Look, I’m far from the most experienced marketer in the world. But I’ve been around the block a few times. Worked at a few companies. Seen how different businesses operate. And from the B2B companies I’ve been a part of or advised, less than 30% of customers ever come from direct response advertising (like Google, Facebook, LinkedIn).
Then why do we go after those channels so hard? Because the CFO and CRO love them. They’re easy to measure and scale up quickly.
So if you’re behind goal late in the quarter, it’s easy to take your $20k budget surplus and throw it into direct response advertising to get a few more people in the top of the funnel. The thought process makes sense. It pads the numbers a bit and can be a good short term win. You can easily argue that this quarter’s new leads are next quarter’s new customers. But it’s ultimately a very ineffective and shortsighted strategy.
When you focus only on these short term spikes, you tend to delay building out brand channels like:
- Original content – the stuff that makes you stand out
- Word of mouth – the word on the street about your brand (the most powerful channel)
- Referrals – the word on the street about your brand from firsthand users
- Thought leadership – the stuff that shows you’re the expert
- Investment in new products and concepts people really want – how you show your audience that you get them
These are the channels that really make people want to buy.
Yet most companies still get caught in this trap of only seeing what’s directly in front of them. They focus on the quarter. And to hit the number this quarter, they go back to what they know — the short term gains. And on and on we go around this never-ending hamster wheel.
Every week that you’re focused on short term returns is a week that you’re missing out on long term demand 6-12 months down the line. Now you’re playing catchup each quarter, focusing on hitting minor goals, while ignoring the channels that could drive your business into next year.
So my advice to you is this: don’t lose sight of the bigger picture. You want to get your name out there a little bit or just get a few leads for sales to nibble on over time, by all means, throw out some paid ads. Paid customer acquisition has its benefits. But don’t bank on it to save you when you’re behind goal and the clock is running out on your quarter. It will be always be tough to drive sales long term if you only master short term sales tactics. Instead, make the necessary investment into the big brand channels. That’s where your growth will ultimately come from.