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Making Marketing’s Influence Count

October 04, 2012 | By Ross Graber

Many marketers have trouble making sense of marketing influence and how it can be used to bring more value to their buyers’ journeys. The concept of influence doesn’t need to be difficult, and there’s no reason for marketers to shy away from it. Instead, take these steps to get your arms around marketing’s influence and make it actionable

When demonstrating marketing’s contribution to the business, many b-to-b organizations focus mainly upon marketing’s ability to generate new demand. Creating and progressing new leads can make up a big portion of what’s expected of marketing – but in many b-to-b organizations, net new demand creation only represents a small portion of business growth. In these businesses, marketing is expected to help create better deal outcomes by exerting influence over known individuals.

Many marketers have trouble making sense of marketing influence and how it can be used to bring more value to their buyers’ journeys. The concept of influence doesn’t need to be difficult, and there’s no reason for marketers to shy away from it. Instead, take these steps to get your arms around marketing’s influence and make it actionable:

  • Define what influence looks like. To get a sense of how marketing’s influence impacts the buying process, start by defining what to look for. Basically, we’re looking for signs that someone associated with a buying center has accepted marketing offers, and that has resulted in a buying process being advanced. To detect influence, you’ll want to define the types of offers where acceptance typically advances the buying process, the roles of individuals who could be involved, and the timeframes in which actions will be considered influential.
  • Analyze the impact. Once you can identify the deals where marketing’s influence is occurring, analyze what that means for deal outcomes. Can you see changes in deal size, sales cycle times or probability of success? A conclusion like: “When an IT director is engaged with educational content early in the buying process, deals close more quickly” could be extremely valuable. Focus your analysis on findings that will help to make your organization adjust how it engages with influencers. The purpose is not to claim credit for what marketing has done, but to lay the foundation for marketing to be more impactful.
  • Make adjustments. Once you understand what buyer actions are desirable if marketing is to help create bigger deals, shorter sales cycles or increase chances for success, go and make the adjustments. If webinars late in the buying process help influence finance leaders, ensure you’re offering them – and to the right people. Use deeper understanding of what influences affect the buying process to make better-informed choices about the tactics you use.
  • Measure the differences. Perform comparisons between deal outcomes where marketing is exerting high levels of influence to deals where there are lesser or no signs of marketing playing a role. Can the differences be detected? If so, you’re well on your way to being able to describe the result of marketing’s effort. If not, perhaps your influence isn’t as influential as you’d intended it to be. Go back, adjust the tactics and try again.

Remember, the objective with influence is not to show that marketers can get people associated with a deal to consume marketing tactics. The objective is to do the things that will be most impactful. Ensure that the right people are targeted at the right time with the offers that will create better outcomes. That’s how marketing employs influence to make a difference.

Ross Graber

Ross Graber is a Senior Research Director of Marketing Operations Strategies at SiriusDecisions. He brings over 15 years of b-to-b marketing experience with focus spanning marketing measurement, demonstrating ROI, data management, process development, marketing technology, customer marketing and sales enablement. Follow Ross on Twitter @rossgraber.

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