Over the past month I've had the pleasure of spending time with four of my "competitors." Within my first conversation with each of them, we mutually realized that we are more about co-opetition than competition. In fact, we bring value to each other.
We each have two obvious things in common: We are bloggers and we are lead gen practitioners.
I've never been one to be close-minded. So I reached out to them to discover any synergies or common areas of interest. We soon realized that the overlaps and gaps between us were obvious enough and that there are enough prospects and clients in the universe that we can actually benefit by the relationships. In all cases we:
- identified areas where we can help each other
- shared some best practices
- established valuable networking relationships
- gained mutual respect for the other
- learned a thing or two
Don't fall victim to competitive relationships turning libelous and disrespectful. Frankly, when I hear prospects and clients share these negative stories, I ask them why they think others have to resort to sales tactics such as those? Can't they sell on their own merits?
- Don't sell with negative competitive messaging; it doesn't suit you.
Co-opetition is by far the best way to manage your competitive relationships. You can all maintain a more professional presence in the market, and long-term you will all benefit.
I'll continue retweeting and cross-posting these four gentlemen while keeping my eyes open for opportunities to work with them. They are all top-shelf.
Competitors are definitely worthy of being part of the Lead Gen Tips collection. Already this month a lead has come of it. Do you compete or do you co-op?
If someone has already written about this, forgive me. But twice in the past few weeks the discussion of real time search came up and how it might touch b2b demand gen. Today, unless someone is searching in multiple places -- Google, Twitter Search, Facebook Search and others -- they will never find the trending topics that people are talking about. When someone goes to Google and types "appointment setting," don't you want your organic results on the left and your real time social media posts on the right? I do.
Please blend Organic Search and Real Time Search on one page. Better, create algorithms that will show real time results from people "like me," not just from topics that sound or look like I'd like them. Personally, I'll love it. Professionally, I can see demand gen goodness for inbound marketing all over it. It will allow my prospects to find me in multiple different ways, and allow my real time content to be as valuable as my static content -- even if those searching aren't into Twitter or Facebook.
(credit: Google and Scoopler)
MarketingProfs Digital Mixer kicked off yesterday with some great speakers. I unfortunately was not able to attend, but thanks to our buddy's at Hubspot, I was able to watch the live video stream--and thanks to twitter, I was able to capture tons of great data. Here are my top 20:
"Viral video (and social media) is
like ROI: both can only be determined after the fact."
: RT @jaygleaton: Assume
whoever gets to your blog is there accidentally so make it clear what you do on
the top of the page.
(check).human factor (check).transparent, respectful, dedicated
(check). Even working against specific strategy. Now what? #mpdm
: RT StephanieSAM Social relationships are about money. If they don't drive revenue, don't do them. Measure and focus on ROI. @radian6 #mpdm
: A lot of marketers forget to measure phone leads along with Web leads. #mpdm
: social ads on Facebook expensive according to @MariSmith but worth it because of very precise targeting #mpdm
: OH by Scott Rosenberg (#mpdm lunch keynote) "Email is not dead."
phew! I always worry abt that. Ha ha
: That first welcome email you send to new subscribers is one of the most successful email campaign you may have. #mpdm
: B2B or B2C, the Bs are all people. Give
them content that's useful to them in the ways they want to get it.
Read: Free: The Future of a Radical
Price (Hardcover) by Chris Anderson. What can you give away that will build your
: The most INSIGHTFUL TWEETS (+ funniest) from Day 1 of @MarketingProfs #mpdm event. http://bit.ly/3bjMBS
Which of the following is a good sales outcome for introductory appointments?
- Proposal: The prospect let you pitch him for 30 minutes, told you to send a proposal and CC his director, who handles these types of projects.
- 2nd Meeting: The prospect discussed her business issues with you, you asked good questions, you shared some anecdotal stories about how some of your clients have similar issues, and she asked for a second meeting.
I know a ton of salespeople that would put the first outcome in the success category. You got a pipeline opportunity, right? A proposal?
WRONG! You got a brushoff, a more sophisticated variation of saying "send me a datasheet." He was just letting you down easy. What he really said was, "Here's enough hope to keep you busy for a week or two and then you can go away." You may have pitched them, but did they hear anything? Was any of it relevant or bring value to them?
