More Rules and Regulations for Content Marketers

So, content marketers, let’s talk about the regulatory environment more broadly, because one thing is for certain: the web, as wild and woolly as online discourse may be, is no longer the Wild West. Online marketing is now being held to a much higher standard.

Privacy protection, accessibility, and copyright —  oh, my!

Last time around, we talked about data privacy regulations as they apply to non-transactional sites. As confusing a landscape as those regulations currently present, they’re not the only regulations with which you need to be aware and compliant.

So, let’s talk about the regulatory environment more broadly, because one thing is for certain: the web, as wild and woolly as online discourse may be, is no longer the Wild West. Online marketing is now being held to a much higher standard than it has been, so you’ll want to be sure you have a plan in place to build your site by the book and to remain compliant. Otherwise, you risk spending more time talking to lawyers than to prospects.

Accessibility

If you built your website without accessibility in mind, chances are you’re not going to be happy when your website developers tell you what it’s going to cost to make it compliant. In many cases, it can make more sense to start from scratch, given the investment involved.

On the plus side, the cost to design and build a new website with compliance in mind is only incrementally greater than building that same site without WCAG Level AA compliance as your goal.

There is some extra work to be done, but for the most part, compliance requires a change in mindset for designers and some slightly different coding tactics for the dev team. Once that’s in place, it’s really only a matter of making sure new content additions are made in a compliant manner. (Image alt tags must be included, for example.)

You’ll want to include an accessibility statement on your site that includes a way for visitors who are having trouble consuming your content to contact you and seek remediation.

Privacy and Data Protection

As we’ve discussed, you need a privacy policy and you need to abide by it. If you haven’t told people that you’re planning on selling their email addresses to the highest bidder, you probably can’t. (Regulations differ by jurisdiction and industry; check with a lawyer.)

Once you have a collection of data, you need to take steps to keep that data safe, both in storage and in any transmittal or other use. Again, your industry may have specific compliance standards that you have to meet, and you may need to document the protections you’ve put in place.

Copyright

If you don’t own it, don’t publish it. This should be obvious, but often marketers make mistakes that can be costly.

Images are the most common area where errors occur. Doing a web search and then publishing any old image you find is a recipe for disaster. Going through a respected stock image library and paying for the images you use is the safest approach.

If you’d prefer not to go that route, you can use the Google Advanced Image Search tool. It is an excellent way to search for images to use in your digital marketing if you filter to include only those that are “free to use, share, or modify, even commercially.”

Don’t even think about trying to use an image from a stock image library without licensing it. They can and will find you. They can and will demand payment, usually well beyond what the initial license would have cost. (Also worth noting is that technically, for most stock image libraries, any image you use should be licensed under your firm’s name rather than by your design agency. That approach is also just smart business, because you may not always be working with that design team.)

When copy is purloined, it’s even easier to track down. Even if you get away with it, the search engines may very well penalize you for publishing duplicate content. There are other ways to get on the search engines’ bad sides, so be careful if you’re republishing content from other sources, even if it’s content that you have the right to republish.

Finally, think twice before stealing code. It’s an open source world, but that doesn’t mean you’re free to take and use anything you find in your travels. At the very least, attribution may be required. Most code libraries, snippets, etc., may require license fees — regardless of how they’re used. Some require payment only if you want updates or support. This can be harder for marketers to police, so be sure to have a regularly scheduled review with your dev team.

Spend Time on This

These regulations — and whatever may be coming down the pike in the future — make investing in digital expertise ever more important. Your team needs the time and mandate to stay on top of what regulations apply to your business and best practices for remaining compliant.

12 Marketing Tips for Successful B2B Lead Qualification

B2B marketers understand the importance of qualifying a lead before it goes to a salesperson, but sometimes the lead qualification process can get tricky. Today, most established companies assign the qualification role to an SDR.

