How Do Digital Cameras and B2B Marketing Automation Tools Drive Similar Behavior?

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Think about what the digital camera has done to the average picture taker. In the “old days” of film you had to be selective with the pictures you took as film was expensive and you only had 24-36 pictures at your disposal (unless you were carrying extra rolls of film). Once the roll was done you had it developed and hoped for around 70% of the pictures on the roll to result in a quality photo. As you gained experience you slowly became a better and better picture taker, learning through trial and error what environmental factors drove the quality of your photos. Even without the ability to instantly receive feedback on the picture quality your average quality photo per roll percentage grew to around 90%. As a picture taker, you were forced by the limitations of your technology to become better if you wanted to increase quality, reduce cost, and avoid the opportunity cost of not capturing those “once in a lifetime” moments.

Then came the digital camera and all its benefits!?!
Much to Kodak and Fuji’s dismay the digital camera was a revolution not an evolution. Almost overnight the digital camera brought immense benefits that film was no match for. Loaded with a 2GB memory card, a digital camera can hold 180 pictures at “no cost.” In addition, the photographer (I use that term loosely) can review the photos instantly for quality and immediate feedback. This technology enabled and afforded the average picture taker the ability to snap as many pictures per minute as a professional sports photographer sponsored by Kodak. In addition, the digital camera user gained the benefit of instant feedback on the quality of their pictures. By reviewing photo’s as they were taken the picture taker could, in theory, accelerate their photography learning curve. The digital camera was going to enable “average Joe” to capture images like a Pro!

The Problem
The problem is that most digital camera owners are under-skilled and “trigger” happy, quickly filling their memory cards with 180 images hoping that a few of the pictures will turn out. Sadly, the average digital camera owner rarely, if ever, learns anything about taking a better picture. Further more, newer digital camera’s and photo software are loaded with capabilities and advanced technology that most users never learn how to take advantage of. As an example, the average digital camera user rarely reviews and filters their photos for quality before dumping them on the home hard drive. It is only when these snap happy and skill deprived picture takers want to do something with their pictures a few months or few years later that they learn what a mess they have created. 3-hours into cleaning up bad photos and realizing the images they hoped they had captured do not exist within their multiple GB’s of images do they learn what the cost of not becoming a more skilled photographer truly is.

B2B marketing technology advances are accelerants not replacements
Unfortunately many of today’s B2B marketers exhibit very similar behaviors to the average digital camera owner.

  • The cost of gathering unqualified inquiries and contacts through list sources and database providers has dropped substantially over the last 5-10 years, not unlike the cost of taking a picture. As a result, many marketers have become less concerned with precise targeting, qualifying, and filtering and more driven by the quantity of inquiries they can generate.
  • A majority of B2B marketers do not filter, cleanse, and pre-qualify the inquiries and contacts they have captured before loading them into their marketing database, SFA, CRM system. Unfortunately, unlike the average digital camera owner who’s only expense is time to filter through their gigabytes of bad photo’s, the B2B marketer creates significant expense and opportunity cost for their organization.
  • For many, the low cost and automated inquiry capture tools available to the B2B marketer have become an easy “solution” rather than an enabler to enhance the lead lifecycle management processes and lead generation programs already in place.

While it shows my age that I have a decade or more of film based photography under my belt I am glad for the experience. Without the cost and quality drivers of a film based camera I may not have become the photographer I am today. And yes, the digital camera has enabled me to become even better. The question is, how many of us can say the same regarding our use of marketing automation technology?

Brian Steel
Performark
Brian Steel is responsible for driving Performark's overall sales of lead life-cycle management solutions encompassing database services, inquiry management, lead generation,and lead nurturing. He was a pioneer in the area core business process outsourcing sales and marketing, working for industry leaders Kodak and Xerox. You can visit his blog at B2B Lead Lifecycle Management .

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