The second scenario is far more successful. The next stage in the sales cycle has started. She shared her real issues with you. You shared some value. She wants to continue the conversation. That's how prospects buy today.
- Show professionalism and value by having a conversation and asking questions
- Educate the prospect just enough to get a second meeting
- Make the second meeting follow your agenda and then satisfy theirs
It's all about the second meeting.
Whenever I get a new lead from a prospective company, I always check its web site to see if it looks like a good fit. A good deal of the time I'm unimpressed with what I see. The home pages are cluttered, not structured for a quick read, and no actions are suggested.
Isn't a home page the ultimate landing page? Granted, you don't want the home page hiding all the navigation and consisting of a form, but take landing page best practices and use what makes sense. Make the goal of your own Home Page "Landing Page" to convert the single-page visit to a multiple-page visit.
We all put a great deal of effort into landing pages. Studies show how people read a web page and what triggers response. Last week at the MarketingSherpa summit in Boston, for example, we heard that "people read a landing page like the letter "F:" Top scan, down the main body, scan right, take action (if triggered).
Here are two great examples. The first is Salesforce, which I've always criticized because of the big, animated ad in the middle, but then I changed my mind. The ad gives you a quick message -- six messages in fact. Then it's surrounded by calls to action and the flow leads you to a next step.
But the animation is not SEO-friendly, you ask? No it isn't, but does Salesforce need its home page SEO optimized? Most likely they rank OK as it is.
The second is Hubspot, the inbound marketing gurus. The home page reads just like a landing page with call to actions and a next-step arrow to learn more (upper right).
Both are easy on the eyes. The design is clean and uncluttered, with a clear call to action on the righthand side.
Home Page as the Ultimate Landing Page considerations:
- keep it above the fold (little to no scrolling)
- keep it clean, uncluttered -- whitespace is good
- the headlines should make the statements, not the text
- the text should be simple and not get in the way of the next steps
- calls to action should be clear, mostly to the right
- the goal of the page is to convert a single-page visit to a multiple-page visit
Is your home page designed to convert? What about Green Leads new Home Page? Comments?
We had a prospect ask this past month to give her 10 reasons to work with Green Leads. It was an interesting request, but we took it on with a twist. We delivered not 10 reasons, but 15 thoughts to ponder. Thought I'd share it.
My favorite: social media techniques augment cold calling - warm calling converts more of your prospects into qualified opportunities
In the fourth of a series of Thought Leader interviews for MarketingSherpa's 6th Annual B2B Marketing Summit 2009
, we talk to Richard Fouts, research director at Gartner, Inc., an information technology research and advisory company. Fouts presented yesterday in Boston.
Mike: You're presenting on the use of social media in communications. (I'm assuming you are talking Marcom?) I've noticed lately that if you have the right media contacts connected with you on Twitter and Linkedin, you can almost get your word out through those channels as opposed to the standard techniques. Are traditional media outlets dying?
Richard: It's not just marcom, rather all communications ... corporate communications, employee communications, PR, and investor communications. But to answer your question: If I had a dollar for every time someone predicted the death of traditional media -- for example, print -- I'd be rich. Michael, do you know the invention of the bicycle actually predicted the death of the book industry? Yes indeed, one view is that we'd all be riding our bicycles instead of reading books. There's no question that as dollars move toward electronic media, they move away from traditional media at the same pace. But things go in cycles. Amazon still sells plenty of books, and BW, Harvard Business Review, and the Economist still sell lots of magazines and journals (especially when they do special editions on things like social computing). I tell clients all the time, "There's a lot less noise in print right now ... and the rates are lower. So you'll actually get higher ROI in print today than you did before -- due to less noise, and less competition for eyeballs, at lower cost." Besides, we all know from experience that the best campaigns engage prospects over time, with multiple media. And from what I can see, traditional media outlets aren't dying, but they are adapting. Every television commercial for IBM tells you to go to their web site. The web site shows their TV ads ... or tells you to watch for their ad campaign on television, or to watch for them at an upcoming trade show. PR is being aggressive in its use of social media in their traditional reputation management services. Many events in the physical world, like meetups and house parties, start with Twitter. It's old media meets new media - not a question of what's surviving and what's dying - rather how things are evolving, converging, and maturing.