B2B marketers understand the importance of qualifying a lead before it goes to a salesperson, but sometimes the lead qualification process can get tricky. Today, most established companies assign the qualification role to an SDR, or sales development rep — a dedicated function that has one foot in sales and one in marketing.

But it’s all part of a fairly complicated process. To establish process effectively, follow these tips.

First, set your qualification criteria in concert with your sales counterparts. Think well beyond the simple score generated by your marketing automation system. Then, set up your process. As you plan, here are 12 key points to guide B2B marketers in improving their results:

Prepare Your Web Form

Direct your campaign inquiries to a web-based response form for their preliminary qualification, especially in a high-volume environment. Self-reporting on the web saves money for you and time for your prospect. Adding qualification questions to your form is going to reduce campaign response rates, but pays off in efficient lead-handling.

Start With Email

For outbound inquiry qualification, email is today’s preferred medium. Design your emails to link to a web-based qualification form. Make sure it’s mobile-friendly. Your emails and web forms should also offer several other response media options, including email, phone, and social media. Try adding a “call me now” feature.

Be Realistic About Tele-qualifying

Today’s businesspeople are rarely at their desks. Even if they are, they’re likely to let their calls go to voice mail as screener. Expect tele-qualification to require between eight and 12 attempts. Be sure to have a script ready when the phone call goes to voice mail.

Mix Your Marketing Channels

Set up an alternating qualification message series, by medium. If email doesn’t work, try the phone; or, if the phone doesn’t work, try postal mail. Include LinkedIn as part of the mix.

Prepare Your Talking Points

If you’re using the phone to qualify, make sure your script is more about prospects and their needs and less about your company and your products.

Set Your Maximum Number of Touches

Set them in advance, and base them on a reasonable number of contacts. For instance, if the prospect is unreachable after five phone calls and five emails, you may want to call it quits. But keep testing the cadence and frequency, for continuous improvement. The ROI on a customer relationship can be sizable enough to justify a long series of attempts.

Have a Nurturing Program in Place

Have the program in place as your Plan B. Some inquirers are in the earliest stages of research, and nowhere near ready to talk to a salesperson. But they may be eventually. If qualification outreach fails, move them to nurturing, which is a series of communications designed to keep the relationship going until the prospect is ready for the next step.

Determine When to Quit

If nurturing goes nowhere, put the name back in the marketing database for re-promotion and flag the record accordingly. If the prospect shows interest again, follow the process.

Adjust the Process to the Customer’s Situation

You can’t force customers to be ready, but you can — and must — be there when they become ready.

Manage Inquiries on a First-In-First-Out Basis

Do this so that no lead gets cold while waiting to go to sales.

Make Sure Your Qualifiers Concentrate on Qualifying

This might seem obvious, but especially on the phone, it can be tempting to move into a sales conversation. Their only job — a hugely important one — should be to qualify, and set appointments on behalf of a salesperson.

Customize Your Outbound Channel to the Incoming Medium

Respondents through digital channels expect fast — instant — response. So, use the tools needed to deliver; whether it’s autoresponders, chatbots, or 24-hour call centers.

 

A version of this article appeared in Biznology, the digital marketing blog.

How to Find New Customers, Based on Current Customers, With a Targeted Mail List

When you need to acquire new customers, purchasing a targeted mail list is the way to reach them. However, some lists are better than others. We talked about five types of prospecting lists in the last post; now, we will discuss analytics for profiling and modeling lists.

Your mailing list is critical to your mailing results. When you need to acquire new customers, purchasing a targeted mail list is the way to reach them. However, some lists are better than others. We talked about five types of prospecting lists in the last post; now, we will discuss analytics for profiling and modeling lists.

The better your list is targeted, the better your response rate will be.

