We recently conducted a review of a campaign that was underperforming expectations. Our team was contributing elements of the campaign and we were very disappointed in the results. What was going wrong? What were the red flags?

English: Red Flag

The campaign was focused on marketing a leading technology solution to a target market based on geographic named accounts.  The client was following core principles of inbound marketing and digital marketing offering unique premium content for download and involving a number of components:

  • Active blog content
  • Active Twitter engagement
  • PPC Campaign
  • Microsite with landing pages aligned to key words
  • Relevant copy on each landing page
  • A call to action with premium content
  • Embedded conversion forms using a leading marketing automation platform
  • eMails tailored to each value proposition and landing page
  • A direct mail program to a validated list of targets.

The content was solid and the program was being executed carefully with iterative updates to enhance content and offering language. On the surface, everything looked good. So, why was the client getting limited response?

To evaluate the program, we took a commercial end-to-end revenue perspective and looked at the revenue cycle. We divided the campaign into three elements:  Top-of-the-funnel (TOFU), Middle-of-the-funnel (MOFU) and Bottom-of-the-funnel (BOFU). We looked for red flags.

Here were our findings:


  • Product revenue performance was good for the business with a concentration on a few large accounts, however the business was not coming from the campaign – rather it was coming from existing customers
  • Performance was driven largely by account-based sales efforts
  • The value proposition seemed to provide a clear competitive advantage, however no validation had occurred with target customers (a red flag)
  • The campaign incorporated many leading digital marketing and inbound practices and partner organizations recognized the program as unique and a stand out among peers.

TOFU- Top of Funnel

  • A microsite was of a very high quality with good relevant content & messaging and the team maintained a strong social media presence which was also building increased organic presence
  • We found that there was a very small target market– the campaign was targeting a named set of companies of only a few hundred companies (a red flag– was there a broad enough market? If the target market is this focused, why the emphasis no an inbound strategy?)
  • A sophisticated PPC Campaign was underway – with a substantial budget (another red flag– why so much investment in PPC with such a targeted audience?)
  • Direct mail campaigns also had little or no results or traction
  • No other new business lead sources were identified.

MOFU – Middle of the Funnel

  • The marketing list had been in place and marketed to for over a year with little or no results. The list was limited in size and consistent with the target company list.  The list was validated and augmented, but this remained a major red flag. Was this list ever going to produce results? Was the campaign targeting the right market?
  • There was no need for a nurture program and lead scoring had little relevance given such low lead gen results
  • Marketing automation was implemented well and while better campaign and email coordination and tracking across campaigns were needed, this did not explain a lack of lead generation within this campaign
  • The company was not engaged any consistent telesales (another red flag – especially given the highly targeted nature of the customer audience) Past telesales had mixed results depending on product, firm, timing and message.

BOFU – Bottom of Funnel

  • The direct sales teams were successfully closing deals and the existing account base for the organization was the primary source of product revenue
  • However, cross-selling the existing account base is difficult with entrenched vendor and sales relationships.

What did the red flags tell us?

The campaign needed to refresh its target universe/ marketing list and expand its exposure while also taking a deeper dive review of the value proposition by conducting a focused survey. Given the target market, budgets needed to shift from the top-of-funnel  inbound and PPC lead gen toward more 1:1 tele-prospecting and sales engagement.

By taking a commercial focused approach and mapping the end-to-end revenue cycle from marketing to sales, it became more apparent where to focus attention and make improvements.

CRM systems are notorious in their complexity and lack of success in many cases. Organizational and cultural dynamics play a big role.  CRM systems offer a great deal of promise yet so often don’t deliver. With today’s economic pressures it is as critical as ever that firms increase sales without increasing the cost and complexity of selling.

One area getting more attention now is relationship management technology. Clearly LinkedIn has made a huge impact here and now new tools are emerging to help relationship-intensive businesses take better advantage of their enterprise contact and relationship assets.

New tools like Datahug, Gist and others are helping businesses manage information about the organization’s extended relationships (employee’s and firm’s) with individuals and customer/client organizations. They do this by mining the email database and social networks for connections and relationships. This can dramatically impact deal intelligence, qualification and positioning and drive up win rates.

Yet for many years, CRM deployments have consistently under delivered on the promise.  The adoption of any CRM-related technology must be approached with a view of the people, process and technology impacts. Relationship intelligence is part of what we call “Revenue Systems” and selecting the right tools and embedding them effectively in the organization requires careful thought and planning.

 Some things to consider:
  • Potential benefits are strong: These new technology approaches combined with people and organizational changes can deliver dramatic business results by helping firms leverage their extended, multi-level network of relationships that exist at the firm and individual level. By effectively mining a corporation’s extended relationship network, sales and cross-sales ratios can be dramatically improved
  • Contacts are highly personal and protected assets: Contact management is a complex human and systems dynamic  that requires careful and sensitive analysis to ensure effective adoption
  • CRM is notoriously difficult to implement successfully: Many organizations fail to achieve effective sales force adoption of CRM and SFA (salesforce automation) due to cultural resistance and protection of valuable and hard-won contact information. Put the success of the sales team first, and good things will follow.
  • Solutions must consider the cultural and process issues involved: An effective enterprise contact network must compliment existing systems and cultural norms while providing the protection and security of personal contact information

Done well, these new relationship intelligence technologies can be a powerful ally in firm-wide deployments – helping to increase win rates, inform bid decisions and enhance the tailoring of winning value propositions.


I am operating out of our Vermont Office – which is really a home office looking out over the mountains of northern Vermont including Mt. Mansfield and the surrounding hills  a few miles from the pristine Caspian Lake in Greensboro.

Today’s highlight includes the installation of a solar energy system to generate sustainable energy for our home.  In keeping with this blog’s focus on sales and marketing, I thought it would be interesting to reflect on the sales and marketing process that I experienced with the team from SolarTech in Vermont.

So, what was the marketing and sales cycle? Actually it was very typical of a “considered sale”.

The cost (before incentives) of the Solar Trackers  are over $50k – clearly an investment that requires consideration. Incentives bring this down nicely and the payback is reasonable considering the local cost of energy. So, this was a very substantial investment and a classic “considered sale” – where content and the web plays a role along with an active sales process.

1) My first step was research. Of course I spoke with my social network – others in the area that had experience. After learning that I wanted a tracker to maximize power,  I went to the web to search for trackers in Vermont and quickly found All Earth Renewables.  They did great work on SEO – on the first page of my organic search results. Their web presence includes Facebook and Twitter.

2) I posted to the AllSun product on Facebook – seeking to learn more from my network about options for solar power and researched forums to see whether there were any comments. I later ended up connecting with an experienced solar expert who looked over the proposal and the technology solution.

3) I wanted to discuss a solution, so I filled out a form on the web site seeking contact with a sales representative. The conversion form online was clean and simple. I had an introductory email within hours.

4) I was introduced to a channel partner, SolarTech, who managed the sales cycle. Rich Nicol engaged professionally in all aspects of the sale from feasibility to economic ROI. He handled all the objections and concerns and mapped out a solution tailored to our needs – a classic professional sales process.

In order to get this sale,  All Earth Renewables and SolarTech needed an integrated sales and marketing process.

  • Web visibility – organic search and social media
  • Channel Management – with an effective channel website including testimonial
  • Quality value proposition and product
  • Accessibility in a clean, professional website
  • Knowledgable and professional sales approach
  • ROI and product content
  • Professional service delivery leading to references and validation.