Mike: Blogging seems to be the communications platform of the future. In fact, our new site's press section will basically be a blog. Our focus with blogging, though, is to spread prolific content about demand gen and appointment setting
. It brings value to our readers and credits for SEO. Are there other benefits?
Richard: Sure, there are a range of benefits to blogging that inform all phases of what we at Gartner call the marketing activity cycle. New media and Web 2.0 are changing everything, but the fundamentals of marketing haven't changed. You still need to study and research the market, develop products, plan, execute, communicate, and evaluate. Blogging, like many social and professional interaction platforms, informs all of these phases, not just the communication phase. For example, blogs help us solicit input about new products ... and they help marketers and salespeople have conversations, not just engage in one-way messaging. Press sections today don't have mechanisms for people to respond to a press release, to ask questions. By making your press room a blog, you open up robust and informational conversations, not just one way messaging that ends in a vacuum. You're able to make more informed decisions. You reduce the guesswork because you know more .. and you know it faster.
Mike: What should we look out for when combining social media and communications?
Richard: Look out for "herding cats syndrome" because as a communications professional, you'll never herd all the cats who are wandering around the great social media chessboard. You need to accept the fact that you're relinquishing control, at least the kind you've become accustomed to. This is the toughest thing for communications people to hear. Their entire discipline has been turned upside down because they no longer create and shoot one-way messages to stakeholders. And they aren't the only originators of the message. Dell for example, woke up one day to a crisis situation due to an angry blogger named Jeff Jarvis, who lambasted Dell for its lousy customer service. Within hours, boatloads of consumers sympathetic to Jarvis' arguments posted comments on his blog as well as their own, creating a firestorm of negativity through the blogosphere. It took awhile, but Dell executives finally joined the online conversation and began to slowly rebuild the company's tarnished image. Dell learned a valuable lesson from this experience. It launched its own blog and put it to good use when another potential crisis erupted - that it nipped in the bud -- over a battery recall. Dell's chief blogger, Lionel Menchaca, addressed the issue in a straightforward, no-nonsense manner and let customers freely comment. Later, Michael Dell launched IdeaStorm.com and begged customers to give his company advice (and he still gets plenty of it, which he welcomes with open arms). The proof is in the pudding: metrics show that Dell's customer service rating has risen significantly. So the message is, don't try to herd the cats -- become part of the movement. In some cases you may even feel like you're part of the chaos, part of the noise, but you need to just go with it. Let it play out. Transparency is everything these days, and if you fight it, you're done. PR people learned this long ago when they realized the words "no comment" would brew even more suspicion.
Mike: If you had just 5 minutes with someone and they asked you for the takeaways from your presentation, what would they be?
Richard: The chief takeaway is simple: Don't forget the fundamentals of marketing in your desire to understand social media and its game changing, revolutionary qualities. Sure, social media changes everything but there's no substitute for good marketing. You still need to respond to the gaps in the market and exploit your competitors' weaknesses. And social media can help. But you can't wait. You need to join the movement, make some mistakes, learn from them, and go on. This isn't one of those "wait and see" things where you think you can let other people make mistakes for you, then join in with the perfect plan. You need to experiment, you need to engage in the conversation, learn the beauty of crowdsourcing, tweeting, blogging, and listening to your Facebook fans, both the good and the bad. Customers don't want you to market to them, they want you to market with them.
Mike: OK, last question, the B2B Marketing Thought Leaders Curry Poll
. Do you prefer red, yellow or green curry?
Richard: That's easy: Green
I know my colleagues in the sales consulting industry are going to fill this page with comments telling me why their Lead Gen Tip of the day would be to craft the perfect voicemail script. My response is -- Don't Bother.
As a result of the recent question on Focus.com regarding "should we leave a voicemail?" we decided to conduct a LinkedIn poll asking only C/VP level respondents (our appointment setting targets) what they do when they receive a well crafted voicemail that is sales oriented:
The results were as I expected, so let the debate begin:
Want to know the mix by department? It's interesting that the geeks listen more than others:
What do you think? Leave one or Don't?
