If You Speak, Will They Listen?

Yesterday, I was one of two speakers at a webinar hosted by Target Marketing. During our prep call earlier in the week, the host advised us that over 1,000 people had signed up to attend this free event. Now I know from past experience that only 50 percent will likely attend, but another 10 percent to 20 percent will listen to the podcast after the fact. But despite providing case studies, facts and figures based on industry best practices, the disappointing reality is that very few “attendees” will ever try to implement the lessons that I shared

Yesterday, I was one of two speakers at a webinar hosted by Target Marketing. During our prep call earlier in the week, the host advised us that over 1,000 people had signed up to attend this free event.

Now I know from past experience that only 50 percent will likely attend, but another 10 percent to 20 percent will listen to the podcast after the fact. But despite providing case studies, facts and figures based on industry best practices, the disappointing reality is that very few “attendees” will ever try to implement the lessons that I shared.

How do I know this? Because I’ve worked with hundreds of clients and have spoken at dozens of conferences and am continued to be amazed at how many companies feel the need to reinvent the wheel.

For example, when presented with a prospect’s particular marketing challenge and we recommend a fully integrated campaign solution that includes online and offline initiatives, the client says “let’s test to learn what will work best.”

Really?

I’ve been involved in testing for my entire 30+ year marketing career. And I’ve tested offers, colors, premiums, even signature lines, and those can yield very different results client to client. But here’s the one thing I don’t need to test: A fully integrated marketing campaign will outperform a single medium campaign every time. Why? Because different people consume information differently.

Some spend time online and click through banners, buttons or SEM results. Others gather information at conferences and webinars. Still others open and read email and direct mail.

Net-net, at some point, if they have a need, they will raise their hands in some way, whether they accept an inbound call from your sales rep or make a call into your call center. Perhaps they’ll visit your website and download something? Or visit your booth at a tradeshow?

The source of the “lead” will be misleading if you’re trying to measure and prove ROI, because they were exposed to your message in a number of ways and just because they finally raised their hands, you assign them to one channel and credit it with being the driver of leads. The next thing you know, you’re shifting marketing dollars to that one channel, and yet a year later you’re wondering why lead volume is down.

On the other end of the spectrum, I’ll meet new prospects who say their last (single channel) marketing campaign didn’t work. Therefore the (single channel) is a waste of money.

After digging a little deeper, the prospect didn’t really know where the “list” came from, or what the “offer” was or whether the campaign ran during a hurricane which meant that no one was online searching for their particular product during that particular week.

Here’s the key takeaway: Well planned, fully integrated campaigns usually yield the highest number of leads at the lowest cost. And the key to real sales success is the follow up.

Follow up those leads with an intelligent combination of emails and phone calls based on lead value (oh yeah, don’t forget to ask two or three questions when acquiring that lead so you can score its value to the organization), and—here’s the most important part—actually follow up with emails and phone calls that demonstrate to that prospect that you understand his or her pain and have the experience and solutions that can help solve the problem. In other words, talk to them in a language they can understand.

When prospects complete an online form and complete the box that asks “Industry” by choosing “Manufacturing,” don’t contact them as if they are in healthcare. If the forms asks for “Company Size” and the respondent chooses “1 to 10,” then treat that respondent like the small business it is. Demonstrate that you understand the challenges facing small businesses in manufacturing and you’ll gain far more credibility and brand engagement.

The next time management asks you to reinvent the wheel to solve the marketing challenge, tell them you already know what to do, because you’ve done your homework.

Author: Carolyn Goodman

A blog that challenges B-to-B marketers to learn, share, question, and focus on getting it right—the first time. Carolyn Goodman is President/Creative Director of Goodman Marketing Partners. An award-winning creative director, writer and in-demand speaker, Carolyn has spent her 30-year career helping both B-to-B and B-to-C clients cut through business challenges in order to deliver strategically sound, creatively brilliant marketing solutions that deliver on program objectives. To keep her mind sharp, Carolyn can be found most evenings in the boxing ring, practicing various combinations. You can find her at the Goodman Marketing website, on LinkedIn, or on Twitter @CarolynGoodman.

4 thoughts on “If You Speak, Will They Listen?”

  1. Some good points, and maybe a judgements that’s a bit off.
    It is good that you are open to considering that "free" advice is often treated as if it has little or no value. Score and segment leads appropriately and respond in meaningful ways and results are better in the long run. Truisms too oft forgotten.
    While you (and I, and many other consultants/agencies) have lots of ‘experience", the array of ways to connect a consumer/client with a product or service continues to fragment and to multiply. Would you have recommended a Pinterest component to a "fully integrated" campaign 24 months ago, or a QR code on a mailer when that was in its infancy? IMO, you should be pleased that a client says "…lets test…" as long as they are willing to step up for most all of the analytics to measure most of the relevant metrics to be able to make a fair evaluation.
    If proper lead attribution is the issue (or misleading attribution is the problem), then perhaps the burden is on us as the so called mavens/gurus/experts to find or develop more of the research to support the "impressions" and "awareness" components of the campaign.
    One final concern is that I believe that it’s not really fair to mix the discussion of some other firms prior poor execution with a client’s perceptions and prejudices for or against one marketing channel or another. As I say to my children when they tell me they’ve done their homework, … "show it to me."

  2. Some interesting points. However, I’ve also found too many marketing specialists have a "one size fits all" solution. They seem to think they have the answers even though they have no idea of what my company does, who our customers are or what we need.

    A perfect example: I had one marketing person call me and ask "What would you say if I told you I could bring you 10,000 potential new customers in the next month"? My response: "I would say you have no idea of what my business is, who my potential customers are, or how I interact with the. And I would tell you to stop wasting my time".

    When he got done stuttering, I tried to explain to him that we are not a (pick your mass market) etailer, but one which supplies custom solutions to a local market. After a bit of discussion, he made a comment about our company "doing things the old way instead of using modern tools". The call ended at that point, with my telling him to never waste my time again.

    The point here is – no one solution fits all. Take the time to learn my company, my product/service and my customers. Then, and only then, can you give me advice that is useful to me.

    Remember – I may not be the marketing expert – but I know my business better than anyone else.

  3. Good points. I’ve always noted that willingness to proceed with marketing advice counsel obtained through webcasts, etc., seems to correlate with how much, if anything, the attendees paid for the conference. Free conference? The advice goes through one ear and out the other for many. Paid to attend? The number of those who actually listen and implement goes up.

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