sales lead generation toolkit
It's good to have good friends.
Smart ones, too.
Mac is just such a guy. A Lead Generation expert from the 20th Century is very much with it for the 21st.
Read on ... and EnJoy!
With the addition of the Internet to your marketing toolkit, you probably have questions about what role online marketing or the Internet should play in your sales lead generation efforts and how much of your marketing budget should be used to fund it.
As a business-to-business marketing consultant specializing in sales lead development I get to work with lots of leading companies, large and small. So I've had a chance to see what is working in regard to online marketing for leas, and what companies are spending to do it. I'll share some of what I've learned with you.
Let's start with your website. I'll bet you're in your third or fourth round of redesigning your website by now. When it first appeared, it was probably a messy collection of technical support information and difficult to navigate. Then you or your predecessors in marketing turned it into an online brochure. Then you added a few bells and whistles to make it hip and easier to use.
Now you're rethinking the purpose of the site. (Good!) And you're probably confused about exactly what to do with it next. (I'm not surprised.)
Think about how your website can act as a bridge between your marketing and sales. In other words, use all your traditional marketing tools (mail, ads, pr, etc.) to drive people to your website, then use the website to give them the information they need and encourage them to take the next step in the buying process by identifying themselves. Those who identify themselves become sales leads.
As Kristin Zhivago, editor of Marketing Technology, says "Your website isn't a place, it's a process." Think about why people visit your site and try to arrange your web pages and the information they contain in ways that mimic their searching, inquiring and buying process.
For example, If your website visitors know the product number of the product they are interested in, let them get right to it that way.
For example, if they only know they need a widget, let them get to a list of widgets with clear explanations of the features, benefits and applications for each. If they don't know what they need, but know that they are a small business, give them a path to follow that shows them the products or services that are appropriate for small businesses.
Zhivago also compares your website to a swimming pool with a bottomless deep end that you invite people to visit for as long as they want and to dive as deep as they care to. Do you have shallow, top-line information available on your site? If they need more depth, do you make it easy to find? Do you make it easy for visitors to take the next step in the sales process?
Think about offers you can make that will entice visitors to identify and qualify themselves. Can you create a free guide for selecting your kinds of products or services? Can you offer a white paper that explains how their kind of operation is successfully using your technology to solve problems? If so, use it as bait for having your visitors share their names, titles, companies and contact information.
One thing not to do is make visitors sit through a "Flash" animated commercial every time they visit your site. You may think it is cool, but really it just wastes their time!
Email. Sending email to people who have expressed an interest in receiving it is a very cost effective way to market your products or services. Many of my clients are shifting a large portion of their direct mail dollars into email.
However, be careful not to be labeled a "spammer." If you have email addresses for your prospects and customers, but they haven't expressly said they were interested in hearing from your company by email, be sure to ask their permission before starting a campaign. I recommend that you ask them how they prefer to be contacted. By email? By Fax? By mail? By telephone? Most will opt for email or fax, saving you money either way.
Then give some thought to what you plan to send and how frequently. Sometimes I feel more like a punching bag than a customer as I get slugged with too many offers, many not appropriate for me, way too often by companies who think they are doing "Customer Relationship Management."
Online newsletters. My clients report great success with using online newsletters to generate inquiries or sales leads - whether published by their own company or when they sponsor or advertise in an industry newsletter published by others. Why? Because the folks receiving the newsletter have opted-in or requested the free subscription and are more likely to read it and notice your ad or sponsorship.
Online directories. Print directories are handy, and online directories are always up to date. Most directory publishers are publishing both, frequently offering you exposure in both mediums for the same price. Keep in mind that directories are often where buyers look when they are looking for new suppliers and have immediate needs.
Online Content. Industry websites want content to attract and keep visitors. Many refresh their content daily or weekly. This gives you plenty of opportunities for editorial contributions. Email the online editor, asking him or her what they are looking for and offering to supply appropriate releases, articles or contacts to be interviewed. You might be surprised at how receptive online editors can be. And be sure to include offers in your content that will result in inquiries or sales leads.
Banner ads. Conventional wisdom is that banner ads don't work. Anti-banner pundits quote statistics like "only 0.5% of the people exposed to banners click through" to support their argument.
Think about it. What miniscule percentage of the people searching at yahoo.com or altavista.com are the decision makers, specifiers or recommenders for your products or services? No wonder the click-through rates are so low!
Your banner ads shouldn't be there. They should be put in the right places instead -- on vertical industry, publication and association websites already serving the markets you wish to reach. Then not only are you creating awareness with the right audience, your click-through rates will go up significantly.
Rather than simply running your banner ads on the home page of the industry, publication or association website, consider placing your banner ads only in special sections that relate to your products or services or linking them to appropriate keyword searches. You'll pay less overall and get leads at a lower cost-per-lead.
How much to spend. In 1999 I found that most of my clients were spending just under ten percent of their overall marketing communications budgets for online marketing tactics like those mentioned above. In 2001 I expect that number will have grown to twenty percent. (Please note that this doesn't include funding ecommerce initiatives for online order processing. That usually comes out of sales or operations budgets.)
Where is this money coming from? Occasionally it comes from larger overall marketing communications budgets. (A trick for getting a larger budget is to plaster the conference room with all your competitors' ads, webpages and literature, then invite your boss in to discuss your budget. When he sees everything the competition is doing he might just have an emotional response and up your budget!)
However, funding for online marketing usually is reallocated from other media. For example, a number of my clients have shifted half or more of their direct mail budget to email and cut out marginally producing trade shows and print ads to free up money for Internet-related expenditures.
Online marketing is here to stay. Keep in mind that radio didn't replace newspapers, TV didn't replace radio and online marketing isn't going to replace your print advertising, direct mail, trade shows, public relations and other marketing tactics. Instead it is really just another way to reach your prospects and customers that should be included in your lead generation mix.
M. H. "Mac" McIntosh is a business-to-business marketing consultant who specializing in helping companies to generate more high-quality sales leads, nurture and qualify them, turn them into sales and track and measure results.
He can be reached at email@example.com or by phone at 401-294-7730.
Good friend and a true business marketing lead generation expert is Mac McIntosh.
Mac and I are doing seminars together. We'll do one for your company, your association, your organization.
Tell us what your needs are. Mac and I will tailor a day or 2 or more just for you. For details on Mac, see http://www.salesleadexperts.com/.
Or send an e-mail to Mac at Mac@SalesLeadExperts.com.
You can also fax or e-mail Ray. Details at the bottom of this page.