Another of the speakers at MarketingSherpa's 6th Annual B2B Marketing Summit 2009
is Aaron Dun, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Ness Technologies
, a global IT services provider. This is the third in a series of Thought Leader Interviews for Marketing Sherpa.
Mike: Aaron, you're speaking at MarketingSherpa about "How to Build a Program -- When Every Dollar Counts Twice." It seems to not only be about the dollars, but about the resources. What would you share with those one-person marketing departments that are out there?
Aaron: Run, fast? Just kidding, of course. I think oftentimes the resource issue is wildly overlooked. You have to be realistic about what you can do with the team that you have available to you, whether it's 10 people or just one person. At a previous company, we expected to be able to knock out a regular set of campaigns in a given quarter, but instead it took all of our energy to roll out two. That was the effective maximum capability that we had and we need to acknowledge and plan for that.
As for specific advice, I would offer the following:
- Surround yourself with a great network of freelancers and partners. Have at least one go-to person for each discipline, cultivate them and bring them into your planning process as if they are on your team. If they have visibility into your strategy and can do consistent work for you, they will be that much more effective. The sad reality of the recent downturn is there are some fantastic resources working as freelancers or striking out on their own. (To be clear however, this isn't "good talent on sale!")
- Maximize everything you are doing. If you write a whitepaper, what are you going to do with it? Have a strategy to get the maximum value of that asset from posting it on your site, in your social communities, syndicating it out, etc.
- Be ruthless in your measurement. If you don't know if something is working or not, figure out how to measure it or stop doing it. (and yes, you CAN measure PR! )
Mike: Some companies are still acting as if they are in economic crisis mode. We're all doing more for less. What can a frugal marketer say or do for their management teams that can free up the much-needed budgets?
Aaron: Paralysis works both ways, unfortunately. But I think the answer lies in the maturity of the organization. If you have been running a strong program and have a good foundation, come to the table with a strong idea that takes advantage of either a market opportunity, a competitor's sudden weakness, or a unique opportunity that wasn't there before. Link the activity to a business outcome you have successfully driven before.
Conversely, if your marketing organization is less mature, you have to show how inaction is delaying opportunity. In this case, it takes a certain amount of time to ramp up the machine and turn marketing efforts into business opportunities. The longer you wait, the longer the payoff takes to kick in.
But the same rigor on metrics applies. Propose something as a Proof-of-Concept first. Rather than suggesting a three-webinar series for $100k, show how you negotiated a pilot for just $15k with an option for future campaigns and articulate the expected value and the steps you are going to take to achieve the goal. Most importantly though, pull the plug if it doesn't work. Willingness to walk away from an idea gone wrong will show that you will spend money wisely and can be trusted with the company's money.
Lastly, think like the CFO. The CFO has many choices for spending your budget. They can invest that money in marketing, or they can invest it in something else or the market. If you show that you can drive a business return with their investment in your budget, they will be more likely to invest more.
Mike: Social Media. It seems to be all the buzz. It also seems to be an inexpensive way to pull off some effective marketing. What are your thoughts here?
Aaron: Yes and no. If you have a consumer product, it's interesting of course. But on the B2B side the value prop is a bit less clear still. I wrote about this issue a bit on my blog. I was one of the early B2B brands advertising on LinkedIn when they launched their advertising platform. We were targeting senior marketing folks and their segmentation capability is pretty amazing. But you always have to ask yourself even if they are on the platform, are they there to engage with you? Or are they there for some other purpose?
You also need to consider your internal audience. It's not a stretch to say that many senior executives are not entirely clear on what social media can do for the organization. I have a hard enough time getting budget and bandwidth for the things I know are going to drive business, I am not sure that I want to hinge my program on the channel today.
But you clearly have to be in the game. Our strategy is to be fast followers. We are dabbling in our "20% innovation time" (to borrow Google's term) to build our presence and test. We are looking to use the channel to "get outside the four walls of our web site," so to speak. I personally went from 0 to 60 on Twitter in just 36 hours at a conference a few months ago; clearly others have as well. With that comes opportunity, but as a B2B service, we can afford to wait and see how things develop.
