Tag Archives: lead nurturing

A big mistake your B2B sales team is likely making…

Focusing on the Decision Maker vs. the Decision Making Process

A single decision maker for b2b purchases is increasingly a myth. Focusing on trying to convince a decision maker vs. focusing on understanding the decision making process is a mistake even experienced sales professionals make. In today’s b2b world, most businesses have some process of prioritizing projects and internal resources in addition to budgets. Rare is the case that someone wants to 100% own the responsibility of signing an agreement, spending budget money and owning a project when it’s likely other projects were seeking those same funds and resources.

A caveat here, if the firm you are selling to is very small or your product is transactional (e.g. non-subscription) and relatively inexpensive (e.g. less than $5,000) the below may only loosely apply  – but even President / Owner / CEO’s seek other’s opinions before signing on the line that is dotted.

Asking whether or not someone has the authority to make a decision is a pretty standard 101 question that will rarely give you enough information or insights to either accurately forecast the sale or even move the sale towards closing. This self-identified “decision maker” likely can make a decision, but that decision is usually whether or not they want to pursue the deal internally vs. actually making the final decision on the go/ no-go.

No matter what you are selling, every business has a list of projects in a queue waiting priority and you are competing with the attention bandwidth applied to those items; whether they are related to your offering or not. A better course of action is to seek clarity how decisions are made within the organization; including the financial decision as well as the project priority process.

How do you do that?

Ask better questions related to the process itself once you’ve earned the right to do so. Below are some very simple examples that you can adjust to your specific situation:

  • Mr. Prospect, based on my experience working with other clients, there are often other individuals at the business that like to be aware of what my company will be providing to your business; if only to avoid any confusion once you’ve made a decision. When your business has made similar purchase decisions – how did that process work? Do you typically involve others in the evaluation process as well? How do you recommend we work them into this process to make this as smooth as possible?
  • Mr. Prospect, I have to imagine there are other projects looking for budget or resources that might be unrelated to this; where do you think this project would fit into those priorities at the executive level and how do we best work together to help you navigate that?

TIP: Don’t fall easy victim to the false positive of your proposal going to executive committee / management meeting or board meeting for review. Always clarify that your proposal is on the agenda and a priority. All too often I’ve heard a deal forecasted because it was going to committee for final signoff only to learn that the board never got around to discussing the proposal and it’s pushed off to the next meeting.  Make sure your sales executives ask the question “are we formally on the agenda for the meeting as a priority?” It might feel uncomfortable to a sales rep to ask that (which I don’t get) but without confirmation, you are flying blind.

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Top Five Reasons Lead Generating Initiatives Fail

Lead Generation is hot…you don’t need this blog post to tell you that – but if you still need evidence: 

  • A recent article from the Wall Street Journal in October stated “…marketers continue to put their ad dollars towards performance-based advertising, which includes search and lead generation inititives”
  • The Center for Exhibition Industry Research has identified the #1 objective of trade show exhibitors today to be lead generation
  • An August trend report from GlobalSpec on Industrial Marketing identified customer acquisition and lead generation as the top two priorities of industrial marketers

There are countless additional examples and 3rd party articles to support this as well but something tells me you likely already knew lead generation is a hot topic…

However did you know likewise that lead follow-up is the #1 concern of marketers?

Whoa…something is out of whack.

How can my #1 objective also be my #1 concern?

Why isn’t “Fixing Lead Follow-Up” the #1 priority over generating more leads that are going to continue to have follow-up issues?

Is it because lead follow-up is perceived as not being a marketing issue and therefore sales has the problem and therefore needs to find the solution?

Unfortunately for many organizations, that seems to be the common excuse to which I call bullsh*t – let’s just use common sense and see if that blame game make sense :

Who’s catching hell when leads don’t convert to sales?

When was the last time you heard sales budgets were being cut due to lack of ROI?

