Demand Generation — Jeopardy Style Using B2B Intent Data

Jul 18, 2019 | Author Ed Marsh

NOTE - This post originally appeared on the Intent Data publication on Medium.

You’re familiar with “Jeopardy”, the general knowledge quiz show. In each round categories are identified, and then “answers” are provided within the context of the category. Contestants vie to respond first with the correct question, which would elicit the provided answer.

Tamsen Webster got me thinking today about Jeopardy as a metaphor (sign up for her thoughtful weekly newsletter here) as she described preparing for a speech and suggesting to her audience “how hard it would be to play if you only had the answers (and not the categories)…”

She’s right. Noodle that for a minute.

The answer is meaningless absent the context.

The Purchase Intent Mirage

Too often intent data is sold as a demand generation panacea. Just buy the data, integrate the feed with your CRM, and magically somehow orders start flowing in.

Of course, that’s absurd. Just as attracting attendees to an event doesn’t directly drive revenue, the receipt of intent data doesn’t drive orders. (Although intent data is a powerful event marketing tool.)

You have to have a strong plan for the activation of your data. How will you segment it: which leads will be remarketed: how many different sequences of templates and scripts will you need; and how will you coach reps to respond to competitive situations and churn warnings are just a few of the many questions to consider.

Behind all of those is the critical foundation of granular context.

The fact that some person at a company took some action that fits loosely into a large “topic” category, doesn’t help guide demand generation activities which can be personalized at scale.

That’s like an obscure answer….with no context of category. How could you possibly know the question to ask?

More importantly, how could you possibly intuit the effective Challenger Sale type statements to offer which would resonate with a prospect specifically because they relate to the problem they’re trying to solve or the outcome they’re seeking?

You can’t.

Changing Buying Habits

DemandGen Report’s recent “2019 B2B Buyers Survey” has gotten lots of attention. (Read my take on it here.)

The core finding that’s putting many in the B2B marketing and sales communities back on their heels is the openness of buyers to early contact with salespeople. For years we’ve heard, observed, and echoed that buyers are loathe to engage.

What gives?

The key is that their willingness to engage is predicated on a satisfactory, beneficial, interaction. That means they’re getting value. They’re collecting insights that go deeper than a quick online read and product features.

Buyers are delighted to interact with salespeople that genuinely help them understand, define, scope and solve their problems, and with salespeople who legitimately help them visualize empowering outcomes and how to reach them.

How to Deliver That Experience?

If you know that someone has some “engagement” around “demand generation,” can you define what that means?

Do you know whose social handles they’ve followed (and is that a real purchase intent signal?), or what key term they’ve taken content related action around (where that indicates they are in their buying journey, the problem they’re trying to solve, the outcome they’re seeking, etc.), or what related event they’re attending (and do you consider attendance at that event really relevant?)

Short answer…..No.

And so the question you’d assume they’re asking would almost certainly be one that your product service answers.

Consequently the marketing and sales outreach would be kind of like a “Pull String Woody” Figure — triggering an automatic and generic “Howdy Partner, since you’re looking for a (demand generation) solution, you’ve got to check us out. Our software is the best!”

Alternatively, imagine you had the context? Imagine you had the category information for the Jeopardy answer provided. You’d have a much higher likelihood of proposing the right questions to prompt engagement and open a dialog.

The Hypocrisy of “Personalization”

And that brings us to one of the big lies in demand generation today.

We’ve drunk the “personalization at scale” cool aide, but we’re simply throwing in a couple personalization tags. And then we hustle around the office and knowingly nod our heads and opine sagely about how important it is.

Seriously? Adding a <contact first name> and <company name>? That’s authenticity?

CommCreative’s Joanna Bittle sees the world differently. In her recent contribution to another DemandGen Report “What’s Working in B2B Advertising?” (sponsored by RollWorks) she explores tactics for incorporating intent intelligence into creative.

“Good agencies….tie the intent signals to the messaging in the ads, allowing your ads to be that much more relevant to the audience or companies you are serving to.”

Compare that to the common approach. Create one ad set and show it to everyone who appears in an intent data set without regard to the context of their intent signal.

Joanna is definitely on the right track to optimizing intent data for demand generation remarketing, with legitimate personalization at scale.

She’s putting pitter-patter behind the chitter-chatter.

Are you?


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