B2B Marketing

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fresh experiences on marketing topics for the B2B enterprises and more

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, , , , , , ,

What is the meaning of life – your company’s point of view

Every year the CEO hands down the revenue goals in the annual business plan. Everyone scrambles to make the figures, but nobody seems to take the time to think about what shaped those decisions.

First of all, you have to bear in mind that the main focus should not be deciding which strategy to adopt, but which criteria you use to select the right strategy. You start to develop those criteria, by figuring out what matters to your company and what success looks like.

Here are a few guidelines that will help you develop a set of criteria for your own business:

1. Establish what success looks like

Define as many elements as possible. What is your financial goal? What marketing strategies or tools will you need to promote your company? Do you have the right people working for you? Are the people you hired assigned to the right roles? Are their skills used properly and to the greatest advantage? Is market share more important, or maybe revenues, or client satisfaction?

If there are any changes to be made, they are welcomed before, rather than after implementing the strategy.

2. Decide what matters (in a general sense)

What is the current situation on your market? What are the new trends? Are there any preconceptions or long-held beliefs that might be holding your company back? What is the general feeling among your team members? Do they support your strategies? Were they effective in implementing the latest one?

It’s most important to keep your strategy aligned with the new status on the market, as well as the status in your own company. You have to develop a strategy that is both up to date and generally supported by your team.

3. Figure out what specifically matters to you

Now keep in mind that the main focus here is your company. And the most important asset you’ve got are the people working for you. Figure out what is important to them, and then what is important to the executive team. Do they have the same objectives? Are the interests of the people working for you aligned with the interests of your executive team?

4. Review the solid criteria

If you’ve gone through the first three steps, you’ll have about all the criteria you need to select the right strategy for your company. Here is a list of criteria you might consider:

  • Company size
  • Timeframe
  • Products portfolio
  • Region
  • Certainty
  • Affinity
  • Opportunity
  • Defense move
  • Sales model
  • Customer
  • Leverage
  • Service
  • Profitability

Elaborating the right success criteria helps you stay focused on the things that really matter for your company. You can only achieve success if you define what success is. How else will you know if you got there? Or how will you know if the place you are at is the right place for your company?

Filed under: Best Practices, General, how to, Internal Marketing, Marketing Planning, objectives, Strategy, , , , ,

Don’t forget to invest in marketing these days…

…even if you’re quite busy dealing with the mighty crisis! J Which is perfectly understandable, since the CRISIS is everywhere on the news and in the papers, as if it were another self for the business people. Seriously now, it seems like the only preoccupation of the media and of the business environment is to offer us tips & tricks on how to fight/escape/overcome this downward spiral of our economic state. „Cut the marketing budget” seems to be one of people’s favourite tunes these days.

Sad to say, but they forgot to tell us something even more important: no matter waht we do, the crisis will not go away only by using reactive methods to fight it. We need to get proactive for a change, and, instead of cutting your marketing budget (which is one of the first mistakes businesses make during times of economic crisis), spend your money in a more intelligent manner to bring results.

Use all your flair, skills and knowledge to find out what people really need and want these days, and go for it! It works both for b2c, and for b2b. The secret is to view your marketing spending as an investment not an expense. Use the customer knowledge that you already have and implement intelligent marketing strategies during these times of financial distress. Some crucial tips are to:

  • Have a rock-solid strategy
  • Research your customer more thoroughly than ever
  • Maintain market spend

This is not the first crisis economy has ever gone through, and it will certainly not be the last. Don’t be surprised to find out that companies have survived difficult times and have come out strong. Procter & Gamble, Intel or Wal-Mart are only a few companies that launched well-positioned companies during difficult times  and were successful with them. Why? Because they took marketing seriously during times of crisis more than ever.

Of course, you’ll have to adapt to all the fast changes the crisis has brought upon us: know who the customers are, what they think, what they dream of and how the crisis affects them. Revise your entire product line if necessary. Look at developing lower cost solutions, if possible. Be flexible, but at the same time be aware and always assessing.

Maybe I should have mentioned this at the very beginning, but the fact is obvious: if you cut your marketing budget, how will your potential consumers find you?!

Filed under: Best Practices, General, Internal Marketing, Marketing Accountability, Marketing Planning, Marketing Results, Marketing ROI, objectives, Strategy, , , , ,

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