Compare that with what we are all dealing with  in regards to our marketing budgets – At best they are flat but more likely they are being reduced due to lack of ROI and we’re being tasked with accountability measures like never before.

Seems marketing is catching hell for lead follow-up issues vs. sales, but let’s revisit Lead Follow-Up responsibility. 

Aren’t we all on the same team with the same objective regardless if I’m in sales or if I’m in marketing?

Aren’t we both trying to help the company sell more stuff and do so efficiently and profitably?

I continue to be perplexed as to how companies end up in these sales vs. marketing silos with finger pointing as to where blame resides.

Ultimately it appears to be a sales/marketing culture issue; to which blame truly resides with executive management. At some point; a CEO needs to demand that their sales forces become more effective and that marketing departments help them get there and equally hold them accountable.

A guy can dream…right?

In the interim; reality continues to exist and millions upon millions of ad dollars are getting thrown against lead-generation initiatives and many of these initiatives will fail. By fail I simply mean not live up to the full potential they could have through a better integrated sales and marketing culture and process.

So why do they fail to live up to their promise? 

Here’s my perspective on the top 5 reasons lead generating initiatives fail:

1. No Follow-Up At All
All of us at some point have heard, read or experienced the statistics that continually tell us that less than 20% of sales leads ever get followed-up on. It’s a sad statement of business reality but most companies do not have a detailed, documented process that covers even the basics of how a lead will get nurtured or routed to sales. So when a marketing program takes place, the leads are never given the necessary attention. Test this yourself; do you have a documented process for “what happens” when an email comes into your website or a phone call comes into your office or a visitor pops by your booth?

Does it get logged and coded or does it just get forwarded as an “FYI” and left to an individual in sales or a marketing admin to ensure follow-up occurs?

Scary isn’t it?

Brian Carroll, a lead generation (and more) expert has a great quote on this – “To me it’s better to not be involved with a customer at all than to start a relationship and then drop the ball”

2. Slow Follow-Up
Like Bread or Beer – leads go stale. When people inquire, they’re interested right then and chances are they’re aren’t just looking at your solutions to satisfy their interests, especially in the B2B space. In addition to their interest in your offerings, you have to expect that your competition is also in the mix and maybe responding while you sit on the sidelines.

 As communication platforms like twitter, facebook and linkedin have pervasively grown; people are also going elsewhere beyond vendors for opinions on your products and competitive options while you twiddle your fingers ignoring the lead at its source. 

Who would you rather have following up on an inquiry that came directly to you? Someone from your marketing or sales group or an anonymous source on twitter?

Don’t just take my word for it; Knowledgestorm has years of research on purchase behavior in the IT and related space and they’ve repeatedly told their advertisers “Leads Get Cold Quickly”.

Almost as bad as ignoring them altogether – if leads aren’t nurtured quickly – it’s a waste, because you aren’t leveraging the original investment made to generate the inquiries.

3. Limited Follow-Up
I’m guessing some of you are thinking #1 and #2 don’t apply to you – because you have a system in place where 100% of your leads are followed up via an email or phone call within a reasonable time frame.

So why are your programs failing to reach their potential?

Maybe because that initial follow-up is all that is occurring and a process for continued follow-up and nurturing isn’t mapped out.

Let’s start with the basics – the majority of leads, even good leads, aren’t ready to buy right away. The buying process itself, depending on the complexity of the “product” or “service” being sourced, may not be a single person process and may be stretched over several months. Additionally, in the B2B space “Impulse Buying” does not exist  and potential B2B buyers spend a lot of time doing research and comparing options.

How the hell are you going to add value to that complex process with one-off emails or a single qualifying phone call?

According to Reed Business Information Systems statistics – the number of personal sales calls necessary to close an order is 5.2 and an average buyer sees nearly 2 sales people per week. Factor in the realities of the buyers also hiding behind automated switchboards, voice-mail, spam and junk e-mail filters and it seems that even legitimate leads are actually discouraging sales people from trying to connect. In my world – we call that “noise”; and you have to elevate and rise above all that noise for your message to be heard….and trust me; one phone call or one follow-up email isn’t going to do it.

