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fresh experiences on marketing topics for the B2B enterprises and more

The importance of being proactive in marketing

Numerous clients and colleagues ask me what they should do about marketing these days, because they find it a very hard job to market and sell even the best imaginable product or service, in this bad economy. As far as sales are concerned, cycles are much longer and actually closing a contract lasts twice as longer than one year ago, let’s say. And even if you do close a contract, the profit will be smaller.

In terms of marketing, there is a tremendous pressure to achieve better results by investing less money. Many marketers may think that quickness is the fastest way to success, but this can actually harm the business, instead of helping it. Maybe the best thing to ask yourselves is not: “What brilliant marketing techniques should I use next?”, but rather “What is the perfect balance between reactivity and pro-activity?”

This is the difference between the two opposed attitudes:

  • Proactive marketers plan very carefully, spend the marketing budget wisely and control their message veery step of the way. That understand what works and what doesn’t work in their industry, and they are not afraid to come up with a bold strategy. They proactively spend valuable the marketing budget in areas most likely to create positive results. Proactive marketers participate actively in social media, and take control over what is being said about their companies, products and services, thus being able to limit potential damage. They always monitor and measure results along the way, knowing that these efforts will return value for the company in the end.
  • Reactive marketers rush in and respond to trends, without taking their time to analize the market situation. These marketers do whatever they’re told or just follow therules they’ve read in books. In most cases, this approach ends up being more wasteful than successful, requiring multiple cycles to determine that something doesn’t work. With a “damage control” attitude toward their online reputation, these folks are vulnerable from a PR standpoint. Most often, they wait until the annual budgeting process to assess what happened to their money and efforts.

The point is: we all feel the pressure to deliver much better and convincing results than ever. Even though you need to act as quickly as possible, you should take a second and consider your attitude. Establish some measurable and sustainable goals and then execute your plan.

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Filed under: b2b marketing, Best Practices, General, Marketing Planning, Marketing Tactics, objectives, Strategy,

Persuading your CFO to invest in marketing

B2B budgets are going down, and still CFOs wonder what is the next process for which they should cut down on their expenses. Now more than ever, they want to see those results that justify the expense. If you are a CMO who wants to keep the CFO happy, what can you do? You must provide the hard fact “evidence” that the marketing pragrams you want to start these days will prove to be profitable for the company in the end.

Some random ideas on how to produce those cold facts that CFOs want to see from the CMOs these days:

  • Define KPIs better. Before you even launch a B2B marketing campaign, make sure to thoroughly define the key performance indicators that will measure the results. Let me give you an example: if your goal is to build additional access points into a prospect company that you target, then first of all you should be able to see how deep results your cappaign produces on the short term. Afterwards, you can design a plan to produce results on the long term.
  • Create a strong tie between marketing processes and business priorities. Study the sales goal your company has, and then demonstrate the CFO how the marketing programmes you design can support these objectives. For example, if you hava managed to create more contacts at prospect companies, show how the sales team is setting more and more meetings and how demo requests increase.
  • Show how the results you achieve link to business goals. If you have a new online marketing campaign, and it generates, let’s say, 75% more clicks than the previous one, this number alone is not sufficient to explain success. You have to explain the financial and the sales team how this increase affects the company, to prove a whole cause-and-effect chain that helps your business achieved the defined objectives.

In the end, what really matters is to discover what’s working for your company and why, and not just think in terms of B2B ROI.

Filed under: b2b marketing, Best Practices, Business-to-Business, General, how to, Internal Marketing, Marketing Planning, objectives, , ,

How to judge a lead-gen provider by its excuses

Being in the lead generation industry myself, I am curious what the competition is doing. Since „classical” sales methods don’t seem to work so effectively in the last few months, it seems that lead-gen activities are the last resort for some companies to stay alive. However, you should be very careful with selecting your lead-gen solutions provider, and keep in mind that not everything they present on paper can become reality.

Their job is to pass as many qualified prospects through the sales funnel, as fast as possible, to bring you more sales and a bigger income. When they cannot make it happen, there are some main reasons they will invoke. Here they are, not necessary in the order of importance, and some ways to figure them out:

  • Hard work in the ultimate thing in sales

They will tell you how many long and tiresome hours they’ve spent  to gather hundreds of contacts, and send them more or less compelling messages on your behalf. You should understand that what really makes a difference is that they only approach the right people in the first place, and try to cultivate a profitable relationship with them.

  • Leads are qualified in the 2.0 era

In the past, lead-gen providers were looking for leads in mailings, trade shows, advertising, networking or newsletters. In the 2.0 era, all these turned into blogs, videos, eBooks, free reports, press releases, RSS feeds or  email lists. Even the names sound more pretentious than in the past, the reality is the same: these are not leads. Most of the times, they are just inquiries from people who want something for free. Digging deeper into these sources, your provider may actually find a prospect. Who is neither a business referral, nor a lead.

  • Everything counts as a lead

Your lead-gen service provider may take pride in the number of e-mails or phine calls you receive. Still, some distinctions must be made. Inquiries are not leads. People who want to get something for free don’t represent leads. Leads are people who:

  1. Have a genuine business need that your product/service can fulfil
  2. Have a budget
  3. Are really interested in talking directly to you about your products and services to see how you can help them
  4. Match the ideal client profile

Leaving philosophy and terminology aside, the best possible leads are the ones you receive through a referral. When this happens, it means thay you already benefit from an amount of credibility and trust, and chances are that you will get a new client – more than 50% of the times, as I’ve noticed.

Filed under: b2b marketing, b2b sales, Business-to-Business, General, how to, Lead Generation, Marketing Results, Marketing vs Sales, objectives, , , , , , ,

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