Mike: So, for a takeaway as it pertains to b2b demand gen, the ultimate goal is putting a prospect in the hands of a sales rep. What programs are you hot on right now? Inbound Marketing? Outbound Marketing? Qualified Lead Gen? Appointment Setting? Web Events? Social Media?
Aaron: This might sound a little strange but my answer is all of the above. While our campaigns tend to be led or focused on a particular tactic, we are trying to run truly "interactive campaigns" that encompass as many channels as possible around a particular theme. This year we set out to do just three themes. We have done single-threaded activities around meeting setting or email or web campaigns, but we prefer to mix together the right set of activities to achieve the desired result.
This has a couple of advantages. First it de-risks your efforts. If you run a meeting-setting campaign and you miss your target, you missed. But if you run an email campaign on a topic, back that up with a web event and layer in your meeting-setting effort against the respondents and previously warm contacts -- you then measure the campaign on the aggregate. If one area falters the others will pick it up. Surely, you need to measure the individual activities and understand any failures, but at least your whole campaign didn't tank.
Second, by committing a series of activities around a particular concept or theme, you can gain economies of scale around your efforts and tell a more complete story. Hosting a web event gives your telesales team another hook to the message, more punch to your web efforts, a boost for your syndication campaign, more assets to drive up SEO hits or run PPC campaigns against, etc. So while they take a bit more effort and at times, budget, when you have limited resources it's far better to multiply those any way you can.
Mike: Last question, it's the B2B Thought Leaders Curry Poll. Do you like Red, Green or Yellow Curry?
Aaron: Sorry to disappoint. As my daughter says, "Don't yuck my yum" so let's just say that Curry is not my favorite!
This past week on Focus.com, there was an active discussion regarding if we Should or Should Not leave a voicemail when tele prospecting. The opinions are varied, but for those of us in the business, I thought we should put some stats behind the argument. Hence, time for a LinkedIn Poll. I've setup a non-targeted poll, below, and I've also paid for a random C/VP targeted poll. The results will be interesting. Clicking on the graphic below will bring you to LinkedIn to vote.
Take the Poll, then spread the word by Copying and Pasting the following on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn Update, Your Blog:
RT @damphoux Contribute to VOICEMAIL Debate. Take the poll (please RT). Results Thu. http://ow.ly/sC19 #sales #b2b #marketing
You heard it here first on October 3, 2009. Green Leads' new service offering:
- Unified Demand GenSM - noun (yōō'nə-fī'd·di-mand·jen): 1. The efficient use of inbound marketing and outbound marketing techniques to maximize lead generation. 2. Essential b2b lead generation best practices.
Inbound Mafia, Outbound Mafia...we're all one family. How many analysts do I have to work with to get it to be a buzzword? More later.
There were days in my lead gen life where I could have easily left for lunch and not come back for four hours. MIT data shows that that might have been a good idea!
Gerhard Gschwandtner of Selling Power just highlighted last year's MIT / InsideSales.com study of outbound prospecting lead conversion. The report details such information as the right time of day to call, the best day of the week, how the response time to a lead impacts conversion, etc.
It got me thinking. For many reps, unless territory comes into play, lead gen exists in a three-time-zone map. For years we've been able to sort our lists by time zone, but what if we could tune it even further and optimize the effectiveness our day using the MIT stats?
Layer the times together and stagger them for time zone. Due to the East coast and West coast being predominant in our targeting, we tend to call 40% ET, 40% PT, and 20% CT/MT, so to simplify the discussion, I've just shown ET and PT. The timeline at the bottom is on Eastern time.
The chart shows that to maximize their production, East Coach-based reps targeting both coasts during the prime times for each time zone and assuming an 8-hour day, should be working from:
- Target East Coast 8 am - 10 am
- Target West Coast 11 am - 1 pm
- Target East Coast 4 pm - 6 pm
- Target West Coast 6 pm - 8 pm
For strategic planning purposes, this justifies bi-coastal teams. It also suggests a shift in activity during the day. Make the prime times the power-dial sessions, and make the lulls the time where research and other non-dialing activity is completed.
So the next time you run late returning from lunch, show this report to your boss and keep dialing.
More Lead Generation Tips.