True lead nurturing builds relationships with the right people at the right companies through relevant and consistent dialogue and touch points,  regardless of their timing to buy. This nurturing helps turn an initial lead into a sales-ready or transactional lead when the timing is right.

4.  Wrong Follow-Up
One of the challenges of following up on leads is agreeing what a lead is to begin with. Ask a sales rep and they’ll likely tell you a lead is a thoroughly qualified potential customer who is ready to buy today, credit card in hand. Ask a direct marketer and they’ll like tell you a lead is anyone from a targeted potential customer who gave up their contact information, whether it was to download a white paper or they checked a box on a Web site or dropped a card in the bowl at a trade show.

Common definitional issues wreak havoc on lead generation and follow-up programs; and all it takes is one sales person calling a marketing defined lead and getting blown off to summarize that all these marketing defined leads “stink”…or what we call “poisoning the well” and you are right back to Issue #1 – leads start to get ignored.

If you are resource constrained and can’t afford to extend incremental resources to qualify and nurture leads before handing them to sales; at a minimum sales should fully understand how the leads are being generated and the context of the inquiry; not just the content of who’s contacting. A well integrated sales and marketing group, even an understaffed one, can make huge gains in lead conversions simply by better understanding how to best follow-up and nurture an early stage lead.

In other words, if you are currently just dumping leads over the fence to the sales side of the house – STOP!

Take the time once a week, once a month or once a quarter to review how the leads are being generated and have an open / honest discussion on how to best follow-up to ensure maximum success.

5. Losing Sight of the Buy-Cycle (Not Qualifying Leads)
I mentioned it in #3 above and if you’ve read much of my blog posts; you’ve probably picked up that I frequently mention the “buy-cycle” when talking about marketing trends, research or studies. I do this because I happen to be a big believer in tying marketing strategies and tactics back to common sense buyer behavior.

At the risk of sounding “basic”, essentially the buy-cycle simply means that there are natural steps or stages we go through as consumers before we ultimately decide to purchase (or not); and I think this is true whether we are talking about software, cranes or even product certification services. Some other marketers refer to this as a purchase funnel – either way…

1. We become aware of, or INTERESTED-IN a particular product or service – whether by direct need or curiosity

2. We CHECK IT OUT, maybe do some research or talk to peers

3. And then we COMPARE & DECIDE which to buy; if any.

Depending on the complexity of the “product” or “service” being sourced, this may not be a single person process and may be stretched over several months; but in the B2B space one thing is certain and that’s “Impulse Buying” does not exist. Potential B2B buyers spend a lot of time doing research and comparing options; and numerous third party studies support that this research is increasingly being done online. While online, it’s just commons sense that these potential buyers see a lot of ads, messages and brands  – and those messages that are contextually related to the research they are pursuing are going to be noticed and retained; and who they ultimately do business with or purchase from is generally the outcome of these targeted multiple influences over time.

Targeted impressions and results from the first few exposures and searches done by a potential customer online create the baseline that the buyer uses to compare all options under consideration as final selection nears.

In short; if a buyer frequently sees ads, comments or references towards Brand A while they are researching Topic X…Brand A is going to stand out as a market leader or, at a minimum, a baseline to compare other options.

As a result, a marketer needs to build awareness, consideration and purchase intent before a purchase decision by the buyer is ever made.

What does all the above mean to your lead generation initiatives?

Without first qualifying a lead – you have no clue where in the buy-cycle an individual is; it’s like timing the stock market.

How can you add value to a complex buying process if you aren’t sure if they are just in preliminary research stages or narrowing down to a final few options for purchase in the next few days? Without qualifying; you can really flub your lead follow-up and waste your time and your potential clients time if you try pitching an early stage buyer just as bad as you can by trying to re-educate a late stage buyer.