  • Descriptive Analytics: Is a profile that describes common attributes of your customers and helps to target, based on demographic lookalikes. The market penetration of each attribute shows the comparison between customers and overall population living in the same geo area, with the same attributes, where each element is examined separately. Basically, you will see who your best customers are and find prospects just like them.
  • Predictive Analytics: Is a model that finds how two or more groups are similar or dissimilar. For example, buyers vs. non-buyers; or responders vs. non-responders. Then it assigns a score that represents a probability-to-act, based on the interaction of several attributes. That way, you can get a better idea of who buys what in order to find more people like them.

So why would you want to try one of these options? You can expect an improved response rate, more effective cross-sell and up-sell opportunities, and the ability to build better loyalty programs, because you understand people better. These processes help you identify prospects who “look like” your best customers.

Profiling allows you to profile your best customers (B2C or B2B) and find out what makes them different from others in your target market. You can target new prospects who are the most likely to respond, purchase, or renew, based on your customer data. You can gain precise information about your customers, based on the statistical analysis of key activities. Finally, you will understand the lifetime value of customers, including their probability to respond and purchase products, with a highly advanced model.

Predictive modeling is a process that analyzes the past and current activities or behaviors of two groups to improve future results. This is accomplished between the comparisons of two groups of data. The differences are assessed to identify whether a pattern exists and if it is likely to repeat itself. Scores can be applied to prospect data purchases, or to segment client data for marketing.

Both provide great opportunities for you to target and reach prospects who are more likely to be interested in what you are selling. This way, your offer resonates with them and compels action. This is another way to increase your ROI, as well as save money. You are mailing to only qualified people, so there are less pieces to print and mail. Keep in mind that your customer list is going to get the best response rates, but a highly targeted list like these will have higher response rates than an average purchase list. Are you ready to profile and model your list?

 

Need Prospects? 5 Direct Mailing List Types to Help You Find Them

Direct mail is a great way to reach targeted prospects to turn them into customers, but how do you select the right prospects? There are so many mailing list options, it can feel overwhelming. Let’s look at the various list options.

Direct mail is a great way to reach targeted prospects to turn them into customers, but how do you select the right prospects? There are so many mailing list options, it can feel overwhelming.

Let’s look at the various list options.

Prospect data is marketing data that has been collected and compiled for the purpose of new customer acquisition. This data is compiled from a variety of public record sources, including deed recordings, surveys, telephone directories, self-reported and more.

5 Prospect List Types

  1. Residential/Occupant: This list is compiled from USPS intelligence carrier route-level demographics, and you can segment businesses. The purpose of this type of list is to saturate an area and have names associated with it, along with census demographics, unlike EDDM. The advantage of this list is deep postal discounts. The disadvantages are the ability to only target to the ZIP-carrier route level, there are fewer options for personalization, and it uses only postal data.
  2. Consumer: This list can be selected by demographics, psychographics, life stage, lifestyles, behavioral, new mover, new homeowner, new borrower, new connect, pre-mover, mortgage/loan, and property data. The purpose of this type of list is to target consumers at their home addresses. The advantages of this list are: controlling who receives your offer; rich demographics selects for enhanced targeting, so you can use variable data for creative optimization; you can use look-alike targeting through the use of demographic profiles; and there are multi-channel opportunities.
  3. Business: This list can be selected by contact names, job titles, company size, ownership status, square footage, own vs. rent, years in business, business expenses, credit rating, SIC, and NAICS. The purpose of this list is finding businesses and/or business professionals. The advantage of this list is you can target specific types of businesses and key contacts within them.
  4. Specialty: This list can be selected by many things. Here are some of them: automotive, hospitals, doctors and nurses, education, government, voters, clubs/nonprofits, insurance agents, pilots, realtors, churches, or pool owners. The purpose of this list is to be able to target consumers or businesses based on specific niche attributes most commonly related to occupation/profession. The advantage of this list is a highly targeted audience.
  5. Managed: This list can be selected by niche marketing, RFM, subscriber files, specific purchases, past purchases, hotline buyers, multi-buyers, responders, or donors. The purpose of this type of list is the ability to identify consumers and businesses by their actions and affinities; to benefit from RFM (recency, frequency, and monetary value). The advantage of this type of list is significant targeting.

