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.

Hashtags: #smartnewmarketingtool or #riskymarketingmove?

Call me out of touch, but I really don’t understand the fascination with hashtags. The hashtag gives Twitter the ability to collect all tweets about that topic into one collective location. That makes it easy for Twitter users to join the conversation by reading, retweeting and adding commentary. If enough people tweet and retweet about the hashtag word or group of words, it’s considered a topic that is “trending” (i.e. it’s popular).

Call me out of touch, but I really don’t understand the fascination with hashtags.

The hashtag gives Twitter the ability to collect all tweets about that topic into one collective location. That makes it easy for Twitter users to join the conversation by reading, retweeting and adding commentary. If enough people tweet and retweet about the hashtag word or group of words, it’s considered a topic that is “trending” (i.e. it’s popular).

Of course marketers have smelled an opportunity to leverage the hashtag because what could be better than having consumers talk about your brand—especially if the brands themselves sparks the conversation?

Within the last 20 years, there’s been a huge change in advertising CTA’s (Call-to-Action)—especially in television. First, many commercials ended by showing an 800 numbers, and that was quickly followed by the vanity 800 number. With the advent of the web, marketers substituted URL’s for 800 number. After it was discovered that the consumer didn’t know what to do once they landed on a website home page, the MURL was invented (www.nameofbrand/specificpage). When Facebook exploded on the scene, brands wanted you to visit and like them on their Facebook pages. But now, it seems, all of that is old school.

Many of the most recent Super Bowl commercials didn’t end with phone numbers, web addresses or any mention of Facebook. Instead, a hashtag was offered up in front of a pithy subject line as a way to get viewers engaged in a dialogue about the commercial itself (and, ultimately, the brand).

I find it interesting that during the Super Bowl this year, millions of dollars were spent on each 60-second spot, and yet several marketers risked it all by using a single CTA: a predetermined #groupofwords. I could understand if the hashtag was in addition to other CTA’s, but in most of the instances I observed, it was the standalone close on the spot.

I’ll be the first to admit that I have never even bothered to look to see what topics are trending on Twitter. Maybe I’m not cool enough to care. But I’m not 100 percent confident that throwing a hashtag in front of a topic will generate a POSITIVE conversation about my brand. So why would you place your brand at risk after you’ve spent hundreds of hundreds of thousands of dollars?

Creating “brand evangelists” has always been a core goal of any brand—people who support your brand, talk about it, recommend it to others and basically act as your mouthpiece by providing personal endorsements. But does doling out a hashtag topic guarantee that a positive conversation will ensue? Not in my book. #marketinghashtag