“Simplify your marketing efforts down to 2 circles to better clarify your time and attention.”
The “outer circle” is what most business owners focus on when discussing their growth efforts. It’s networking, building relationships with a phone call and a handshake. It’s joining the BNI groups, attending that after hours networking event, joining trade associations, joining boards, and hiring an outside and inside sales force.
The problem is these efforts often are sub-optimal and lacking with process and execution. Why join a board of 5-6 other board members that will probably do very little regarding lead generation? Business owners often join networking groups that are a waste of valuable hours in the day. And even if there are leads that result, are they enough to justify the business owners or Sales VP’s time? That time might be better spent building an inbound sales engine made up of multiple lead generating tactics that will drive a consistent flow of leads. In addition, the money spent on the additional sales person or sales rep might provide a stronger return if invested in the inner circle.
So what’s the inner circle of marketing? It’s everything you can be doing to generate business that doesn’t rely on a human being networking and selling. The tactics that comprise this inner circle are endless and include deploying Adwords campaigns to be found on the first page of Google, crafting drip email marketing campaigns to stay in front of your customers, deploying retargeting campaigns to stay in front of a visitor to your website after they’ve left, targeting your audiences via social media and putting in place marketing automation technology to turbo-charge your lead generation efforts. The problem with this circle is that it’s usually overlooked by SMBs and not valued. There’s no instant payoff, it’s not as tangible as hiring a salesperson and it can be intimidating to someone not well versed in marketing and deals with a lot of upfront education to understand the power of the circle. While the inner circle takes longer to put in place and will most likely not show a payoff for several months or even a year, it’s far more scalable and consistent regarding lead flow.
Key questions to ask yourself regarding both circles
“Am I spending my time as the key salesperson of my company properly? Should I be ending certain networking groups I’m in? Are there other groups I should be joining? Are there speaking opportunities I should pursue? Should I be hiring a Business Development Manager? Are my sales team’s outreach efforts maximized? Do they have a sales calendar they build and follow or is it a more “seat of your pants” approach?
“How many marketing channels do I have setup?”, “Have they been optimized or are they just scratching the surface? How many new channels can I realistically put in place for the upcoming year? What new marketing automation technology should I roll out? Are there reports that need to be created to track my efforts? Do I have the appropriate internal team member(s) and expertise needed to oversee and lead this “inner circle” effort?
The power of both circles working together
Lead generation nirvana takes place when both circles are optimized and leads are thus flowing from both. New business opportunities should be generated from both your networking and sales efforts and from your inbound marketing efforts. If one circle is working well without the other, imagine the impact of strengthening the weaker circle. For example, if you’re a salesperson who is tasked with generating all of your own leads, imagine the luxury of having qualified leads consistently handed to you from a marketing team’s inner circle efforts. Conversely, imagine how much less stressed your Marketing VP will be knowing that lead generation is not fully on his/her shoulders but also in the hands of senior executives and/or a sales team who continuously challenge themselves with efficiently bringing in new business.
As the Founder and Managing Partner of TribalVision, each year I make sure to balance my attention on both circles. Early on, I was the outer circle given I had no team around me and limited cash flow to invest in the inner circle. Thus all my leads came from my networking efforts. Now eight years later, with six proven marketing channels serving as the backbone of my inner circle, I’m receiving 70-80% of my leads and new business from this circle.
Think of marketing as 2 circles – inside and outside. Where are you focusing most of your energies? If it’s only on the outer circle, you’re becoming dated, most likely are growing at a slower pace than you should be and you need to look within. And if you’re only focusing on the inner circle (which many startups and millennial-led businesses are now doing), you need to get out there once your inner circle process is put in place so that you can maximize your own time to generate new business and not rely on the inner circle channels in place.