Keep in mind that the cost of prospecting lists goes up, the more targeted you get. However, by targeting correctly, you can send fewer mail pieces to more people who are most likely to buy from you. You can save money, send to the right segment of people, and increase your ROI when you mail to the right people.

There is also the option of profiling your current customers and then finding like people in your marketplace, which we will discuss in the next article. Are you ready to select your prospect list?

Prospect Experience Marketing: Find the Gold in Your Lead Generation Program

I recently caught up with Dan McDade, a longtime B2B practitioner in lead qualification and nurturing. I’ve been a fan of his for years. Here, we talk about prospect experience marketing.

I recently caught up with Dan McDade, a longtime B2B practitioner in lead qualification and nurturing. I’ve been a fan of his for years. Here, we talk about prospect experience marketing.

Prospect Experience Marketing
Dan McDade

Having sold his call center business to a colleague, and started a new venture, McDade offered me some fresh ways of thinking about how to treat top prospects. His new business is called Prospect Experience.

Ruth P. Stevens: You’ve been involved in the lead generation world for a long time. How has it changed?

Dan McDade: The big changes have been in the use of marketing technology. Certainly, technology lets us deliver more leads to sales, faster than ever before. But just as often, these are bad leads. Lead generation success rests on quality — not quantity, and not speed.

Stevens: What are the top challenges that still vex B2B marketers today?

McDade: Companies tend to market too broadly. Messaging is overly focused on features and functions, or what some people call bits and bytes. Narrowing down the target universe, creating a differentiating message and delivering that message with the right media at the right time are all critically important requirements that elude many, if not most, marketers today.

Stevens: What’s working in lead gen and lead development? Your advice, please!

McDade: It is all about balance. We used to say that multi-touch, multi-media and multi-cycle marketing multiplied results. That is now called the “cadence,” and it works. The secret is in mixing up the media. You can’t depend entirely on email. You need balance. Use phone calls, voicemails, emails, and even some direct mail to invite prospects into a dialogue.

In my opinion, too much of the prospecting is being handled by a black box. Not enough marketing is truly one-to-one. For every prospect universe, something like 30 to 40% of those prospects should not be included in marketing automation campaigns, at all. These prospects are just too important to risk with a one-to-many approach. Senior executives don’t want to be treated like a pinball, where they only get your attention after they have hit the right bumpers and scored enough points.

Stevens: I see. That’s a very interesting and important point. How do you suggest marketers identify those high-value prospects early, so they can pull them out of the automated campaigns and treat them differently?

McDade: At the beginning, you need to use your knowledge of the market, and some intuition, to segment the market into logical homogenous groups. Once market outreach begins, you segment and re-segment the targets based on variables like industry, firmographics, and sales history. Let me suggest this article to your readers for more detail.

Stevens: And how, specifically, to you recommend marketers treat these top prospects? Not via email, I gather!

McDade: Email can, in fact, be a part of the equation. But it must be personalized — for real. It can’t be what some folks call “personalization, at scale.” As I said, it is necessary to use cadences to mix up the media, tell the story, and convert the prospect. Using all of the tools available — phone, voicemail, email, direct mail, and social media — is critical to success. You need to be persistent, patient, and professional.

Stevens: You mentioned that you see the keys to success in what you call the Three M’s. What’s that?

McDade: When something is “off” on a program, the first place we look is by analyzing the market, message, and media. On the market, for example, if you start with a bad list, it is very difficult to recover.

The message breaks down into two components: value statements and differentiators.  It takes a lot of time and effort to get these right. And the work is never done. You are constantly testing against the control, or the original message, to fine-tune and improve your story.

Finally, the media issue can be as simple as two different sales development reps producing different results. We have had situations where the difference was just the luck of the draw. But more likely, it turns out that one rep is following instructions, with success, and the other refuses to follow the rules and is losing.

