Tag Archives: social media

Word Association: To Push or To Pull

It can be a real challenge for a marketer to successfully market online a product or service or solution that hasn’t previously existed before or that nobody knows even exists today. Perhaps you’ve created an innovative new product or taken advantage of an emerging technology or perhaps you’re solving a niche problem for a specialized marketplace through a unique application…how do you get that exciting news into the appropriate hands when people may not be searching for that kind of news or solution – I mean how would they know to search for it let alone how to search for it?

Rather than trying to directly market to a specific type of search, interest or “query” that may not exist yet – you might be more effective simply marketing to the right audience and creating the interest with them to begin with.

This type of campaign is often referred to as “push” marketing as you are attempting to push your message in front of your target market to create interest and demand. The opposite of “push” marketing would be pull marketing – where you are trying to market to someone already looking for a solution, and attempting to pull them towards you as a vendor of choice.

Push marketing messages often have a bit of an education or awareness angle, although they certainly aren’t limited to just this approach. This education can take shape in numerous ways that provide value to potential customers: 

  • Whitepapers
  • Press Clippings (Articles) / PR
  • PDF data sheets or catalog downloads
  • Case Studies or Application Notes
  • Online videos or Webinars
  • Email newsletters
  • Blog postings / Social media commentary

Other online marketing vehicles (like paid search or search optimization) can be creatively employed as well; but take some thought to effectively utilize well in new market / application scenarios.

To promote the availability and accessibility of this kind of news and information; you should give consideration to a combination of E-newsletter campaigns, broadcast banner advertising to a wide, but targeted audience, and direct email campaigns to your target market. Social media is of course another method to use.

To determine whether you should be using “push” media – give some thought to the words you are using (even internally in your own marketing meetings) when describing your “new” product, service or solution and the market you are trying to reach.

For example –

Product Attributes: If you are describing the product, service or solution using words like the below – you should consider “push marketing”: 

  • New
  • Cutting Edge
  • Emerging
  • Innovative
  • Replacement (e.g. it’s the “new”)
  • Alternative
  • Substitution
  • Equivalent
  • Comparative / Compare To
  • Advanced
  • Creative
  • Unique
  • Special

Target Market: If you are describing the target market (e.g. potential customers) using adjectives like the below – you should consider “push” marketing:

  • Niche
  • Special
  • Unique
  • Focused

Marketing Approach: If you are discussing or describing the possible marketing approach or vehicles you plan on using with the following terms – you should consider “push” marketing:

  • Educate / Teach
  • Introduce
  • Inform
  • Create Interest
  • Stimulate
  • Awareness
  • Roll-Out
  • Learn
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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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Google Sidewiki – How Will Advertisers React?

Google recently launched Google Sidewiki, which allows web searchers to contribute “helpful” information next to any webpage.

Google Sidewiki appears as a browser sidebar, where you can read and write entries along the side of the page…kind of like “comments” or reviews” (or like circa 1999 Thirdvoice “sticky notes” (google it…)).

In their own blog entry on the product, Google says “As you browse the web, it’s easy to forget how many people visit the same pages and look for the same information. Whether you’re researching advice on heart disease prevention or looking for museums to visit in New York City, many others have done the same and could have added their knowledge along the way…now you can”

So basically it allows you to leave and read “comments” and “reviews” other folks have made for a given website in their index; whether they are in the same context or not of your own interest or research…

In a perfect world it seems users of sidewiki would contribute a wealth of valuable information attached to every website, and users would monitor the content like some version of Wikipedia.

Unfortunately as we’ve all seen if we’ve spent the time reading comments on youtube, amazon, itunes or any web bulletin board / discussion group – we don’t live in a perfect world.

I have to suspect it will be a tough gig to keep Sidewiki from being plagued with erroneous comments, slander, sneaky advertising, spam, scams, trolls, flame wars, bad grammar, typos, bigotry and hatred.

