Entries Tagged as 'B2B sales leads'

13 don’ts of promoting your marketing events

Having worked with dozens of large, medium and small companies in planning and promoting their marketing events, I’ve learned what can make events succeed or flop. So when investing your time and money promoting your next event, consider these tips to avoid learning the hard way.

Events are a great way to increase leads and move prospects along the sales cycle. But you’ve got to promote them well to maximize the number of prospective customers who will attend.

  1. Don’t use a writer within the company just because they’re an employee, if they’re not up to the task. Freelance writers may get better results.
  2. Don’t hire a freelance writer who doesn’t have experience with direct marketing or promotional writing. Having an experienced writer will have a direct benefit in terms of attendance.
  3. Don’t assume your audience already understands the value of participating in your event. Provide thorough copy and detailed benefits to show there’s valuable information and that your event is worth the time and energy to attend.
  4. Don’t let grammatical errors or typos slip through.
  5. Don’t assume URLs, phone numbers, email addresses and directions are correct and working properly until you test each one.
  6. Don’t focus on selling the company, sell the benefits of the event to bring in the attendees.
  7. Don’t leave out positive comments from others who’ve attended.
  8. Don’t have a dull headline without clear benefits. Generate excitement and interest to make a good first impression. For example, “7 Marketing Mistakes That Can Cost You Big Bucks– and How to Avoid Them.”
  9. Don’t use formal invitations or postcards. Generally, registrations plummet with these types of pieces because there’s no room for details.
  10. Don’t wait too long to start promoting your event. Get on decision-makers calendars before they commit themselves elsewhere.
  11. Don’t promote too early, then fail to keep in touch.
  12. Don’t rely on only one method of communication. Emails get caught in spam filters for unpredictable reasons and direct mail may not be delivered properly or thrown out accidentally.
  13. Don’t forget to remind them your event is approaching as time draws near. Follow up with key prospects via telephone, and sending last-minute, “See you there!” e-mails to registrants.

Do you have any “Don’t”s to add? If you’ve worked on a project like this before, inevitably there’s something that could have gone better. Add a comment, I’d like to hear about it.

 

Use vertical marketing to generate more sales-ready leads

Imagine that you have a business problem and are evaluating companies to help you solve it. You can choose a generalist that claims to do everything for every scenario or an expert that focuses on solving exactly the kind of problem you have, for companies just like yours, with a track record of success.

I’ll bet you pick the expert, which demonstrates the advantage of vertical or niche marketing.

Whether you like it or not, your company is probably perceived by prospects as one of a large group of possible suppliers, perhaps one of thousands. This makes it a struggle to break through the noise. Prospects will find it difficult to determine whether your company may be their best choice.

The answer is to position and communicate your company’s expertise within particular verticals or niches. Rather than try to market to the whole world, pick particular industries, applications, geographies or companies of enough size that you are best suited to serve–then focus your marketing.

Get familiar with your market

Find out where decision-makers, recommenders and influencers from these companies hang out. What trade shows or conferences do they attend? What associations do they belong to? What newsletters or magazines do they read? What websites do they visit? Use what you learn to determine the best lists, databases and marketing tactics for delivering your lead generation messages to these key people.

Speak directly to your market’s needs

Next, create one-to-many marketing messages that look like one-to-one messages, and sales materials that directly address the vertical or niches you intend to pursue. Mention the specific problems and business pains they face. Use lots of key words and images in your materials to let these prospects know you are speaking directly to them. Even your slogan should speak to your target market. Examples include: “Specializing in accounting services for small and midsize retailers in the greater Chicago area;” “Software Solutions for the Restaurant Industry;” “The Healthcare Supply Chain Experts;” and “Retail Displays for the Wine and Beverage Industry.”

Use a variety of offers

Be sure to include lots of offers in your marketing materials, designed to elicit a response and start the sales process. Educational offers such as how-to guides, buying guides, white papers, case studies and invitations to events on relevant subjects are the basic tools for eliciting responses from prospects.

Consider multiple stages of the buying process

Consider tailoring your lead generation offers to appeal to people at different stages of the buying cycle. This could mean offering a white paper or executive information kit for prospects who are early in the process vs. a seminar invitation for those in the middle and a free consultation or needs assessment for those who are closer to being ready to buy.

Demonstrate your niche expertise

Leverage your certifications and other credentials, your client list and case studies that specifically address your vertical or niche market prospect’s industries or applications. And liberally season all your marketing and sales materials with testimonial quotes from happy customers in specific situations your prospect faces.

Vertical marketing will help your company be perceived as the right solution that your prospects need. The result will be a competitive advantage and more sales.

 

Will that conference be worth it? Lead follow-up is the key

Just got back from a conference?

Keep up the momentum by following up with all those leads and business cards you collected. It’s the first step in turning those prospects into qualified sales-ready opportunities.

Plan ahead

When you set out for the conference, bring along pre-addressed overnight mailers. Send the leads back to the office each night for immediate data entry and response. Don’t let the opportunity wither away.

Data entry is tedious, but it’s got to be done.

I invested in a CardScan® business card scanner. It’s easier and more accurate than my manual data entry. The current version of its software lets you do drag-and-drop data entry from emails, Web pages and electronic documents too. Visit www.cardscan.com to see models that will put data directly into Outlook or your CRM system.

You can also call your local temp agency if everyone in your office is busy. Good agencies have specialists who can be at your office in an hour.

Email your prospects right away.

