Items from February, 2011
Marketing Automation Monday snuck in between snow storms and came to Boston on January 31st on the campus of Wentworth Institute of Technology. A hardy group ignored the storm threats to share their ideas and best practices on the topic of lead nurturing. Below is a quick review of what was discussed.
Attendee Company Profile
Similar to the December 6th meet-up in NYC, we had a very diverse group, with each attendee representing a kaleidoscope of business and marketing expertise and experience. For example, our group had representatives from public relations, B2B strategy consulting, academia (continuing education) and applied market research among others. All had experience supporting clients and working for businesses with a primary focus on sales and marketing organizations and processes. Needless to say this was a VERY experienced group with impressive resumes.
With that in mind, I started the discussion by focusing on some questions that business leaders and marketers need to ask themselves as they begin to develop their lead nurturing programs:
- What tactics work best to “connect” to your target audience?
- How do we stay engaged with our audience as they move through their stages of the buy cycle?
- How do we conduct the “conversation” to stay relevant and build credibility with buyers?
- What content/events “convert” our target audience when they are ready to buy?
Tactics That Work Best
Webinars continue to be a staple of most of the attendees. Though it was noted that webinars were a bit more effective in the 2000-2006 period, the key still seems to be having great guest speakers, such as a prominent analyst or recognized industry expert, as well as real customers. Those using that approach routinely see 100’s of registrants and listeners. The important point is that for lead qualification purposes, those that register and attend are considered far more qualified than those that simply download a white paper (even multiple white papers and/or articles).
For the public relations point of view, PR now is heavily involved in targeting the “influencers” – analysts, bloggers, publishers, etc – using social networking and direct email to pitch stories that have been personalized to the needs of each influencer. What is most interesting, though not surprising, is that marketers and PR specialists are using the 1-to-1 method via twitter, email and phone to pitch the story to increase the odds of breaking through the email clutter of these influencers to get their stories heard and published. This is especially effective with the blogosphere and twitter crowd.
I also noted the use of the tickler file follow up process (all manual) for those that are interested, but not sales-ready. The follow up employed is always a phone call and email to each contact as their numbers for follow up can easily be done via the personal touch.
The Need for Content
The questions above had the group talking about the challenge of having engaging content to serve up to prospects. In one particular and well-related story, we heard how an executive built a very successful consulting services business. The secret was creating a series of low-end/ low cost transactional events, such as white papers, workshops, seminars, national and international conferences. These events and deliverable were tightly integrated in pre-defined sequences that were pointing the way for the prospect (and existing clients) towards larger comprehensive consulting engagements.
There were several aspects of these low-end “events” that were most striking to me:
1. All of the content and workshops/seminars were developed and delivered by their field consultants who ran the larger consulting engagements.
2. These consultants and the inside sales reps who did phone follow up to all of the event attendees were comp’d on how many attendees were converted to buy more workshops and consulting engagements.
3. Their marketing spend through these events and content were paid for by their prospects. Nothing was given away for free. Impressive.
Staying Engaged Over Time
Other aspects of the story related above warrant further treatment. The real key for this consulting firm was to keep their most valuable asset – their consultants – in front of prospects and clients considering more services. As prospective buyers attended the workshops, seminars and conferences, the consultants were able to deepen the relationship and the conversation often times with the same individual and others at the same company over time. This company had developed a number of “assessment” instruments that the consultants could provide buyers to sort of take their temperature and let the buyer evaluate how they compared to others in their industry.
This company clearly understood the stages of their audience’s buy cycle and buyer types and had turned everyone into a sales person, each one being held accountable for lead development, lead nurturing and deal closing. To coin a very old sales adage, “Focus on your ABC’s” … or “Always Be Closing”.
Note: I plan to blog more on this story as the full account of what they did bears repeating for all of us whether we market and sell services, software or industrial products.
What’s Next for MA Monday in Boston?
Our location sponsor, Wentworth Institute of Technology has agreed to host future meet-ups so we will be looking for the next one Monday February 28th, March 7th or March 14th. Hopefully the snow will have melted a little and more folks will join us then.
Requested topics for future meet-ups are (in no particular order):
- Lead nurturing … continued (we only scratched the surface this week)
- Leveraging social media in lead management
- Analytics, metrics and reporting
- Creating better marketing-to-sales alignment
- Lead scoring and marketing-to-sales hand-offs and conversion processes
- CRM integration and sales enablement
For those who attended in Boston on 1/31 and others who are interested for future meetups, all are advised to join the Marketing Automation Association Group on LinkedIn. Here you will be able to keep up on happenings of the various meetups taking place across the country.
Tags: Lead Nurturing, Marketing Automation
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