All lead follow-up activities; regardless of who is handling it, should have minimum qualifying questions. 

BONUS (#6):
Whenever possible; use a phone – nothing can compete with a real, live phone dialog to qualify and nurture a genuine lead, regardless of where they are in the buying cycle. The phone is the #1 sales and marketing tool to maximize any lead generation program.

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Email Grammar Lesson – e.g. versus i.e.

Although I’m not known for my grasp of the English language – I do feel that if I’m presenting myself as a marketer and choosing to frequently use email as a communication tool I should at least have a grasp of proper grammar. One thing I always get confused about is as to when I should use the abbreviation “e.g.” as opposed to “i.e.” in professional correspondence / emails.

 I’ve noticed that I prefer to use “e.g.” and others might more often prefer to use “i.e.” in very similar use cases – I asked someone who actually corrected my e.g. to an i.e. and they said “well i.e. stands for “in example”….which I knew was wrong…so I finally got to the bottom of it for my own education and have elected to share for no other reason than I have wasted so much time on it that I’m trying to recoup some return on my investment through the betterment of others…

1. e.g.

e.g. stands for exempli gratia, which means “for example.” You are supposed to use e.g. to introduce one or more possibilities among many.

I like outdoor sports, e.g., football, soccer.
(football and soccer are just one of many types of outdoor sports)

He wastes his money on junk, e.g. cars that don’t run.
(cars that don’t run are junk)

I’ll listen to any kind of music, e.g., country-western, rap, etc.
(Country-western and rap are just two of the many types of music that I’ll listen to)

An easy way to remember what e.g. means is to think of it as standing for “example given.”  

2. i.e.

i.e. stands for id est which means “that is.” Use i.e. when what you are introducing is equivalent to or an explanation of what comes before it in the sentence.

I like outdoor sports; i.e., the ones that are played outside on a grassy field.

He wastes his money on junk; i.e., stuff that he will never get around to fixing.

I’ll listen to anything; i.e., I like any kind of music.

Basically, i.e. means “in other words.” It’s used to reword or provide an alternate explanation.

 
The Bottom Line

e.g. and i.e. are both Latin abbreviations. Both introduce additional information, but e.g. offers an example while i.e. explains or rewords. If you can replace the abbreviation with “for example,” use e.g. If you can replace it with “in other words” or “that is,” use i.e.

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Is a lead with a public email address as valuable as a lead with a business email address?

Since a good portion of my dialog with marketing folks revolves around the topic of lead generation; I’m sometimes in situations where what I perceive to be a valuable lead is not necessarily what my clients perceives to be a valuable lead. As I’ve said in some prior posts – I’ve learned the hard way that the first thing I absolutely have to do is get on the same page as my client / prospect as to what their definition of lead is, and a quality lead at that. Simple common definition issues can really create problems or expectation issues down the road; or even kill the sale altogether without common understanding of each other’s perceptions and definitions of leads.

One lead generation issue that has recently come up is the perceived value of a lead when the individual opts to use a public email address, such as a yahoo, hotmail or gmail as opposed to their “business” email address. There were some questions as to whether a lead had value, or the same kind of value, if they weren’t explicitly using their business email address.

Before we answer this question – I think there is an opportunity to first ask – why would a legitimate potential client choose to utilize a public email address vs. their work provided email address?

Based on my experience – here are a few reasons why:

• Prioritization: Most folks have “dual” addresses – we all have a gmail or yahoo account. If we registered for everything using our business email we would likely get 2-3 times as many emails as we already receive – my business email is for urgent business from external clients and internal correspondence…my sourcing and business research takes place in my gmail or yahoo account, which doesn’t mean it’s not important – it’s just typically not as urgent.

• Comfort: Plain and simple, most folks are just not comfortable using work email for anything but internal correspondence or client correspondence

• Privacy: People use public email accounts to “screen” information simply to make sure the site or information they’ve requested lives up to what they were expecting it too. My company sees this all the time from existing clients requesting some of our whitepapers – they use their gmail address; even though we have their business email address already on file.

