If You Build It, Will They Come?

In B-to-B marketing, decision makers (and influencers) are always gathering information about products before they take the next step in the sales cycle. So how do you make sure they have access to, and get, what they need and want? Many corporate websites are chock full of product information—but often located in disparate locations. For a cold prospect, landing on the website home page makes information gathering a daunting, time consuming task.

In B-to-B marketing, decision makers (and influencers) are always gathering information about products before they take the next step in the sales cycle. So how do you make sure they have access to, and get, what they need and want?

Many corporate websites are chock full of product information—but often located in disparate locations. For a cold prospect, landing on the website home page makes information gathering a daunting, time consuming task.

Instead, build a resource center, and organize it such that your target can find and consume it quickly and easily. If you’re targeting key verticals, then organize your site by vertical industry. Then, within each vertical, organize your whitepapers, case studies, product spec sheets, etc.

Use your outbound marketing efforts to drive targets to that microsite. To determine who is visiting and downloading information, “lock” your pages and require visitors to register before they can access the information. Yes, you will get a few “Mickey Mouse” registrants, but those who are most serious are happy to share who they are—if you don’t ask that pesky “how soon are you looking to purchase?” question. Of course we’ve all figured out that you’ll be calling us first if we answer “within 1 month!”

Be sure to have a plan in place to get a list of who has been visiting your Resource Center every day—and a plan as to how to follow up with these leads. There is NOTHING more annoying than getting a phone call that says “You downloaded a white paper last month and I’m calling to see if you want more information.” My response is “I download lots of whitepapers—I can’t even remember which whitepaper you’re talking about, so no, I’m not interested.”

A better follow up plan is to have a real reason to follow up—an invitation to a webinar where a professional user of the product is talking about his/her experience with the product. Or an invitation to a breakfast briefing where some C-level is going to talk about how his/her business was transformed (and the product was part of the solution).

Business leaders are always seeking ideas and ways to make their business more productive. But if you make them do all the work to find out how, or where, they may show up the first time, but they will not come back. Ever.

Left Hand? I’d Like to Introduce Right Hand

What happened to good, old fashioned, “please” and “thank you”? As a customer, it’s nice to be thanked for my business, or appreciated for my subscription to a service. It makes me feel part of the brand and valued for my investment. But as a cold prospect, it’s even more important since making a good impression should always be part of the process. So why is it missing from so many marketing communications programs?

What happened to good, old fashioned, “please” and “thank you”?

As a customer, it’s nice to be thanked for my business, or appreciated for my subscription to a service. It makes me feel part of the brand and valued for my investment. But as a cold prospect, it’s even more important since making a good impression should always be part of the process. So why is it missing from so many marketing communications programs?

After attending a B-to-B webinar recently, I fully expected to receive a follow-up email thanking me for my attendance, and a continued nurturing of me along their sales cycle: A request for a meeting, an invitation to participate in a live demo, or even a link to a case study or two that were geared to my industry. Instead, I got an email that sounded as if they were talking to a cold prospect.

Perhaps the marketing manager failed to merge/purge the webinar registration/attendee list against their cold prospecting list (tsk, tsk, tsk). But I suspect this business didn’t even think to conduct a merge/purge. Why?

Because, like most mid-to-large B-to-B organizations, one marketing manager is responsible for acquisition and someone else is responsible for sales support—and it seems that neither of them talk to each other … EVER.

If this company maintains a database, I should be flagged as “responded” AND “attended an event” so the sales team can take over the management of this “lead.” I’ve met with many, many organizations that don’t have a lead database (or, even worse, they have multiple databases because no one is happy with the company solution, or the solution is too hard to manage/maintain). Worse still, they may have a customer database, but it’s not well maintained, or is too difficult to access/use. So when it comes time to upsell or cross-sell a product, they don’t even know who their customers are, or how to talk to them in a meaningful way.

Thus we circle back to my dilemma. How can you thank me for attending an event and start to sell me on your product/solution, if you don’t know that I attended in the first place?

As marketers, we’re all busy with our heads down, trying to get work out the door. I get it. But at some point, you have to stop all the day-to-day madness and realize that you’re just putting off the inevitable. Insist on investing in a proper marketing database and a database manager to help your company communicate with more intelligence and insight. In turn, that will lead to your ability to target any particular audience and craft smarter, more relevant marketing messages, which will, in turn, lead to better results. I guarantee it.

Oh, and you’re welcome.