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  • Ed Locher

Money Doesn't Grow on Trees, But You Can Farm It...

I’m a farmer. 


Well, not really. I’m a demand gen guy. Even though my family comes from Iowa and I’ve always been fascinated by how plants grow, my thumbs are definitely not green. Luckily, I can scratch that itch by growing not plants, but rather awareness, interest, and ultimately revenue, for my organization.


I often find that I describe myself as a farmer. I deal in volume, sowing lots and lots of seeds knowing full well that only a small percentage will germinate and ultimately grow into leads, opportunities, and eventually customers. Because of this reality, it behooves me, as any good farmer will tell you, that small, incremental improvements in conversion during any stage of the ‘growing’ cycle can yield big results. But where to start?


A farmer will tell you three things every field needs to maximize yield is fertile ground, good climate, and careful cultivation. Sure, some plants grow without tender loving care, but it is hard to feed a family relying on pure chance that the right plant will grow in the right place at the right time. 


Demand Generation is the same. If you want repeatable, scalable results, you need to be attentive to the environment and deliberate in your approach to create the conditions for success. Here are three things we can do to increase the yield on our farms.


1.    Just as plants need fertile ground, we need a receptive audience. Segmentation is critical to scaling any demand generation engine. Lucky for us, segmentation is a lot easier than it used to be thanks to data management systems, marketing automation, and channel targeting capabilities. 


Not sure where to start? Take a look at your company’s closed won deals over the past five years. Do you see any common industries, buyer personas, firmographic or demographic data points? Maybe you didn’t know that Directors of IT in Healthcare account for 35% of your total wins over the past five years. But now that you do, seems like a good idea to go find other Directors of IT in Healthcare and start conversations with them. However you go about it, winnowing down the entire universe of prospects to those most likely to engage is step one.


2.    Good climate is essential! Sunlight, hydration, the right temperature, these are the difference between healthy, vibrant growth and stunted, listless crops. Your messaging is your climate. Are you creating the right environment for your target audience with compelling and creative content? Does your message resonate on the right level, with your specific target? Are you personalizing the message where you can? 


Promoting your solution as a means to staff reduction will most likely not be a hit with the staff that would be directly affected. Similarly, selling workflow advantages to the C-level likely falls on deaf ears as they haven’t been personally using the technology for a couple of years, maybe decades. Getting the message right is as important as sunlight is for photosynthesis. Without that critical component, your results will suffer.


3.    The importance of cultivation can’t be overestimated. Throwing a seed into the ground and coming back 6 months later is not what good farmers do, and neither do good demand generation professionals. Constant monitoring and adjustment is required for any modern, high-performing demand engine. The days of building and launching a campaign and waiting 6 months with fingers crossed to measure effectiveness are long gone. We need to be measuring the effectiveness of our activities in real-time, with agile processes in place to make adjustments. 


Test and invest, that should be our motto. Put something in market, test across channels, personas, and industries, and invest only in those that are delivering. It is nearly impossible to predict the success of any given tactic, but real-time reporting means we can uncover the truth quicker than ever before and maximize our spend for greatest effect.


There’s nothing like the satisfaction of growing something in virgin soil. A well-tended garden is beautiful to the eye, pleasing to the stomach, and something everyone can enjoy. The same is true for a healthy and vibrant pipeline. Predictable and scalable revenue growth is essential to every organization. So till your fields, plant your crops, give them the love and attention they need, and before you know it, you’ll be feeding your hungry organization healthy and ‘tasty’ revenue. That’s something that everyone will appreciate.

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