• Control: A public email address gives me one level of anonymity in the event I’m not ready to engage in further dialog yet. My research is important – but again, it may not be urgent yet.

• Accessibility: Public email accounts are accessible via any web browser – any where; without having to log into secure VPNs or remote desktops – just simpler to do for folks when traveling or away from work computer on evenings, weekends etc.

• Portability: Folks like a permanent address in addition to their current address – if / when they switch jobs – they can still access certain information without interruption.

• Spam Control: Public email services like yahoo, gmail etc. have invested heavily in spam control technology…in some cases better than my own corporate spam controls.

 • Restrictions: There are certain companies and industries that flat out restrict the use or even access of work email for external communication due to security issues. For example; I spent two years working for a defense contractor– I was unable to receive or send email outside of the defense contractor network – but there were designated computers for external communication – but I had to use a public service email address when using them.

As you scan the list above – they all seem like plausible / reasonable answers why someone might elect to use a public email services – but I don’t think any of them ‘detract’ from the value of the lead. Whether a prospect opts to use a public email service or a business email service, it does not mean the individual is not a legitimate, qualified prospect – it simply means they are willing to receive unsolicited email – but only on their terms.

Hope this helps.

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Filed under B2B Marketing, lead generation, online marketing

What is a lead?

In my interactions with prospects and clients about online marketing; it is inevitable at some point that the word “lead” will be in the conversation, or likely the focus of the conversation. Typically it will be used in the context of “lead generation”; statements like – I’m in interested in generating leads or we’re looking for more leads or how many leads can we generate if we work with you etc…

In the 10+ years of conversations I’ve had on this topic, I’ve learned the hard way that the first thing I absolutely have to do is get on the same page as my client / prospect as to what their definition of lead is. Simple common definition issues can really create problems or expectation issues down the road; or even kill the sale altogether.

What I’ve found is most times when folks say lead in the context of online– what they really mean is sales lead, or transactional leads (RFPs, RFIs or RFQs). That might seem obvious – but in order to talk about marketing strategies and tactics and program recommendations, I need to know if someone either cares or places value on earlier stage leads (see my blog post on understanding the buying process online).

If someone is focused only on the tail end of the buying process online (either intentionally or ignorantly) – I need to understand why. It could be they are resource constrained; and therefore unable to follow-up appropriately and nurture early stage leads or they’ve just never thought the whole issue through, to no fault of their own. Hopefully, I’ll gain a chance educate them on the importance and opportunities missed and potentially help them work through resource issues or internal constraints.

Depending on the specifics of that discussion; the topics of “lead nurturing”, “lead qualification” and “lead scoring (what makes one lead better than another)” often come up as well; making the entire conversation so much more meaningful in the long run by engaging me in more aspects of their business and putting me in a stronger position to really integrate my recommendation into their current (or future) business practices.

 So back to the topic at hand – what are the common factors in my definition of a “lead” – regardless of the stage?

Well in my experience; early stage and late stage leads should all have the following information in common:

  • Contact Information: Enough so you can either nurture it further through “re-marketing” efforts (follow-up tactics) or so you can figure out who in your sales organization should get it for more immediate follow-up. E-mail address at a minimum; but add in full name and mailing address and perhaps even a phone number or fax and now you have the ultimate in contact information with multiple options and means for follow-up.
  • Demographic Information: At a minimum, you should know the company the individual is from and hopefully their industry focus and job role; which can help you determine their potential application and can set both the tone and manner of your follow-up.
  • Category of Interest: What is it that they are looking for or at? Are they downloading a white paper? Looking for more information on a specific product? Asking for Pricing? Or are they just curious about your company? Again; this will help set the tone and manner of your follow-up sales, re-marketing or drip-marketing efforts.

 That’s it….you get these three pieces of information; and you have yourself a lead.

