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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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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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Social Media: Why do it? How do I do it? And how do I measure it?

Social Media is no doubt a hot topic overall; and likely in your own company as well. I’m sure a marketing or sales meeting hasn’t occurred in the last six months where terms like “twitter”, “facebook”, “blogging”, “linkedin” or “online communities” hasn’t surfaced – and with good reason:

  • According to statistic by Nielsen, Twitter attracted 7 million unique users in February 2009; up over 1000%+ from just a year ago…and keep in mind, twitter itself is only 2 years old. The growth is rampant; in fact recent “rumors” suggest they’ve already gone over 20 million in recent months; another 300% bump from February.
  • According to analytics company Compete.com, Facebook reached over 122 million monthly U.S. visitors in June.
  • According to their own data, LinkedIn currently has about 42 million members – up over 10 million in just 6 months.
  • Forrester Research recently suggested that by 2014; social media will be a $3 BILLION dollar business for advertisers (see my post here on Forrester Research: )

The growth in usage, adoption, experimentation and exploration is staggering and mind blowing.  To some degree, you could make a strong argument that the economy has pushed the growth of social media to go faster than it might have on its own – it’s free to the end-user and inexpensive for the active participant. You can’t really spend money with Twitter or Facebook today even if you wanted to; or at least the opportunities are very limited. Despite the growth; very few companies have the ability or interest to staff for a phenomenon that is viewed by many as still in its early incubation or exploration phase.

As a result, for many of us with full-time jobs that are increasingly demanding of our time and focus in this challenging marketplace, it’s easy to feel left behind, out of the loop, overwhelmed or uncertain even how to get started. At the same time some of us are unwilling or unable or, for lack of a better term, afraid to get involved; but by doing so we are literally putting our area of influence or expertise online at risk as someone else could easily “out publish” us using inexpensive social media platforms and tools.

I do understand that perhaps there are some of us “tinkering” with the sites that are out there and trying to “figure it out” with the limited slices of our attention and time we (or our employers) can afford; and I would guess there are no more than a handful that are fully engaged with social media for all it’s worth and trying to leverage the platforms for a bigger marketplace advantage. So what are the big reasons why we aren’t more involved in a trend that is not only growing, but growing astronomically, and is relatively inexpensive to participate with?

Based on my experience, it boils down to three main reasons:

  1. Time
  2. ROI
  3. Brand / Reputation Fear

Let’s review each reason in  more detail:

1. Time: People can easily feel overwhelmed with social media and unsure how to best allocate time and how to follow and engage in the community. The web is full of advice on how to get started or how to do things but the bottom line is this – we are all students. Some of us have just been studying a little longer.

Just like a student trying to quickly get as proficient on a topic as their peers – invest the time in your homework and studying. If you are someone with a limited amount of time; go deeper as opposed to wider with your limited time. Find a niche you are comfortable with – and you’ll get out of it what you put into it. What I mean by that is start with only one or two sites and build your expertise, and perhaps even a fledgling community from there. Perhaps your following won’t be as large or your reach as great by doing this – but by focusing your time and your energy on a smaller set; you’ll be ensuring the experience for your “community” will be far greater and you’ll learn a lot quicker and be able to tailor your content in the process.

Keep in mind that the world of social media is not “Field of Dreams” – where you “build” it and they will come – you have to work the room and participate and solicit feedback and participation and readership. The world of social media is full of what are called “lurkers” – people who read, but don’t comment or participate any other way – but they are just as valuable to you as those that comment and likely occur in far larger numbers.

I guess the best analogy I can give is to consider a trade show; we’ve all seen those folks who invested their time and energy to get to the show; but just don’t feel comfortable getting within arms reach of your booth and stand about five feet away and read and stare. So what do we do? For those of us comfortable with it and trying to maximize our show investment – we wave them in, offer treats or approach them more proactively and try to engage them in conversation as opposed to just sitting back and letting the booth and collateral do all the work. Same thing is true of social media; you’ll have to do a fair amount of reaching out to ensure your message or content is read.

A couple of other tips in regards to managing your time:

  • Respect the time people took to comment on your post but at the same time don’t overreact to comments you get or view them personally either – 1 or 2 comments for a posting or a link that gets dozens or hundreds of views isn’t indicative of how all readers / participants feel. Acknowledge and respond just the same the time the specific individual invested to comment.
  • Do a little homework or research on which sites you engage with. This should be no different than how you would decide the rest of your media buys like print or online websites.
  • -Does the site or the platform make sense for your brand/product?
  • -What are the demographics of the folks who are active here?
  • -What are the issues / topics that are already getting a lot of activity? Does mine content or idea “fit”?

2. ROI: Social Media may not be a large dollar investment, but it is a time and resource commitment – so the question of return on investment is inevitable. At the same time, let’s be honest – it’s difficult to measure the immediate success of Social Media. As I said above, we are all students of social media – not all these networks will survive, no one knows absolutely how to use them most effectively or efficiently and there will be another “new thing” someday, and with metrics like we are currently seeing on usage, that “new thing” will be sooner rather than later…so put your goal or expected ROI in perspective.

