One of the greatest misconceptions about success in the ultra-competitive restaurant business is that all you need is a talented chef. It is far from being that easy. In his book Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain talks affectionately about his mentor, “Bigfoot,” who may not know how to make guacamole, but who would take Bourdain’s recipe and break it down ingredient by ingredient, gram by gram, showing him how guacamole can be done faster, better, cheaper. He knows to the atom how much of each ingredient goes in for how much eventual yield. He knows where to get the best avocados cheapest, how to ripen them, store them, sell them, merchandize them.¹
This may sound a little far-fetched to apply this situation to B2B marketing. However, upon closer examination, you would realize that many similarities exist, because just like in the restaurant business, success in B2B marketing requires a clever orchestration of many specialists’ efforts. That is why any company that is serious about generating more sales-ready leads in a cost-effective manner can draw some guidance from Anthony Bourdain’s experience.
Are you doing or re-doing someone else’s job?
The first lesson is the need to clarify roles and responsibilities. Bigfoot is not a chef and he does not aspire to be one; he’s a restaurant manager. His role is not to gain a Michelin star at any cost but to ensure he maximizes the profitability of the restaurant he manages. In the B2B marketing world, it is quite surprising to see that many high-level executives spend time crafting the perfect email or editing copy for corporate brochures, adding a comma here and there, when they actually have no clue about the performance ratios that would provide insights on how to improve the impact and ROI of their marketing initiatives. Is their time truly being well spent on doing—or redoing—the specialist’s job?
Are you tracking marketing performance the way you should?
The second lesson is the importance of adopting a global approach. Bigfoot does not only find the best suppliers for quality produce, he also works hard on improving the storing conditions to extend the lifespan of fresh produce, because the first attempt is useless without the second one. On your end, you may use the cost per lead as your benchmark to measure the performance of your marketing initiatives, and at first a campaign with a $500 cost per lead looks better than a campaign with an $800 cost per lead. Except that you won’t really know for sure until you have a closed-loop process that allows you to analyze the quality of those leads, and in particular their sales conversion ratio. Thus the importance of considering sales and marketing performance jointly and not in silos as is so often the case. Bigfoot knows it.
Are you spending your time the right way?
The third point is that “the best” is the enemy of “the good”. Sure, attention to details is good… to a point. Your communications need to be to clear and without spelling or grammar errors, your campaigns should be thought of down to the smallest details, but if you are editing the 18th version of the email invite, it is time to step back. Are all those edits truly necessary? What difference will they make on the final result? What is their impact on the marketing budget? Bigfoot would never tolerate you spending five hours to prepare guacamole. He’d rather take it off the menu.
What would Bigfoot do?
As surprising as it may sound, the companies that excel at lead generation are not necessarily the ones that have the most beautiful brochures or websites. They are the ones that, just like Bigfoot, know their ratios extremely well and constantly look for new ways to refine their processes whether for lead generation, lead nurturing or lead management. This is no easy task and is often a thankless job in the sense that there is no “wow” factor like what you may have when creating a new website. It is however a very effective approach. So the question is: where would you rather concentrate your efforts?
¹ Bourdain, Anthony (2000) Kitchen Confidential, page 92, Bloomsbury.