Lead Nurturing is Coming of Age Part 2: Where Do I Start?

Written by Rockannand on November 15, 2010 – 8:39 am -

Hopefully in Part 1 of this lead nurturing series, you were able to use those stats to build a compelling case in your 2011 marketing plan for lead nurturing program investments. Since 3 out of 4 new leads generated end up buying at some point in the next 18-24 months, lead nurturing should no longer be a wish-list program, but a competitive necessity. But for most B2B marketers, figuring where to start is always a daunting task.

To make matters worse, many approaches tend to over-complicate things. Marketers develop complex multi-touch campaigns that overwhelm their opt-in audience with too many communications and too many messages. Buyers become not only confused, but suffer from subscriber fatigue.

So where do you start with a simple formulaic lead nurturing strategy?

Thought LeadershipLead nurturing fundamentally starts with a sound Thought Leadership program, focusing content on the problem you solve with case studies of how your client solves the problem. To keep it simple, I try to break down the problem into 3-4 themes that relate to specific buyers. This thematic approach becomes the basis for the campaigns we will drive into your target audiences over a 9-12 month period.

Each quarter we focus on 1 theme. Why multiple themes? Because your target buyers each have their hot-buttons that draw them into a particular business problem. For example for a materials management software company with a focus on reducing costs and waste with indirect materials using Point-of-Use devices, one theme might be looking at the high cost for Industrial Manufacturers of waste in safety supplies or in tool usage. In our example above, one buyer may be interested in stories involving the control of safety equipment while another has a waste problem with tooling. It is all about delivering relevant messages to each buyer at the right time.

The formula to developing great content lies in having a variety of media tactics to deliver the primary message of the theme. For example one really good white paper (from a reputable 3rd party). Then develop a webinar on the white paper topic and have a client participate in the webinar (be sure to record so you can repeat and use in subsequent campaign waves). Also, develop one or more case studies, again focusing on that theme that can be dispersed via different mediums.

The key to lead nurturing programs lies in consistency so spend the entire quarter with bi-weekly outbound campaigns that highlight the theme, each with a different deliverable. First the white paper, then the webinar, then the case study, with links each time to the other content on that topic. We then repeat this process for at least two more quarters with various themes. You can listen to this podcast to hear more about this thought leadership approach and the results that were achieved for a client.

If you follow Brian Carroll and Ardath Albee’s approach to repackaging and re-purposing content, you will find that you already have most of the content you need to work with. The trick is how to package (or re-purpose) correctly to feed it to your target audience on a regular basis in varying ways (whitepaper, webinar, case study, blog post).

REMEMBER: it takes 7 to 9 proactive communications to get your buyer to opt-in and read the message or theme you are trying to deliver. Once they do that then your other complimentary content will have more appeal and increase the likelihood of launching the sales process.

It is very important to keep the approach of simplifying the lead nurturing process into something that is focused and meaningful to your potential buyers.

In our next installment of this lead nurturing series, we will discuss the other aspects of program development that you need to focus on to move from “average” to “good”.

Stay tuned.

Related posts:

Lead Nurturing is Coming of Age Part 1: Making the Case for 2011 Marketing Plans

Case Study: Lead Nurturing Through Thought Leadership Content

Lead Nurturing is Coming of Age Part 3: Moving From Average to Good

Lead Nurturing is Coming of Age Part 4: Moving From Good to Best

Posted in B2B Marketing, Lead Nurturing, Lead Quality, Marketing & Sales Alignment, Thought Leadership | 4 Comments »

4 Comments to “Lead Nurturing is Coming of Age Part 2: Where Do I Start?”

  1. Michael Selissen Says:

    I like the thematic approach. It’s a good way to ease into the nurturing process and figure out what works and what doesn’t.

    However, while re-purposing content is essential to nurturing, it is actually the easy part. The problem that most B2B companies face is developing an overall narrative and then breaking that down into messages that are both consistent with the narrative yet appealing to each specific audience – CEO, CFO, engineers, IT, users, purchasing, etc.

    By focusing on the message, companies will be in a better position to create content relevant to each decision maker at each stage of the buying process.

  2. Rockannand Says:

    Thanks Michael. I agree completely with your comment that re-purposing is easier than creating the overall narrative and then breaking it down by each buyer persona. That is the challenge with developing lead nurturing campaigns that work. For most of my clients it is a matter of getting up on the bike and starting to peddle. Once they get started, they can begin to track what different audience members respond to and don’t. Then they can begin to develop more content geared to the message (as you say) and test that in subsequent nurturing campaigns. What you are describing as the goal to reach is only being done by the companies I would classify in the “good” to “best” categories. I will be writing about those categories in the nest two installments of this lead nurturing series.
    Thanks again for reading and even more for your feedback.


  3. trish bertuzzi Says:

    I love the strategy you outlined. Most companies view lead nurturing as nothing more than a predictable series of “touches” with no rhyme, reason or consistency. Creating quarterly themes based on content that shares a primary message delivered in various mediums is a great way to paint a picture with a prospect. It does require that you truly know your buyer to develop the themes but we can be brilliant four times a year can’t we?

  4. Rockannand Says:

    Thank your Trish. I do find that most companies have the ability to be, as you say, “brilliant 4 times a year”. The disconnect is how to present it to their target audience in a consistent and repetitive basis through multiple media. Using a fishing analogy, you have to be casting out regularly if you are going to catch anything. Sometimes you have to change the bait to make a difference, but you don’t stop casting. This approach is no different with each quarterly theme being a different type of bait.

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