I’m sure Google will attempt to combat this with its moderators and algorithms, but nothing is perfect.

It seems the actual owner of the webpage has no control over the Sidewiki – so how will Google handle their own advertisers frustrations over not only seeing comments that degrade them but realizing that they likely paid Google for the traffic that ultimately degraded them?

I’m sure Sidewiki has its uses…in the same way reviews on hotels.com, amazon, itunes and ebay do…but I personally see more “noise”  and “risk” than benefit…I wonder how long until webpage programmers figure out how to “optout” of sidewiki in the first place…

I think the big challenge is the context of the comments; just because I’m on a website about New York City – doesn’t mean I want comments of where to stay or where to eat…maybe my search is much more specific or granular than that; the comments will be hard to sift through…so I know I’ll end up just shutting it off.

What about b2b marketers – do you see an opportunity looming here?

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Almost 1/5th of Time Online is Spent With Social Media

According to a new survey out from Nielson, we are spending on average 17 percent of our online time socializing, nearly triple the percentage of time spent on social media a year ago.

According to Jon Gibbs, the VP of Media & Agency Insights @ Nielsen’s online division: “While video and text content remain central to the Web experience – the desire of online consumers to connect, communicate and share is increasingly driving the medium’s growth.”

It appears this increase in usage is driving increased ad revenues as a result – year-over-year, estimated online advertising spend on the top social network and blogging sites increased 119 percent, from approximately $49 million in August 2008 to approximately $108 million in August 2009.

It should be no surprise that the Entertainment Industry led in growing its online ad dollars, increasing ad spending on the top social network sites by 812% in August -but what about B2B?

Surprise surprise surprise…of the 13 industries tracked by Nielsen in this survey; B2B ranked 3rd in overall Year-Over-Year growth with 184% growth; only trailing Entertainment (812%) and Travel (364%).  Also surprisingly facebook was the leading platform for ad impressions for the b2b space.

You can see all 13 industries in the link below to the full survey.

The detail on spending and ad impressions for the 13 industries was fascinating; but I would have liked to see the breakdown of usage by these industries too – perhaps the 17% of time online is the average; but I have to suspect it’s lower for b2b folks (could be wrong); but overall some compelling trends to continue to monitor and watch.

http://en-us.nielsen.com/main/news/news_releases/2009/september/nielsen_reports_17

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Top Five B2B Twitter Mistakes (to me anyways…)

Just a quick short list of five mistakes you could make if you aren’t careful with how you are managing your b2b twitter account.

 I’m sure there are more – but these are the 5 big ones in my book

1. Making the mistake thinking that twitter is about talking vs. listening…Twitter is not the Internet version of the Town Crier where you simply ring your bell, yell something and then go back inside only to come out when it’s time to yell something again. Yelling something is fine; provided you are doing so to get followers to respond so that you can listen, reply and interact with them.

2. Over-editing or tightly-controlling your posts…Twitter is not about crafting one perfect post after another; what you “twit” doesn’t have a long shelf-life to begin with. Your message and personality gets developed over several posts throughout the day/week/month – people will forgive a less than perfect post…provided what you are saying initiates good discussions or passes along strong value or you follow it up quickly with something better.

3. Picking the wrong-person to run your twitter account or having someone tweet on behalf of someone else …o.k. so that’s really two separate mistakes but bear with me…First, your twitter posts are speaking on behalf of your company and your brand; make sure who ever is running your b2b twitter account is capable of making good judgments for the company so that everything that gets posted doesn’t need to run through an approval process and everything that is posted has some value. Secondly, if the person you want to run twitter is incapable of running twitter – you are picking the wrong person to be the face of any of your social media. If your CEO is too busy…don’t bother trying to impersonate your CEO – that could be embarrassing when it’s discovered – instead, pick someone else. Lastly; make sure who you pick is high enough in stature or presence that they can draw a following. In other word’s just because your marketing intern is “really good on computers” and “really gets” social media doesn’t mean he / she has the credibility / reputation to draw a following or to develop quality content.