 To determine the qualification of that lead; e.g. is this  a “transactional” lead or other sales lead vs. perhaps an earlier one – there is a slew of additional information you might need; some of that information can be gleamed through lead-qualification processes that will be a subject for future blog posts, but through these processes you can ask questions focused on:

  • Preferred Means of Contact
  • Timing
  • Budget Availability / Influence / Ability
  • Level of Interest
  • Competitor Options under Consideration etc.

If you are still struggling to get on the same page as either your vendors or even internally about what makes an online lead a lead and how important it is to place value on early stage vs. just focusing on late stage leads; take the discussion out of the context of online and take it offline, use a tradeshow analogy.

When someone registers to attend a tradeshow you are exhibiting at…are they a lead? In most people’s opinion; at best they are a suspect.

How about when that individual actually shows up at the exhibition hall? Probably not; perhaps still a suspect…maybe a prospect.

How about when they begin to flip through the directory that features your company or they start to walk down the aisle where you have a booth and signage?  Getting closer…but still not a lead?

How about when they stop and read your signage or view your booth and display…if even at a cautious distance? Warmer still…

How about when they drop a business card in the bowl or hand you their badge for scanning? For most folks…this is a lead now, everything that happened before then held little to no value.

Is this right the way to view lead generation? Am I fairly evaluating my trade show experience or even maximizing my trade show investment by only counting those cards I acquired or badges I’ve scanned?

The truth is – my prospect was a potential lead the moment they registered to attend the show itself. The person was an early stage lead for sure, but they were curious enough about my industry to register to attend a show that I felt appropriate to exhibit at. In a perfect world, if I could market and nurture that individual along from the beginning, I would have “bettered my chances” of them being among those who dropped their card or had their badge scanned vs. waiting for them to discover me on their own.

It all points back to the buy cycle (again, see my earlier posts). While evaluating marketing options and strategies, it’s important to remember that customer conversions (new sales) are the outcome of multiple influences over time.

From a sales & marketing perspective, being discovered as early in the process as possible is critical; as the impressions and results from the first few exposures and searches create the baseline criteria that the buyer will use to compare all options under consideration as final selection and purchase timeframes gets closer.

As always, I hope this post at least triggered some thought if not discussion.

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Understanding the Buying Process Online, Part IV: Consideration & Comparison

In this continuing series of posts, we’ve explored the online buying process from a sales & marketing perspective. In previous posts we’ve reviewed the various phases of the buying process including initial discovery through creating curiosity and awareness as well as how to get in front of those individuals already engaged in specific research and search activities.

In part IV; we’ll talk about the third phase of the buying process – consideration & comparison. This is the phase where your potential customer has completed most of their informational searches and research and is in the process of comparing various options.

Buy-Cycle Phase 3. Consideration & Comparison

At this stage, your potential customers have completed most of their informational searches and research and are now considering specific options, including your company. This is the prime opportunity for your company to differentiate themselves from the perceived comparable alternatives also under consideration. The customer is likely considering specific information from each alternative supplier related to specifications, cost, brands, and how the products or services make them feel in general. The reality is; most individuals online are trying to narrow and compare similar features first before they look for what makes one product different (better or worse) than the other. Websites that make this “comparison” easier like industrial directories, specialized search engines and online buyers guide play an increasing role for potential customers at this stage. Publishers of these resources recognize that end-users are looking for easier ways to compare suppliers and offerings side-by-side. Since a potential customer is starting to compare finer details and information; the information you subsequently make available via your website or information published on these resources becomes increasingly important. It’s also important at this stage for you to build trust that you should be the vendor they ultimately select. Hopefully as the potential customer first discovered you, you’ve captured the prospects’ contact information (or an email address at a minimum). Now it’s time to put it to use as part of a nurture campaign; which is essentially the continuation of the education process by providing value to your prospective clients, typically via email. Your goal is to keep the lines of communications open and one of the most effective ways to continue communicating with your prospects is with an email follow-up campaign. There are several “best demonstrated practice” resources available online for setting up a lead nurturing program; but they all have in common a desire to continue to reinforce that you know how to provide value to your customers and should be the vendor they ultimate decide to purchase from. Once they are considering and comparing you as a potential vendor; you want to make sure the information you are providing give them the specific detail that helps them fill in the gaps. You can do that by providing access to the technical information that may not have been relevant until now. You are basically seizing the opportunity to politely nudge and nurture them towards ultimately becoming a customer of yours. For example; as they go deeper into website; provide plenty of ancillary links to even more detail about not only your product line or solutions, but value-add services and client case studies.

