There are certain things that everybody knows you shouldn’t do – dance with lions, scare a skunk, or take an iPad to a meeting with the CEO of Microsoft. But, when it comes to business marketing campaigns, the faux pas aren’t always quite as obvious.
So here’s a 5-point ALOTTA – A List Of Things To Avoid – to ensure that what you do is on target with getting your prospects to respond the way you want them to.
1. Playing the game without a goal. Every football, hockey, rugby, and soccer player knows where the goal is . . . and what’s required to get there. It’s basic. So why do too many marketing campaigns have no goal to aim for or no baseline to determine success?
New ventures may not have anything more formal than “get customers and generate revenue,” but they’re starting from zero. You’re probably not. You can calculate how many leads you need based on past conversion rates, and those conversion rates will correlate with income. With that information, it’s a straightforward exercise to state:
I need to generate X leads in X amount of time to provide $X of income, and X% of the generated leads will need X number of followup communications within X months before they’re ready to buy.
The goal can stretch beyond past performance, of course, and it almost certainly should; but if you don’t establish that goal at the start, you won’t know where it is or when you’ve reached it.
2. Acting without learning. If you don’t do number 1, you won’t do this either – simply because you won’t have established a goal and a baseline to measure against. This is what makes this learning important: when you know how close you get to the established goal and how far you get above the baseline, you can determine whether your efforts are working and where they seem to be failing . . . so you can make improvements as you go.
Here’s a common scenario. You create an email campaign to promote a webinar, and the campaign has the initial email, two followup reminders to register for the webinar, a single landing page for registration, two followups to remind registrants to attend, and a post-event mailer that offers a trial of your product or service. If a previous webinar attracted 50 attendees, that’s your baseline. If you want 200 to attend this time, that’s your goal.
Once the campaign starts, you can compare results against your goal and baseline to see how each component performs and make adjustments accordingly. Of course, this is simplified, and there’s a lot of potential testing involved with so many components. But the basic notion is simple: you’ll keep going in the wrong direction if you don’t check your progress and make mid-course corrections.
3. One message is less confusing. You sell a great product that reduces the upfront expenditure, the total cost of ownership, and the space requirements while increasing employee productivity. So why not tell everybody all of that? Here’s why.
The person in charge of the budget cares a lot about the initial expense but less about the TCO. The person who looks at TCO cares about the long-term amortization and the tax ramifications, but it’s the engineers who focus on the physical dimensions (and how to integrate the equipment with what they already have), while the production manager or the employees’ manager will fixate on overall output-per-person.
Each of those concerns is a story of its own. Each requires specific information that addresses each person’s expertise (and influence on the buying decision). Each is unique but, essentially, the same – a different angle on the very same thing.
4. One voice is all that we need. If u r reading this on Twitter, u may b expecting sm shortcuts. However, if the information is being presented to a legal administrator supporting 250 attorneys, the tone will almost certainly be different. On a receiving line at the White House, you don’t say, “Hey, man, it’s great to be here,” when the appropriate greeting is “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr. President.”
This is, of course, a more casual age, but not everyone’s the same age, and not everybody’s comfortable with “Hey, Jane” instead of “Dear Jane” at the start of a message. So consider the medium before devising the message. What works in a YouTube video may not translate well to email, physical direct mail, or invitations to events.
You can, in fact, be friendly while you’re being either formal or familiar. It may take trial and error, but you’ll know when you’re doing it right . . . or wrong . . . by tracking the responses you receive.
5. A prospect’s just a prospect. Oh, sure, and your need for information never changes when you’re pondering a really big purchase. When you’re looking for an AV company or a caterer for a major, brand-building event, you’ll go through several phases outlining basic capabilities, compatibility, responsiveness to inquiries, differentiating extras, overall cost, and so on. Your prospects do, too.
So just because they answered an email and filled out a form to get more information, they may still be months away from a sale. They could be researching, evaluating, narrowing the vendor list, comparing the ones that seem comparable, examining financing terms, and much, much more. So assuming that you can send the same thing to everyone, regardless of their respective buying cycle stage, will make you seem oblivious to what your prospects care about . . . and when.
Every single prospect hopes you have the right solution for their needs. But the less often you choose to do what’s easiest or most convenient for you, and instead, create what’s right for every person at each phase of the process, the more leads you’ll earn and the more business you’ll win.
MAC McINTOSH is a business-to-business lead generation and marketing expert who specializes in helping companies generate more leads and close more sales using the latest marketing strategies, tactics, technology and media. His background includes 20+ years of hands-on experience in B2B marketing, direct marketing and sales. As a teacher of graduate and undergraduate-level university and college courses, both in the USA and Europe, Mac also conducts B2B marketing and lead generation workshops, seminars and webinars for corporations and associations. He writes regularly for print and online marketing and business publications, and is publisher of Sales Lead Report and Sales Lead Insights®. He is one of the Sales Lead Management Association’s “Top 50 Most Influential People in Sales Lead Management,” and BtoB magazine’s “Top 100 in B2B Marketing."