Stevens: What is your new company, Prospect Experience, all about?

McDade: The goal for Prospect Experience is to humanize the process of converting prospects to customers. Prospects today are called by pushy appointment setters, or being read tedious scripts by low-level telemarketers, or being barraged with email. Frankly, prospects are treated like dirt.

Maybe that is why less than half of the salespeople out there are making quota. With the right approach, marketers can convert more prospects to customers for less money than they are currently spending. I developed a process called the “12-Point Prospect-Experience Transformation” to help companies perfect their prospecting and enhance the prospect experience

Stevens: How can people get in touch with you to learn more?

McDade: I am happy to field emails or calls at dan.mcdade@prospect-experience.com, or 770-262-9021. I also encourage people to visit https://www.prospect-experience.com/insights to sign up for our blog.

A version of this article appeared in Biznology, the digital marketing blog.

How Brands Can Align Content Marketing With Sales

If your sales team doesn’t like the leads your marketing team is sending them, you should be inviting those marketing folks to sit in on sales calls to help them create the right content marketing programs.

If your sales team doesn’t like the leads your marketing team is sending them, you should be inviting those marketing folks to sit in on sales calls to help them create the right content marketing programs.

It’s not news that sales teams and marketers think differently and, uh, occasionally disagree. Your chances of completely eliminating those clashes are pretty slim, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get the two teams to work together more effectively. One way to do this is to encourage your sales team to invite their marketing counterparts out on sales calls with them. Here’s what they might learn.

What Do Prospects Really Care About?

One of the key data points for marketers is the critical questions that prospects ask about the sales team about your solution and how it relates to their problem. Marketers who are developing content marketing programs need to be absolutely certain that their material makes clear how you answer those critical questions. Hearing those questions straight from the horses mouth, so to speak, is likely to provide insights that hearing the same information filtered through the sales team’s own lens won’t.

Pain Points

Pain points are the next step as you drill down from the big picture critical questions to the nitty-gritty issues that your prospects feel every day. Your sales team can undoubtedly recite the top 10 pain points in their sleep. But, as above, familiarity may create missed opportunities. Marketers, hearing the information directly rather than through the sales team (and coming at the situation with content in mind, rather than closing), can find inspiration for new ways to connect the dots between prospects’ concerns and the solutions you offer.

Positioning

Marketing may also gain insights into how the sales team is positioning the firm’s products and services. Again, this is critical to the content they develop, as well as calls to action lead magnets. Any disconnect between what the prospect has learned from the marketing materials they’ve consumed and the message they get from the sales team can doom chances of conversion.

It’s also important for marketers to hear prospects at different points in their buying journey. Those who are ready to make a final decision will have much different concerns than prospects who are in touch with the sales team for the first time.

Ultimately these  “ride-alongs” are one more way that sales and marketing teams can communicate better, provide one another with the information to make everyone’s job easier, and get better results.

In Content Marketing, It’s Not What You Know — It’s What You Know About Your Audience

Marketers need to know something about their target audience and they need to know how to paint an accurate picture of their ideal customers.

Our crazy upside-down world offers plenty of evidence that, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” But while that might get you $26 million worth of Instagram endorsement deals, in content marketing, you have to know something — as well as someone.

In fact, you need to know something about someone — specifically, your target audience. With that in mind, it’s worth considering the tools and techniques we use to paint an accurate picture of our ideal customers.

Established Client Interviews

Though you’ll hear many an expert talk about prospect personas as the ideal starting point, for most of us, it’s easier to establish a baseline by interviewing our existing clients to find out what motivated them to seek out a solution. You’ll also want to understand what differentiated you in their minds from your competitors — and from other possible solutions.

That information should form the backbone of your content marketing efforts, your broader marketing efforts, and even your sales team’s approach.

