Modern Business Development

If the terms list broker, paid subscriptions to online directories, and good old-fashioned cold calling strike fear in the heart of your Business Development sensibilities, you are not alone. Social media has presented a number of opportunities to reach a limitless audience if you can make sense of the advertising tools and back end platforms. It makes sense to take time tested lead generation sources and couple them with the applications that connect Baby Boomers, Genexers, and Millenials to create a whole new generation of product champions.

This is the first part in a series of blogs that will explore modern methodology for generating leads, developing their interest, and securing a mutually profitable relationship.  I’d like to introduce you to the Lead Ads tool designed and managed by Facebook. As we explore functionality within the tool, you will also learn how simply collecting data is not the end goal.

Lead Ads is a behind the scenes marketing objective that combines the data that fans have already shared within the platform into a formatted, scaled down, quick and easy  “web form”. Your fans will take the first step to translating their interest in your company to becoming loyal customers.

Stayed tuned to learn how Facebook’s Lead Ads tool exults the latent potential of a fan, a.k.a. warm lead, while the expertise of a development specialist from Connects Marketing Group will qualify those warms leads for targeted follow up.

-Written by Michelle Slater

Get Your Complimentary Customer Creation Consultation

Connects Marketing Group has launched a new service for prospective clients – the Customer Creation Consultation.

If you are interested in building your B2B business through a robust system of research, qualified lead generation, customer creation and retention, please take a moment to read through how Connects Marketing Group can help. We are now providing free consultations to companies that feel they might benefit from our services. Recipients are under no obligation to Connects for this free service; It is simply our way to demonstrate to you how we can help you reach and exceed your sales goals.

The three-phase consultation process is high-level, designed to provide you with a clear understanding of your current situation, challenges and goals, along with specific recommendations for overcoming those challenges to reach those goals. Our consultation will help you accelerate your sales by identifying strategies to attract new customers and expand the ones you already have.

Assessment

In this phase, we will conduct an in-depth discovery interview with you to identify your ideal customers and markets, along with your present-day close rates.  We will also explore your current sales and marketing initiatives, pinpoint the results you are looking to achieve and determine the gaps in between.

During this process, we will create for you a Total Customer Profile—a graphic that captures in a single page your key goals, values, challenges and opportunities.

Recommendations

In the second phase, our goal is to help you chart your course and actually begin your journey to greater sales. To do so, we  review your Total Customer Profile, ask clarifying questions and confirm we understand your needs.
Next,  we will provide you with specific recommendations that we believe will help you realize your sales goals and accelerate your sales cycle. Your Recommendations Report  will contain those recommended actions and next steps.

These recommendations may or may not  include utilizing Connects Marketing Group programs. Connects programs are not for everyone. We only invite clients to participate IF we are confident we can have a big impact. If we are not confident that we are a good fit for you, we will suggest alternative programs we know well in the industry.

Mutual Commitment

In the third phase, if we mutually agree that there is a strong basis for us to build a long-term relationship, we will schedule a meeting, called the Mutual Commitment Meeting. This meeting will take place only after you’ve had time to study the written recommendations we offer and review the details of the programs we suggest. It is important for you to collect your questions or concerns about the fit and take time to reflect before the meeting.

We are excited to offer this free consultation and look forward to meeting with you! Please contact us today to get started!

Connects Marketing Group
PO Box 1027
Langley, WA 98260
360.222.2043

Click here to read what our clients have to say!

Is Big Data a Big Flop or a Big Win? You Decide.

“Big Data is the biggest game-changing opportunity for marketing and sales since the Internet went mainstream almost 20 years ago.”

Big Data this. Big Data that. The term has been bouncing around the marketing universe for a few years now, even more so in the last year. But, what IS Big Data? Well, not to be obtuse, but Big Data is just that: big data. It’s data analytics- the collection and examination of information- on steroids. It’s the ginormous sets of data that are created in today’s world of digital and social media. For my own sanity, we’ll just say data for the rest of this post.

This data is coming at B2B marketers harder and faster than ever before. It comes from things like:

Your company’s website

  •  Number of visits per month
  • Number of visits per page
  • Names, titles, employers of those who visit your site (if you’re smart enough to have a website member area)
  • Number of minutes someone spends on your site
  • What’s being downloaded

Search Engines (Google, etc.)

  • The words that are driving people to your site
  • The most popular search terms in your industry

Social Media

  • Number of fans, followers, etc.
  • Analysis of these fans, followers (Who are they? Where are they from? What companies? What industries?)
  • Who’s commenting?
  • What’s being shared?

I could go on and on, but I’m preaching to the choir. If you’re reading this, you know that there are almost unlimited ways that you can gather data on prospects and customers. The question then becomes…what are you doing with all of this information?

Now What?

“Those that use Big Data and analytics effectively show productivity rates and profitability that are 5 – 6 percent higher than those of their peers. McKinsey analysis of more than 250 engagements over five years has revealed that companies that put data at the center of the marketing and sales decisions improve their marketing return on investment (MROI) by 15 – 20 percent. That adds up to $150 – $200 billion of additional value based on global annual marketing spend of an estimated $1 trillion.” (Forbes)

What you do with your data depends largely on two factors: the size of your data pool and the size of your marketing team, but here are some things that companies of all sizes should consider.

