The Q4 trap and how to avoid it

What happens when Sales just needs “a few more deals” to hit the number? 

Oh, we’ve all been there! 

It happens all the time, but especially in Q4, which is coming up in like 25 minutes. 

First up, the light version: The good old “closed/lost” campaign. Oh boy! 

“Hey, there are 358 closed/lost deals here – surely some of them would reconsider. Let’s send them some emails and see who wants to book a meeting.”

Innocent and reasonable?

Maybe. But here’s the issue: Your opportunity cost is too high to entertain this sh!t. 

Sure, it pleases Sales and probably Leadership too. And yes, it might add something to the pipeline and maybe even bring in a deal. 

But what it doesn’t do is help you figure out growth. 

The repeatability value here is so freakin’ limited. And there are virtually no meaningful insights to draw from these campaigns. 

Meanwhile, they end up burning far more cycles than they should. 

They seem innocent, right? But by the time every aspect has been debated, copy has been edited and approved and RevOps issues have been resolved, it wasn’t really that quick.

Now consider the more involved one: ABM campaign with emails, ads, the works. 

“Hey, I know we don’t really have a proper ABM program, but we should find a way to break into these accounts, right? We’ll pull together a list.”

Again, Sales loves this, and it’s easy to sell to the rest of Leadership too. 

But what will you actually learn?

Remember, we take a formula approach to growth. We don’t believe marketing is about trying a bunch of channels and tactics to eventually double down on what’s working. 

It’s fine in the super early days, but very quickly it gets far too inefficient and risky. It’s too costly! 

Instead we look at three core elements: 

  • What is the primary distribution into our audience that builds consumption habits?
  • How can we drive our audience to aha moments around our brand narrative?
  • How can we deliver the core value of our offering pre purchase?

That’s how we can reduce friction and acquire more customers.

So it’s not that ABM can’t be a viable approach. But if it doesn’t represent a primary distribution path for aha moments and core value, then it’s most likely going to be a waste. 

Up until recently, we haven’t had this “formula filter” to run these kinds of campaign ideas through.

And while an ABM campaign can certainly drive pipeline, a one-off arguably does more harm than good in total for resource-constrained marketing teams up against targets that only seem to go up. 

Again, opportunity cost. 

The loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen. 

If we aren’t working towards figuring out how we can repeatedly acquire new customers, we’re on borrowed time anyway. That’s just the reality. Clock’s ticking.

So if we know that, what gets in the way? Three main issues: 

  1. We’re conditioned to think about marketing as campaigns
  2. We’re stuck in funnel thinking without realizing it
  3. We’re playing more defense than offense

Let’s go one by one here…

Conditioned for Campaigns

If we’re not running campaigns, what are we doing? That’s probably what it feels like for many marketers. It’s like we need something time-bound to wrap our arms (and heads) around. If we’re not targeting specific accounts or contacts, are we even marketing?! Eh…

Stuck in Funnel Thinking

The funnel is the foundation of B2B marketing. It’s so established that even when we think we’re doing something else, it’s still based on (or leading to) funnel thinking. It’s our underlying belief that awareness can turn into revenue with the right influence along the way. Ugh!

Playing Defense

We all want to believe we’re playing offense, but the reality is most B2B marketers in regular companies end up playing defense without realizing it. There’s a fine line between wanting to be held accountable to revenue and desperately trying to prove that Marketing is valuable too. Ouch.

These pressures only intensify in the second half of the year. 

And that’s when we need to stand up. 

We need to focus on the right insights, operate with discipline and focus and stay committed to solving the real growth problems for the business. That’s the job. If we’re hiring help, we should hire help for that. 

Sure, we can be team players, but we should not be spending precious cycles trying to appease others. We need to build our own momentum.

Our biggest opportunity is to lead the conversation about how the business should drive growth that can sustain and even compound, and that’s the opportunity we should pursue. 

If nothing else, please just know that you shouldn’t have to agree to any one-off campaign. You’re far more valuable than that. 

- Your partners in growth at Elevate Demand

PS: Exactly one year ago, we wrote this about the most important thing, and we still believe it holds true :)