Interviewing Prospects and New Clients

Naturally, you’re going to want to start your interviews with your best clients. That makes sense on one level, because an established and long-standing relationship will make the ask easier and a positive response more likely. But low-hanging fruit has its limitations, including faded memories of long-ago meetings not necessarily being as useful as we’d like. It’s worthwhile to look deeper into your client pool.

As you talk to newer clients, the goal of each interview should be to determine

  • What pain the client is experiencing
  • The (negative) impact that pain point is causing their business
  • The risks posed by trying something new
  • How they perceived you vs. your competitors

These are also great questions for prospects who you have lost, assuming you forged enough of a relationship during the courtship to gain a few more minutes of their time. In fact, you should encourage your sales team to ask lost prospects  questions around, “Why not us?”

Prospect Personas for Content Marketing

All of this interview information can be combined with basic knowledge you have about your clients, prospects and targets to create the outlines of your prospect personas. This will include things like target industries and typical roles for your prospects. The rest of the persona-building process is a topic for a separate article, but you’ll certainly want to flesh out your ideal prospects in as much detail as possible. Which brings us to our next critical layer: the human element.

The Human Element in B2B Content Marketing

The human element is, arguably, more important than any other consideration. We’re not talking here about the smarmy tendency of some salespeople to research individual prospects’ alma maters and open a meeting with something along the lines of, “How ‘bout them Huskies!”

There is value in connecting on that very individual level. But first, we simply want to remember that our prospects, even though we are B2B marketers, are human. They have human concerns in the office, just as they do at home and on weekends. Getting too personal can be creepy, but I’m not sure there is such a thing as too human. Strive to make that human element a part of your marketing.

Don’t Forget the Data

It might seem a hard shift from the human element to data, but quite the opposite is true. Data is what gives us the ability to focus our marketing much more tightly than our B2C brethren often can. And that focus is another way we can humanize our message. We’re not trying to be all things to all people. Let the data guide you toward the areas where you can be more human and connect more completely with your audience’s needs and their (perhaps unexpressed) concerns surrounding risk and reward.

Data can take the form of general quantitative data, like how popular was a particular piece of content we’ve created. And it can take a more personalized form in basing upcoming touchpoints with prospects based on the content they’ve interacted with most recently. You’ll want to combine as many data sources as possible to fill in both the foreground and background of the picture you’re painting.

The Cost Marketing Pays When Sales Misuses the CRM

Bad things happen when sales reps ignore all of the insights their organization’s marketers place in the CRM system. From management not being able to discern how pipeline strength correlates to sales activity to them simply focusing on closed deals, erasing CRM’s impact on the sales cycle has consequences.

Bad things happen when sales reps ignore all of the insights their organization’s marketers place in the CRM system. From management not being able to discern how pipeline strength correlates to sales activity to them simply focusing on closed deals, erasing CRM’s impact on the sales cycle has consequences. In this post, we will explore why CRM misuse occurs, what the consequences are and what marketers can do about this issue.

First, a CRM Tale of Woe

Many years ago, I worked for a firm with more than $100 million in annual revenue. There, the worldwide sales VP refused to review the pipeline and sales forecast from the CRM system in the weekly sales call with his regional management. Instead, he had Excel spreadsheets his staff maintained for him. I urged him to use the beautiful reports and graphs in the CRM system, to no avail.

He didn’t believe the data. It’s a catch-22.

The problem with leaders not using the system and positioning the data as the single source of truth is that it forgives the teams from having to enter data into the system, and so it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. The result is sales reps don’t add opportunities until the leads were much more advanced, at Stage 5 or 6, and thus avoided any management scrutiny over their nascent deals. Sales management gave them kudos for bringing in bluebirds (unanticipated deals), and the reps got the data in the system just in time to ensure they get their commissions.