1.      Map your top prospects’ behaviors: Map your prospects by tracking their digital interactions with you. What do they open, click on, link? What pages do they visit? What do they download?

2.      Identify your purchasers, and then branch out: Identify prospective purchasers, and use this as a starting point to map out his or her sphere of influence.

3.      Don’t wait!: If a prospect is nibbling, contact them sooner rather than later. And don’t, under any circumstances, send a generic email. Pick up the phone!

4.      Know the B2B Customer Decision Journey: Contact, nurture and delivery sales-ready prospects to your sales team.

Here’s a real-life example.

Platform: Website

Tool: Online Member Area

Specifics: In order to access e-tools, users are required to register their names, emails, locations and company names. They also have the option to give specific application or industry information.

Result: Company has database of more than 20,000 members, broken down by sign-up date, location and whether or not theses members are current or prospective customers.

For this particular real-world example, the company is a part of a multinational corporation and offers complex e-tools and services targeted at engineers.

Now ask yourself: if this situation existed in your company, how would you go about converting these leads?  Sure, you could set up some sort of automated system where anyone who signed up would receive an email and a kind of ‘we are aware of your interest’ letter.

But what if these leads require immediate action? Do your sales engineers have the resources and time to make that happen? More honestly, do they even care about these leads? Let’s be blunt. A lot of sales engineers are territory-driven, so they don’t want to spend their already stretched-thin time focusing on leads that won’t affect them.

Here’s how Connects can help:

Your new members are downloaded and contacted via phone within 24 hours of registration. Through a well-thought-out conversation based on a pre-determined set of questions, your inbound web leads are qualified (either in OR out) and turned into hot, actionable sales leads ready to be handed off to a sales engineer.

The bottom line: Big Data can almost be overwhelming, but to not have a system in place to take advantage of it is almost a criminal waste of marketing dollars.

 

 

Lead Generation: Strength or Weakness?

61% of B2B marketers say that generating high-quality leads is their biggest challenge. (Source: B2B Lead Generation Marketing Trends Survey 2013)

I hear it all the time. Year-in and year-out, in trade article after trade article, B2B marketers lament that their biggest hurdles are generating high-quality leads. Lead generation is the biggest weakness in their otherwise successful marketing efforts. So why not put everything you’ve ever been told about B2B lead generation out of your head and try something new this year? Read on to find out how you can turn lead generation into your biggest strength.

First Things First

The most important aspect of a B2B company’s marketing program, especially in today‘s digital marketplace, is the people delivering the message. The human component is an unquantifiable element of greatest priority because it is in the chemistry between those delivering a company’s message and the potential customers where the relationships are developed- or lost. Because real people make business decisions on the customer end, every point of contact you have with them makes or breaks the potential connections you stand to create.

While more and more purchasing decisions are in fact being made online, your customers and prospects should have a real-live person, face-to-face or over the phone, to discuss their particular needs. This is especially true in most B2B scenarios, where complex engineering or technical situations are critical.

For instance, an engineer designing an aircraft engine isn’t going to spec in your part simply because he interacts with your company online. He should have a good feel (read: brand awareness) for your company, and hopefully have been given all of the technical information he may have needed, but at the end of the day, he‘s going to want to speak with an actual person, probably R&D and sales, to get to the meat of his product needs. The same is true for a vast array of highly technical, engineering-based industries.

Do you have the dedicated sales staff at your disposal to accomplish this? Do they have the time to cultivate and nurture each prospect or existing customer in their territory? Or are your salespeople bogged down with too many other things?

But I Don’t Need All That; I Have Inbound Marketing!

Inbound marketing is the process of creating quality online content that draws your target audience to your company, where you can convert them to loyal customers over time.

Inbound marketing is definitely where it‘s at. It outperforms outbound in most categories. But alas, there is no such thing as free marketing.

So many marketers get swept up into the social media and content creation wave, thinking they‘ve found the golden ticket- the loophole that will allow them to market like the big boys, but on a shoestring budget. Companies should be completely honest with themselves about the true costs of these activities.

In considering inbound marketing, there are two aspects that warrant special attention: the cost of content creation and actual online traffic numbers.

Companies today are expending huge amounts of energy creating content and marketing in the digital space. We believe that digital media is very passive. The content is great, but really puts the onus on your customers and prospects to find the information that is most valuable to them.

But, at the end of the day, your prospects and customers, especially in the B2B arena, want to talk to a PERSON; their projects are too important and often too complicated to base their product decisions on daily emails or a great website, no matter how functional.

Build Your Lead Generation Machine

B2B industries are generally more technical and more in-depth than those in the B2C space. We believe that if you can figure out in a B2B world how to give someone a B2C experience, you will own your marketplace. It is our job at Connects Marketing Group to help you achieve this goal.

The heart of what we do is B2B lead generation. We keep your pipeline filled with highly qualified leads so your sales people can spend their time closing deals. Our team has the ability to understand your business and complex technology and then take the right action to ensure your sales success.