There’s a saying I recall out of a product strategy book I once read (title and author escape me) that went something like this :

 “There are two approaches to travel; pick a destination and proceed toward it or wander off in any direction at all”

If you are new to social media for your company – your ‘destination” should be the education itself; have your initial goal be the learning process – and what you are learning about is engagement preferences of your target audience. Once you’ve built a foundation of knowledge and a fledgling community; you can then start benchmarking your metrics and shooting for targets, which will vary based on your overall business goals and objectives. Because of the viral features of social networks (e.g. easy to forward, comment or pas along) and that people love to share with their co-workers, peers or friends; if you hit on an idea or topic that resonates – those metrics can spike fast. But…if you don’t hit homeruns right away – try again and keep trying since social media is easy to tweak and optimize. Don’t be afraid to try different things until you get it right.

Eventually you’ll have to measure / monitor something – so consider top line metrics you can quickly establish reports for like:

  • Views
  • Members / Followers
  • Web Traffic / Referrals etc.

Don’t overly invest in expensive analytical software for social media right away; figure out what makes sense to measure for your business – and remember; if social media is brand new to you – the numbers are only going to be going up for the first few months anyways; you don’t need expensive software or consultants telling you that…and charging you money for the obvious.

Keep your planning “lite”  and make quick marketplace refinements – in other words figure out at a high level what you need to do but monitor the marketplace continually and refine and adjust your strategy accordingly (see my post on lite planning here).

3. Brand Reputation Fear:  As I’ve been saying, Social Media may not be a large dollar investment, but it is a time and resource commitment and can have an impact on your online reputation or brand. For many of us, the fear of stumbling and creating a negative vs. positive impact for our company’s brand or reputation has us frozen from doing anything at all.

I guess my best advice is – get over it.

I’m not trying to downplay this at all; online reputation and brand management is critical – but you have to realize that prospects, customers, peers etc. are likely already talking about your company online and worrying about how you’ll be perceived is not going to change that – you have to get involved.

However how you engage with them or start conversations is critical to ensure the brand message and reputation stays positive. Whether you are creating a Facebook page, posting a blog, writing a twitter entry or responding to a review or another comment on a discussion board, the tone in your message needs to reflect that of your brand and more importantly, shows appreciation for individuals willing to share candid feedback, regardless of their tone. If the goal of our initial social media efforts is first about the learning and engagement process, then you have to respect that part of this process is learning more about your customers and how they relate to your company. Don’t approach posts or tweets or comments with an obvious angle to get folks to comment or behave in a way you want – that’s a transactional or traditional media mindset. Social Media is all about the exchange and the bi-directional conversations that result.

When was the last time you picked up a phone to call a friend and used a script?

Don’t over think about scripting your conversations with your customers, either. Of course there is balance to that as well – you can’t knee jerk and fly off the handle either but simply be open to new forms of communication that are more bi-directional in nature vs. broadcast messaging that you might already be more comfortable with. Someone who is properly engaged with you and feels you are having a conversation with them genuinely wants to hear from you and probably wants you to be successful as well.

I hope that by reading this post, you’re already a believer in social media and are now ready to begin to adopt new forms of communicating with your customers. If you are already active in social media, I hope this has helped you in some way get clarity on further thinking on your efforts or perhaps I’ve armed you with justification for your time with others in your company who might not yet be fully embracing of our marketplace realities.

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Forrester Floats Five-Year View…FIFTY FIVE BILLION

The fact that online advertising is continuing to grow while traditional media declines is of no surprise to anyone anymore really; but Forrester has put out a “fresh” contemporary view on where online advertising marketing might be heading and it’s a staggering $55 Billion by 2014 – a 4x increase from where they expect it to top out this year…link to follow.

I wrestle with 5-year views like this mainly because five years ago platforms like linkedin, facebook, twitter and even the IPhone didn’t exist…so change can and will occur in terms of platforms and technology that have a high likelihood of impacting these “projections” – but at the same time; you can’t sit idle and say “why bother…it’s just going to change…” – successful businesses and marketers are always skating to where the puck will be.

That being said – a few things stand out to me:

1. Despite the growth…looks like online will still only account for 21% of all advertising spend; is it because it’s still “cheaper” and therefore throwing the ratios off or are people really going to still be allocating 80% of their resources, time and manpower against traditional declining / dying stuff? I hope it’s the former…

2. Search will continue to dominate – hovering consistently around 60% of allocated online spend…clearly this last click mentality where Google gets overkill credit for customer wins / conversions will still prevail for years to come while I’ll continue to hope for enlightenment in thinking and measuring for all aspects of the buy cycle (see my posts on marketing to the buy cycle).

3. Social media will grow from 3% of budgets to 6% of budgets – but I suspect a disproportionate amount of time and resources are getting haphazardly thrown against this today as people either attempt to “figure it all out” or “play around” or try and “catch up”…look for a future post on measuring social media and what I’ve learned while playing around in the social media sand box

Link to Forrester research via their blog: http://blogs.forrester.com/marketing/2009/07/interactive-marketing-nears-55-billion-advertising-overall-declines.html

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