Intimacy + Urgency = Leads

by: Doug Michaelides

Marketing is both art and science.  I’m not sure which side of the brain does what – all I know is that good marketers use their whole brain when developing lead generation strategies.

In the “Intimacy + Urgency” equation for lead generation, Urgency refers to the timing of a requirement as well as its importance (ie.  does the prospect have a small problem/opportunity next quarter or a BIG ONE RIGHT NOW?).  Sales people and marketers know that a prospect with an urgent need is a good one.  In some cases, they try to create urgency by generating an “impending event” (like a time-limited price promotion, a future price increase or a possible product supply shortage) that will move the buying process forward.

Less obvious is the concept of Intimacy.  Since trust is an essential part of the purchase decision, particularly for expensive products and professional services, a stronger relationship with the prospective buyer means an easier sale.  That’s why it usually takes less effort to sell to existing clients – they already know and trust you.

The job of the marketing team is to establish progressive degrees of intimacy with new prospects so that when the urgent need arises, their company is favored as a solution provider.  How do you judge intimacy?  Consider this hierarchy of indicators involving typical interactions:

  1. Website visit (and revisit)
  2. Whitepaper download
  3. Subscription (newsletter, following on Twitter, feed from blog, etc.)
  4. Attendance at a live webinar
  5. Telephone call/WebEx with a subject matter expert
  6. Face to face meeting
  7. Proposal

Each step represents a growing level of familiarity with your company that occurs over time.  The idea is to nurture intimacy within the right target audience while waiting for the emergence (or creation) of a need.  Until the need is urgent, it is pretty straightforward to track your progress by establishing an intimacy scoring system (often in a Marketing Automation System) based on behavioural indicators like the ones listed above.

One of the challenges for marketers is that while they can establish intimacy with prospects, it is much more difficult (often impossible) to create urgency.  Consequently, money and resources are spent on marketing without an immediate return in the form of leads and sales.   Senior executives can reassure themselves by monitoring the number and quality of prospect relationships from marketing campaigns but they must have patience while waiting for results.

Marketing nurtures the crops by planting seeds and watering the fields – but the harvest can’t be rushed.  So I suppose lead generation is neither art nor science – it’s farming.

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