We begin by:

  • Engaging the right point of contact within the targeted company
  • Having a candid dialogue that supports future communication
  • Identifying true opportunities for your sales team
  • Determining the logical next steps for your sales team
  • Establishing a firm foundation for a long-term business relationship

Typical types of lead generation campaigns might include:

  • New customer creation
  • Email or direct mail campaign follow-up
  • Territory expansion
  • Web-based inquiries
  • Trade show registrations or inquiries
  • Webinar registration or follow-up
  • New product launches

We believe B2B lead generation should be about the Three C’s: Contact, Communication and Connections. They are the foundation of our success. They matter. We do them right, each and every time.

So why keep on doing the same thing, rehashing the same marketing tactics, with the same results? Why not let Connects help you increase the number of quality leads you hand off to your sales team exponentially?  In the same way you wouldn’t make a purchase on Amazon without checking the reviews, have a listen to what some of our clients had to say about us.

“Connects Marketing Group has exceeded my expectations. The quality of their employees is unparalleled. They have learned our business and pivot quickly offering us valuable feedback from our customers and prospects. The effectiveness of our campaigns came from Connects taking the initiative to learn our industry, when we did not have the time to train them. They are an integral part of our sales process. I highly recommend them.”

Roger Parks, VP Business Development & Co-Founder, doxo, Inc.

“CMG as a partner is tenacious and always deliver what they promise. They can take a complex concept or sale, break it down methodically, and have a targeted message to share with the prospective customer while speaking the party line of our company. Working with CMG gives us the ability to turn up or dial down activity in a program offering without additional sales and marketing costs being incurred. We‘ve utilized them for lead generation and are pleased they offer so many additional relevant B2B Business Development services. We see them as an extension our on-staff sales teams.

CMG‘s greatest strength is their smart and highly engaged people and how quickly they get a sales management program launched. It takes a special breed of people to pick up the phone and clearly communicate the marketing message. If you are going to spend money on a tradeshow, you have to take advantage of the leads and do the follow up. The best way to get ROI of any tradeshow is to utilize Connects. Within a day or two they will literally touch every lead received from a tradeshow. CMG leaves no stone unturned and that is key in turning prospects into customers efficiently and quickly.”

Jeff Heier, Security Solutions Strategist, CA Technologies

The Bottom Line: Generating quality sales leads doesn’t have to be your biggest weakness. Let Connects make it your biggest strength.

Email Marketing: What is It Good For?

The old adage is true:  Time is Money.  The more efficient your process is for developing leads, the higher the ROI on your marketing budget will be. In our focus on lead generation, we’re continuing to look at some of the traditional sources of leads and how much they cost.

Let’s talk about email marketing.

Email marketing has come a very long way since the days of simply pumping out mass messages from your company’s CRM system and praying that even half of your targets open them.  There are some very sophisticated email-marketing providers out there that are really doing it right. Constant Contact is one that most everyone knows.

You can find a nice breakdown of some of these providers here.

In researching email-marketing statistics, I came across these from Jay Baer over at ConvinceandConvert.com. These statistics were gathered through email subscriber studies.

  • 21% of email recipients report email as Spam, even if they know it isn’t
  • 43% of email recipients click the Spam button based on the email “from” name or email address
  • 69% of email recipients report email as Spam based solely on the subject line
  • 35% of email recipients open email based on the subject line alone
  • IP addresses appearing on just one of the 12 major blacklists had email deliverability 25 points below those not listed on any blacklists
  • Email lists with 10% or more unknown users get only 44% of their email delivered by ISPs
  • 17% of Americans create a new email address every 6 months
  • 30% of subscribers change email addresses annually
  • If marketers optimized their emails for image blocking, ROI would increase 9+%
  • 84% of people 18-34 use an email preview pane
  • Subscribers below age 25 prefer SMS to email
  • 35% of business professionals check email on a mobile device
  • 80% of social network members have received unsolicited email or invites

A full 75% of marketers say that they are using more email than they were three years ago. (Source: HubSpot) However, building a quality email distribution list takes a major time investment. Email marketing can be an excellent way to share information with your prospects and customers, but gathering qualified leads still takes that extra step of connection.

Can you make the leap from cold to qualified through marketing automation?

Marketing automation combines software with a company’s CRM system and scores leads based on defined criteria. This information is supposed to allow the marketer to better target messages and promotions to individuals based on perceived interests.  Marketing automation software can include email marketing, campaign management, lead nurturing/scoring, lead lifecycle management and analytics.

Marketing automation is, in its most basic form, a tool with which to take marketing leads and nurture them until they are ready to be converted to customers. While this can be somewhat helpful in the very beginning stages of a lead, letting your prospect know that you are aware of his or her interest and that you will be in contact, that is where the automation should end.

Particularly in the oftentimes highly technical world of B2B product sales, marketing automation can come off as a little too impersonal and out-of-touch with your target customers’ decision journeys. In that space, nothing beats a phone call and an honest conversation.

The bottom line:

Email marketing absolutely has its place, but it’s not to produce qualified leads.