How I Disappointed a CEO

Louis Foong 1

— Because he did not like what I told him he should do or have done months ago

Last week I had lunch with the CEO of a Information Technology company. We met at a fine dining Japanese restaurant in downtown Toronto. Being a true blue foodie, I have in my mind a single test for the quality of food at a Japanese restaurant. So I always order deep-fried, soft shell crab. There are a few very important criteria the dish must meet. The crab must be just the right size—not too big, not too small; must have the right amount of batter, should be well-tempered. Overall, it must taste DIVINE. And this one did. It really was very good. So, my CEO friend and I both enjoyed a delicious meal. And yet, it was probably the most disappointing lunch meeting he had in recent times.

The reason I disappointed this CEO was because he was looking for a magic potion to

  • accelerate demand generation
  • boost lead pipeline
  • and increase conversion

Now, I can point him in the right direction, outline the process, advise him on key ingredients in the marketing mix, help define the right strategy and guide him towards accomplishing those goals. BUT, I do not sell snake oil! And I don’t have a magic potion that will work in the absence of essential foundational steps in the demand generation process. There is no magic potion, nor silver bullet.

True leads don’t come easy…you must have the right volume in your lead pipeline; not too much, not too little. You need the right marketing mix to nurture quality leads. You must practice good list hygiene so your sales team is not chasing dead leads and wasting time with “tire kickers”. You must temper your lead generation with intelligent account mapping that is part of a clearly outlined demand generation strategy. Somewhat like the deep-fried soft shell crab I described above…your marketing activities must give you a plateful of scrumptious leads to devour, but not every chef has the experience to stir up that magic. And too many cooks will spoil the crab!

Enjoy the Excitement of Change? Find the Right Approach to Lead Generation

I have mentioned earlier on my blog, the 10 rules of lead generation. A year ago, I had discussed these with the same CEO and he was willing to abide by them. Needless to say, peer pressure for a CEO in the corporate world is just as strong (if not stronger) than it is for a sophomore in high school. So, not surprisingly, instead of following my advice, he spent the last year or so focusing on the “next best thing” and finding the “flavour of the month” without thinking about the ramifications of doing so.

What happened? Yes, his company probably gained some quick wins with social media since that has been the bandwagon everyone is jumping on to these days. But did any of those fans, likes and thumbs ups turn into leads? Of course not! Where is the foundation for demand generation? What lead generation processes were implemented? How, if at all, was social media effectiveness measured?

I see companies make these mistakes all the time. Adopt a new, exciting marketing mechanism and forget about time tested methods that are known to work! Take social media for example—it is only a delivery mechanism and yet, organizations are easily swayed by the buzz, the ease of use and the immediate spikes in market attention that they see. Companies are hiring social media experts, and if they aren’t, their marketing heads or CMOs now have a social media target to achieve. So, in order not to be seen as laggards and non-believers, they go all out to support social media plays with little or no knowledge on how to integrate them into traditional marketing processes. Leave aside any attempt to monitor and measure the results. That’s what my CEO friend did, so how could I help him? I did not mean to disappoint him, but he didn’t take my advice a year ago. I hope he will now.

In my next blog post I want to discuss this new breed of social media experts and their contribution to the demand generation landscape.

But in the meantime, I would love to hear from you about your company’s demand generation process—what has worked and what you think is worth continuing with in the long term. I am particularly keen to hear of your experiences with social media for B2B as this is one area where my search always comes up short of any concrete examples and success stories.

PS: In case you are eager for some delicious Japanese food, try Nami, the restaurant we visited.

One Comment »

  1. L Hester May 21, 2012 at 5:16 pm - Reply

    I couldn’t agree more that people WANT a quick win but true demand/lead generation comes from a thoughtful process. I have always found that your brand awareness and perception can shorten the demand generation process but you have to be realistic of where you are starting from… the best success that I have had in demand generation is a true integrated marketing campaign with multiple touch points and social media can be one of those touch points that are used for success.

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