4. Not updating regularly: People don’t expect hourly posts and they don’t necessarily expect daily posts – but they do expect meaningful / consistent activity. If you can’t regularly post content of solid value or discussion – you probably shouldn’t be bothering with social media to begin with.

5. Every post includes a link…occasionally or even frequently passing along other folks content via a link is fine – just don’t make it an occurrence in every post…especially if you happen to have folks who follow you with a mobile device; depending on reception; it’s easy to ignore these posts and eventually they could just end up ignoring you altogether.

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Duke / AMA CMO Survey Indicates Optimism for the Future

An August 2009 CMO Survey, conducted by professor Christine Moorman of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business in conjunction with the American Marketing Association indicates some positive news for the future.

Key highlights:

Overall, 59 percent of marketers are more optimistic about the U.S. economy than they were just one quarter ago. 47 percent are feeling more optimistic about prospects for revenue from end customers and 39 percent more optimistic about revenue from channel partners (who resell products to end customers, e.g. distributors) than they were just three months ago.

Marketers continue to report a shift in spending away from traditional advertising (with a planned overall decrease of 8 percent) and toward Internet marketing, where they expect to increase investments by 10 percent. They report plans to increase spending on social media efforts by more than 300 percent in the next five years, increasing their marketing budget allocations for social media from 3.5 percent to 13.7 percent over the next five years. Social networking (65 percent), video and photosharing (52 percent) and blogging (50 percent) dominated firms’ social media patterns. Survey respondents report the five most frequently reported uses for social media tactics are brand building, customer acquisition, new product introductions, customer retention and market research.

Russia and Eastern Europe are the regions where marketers expect the most future growth to occur, with significant decreases in opportunities in Canada, Mexico and Western Europe.
 
http://www.fuqua.duke.edu/news_events/releases/207493/

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Top Ten Twitter Tools (to me anyways…)

Just a quick short list of a couple useful twitter applications to share; some of these are already commonly known but I wanted a complete list of those I’m using / exploring.

I’ve capped it at 10 simply due to the fact if you are using more than 10 twitter tools…you might need to get out more… J 

  1. Tweet A File: http://tweetafile.com/ – free app that lets you send file attachments via twitter…something you couldn’t do “easily” before.
  2. TweetDeck: http://tweetdeck.com/beta/ – Probably the most popular twitter app out there; allow users to send and receive tweets and view profiles, organize threads etc.
  3. Tweet Later: http://www.tweetlater.com/ – this is a great idea for folks responsible for corporate twitter accounts – it lets you enter a bunch of updates in advance and schedule their release in the future; enabling you to appear as if you are twittering real time when you might just simply be tied up elsewhere.
  4. Twitterfeed: http://twitterfeed.com/ – helps you send blog rss feed to twitter and gives you some analysis / tracking of feeds; just starting to toy around with this myself.
  5. Twonvert: http://www.twonvert.com/ – free app that helps you convert “plain English” updates into shorthand language to reduce character usage. Doesn’t handle industry specific or “b2b” words well or typos – but handy overall.
  6. Twittonary: http://www.twittonary.com/ – yup; that’s it – a dictionary for twitter lingo.
  7. Monitter: http://monitter.com/ – real time, live twitter monitor that lets you monitor a set of keywords and what people are saying; a little tricky to figure out at first.
  8. Twittercal: http://twittercal.com/ – if you use Google’s calendar app; this is a handy little tool that allows you to add events to your calendar right from twitter; simple little handy tool.
  9. Mr. Tweet: http://mrtweet.com/ – it was described to me as similar to iTunes genius program; basically scans twitterdom for folks you might want to follow with similar interests. (bonus: http://twitter-friends.com/ looks to be similar)
  10. ootweet: http://ootweet.com/ – lets you “archive” your favorite tweets or discussions; admittedly haven’t played around with much – but could be useful

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