The email addresses you collected from business cards and booth visitors and are most likely up-to-date. So email each prospect with “Nice to meet you…” or “Thanks for dropping by.” Include links to relevant information on your website and attach marketing materials. You may be the first or only one to follow up so quickly, which makes a great second impression.

Start dialing.

Schedule calls to each the prospects you added to your CRM system, allowing a few days for prospects to catch up upon their return from the conference. Mid-morning is usually best for both you and your prospect. Also, make the calls in sets of ten, waiting to do other things until you have attempted to reach all ten, to keep the distractions at bay.

The good news is this isn’t cold-calling. Each one expressed interest when you met them or they visited your booth.

“But what should I say?”

To avoid sounding like just another salesperson and to put the prospect at ease, open each call by saying something like this:

“Hi (prospect’s name), this is (your first and last name) from (your company name). We met (or ‘You stopped by our booth’) at (conference name) in (city name) last week. I’m interested to hear your thoughts about the conference, but first, is this a good time to speak?”

This approach will set your call apart from the majority of the other calls your prospects receive, which usually start with a dumb question like “Did you get the information I sent you?” Why is this a dumb question? Because usually the answer is “No,” which is difficult to move past. Be sure to avoid the overused “How are you today?” (Want to have some fun? The next time a telemarketer asks, “How are you today?” answer “Terrible” and see what the reaction is.)

By saying “I’m interested to hear your thoughts about the conference,” you’ve established a reason for the call that feels comfortable for the prospect. Asking “Is this a good time to speak?” sets a warm and professional tone. Besides, if it isn’t a good time for the prospect, he or she won’t be receptive anyway. If the time isn’t convenient, ask what time would be better.

Next, continue the conversation by asking questions like “What are your thoughts about your time at (conference name)? Did you find it to be worthwhile?” or “Of all the booths you could have visited during the conference, why did you stop by ours?”

The objective is to learn if the prospects are sales ready. The answers will tell you more about the prospects’ business, situations, interests and needs.

Whether prospects are sales ready or not, tell them what you think the next step should be and ask them if they agree.

If you want a business marriage to happen, start dating.

Research shows 3 out of 4 sales come from leads who aren’t ready to buy right away. Only 1 in 4 buys within six months. Half can take a year or more. So you’ve got to find a way to “date” them until they are receptive to your business proposal.

Save money and have more time to invest with sales-ready prospects by starting with less costly one-to-many marketing techniques. Salespeople and telemarketing are costly, so they’re best for only the qualified prospects. You can invest about the same amount per lead to reach longer-term prospects twelve times a year with a postcard or letter, and staying within reach over a longer buying cycle.

Create a series of emails.

  • What are the three or four major reasons why someone would buy from your company?
  • What would cause them to need your products or services?
  • Why would they select your company instead of the competition?

Create a series of emails with each addressing one of these points. Set up a schedule, and your prospects will get to know your best qualities until they’re ready to set a date.

Be sure each email (or call, for that matter) includes a suite of offers or calls to action that are designed to encourage the prospects to take the next step. Educational offers– how-to guides, checklists, case studies, white papers, and Web or live seminars on the same subjects– usually work best.

The key to your success is reaching the right prospect, at the right time, with the right offer. Prospects’ needs don’t change that dramatically. Success comes not from saying something completely different every time you contact them, but from the ongoing follow-up.

 

Pros and cons of Webinars for B2B lead generation

Webinars offer options for reaching out to and educating buyers at all stages of the lead generation cycle.

Your choice to do live, butts-in-seats events, or webinars will hinge on several factors, including the time needed to present the information, the needs of the customers or prospects you’re targeting, and the physical locations of attendees. Keep in mind these pros and cons when deciding how best to reach your audience.

Pros of Webinars

  • Less time: It’s easier to get on attendees’ calendars if you’re only asking for 30-60 minutes.
  • No travel: Your audience and can join in from their desks or home offices. In today’s marketplace, prospects are coming from different time zones and personal schedules. It’s also a big plus for presenters.
  • Usually cost less. If you fly in presenters, renting a meeting space and equipment, and provide refreshments it can add up.
  • Viral marketing: To put it simply, attendees can invite others easily and they’re more likely to because it’s easier to attend than an event you have to travel to.
  • Record the webinar. If someone’s registered but doesn’t show up, you have an easy way of giving them a second chance at their convenience. Follow up by auto-responder email. You’ll get extra “bonus” attendance. And don’t forget, you can put it on your website as content to draw in web visitors.
  • You can do live, interactive demos over the Web. You can use web conferencing software or services to demonstrate your software right on participants’ own computers. They can follow along as you click through each step, or you can let them manipulate their own mice and keyboards.
  • It’s easier to attract guest speakers. If a speaker can participate from his or her own home or office, they’re much more likely to rather than having to travel to the event. You could even save a few dollars because professional speakers usually charge more when they travel.

Cons of Webinars.

  • You may not have participants’ undivided attention. It’s easy for attendees to be interrupted by colleagues or staff, or to get distracted by phones or e-mail while your webinar or teleconference is going on.
  • Time is limited. Webinars should last no longer than an hour. Shorter is even better.  If your material requires more time, perhaps break it into chunks that can be a series of webinars.

The Upshot

Busy C-level and senior executives will likely prefer the convenience of a quick webinar, whereas a user group may prefer the interaction of a live event such as a lunch-and-learn seminar. Give the audience your information in the way your audience wants to receive it. It’s much more likely your message will be heard, retained, and acted on.

 
Need help with B2B lead generation, marketing and sales?
For more information, please call Mac McIntosh at +1-401-294-7730, send him email at or visit www.sales-lead-experts.com