Consequences of Underutilizing the CRM

The outcomes for marketers and organizations of management allowing sales reps to largely operate outside the CRM are:

  1. No visibility into the early sales pipeline.
  2. Management focuses entirely on the incipient closed deals.
  3. Marketing cannot differentiate between contacts who are in a purchase cycle from those who are window-shopping.
  4. Sales management cannot connect sales activity to pipeline strength.
  5. Marketing operations does not get feedback on successful campaigns until late in the buyer journey.
  6. Sales reps use the system largely to ensure they get commissions
  7. Sales reps might put activity (calls, meetings, tasks) in the CRM to ensure they drive a perception that they are busy, but might still not add opportunities until the last moment, and otherwise don’t use the system.
  8. Sales reps fail to take advantage of all of the recorded digital interactions prospects have had and are dutifully reporting the lead/contact record.

Running a business effectively requires the earliest visibility possible into the sales pipeline. It enables sales management to quickly see if new reps are working out, marketing analytics can pinpoint which programs are sourcing the best leads, what campaigns are moving leads along the funnel, which products are hot, which regions are soft, which reps need more training, etc. So, allowing the reps to not use the CRM until opportunities are well-advanced has many downsides.

The CRM system is the basis for tracking and enabling sales workflows in the same way a marketing automation platform enables marketing workflows. Prospects have workflows, too, as part of their buyer journey.

These three workflows are interconnected. Prospects interact with marketing content and online properties. Sales interacts with prospects via email and telephone calls. And marketing can interact with the sales workflow by providing visibility to the prospects’ digital interactions and helping move prospects along their buyer journey. Marketing does this by varying how they market to prospects based on their opportunity stage, for instance.

If CRM is lightly used by sales reps, they break the connection of these three workflows, and run the risk of marketing and sales looking uncoordinated in their communications to prospects and lowering productivity of both organizations, resulting in poor customer experiences.

Steps to get Sales Reps Fully Utilizing CRM

  1. Ensure they understand the value to them (WIIFM)
  2. Add more value to the CRM system. For example:
    • Enrich the contact/account data
    • Add plugins, like LinkedIn
    • Route new leads only through CRM
    • Enable sales reps to opt “not-ready” prospects into specific nurturing campaigns
    • Enable salespeople to send trackable emails through the CRM
    • Provide beautiful HTML trackable email templates for specific content
  3. Get sales management to agree that ALL pipeline reviews at all levels of sales management will be conducted using CRM reports, not Excel or another tool.
  4. Create reports that highlight the biggest users and the biggest non-users of the system
  5. Create reports on most recent and least recent contact/account updates by owner

Conclusion

When marketing and sales coordinate on communications with prospects and customers, magic can happen. When sales breaks that chain of communication by failing to fully utilize the CRM system, they isolate marketing from pipeline generation success metrics and ignore the digital body language of the people they are most hoping to impress — prospective customers.

What B2C Marketers Can Learn From B2B

There’s a lot of talk in the B2B world about what we can learn from consumer marketers. But did you ever think about what consumer marketers can learn from us? I have a couple of ideas.

There’s a lot of talk in the B2B world about what we can learn from consumer marketers. Like treating business buyers as individuals, with their own personas, analyzing their digital buyer journeys, and using social media to communicate with them. And how to speak to buyers like humans, with messages that both inform and entertain. These are useful lessons. But did you ever think about what consumer marketers can learn from us? I have a couple of ideas.

The first is about prospecting strategies, and the second is about building relationships.

Offer Problem-Solving as a Way to Attract Prospects

Much of B2C prospecting is about deals and discounts. In business markets, on the other hand, the proven prospecting model involves offering a solution to a business problem.

In practical terms, this means content marketing. Preparing educational, objective. non-sales-y material that addresses a customer problem. In business markets this might be a white paper, research report, infographic or case study. In consumer it might be a recipe book, a blog or a how-to video.

It can be used as a motivational offer to generate a lead, or it can be used to establish thought leadership, and to stimulate viral sharing.

This way, you establish yourself as a helpful resource, expert in your field, and trustworthy enough for a business relationship.

