A few years back I was fly fishing on Michigan’s Pere Marquette River. After a little while a couple hiking up the path stopped and the gentleman said to me, “Catch a fish now…”. I remarked that I wished it were that simple (well, in reality, I don’t – the chase is a big part of the fun).
Recently I was reflecting that interaction was a little like the demands that are placed on demand generation programs today. Often management and sales folks without a marketing background forget that marketing is an inherently longer-term activity. It’s all about the science of getting into your prospect’s head and helping them make the decision-making journey toward your product. Just like that day on the river.
While I can’t catch fish on command, I can do a lot of things to increase my likelihood of catching one. Spend more time on the water. Test new techniques. Tie different flies. Learn from what worked in the past. And experiment with new things that you think will work, based on what you’ve seen before.
Demand generation has many parallels. If you test, refine, measure, learn, observe, listen, and occasionally take a bold-ass risk your odds go up considerably. While you can’t generate qualified inquiries on command, you can do a lot to improve your inquiry and conversion goals.
As marketers, it’s incumbent on us to help the leadership and sales teams we serve understand this holistic, long-term perspective. I can do a great deal to entice an inquiry. I can even target getting inquiries from the right prospects. But what we can’t do is make the exact fish you want bite precisely when you want it.
I look at my fishing season a lot like I approach a campaign. At the end of the campaign, did I hook more fish than the last time? And if so, did I land more? Those are the true metrics for success.