There’s a giddy excitement the first morning you start a new job. Your outfit is carefully considered, you leave with 15 minutes to spare, and if you’re smart you stop for a dozen assorted at Dunkin Donuts to grease some palms with custard filling. When I started as a Senior Copywriter at Intelligent Demand this Monday, I was ready to take on the demand generation world, one incredibly well-crafted and well-timed piece of content at a time. Five days later I’m officially schooled in how much I still have to learn. This group of super smart people are taking major business objectives in complex industries and providing both high-level vision and down-in-the-weeds tactical plans to deliver dramatic increases in revenue. It’s legit hard. Here’s what I’m picking up along the way:
1. ACRONYMS: A Crazy Righteous Option (for) Naming Your Memo System
So many acronyms. It’s an alphabet soup up in here. IPA, RED, BUD. Turns out these are relevant inbound marketing terms not just different kinds of beer. But I’m building a reference glossary so the letters are starting to make sense, and I can even string a couple together into coherent logic trains. There’s a good reason for the naming conventions: With so many campaigns and complex programs, we need to have an effective shorthand to communicate clearly. If we typed everything out, our email subject lines would be longer than your high school friend’s political rants on Facebook. The business operations team runs a tight ship where thousands of pieces of communication can be easily accessed…as long as you learn the glossary!
2. What Strategy Means at ID
“Strategy” can mean a lot of different things at different marketing agencies. It can range from simply industry best practices to the kind of higher-level thinking that transforms revenue models. Strategy at ID is an essential function of every team member’s job. There are not “strategists” because everyone contributes to the road map and understands where their expertise can add value to a campaign or program.
My first day I sat in a meeting that got into the nuts and bolts of one of the most complex marketing programs I’ve ever seen. We’re talking sub-sub-sub campaigns, mapping lead nurture across the buyer’s journey and down the sales funnel, retargeting based on previous touches and interactive content that gates to entirely different programs. I left with a mild panic attack. But the next day someone took the time to walk me through the big picture road map and give me a “You Are Here” star to orient myself around. I was able to see where we were going and how we were going to get there.
The strategies here are complex, but incredibly logical and no more complex than they need to be to accomplish business goals. To paraphrase a guy called Einstein, “They are as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
3. What a Demand Generation Strategy Can Do Above and Beyond Leads
ID demand generation programs are built to drive qualified leads, and drive leads they do, but they also provide a framework to combat Random Acts of Marketing (or RAM, since we need to use acronyms). Internal marketers face a ton of shifting priorities including pop-up projects and directives from multiple departments. Having a strategic framework already in place allows our clients to align new initiatives with existing programs so they can not only say “Sure!” to internal stakeholders, but also demonstrate where that ask fits into the overall revenue generation picture.
For example, say a dog sweater company CEO decides there needs to be a fashion show with all the glitterati and industry big wigs in attendance. If there is an existing multi-stage campaign built for events, the marketing manager can simply plug in the specifics and have a complex lead generation and nurture campaign in place for recruiting and following up with attendees. Then all they have to do is order the doggie bags.
All of this is a lot to take in over the course of a week. However, I was reassured by our Fearless Leader, John Common’s, talk at our All Hands meeting. He reminded us that we are trying to be excellent and that it’s really hard to be excellent. There’s a reason most organizations maintain stasis at good enough: There’s a level of effort that works, that gets the bills paid, that keeps you above water. But excellence requires more, and that extra effort often causes fear, intimidation, anxiety, and a host of other squirmy feelings most people medicate against. If I had waltzed in here and felt like I had it down right away it would be comfortable, but not challenging. And if there’s one thing I like, it’s a challenge.