Jul 282009
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This is the christening entry of a blog dedicated to the category of Business to Business Demand Management. B2B Demand Management encompasses or relates to a number of functional marketing and sales disciplines. Among these are Customer Relationship Management, Business Media, Social Media, Lead Generation, Direct Marketing, Web Marketing, Lead Management, Lead Nurturing, Cost of Acquisition, Marketing Automation, Funnel Optimization, Marketing Portfolio Management, the 4 (or 5) P’s framework, and Revenue Forecasting.

The author of this blog is me: Tom Scearce.  I was originally assigned the moniker “The Lord of The Leads” when I served as Vice President of Market Development at a business communications company called Speakeasy, which is owned by Best Buy. I never asked why I was given the “LOTL” handle. It would be nice to think that the title (“The Lord”) implies a certain level of mastery over my subject matter (“the Leads”). It would be just as correct, however, to apply a more humbling definition instead. For like the various ring-bearers in the epic Tolkein trilogy of a similar name, I became (and remain) subject to a certain unhealthy obsession with the Precious… …er, with the topic of B2B demand management.

Why the obsession? The reasons are many but I’ll choose just one for purposes of illustration. It has something to do with the chance to solve a business problem that was articulated so well by John Wanamaker, nearly a century and a half ago. Here is his oft-quoted pearl of wisdom, which every modern marketer knows by heart.

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

We have finally reached an age where the convergence of technology, capital investment, and skills available in the labor pool have combined to make the previously unknowable (e.g., what is really working in my marketing mix and what is not?) knowable.

Knowable enough, anyway. Knowable enough to drag the mysterious black box in a dark corner that has heretofore been called “the marketing department” out into the daylight where it can be opened, examined, and improved.

(By the way, I refer to the marketing department as a mysterious black box not because I have a disdain for marketing, but because a lack of transparency has been an unfortunate side-effect of Wanamaker’s quandary. Most marketers, this one included, would actually like not to live and work in a mysterious black box. It’s cold and uncomortable in there. And it’s hard to see what you’re doing.)

Every other function in the modern enterprise has, for decades, been subject to time-honored and refined measurement practices and optimization regimes. Finance, Operations, Human Resources, and Sales can all be measured and managed ten ways to Friday. Marketing, however, has largely seen evaluations of its performance simply rise and fall with the success of the Sales team.

Is it a bad thing that Marketing and Sales be evaluated as a unit? Not necessarily. To be sure, if Marketing is not adding value to the Sales function, and Sales is not meeting its objectives, then changes are probably due in at least one of those departments. But change without deeper inquiry into root causes still leaves John Wanamaker’s problem unsolved. And since most companies spend between 3% and 10% of revenues on marketing, ignorance is expensive. Said differently, the business case for demand management competency can be compelling.

Sam Shepard once said, “Right in the middle of a contradiction, that’s the place to be.”

So, here is the great contradiction that (partially) explains my obsession with the demand management category.

  1. Through a convergence of technology, venture capital, and human capital, we now have within our reach the solution to a generations-old business problem: marketing effectiveness.
  2. The stakes in this game are high – $161.4B will be spent on advertising in the U.S. this year. That means a lot of CFOs, COOs, and CEOs will be asking, especially this year, what that $161.4B paid for.
  3. Most companies have not yet invested in demand management competency.

Now your turn: Why does this contradiction exist? What explains it? And what will it take to change the status quo?