to make it very far in the pipeline and hardly ever turned into closed deals. Sales kept demanding more leads from marketing, when what they really needed was higher quality leads that would allow them to channel their time and energy into closing more deals.

Unfortunately, this happens at many organizations. And when marketers spin their wheels chasing lead quantity rather than lead quality, we wind up:

  • Drowning under an ever-increasing workload, to the point where we can’t lift our heads long enough to think strategically
  • Abandoning content creation, because it’s too arduous and disciplined for burned-out teams to handle
  • Spamming email inboxes and LinkedIn chat windows instead of providing prospects with value
  • Allowing marketing expertise to exit the building and get outsourced to consulting groups

Money flows in the direction of value. -source unknown

We need to set a higher bar for how we interact with our audience. It’s one thing to get permission to speak to clients and prospects: We do this by offering one small thing and getting them to opt in to further communication. But short-term permission doesn’t guarantee long-term attention. And attention is what fuels quality leads.

Then, Reset Your Marketing Team’s Mindset

It all starts with a simple rule: Agree not to contact a client without providing value in the interaction. This means going beyond promotional emails and ads. Everything you send, post, or do must offer the end user something they want. And you shouldn’t always ask for something in return, either. Give first—then let the user decide how they want to interact.

Providing value requires producing content that is:

  • One-of-a-kind—something the user can’t find anywhere else
  • Relevant—on-topic with your audience’s needs
  • Helpful—guiding the reader to answers
  • Experience-aware—easy to consume on any device

It all starts with a simple rule: Agree not to contact a client without providing value in the interaction.

Once you have someone’s attention, you can track every interaction you have with them. Use that data to determine intent and whether a lead is in-market and ready to buy. Then—and only then—you earn the right to promote your product.

We know this long game is a foreign concept for many marketers, and making the change can be scary. But let’s remember the premise of permission marketing: Someone is giving you their attention in exchange for value. They don’t want a discount; they want knowledge. And when you give first, you will get so much more in return.

Of course, to achieve this kind of shift, you must develop a team that can create quality content on a regular basis. Then you’ll need to set a schedule, stick to it, and distribute that content across multiple channels. There’s a trick to that as well. And the next post will focus on how to make sure your content drives people back to your site.

In the meantime, if you want to talk more about your organization’s transition from quantity to quality demand gen, reach out. And, look for our next post in a couple weeks about creating high-quality content worthy of high-quality leads.