The Mechanics of the Outbound B2B Campaign

I present a webinar with Mark Feldman of Netprospex titled “You Bought a List, Now What?” that over the years has been one of the more popular presentations we have done together, as 1000s of people typically sign up. We are doing it again on Wednesday, March 2 and Thursday, March 3 at 11 a.m. PT (2 p.m. ET).  I have made some updates to the webinar and have new rantings on the topic (thus prompting me to write this post).

First, allow me to get on my soapbox. What we are talking about is outbound vs. inbound, or push vs. pull. The vast majority of chatter in the marketing blogosphere is about content marketing, earned media, inbound marketing, and so forth; in other words, everyone is advocating for pull. One of my good friends Adam Needles basically called outbound email “stupid s#!*” in our Focus Roundtable together. I am a gigantic advocate for pull marketing as well. I believe in the tenets of inbound marketing. Hey, who doesn’t want someone to walk into their store? But it’s just not realistic all the time. Sometimes you need to put out the sandwich board and entice people to come into the store, and if it works, why wouldn’t you do it all the time?

Random thoughts on why the Outbound b2b campaign lives on:

  1. You have to go outbound for targeted prospects. If you are trying to reach a particular buying persona, you have to push/outbound. If you want to wait for content to get you the leads you need to feed the beast, you will be sitting on the unemployment line. This does not mean you don’t create remarkable content and develop long-term trusted content relationships with prospects. It means you figure out whom you want to talk to and reach out to them via phone, email, and so forth so you can get to them today instead of tomorrow.
  2. You don’t have time. A blog post or even months of blog posts won’t yield the number of conversations you need to fill the pipeline. I get bummed when I hear the startup VP of Marketing talk about his/her plan for content marketing over the next nine months, and it doesn’t include generating leads now. It’s not their fault; they read the blog posts and are doing the right thing.  The problem is, if you don’t have a plan for near-term pipeline, you’re in trouble.
  3. Sales reps are doing it right now instead of waiting for you. I asked one of my favorite sales experts Tibor Shanto what topics resonate most with sales folks and he said “prospecting.” In other words, sales needs leads. Actually, I did a webinar awhile back with Jill Konrath, and she said the same thing: “What sales needs right now is leads.” So, marketing: Is our answer to write some more blog posts and get more tweets? No, it’s to drive pipeline, and that necessitates action.
  4. You can do both (push/pull). Until the content marketing machine can drive the numbers you need from the right people, you have to do something. In most cases, that means outbound or paid media.  But do both; the long-term win of having a content marketing/nurturing strategy is the right thing to do.

In my preso, I try to break the essentials for successful outbound activity into simple components:

  • Planning: It sounds simple, but people just buy names and don’t flesh out what they want to do next.
  • Persona building: Determine “who” you want to target, understand what makes them tick, and then the message works for them.
  • Content/offers: Content marketing is a big deal in the outbound campaigns. What you offer people is extremely important. This should be driven by buyer personas (for examples, an executive may want one thing whereas managers may want another).
  • Multi-channel targeting: Successful outbound requires a mix of different ways to reach out to the prospect. The most common and most successful is a combination of phone and email. This also includes nurturing and social media.
  • Metrics and optimization: This should be standard operating procedure in this day and age, but it isn’t, so I have to remind you.  Figure out what you need to know and make your programs better.

If you have time, join us here for “You Bought a List, Now What?” on Wednesday and Thursday of this week 11 a.m. PT (2 pm ET).

Craig Rosenberg is the Funnelholic. He loves sales, marketing, and things that drive revenue. Follow him on Google+ or Twitter

  • Nice post. I especially agree with Points #2 and #3 above. With social media hysteria and bubble-hype right now, new school marketers think social media is a silver bullet to demand generation. It’s not. Yes, it’s an important channel for reaching potential customers. But, the lead pipeline must be filled with quality leads and that takes targeted demand generation. I’m sure that ruffles a few social media feathers. But, it’s a hard fact of business marketing life right now.

    Brian Hansford

  • Craig,

    Great stuff, I think it reinforces the balance required between being proactive and reactive. Even with Trigger Events, you can wait for an event to start the process (inbound), or you can use your skills and knowledge to Trigger the Event, and make things happen.


  • How true you are! Unified Demand Gen is what I’ve been preaching for years. Blended inbound with outbound for the perfect demand gen mix.

    Engaging a prospect can happen in many ways, content, inbound activity or targeted outbound activity. But the sales process can’t really start until a conversation is taking place between Sales and a Prospect. Unless an inbound lead calls or specifically requests a meeting, the only way to have that conversation is to reach out to them with some outbound technique.

    Think of inbound leads that need an outbound touch as nothing but a list. Same as if you bought it from a list vendor, but a little warmer. In fact it’s a hot topic today with Craig’s article and also Hubspot’s CEO Brian Halligan, the king of the inbound marketers, tweeted today:

    @bhalligan: Holy crap…HubSpot’s marketing dept generated 35,000 leads in February — this inbound marketing stuff really works!!

    and my response:

    @damphoux: @bhalligan HubSpot’s 35,000 Inbound leads rock! Now Outbound efforts will start the sales process

    End result, do it all, do it smart, and do it all to start the conversation.

    Mike Damphousse
    Green Leads

  • Any salesperson or individual who waits for marketing to deliver enough high quality leads for them to meet quota will struggle. It’s not that marketing doesn’t try. It does.

    But marketers are having trouble shedding their pitching approach. It’s like their genetically wired to include self-serving verbiage which turns prospective customers totally off.

    From my perspective though, the biggest issue is the lost opportunities. If salespeople just respond to prospects who have already contacted the company, they might totally miss the hot opportunity at the big company down the street.

    Example: General Mills is a huge company based in my backyard. Despite a strong online presence and inbound marketing program, no one from that organization has contacted me in 10+ years.

    Yet with a well-planned account entry campaign, I could easily set up a meeting with a targeted decision maker and ultimately, get the business.