Marketing Tactic Considerations:

Participation in directory products and programs that make it easier for end-users to compare similar suppliers should be a no-brainer if you are interested in reaching potential customers at this phase. Continued visibility in the search engines should also continue to be considered as well contextually-placed banner ads; provided these ads are placed alongside or with keyword or category search results to give your company a little extra visibility and differentiation among similar or related alternatives. As stated above; if you’ve been fortunate enough to gain earlier stage leads with contact information; using direct email nurture campaigns will increase your chances of ultimately securing a customer as well.

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Understanding the Buying Process Online, Part II: Curiosity & Awareness

In a posting last week, I described the buying process online. In that post, I mentioned that it’s important to remember that when we evaluate our marketing strategies and tactics; it’s critical to remember that new client acquisitions (new sales) are generally the outcome of multiple influences over time. I also made reference to maximizing your visibility to your target customers during all aspects of the buy cycle.

In this week’s post – we’ll review the earliest phase of the buy-cycle; curiosity and awareness.

From a sales & marketing perspective, being discovered as early in the buying process as possible is critical.

Buy-Cycle Phase 1: Curiosity & Awareness

Since the primary goal of most overall marketing campaigns is to eventually create new customers; getting these potential customers to think of you first when they need to satisfy a need, want or desire should be among the target outcomes of any marketing campaign. Generally referred to as “exposure”; creating curiosity or general awareness about what your company does or offers provides familiarity to those that have not yet discovered you or visited your website. The overarching idea is that when a person needs to satisfy a need, want or desire they remember your name or your site and visit you directly. A strong curiosity or awareness component of any marketing campaign will keep your company in the minds of people who might not be ready to act now, but who might take action down the road.

As a prospective customer first becomes aware of your company and / or your offerings, they might be curious as to what else you can do or whether your company or your solutions or products can do everything they need for the price they can afford or in the time frame they require. At this stage, your organization is in good position to be one of the top of mind vendors for your potential customer; but you still potentially have a knowledge and / or a credibility gap with the potential customer.

The best thing any organization can do at this stage is to build a bridge across the knowledge or credibility gap. The bridge is as simple as providing something of value as soon as possible to your potential customer. More times than not, that “something of value” will be in the form of sharing information that the company has and the prospect does not. In other words, your goal at this stage is continue to educate. This education can take shape in numerous ways that provide value to your potential customers:

  • Whitepapers,
  • PDF data sheets or catalog downloads
  • Case Studies or Application Notes
  • Online videos or Webinars
  • Email newsletters or blog postings
  • Press Clippings / PR and any number of other methods

Marketing Tactic Considerations:

To promote the availability and accessibility of this information; you should consider a combination of E-newsletter campaigns, broadcast banner advertising to a wide, but targeted audience, and direct email campaigns to your target market.

These types of campaigns are often referred to a “push” marketing as you are attempting to push your message in front of your target market to create interest and demand as opposed to waiting for them to be looking for a solution, as in the later phases of the buy cycle, and attempting to “pull” them towards you as a vendor of choice.

As potential customers “get serious” about their interest in a topic; they begin to become more proactive and specific in their research online and potentially more urgent in their need for relevant information or solutions. We’ll cover more about this as next week I’ll cover “Specific Interest and Search”as we continue to talk about marketing alignment to the buy-cycle.

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