You also tend to attract a more qualified customer than you do with a deal. A buyer who really needs the solution, and will appreciate it, and appreciate you. And will turn into a loyal buyer, and an advocate.

This is an approach that consumer marketers can use successfully. Look at YouTube, which is filled with how-to videos for consumer products.

Nurture Your Customers (and Prospects) Until They’re Ready to Buy

B2B marketers are really good at this. We recognize the power of the Rule of 45, which says that 45% of business inquirers in a category will eventually buy in that category. And when they become ready, we need to be there. Otherwise, we may just as likely lose the deal to our competition.

So, B2B marketers have elaborate systems of outbound contacts designed to stay in touch until they’re ready. Known as lead nurturing, it’s a key component of the B2B demand generation process. With a nurturing program, we can expect to triple, possibly quadruple, the productivity of our campaigns.

Consumer marketers already understand this principle. Look at the retargeting banner ads that follow us all around, weeks and months after we’ve stopped by a website.

But I think there’s additional opportunity here for consumer marketers. Nurturing needs to be personalized, acknowledging the relationship, and building it over time through two-way communications. It’s one-to-one, not mass advertising.

Perhaps it’s about developing a different attitude. Consumer marketers enjoy prospect universes that are something like 10x those of B2B marketers. Maybe they have the sense that there are plenty of fish in the sea, and instead of nurturing, they are tempted to move onto the next prospect. But maybe it’s time to treat every inquirer as your last.

A version of this article appeared in Biznology, the digital marketing blog.

Should Your Direct Mail Campaigns Be Lean?

First of all, what is “lean”? It is a systematic way to reduce waste without sacrificing return on your investment. So how can we apply the lean concept to direct mail campaigns?

First of all, what is “lean”? It is a systematic way to reduce waste without sacrificing return on your investment. So how can we apply the lean concept to direct mail campaigns?

First, you will want to look at both customers and employees. Lean is a great fit, because you can save money with a lean direct mail approach. Reduce internal costs and increase customer response. The more you save, the more you make. Are you ready to apply the five lean principles to your next direct mail campaign?

5 Direct Mail Lean Principles

  1. Define the Value: This is extremely important. You need to determine what value your product or service has for your customers and prospects. Look at your company from the eyes of your customers. When you can easily identify all of the benefits to them, you are able to convey your value. Your customers and prospects buy the value of what you sell, not the product or service you are selling.
  2. Value Stream: Now that you have identified the value, you need identify all of the steps it will take to create the best direct mail piece to target the values. You can create a map of what needs to be done and who will be doing it. Ideally, you can identify any congestion points and plan around them before you execute your campaign. This will decrease the amount of time and frustration with actual campaign creation.
  3. Flow: After you have identified all of the potential waste points and worked out a plan, you are ready to make sure the plan will flow smoothly without bottlenecks or other issues, both internally and for customers receiving the direct mail pieces. The quicker you can start the campaign, the sooner you are making money. You should also create flows for each campaign stream, such as retention, acquisition, and events that trigger marketing communication to customers and prospects.
  4. Pull: This is where it gets fun; you have created the system to expedite your direct mail campaigns. Therefore, you are ready to provide mail pieces as people are ready for them. You can have triggering events that have you send mail to your customers and prospects, such as when a product or service is about to change or customers reach a time period which would require them to buy from you again. The customer needs pull the mail pieces to them based on the campaign flows you have created.
  5. Perfection: Now that you have the steps in place, you need to continually work to perfect them. By checking in with people at each step, you can identify more problem areas and ways to improve them. You can then look at your direct mail results and improve them with better data, targeting and offers. This is a continual process to keep your mail performing better and better internally and with customers/prospects.

This process is probably a new way of looking at planning and executing your direct mail marketing. Most of the time, we are running behind and throw mail campaigns together at the last minute, then wonder why we are not getting the response rates we planned on. With this process, you are trying to create more value for your customers and spend less time and money creating it. Are you ready to get started?