Do you care if potential prospects see your services as high value or a complete rip-off? Of course you do.

This is about the perception each individual has about you. This is about your brand.

Perceptions are created by experience with your products, service and people, through what other people say about you (even competitors) and through your own marketing.

No one buys from a company they distrust or pays a premium for a solution they see as a low cost provider.

However, in B2B, the value of perceptions have been set aside, in favor of the new holy grail of B2B marketing: lead generation.

B2B Marketing’s Lead Generation Focus

B2B marketers are pitching white papers, webinars and other content at every turn. Even traditional “branding” venues are filled with lead generation offers and publishers are bundling traditional media programs with lead generation. Here are three examples from magazines or proposals that are within arms reach on my desk.

  • In a recent logistics magazine, 60% of the full page ads are lead generation focused.
  • More than 80% of the full page ads in a recent enterprise technology magazine are lead generation!
  • A recent proposal offers full page ads bundled with lead generation for only a few hundred dollars more than the publisher’s similar lead generation program alone.

Today’s approaches to marketing and measurement are giving marketers tunnel vision. All they see are leads. Here are the issues that may be blinding you today.

1. Focusing on Linear Results Measurement

Marketing measurement starts when a contact is captured and continues as contacts move into and through the sales pipeline. Any marketing that does not directly deliver contacts or move contacts through the purchase process in an observable way is not valued in this environment.

Marketing that increases awareness of your solutions, positions it against competitors or introduces your offering, but does not deliver leads, is ignored by today’s measurement.

Holistic measurement is hard and it can be expensive. But if you don’t embrace it you will miss these opportunities.

2. Using Marketing Automation for Demand Creation

Marketing automation has significantly improved your ability to educate and create demand within an identified and receptive audience.

However, marketing automation works with identified audiences only and can completely miss today’s self-directed buyer.

If pipeline and revenue fall short, marketers turn to lead generation to feed the marketing automation machine and in doing so you may completely miss the real issues causing the shortfall.

This Is Not Just About B2B Advertising

Yes, advertising is one way marketers can broadly distribute a message, but the focus on lead generation is impacting marketers approach to social media, content marketing and events as well.

It is time for marketers to get back to developing a marketing strategy and creating demand instead of capturing contacts.

Your Turn

Is creating and changing an audiences perceptions a missed opportunity in B2B marketing or a relic from the Mad Men era that is no longer relevant today? What perception is today’s marketing creating? Share your view in the comments below or with me on Twitter (@wittlake).

Thank you to Casey Carey (@caseycarey) and Michael Brenner (@brennermichael) for a twitter exchange that inspired the overall topic for this article.

Photo Credit: Day 55/365 by Яah33l on Flickr