Category: B2B Marketing


Five Tactics for Offers in Your Direct Marketing Campaigns

In an earlier blog post Using Offers in Your Marketing Strategy we talked about the direct marketing offer: “What we’re gonna give you.” The offer can be a product or a service, and it can cover price, discounts, demos, upgrades, guarantees, shipping, and premiums – free items to lure prospects in.

Here are some tips on using offers in your B2B direct marketing campaigns:

  • Offers must create involvement – both physical and emotional. By physical involvement, we mean: get their hands moving. Make the prospect take action. Whether it’s clicking a link, tearing out a coupon, keying in info, calling an 800 number, completing a reply card, or sending a text… the ultimate purpose of the offer is to generate a response.
     
  • Don’t get trapped into thinking that businesspeople are a different species. Certainly, offers must be geared toward their thinking in their job function, but they still want to save time, reduce effort, eliminate stress, and look good in front of their peers. Does your offer fill at least one of these motivators?
     
  • Consider when to use a soft offer, and when to use a hard offer:
    • Soft offers don’t require a purchase now – they’re used in a two-step approach. Examples are free gifts, more info (like ‘Click to this landing page’), or a limited-time trial.
    • Hard offers ask for the immediate order: Save $75 by ordering online -- get free shipping with a 2nd item -- save 10%.
       
  • Do the math! Offers must make profitable marketing sense, so you need to do a break-even analysis. On a higher ticket item ($995 software) you can afford a $50 premium. But on mid-ticket items, while a $50 premium would generate plenty of response, would you spend more than you’d gain?
     
  • On that note – be careful your offer isn’t too good and either attracts the wrong audience or turns off the right audience. For example, a niche software company once ran a campaign offering a free iPod, simply for requesting more info. They spent a fortune sending the expensive offer to unqualified prospects, and their sales force quickly burned out after wasting time with uninterested prospects. On the flip side, something that appears to be ‘too good to be true’ can also deter someone from responding, since they might think there’s a catch in there somewhere.
     

As you develop the offer as part of a B2B marketing campaign, use these tips as a checklist in both development and as a final check to develop an effective campaign. By considering your entire process of nurturing prospects, including in-depth industry knowledge and vocabulary, competitors, and pain points, you will be able to develop an offer that benefits the right target and supports the sales cycle.

Have you ever seen an offer that you thought was unbelievable because it was too generous? Or too insignificant to be bothered with? Or, how about offers that you’ve jumped on right away and have been pleased with the results? How do your own experiences reflect the tips above?
 

Using Offers in Your Marketing Strategy

With all the marketing messages bombarding our senses these days, it’s interesting that the vast majority don’t contain an offer.

Offer-less ads may serve some purpose in a consumer packaged-goods world, where your branding is your only advertising strategy – but unless you’re positioning Pepsi against Coca-Cola, an offer is a critical component of your campaign.

Offer Defined

An ‘offer’ means: “What we’re gonna give you.”

A one-step offer means a direct sale right now. “Order the device today, get $50 off your next order.”

A two-step offer means generating a lead now (to close the deal later) – such as a free 30-day trial.

Offers can be products or services. They can cover price, discounts, demos, upgrades, guarantees, shipping, and premiums – free items to lure prospects in. Smart B2B offers can leverage the value of information, such as free industry reports (salary or performance data), customized services (assessments, evaluations, or a needs analysis), SIC-specific case studies or white papers, and live webcasts.

An added bonus of info-based offers: they provide a branding benefit. It’s an opportunity to be seen as an expert in your field, since you are providing high-level business intelligence.
 

Incorporating offers into your strategy

An offer does not stand alone. It should not be an afterthought, or something to just plug into an already-completed copyblock, and it won’t be effective unless it’s considered a crucial element from the very beginning.

Before developing offers, consider the entire process of nurturing prospects and customers: understanding their industry, talking their language, feeling their pain, and providing solutions that benefit them. During this broad-brush process, planning offers makes sense since you’re asking, at each stage, “How does this offer support this strategic step, as it relates to that person’s wants?” In other words, think like your client.

Through this lens, for instance, you’ll offer engineers a custom app to ease their compliance headaches rather than an easy-to-plug-in discount (which may be a decent offer, yet not nearly as strong).

Next week, we'll move from looking at the big-picture strategy behind offers to discussing specific tactics you can use to develop offers for your prospects and customers.

David's blog

Getting Started Profiling Your Data

As we’ve mentioned before, profiling your internal data is the best way to build a database of prospects. But before you can start these profiling activities, there are a few elements you should have in place first.

A plan

Keep it simple, but create a plan that addresses:

  • Your Goals – Include where you are today (number of contacts, % with emails, % with industrial codes, etc.) and what numbers you want to hit by when. Include a review of the current fields you have, what you’re using, and what you need.
  • Profiling Activities Calendar – What will you do and when (monthly, quarterly, yearly)?
  • Incentives and Promotions – Are there any special internal/external promotions or incentives you want to offer to encourage others in your organization to keep profiling top of mind?
  • Internal Communications – Once you’ve built the plan and received executive buy-in, you’ll need to regularly report back on your goals and movement toward their goals.
     

Time and resources

If you have to eliminate another marketing activity to devote more time to profiling – do it.
 

Executive Buy-In and Support

Data profiling takes a top down, companywide commitment and investment, starting with the acknowledgement that profiling is a critical piece of your business development strategy. Those in leadership positions throughout the company should be on board with this venture, even those who aren't necessarily involved in its execution.
 

A System to Capture Data

If you’re using anything other than a CRM system for your data, you won’t be able to successfully profile your data. Make sure you budget time and dollars to implement and maintain your in-house CRM system.

Tip: Hire a part-time employee to help profile your database once a year. Summer is an ideal time to reach out to targets, since business might be slower and there may be more interim employees available.

David's blog

 

Building Lists – What Data Should You Collect?

Since specific information about your prospects and customers will affect what messaging they receive, it's important to get as detailed as possible when building your database. Focus on retrieving only the information you need to identify prospects and build targeted campaigns. Here are the different types of information you should use to group your data:

Firmographics

Firmographics includes how large the company is (employee size, sales volume, number of customers) as well as the industry the company is in (SIC code) and how long it has been around. It is also useful to know when the company's fiscal year ends. In addition, be sure to get basic information such as the company's location.
 

Sales Cycle

Where is this company in your sales cycle? Are they just a suspect or a qualified lead? Have they just made their first purchase from you? Or maybe they're a repeat customer, a past customer, or even a high-value long-term client.
 

Behavior

Note the interactions prospects have had with you and your sales/marketing activities. This can include attending trade shows, signing up for one of your webinars, or even opening one of your emails.

Generally, firmographic information will help you determine whether or not a certain company is a viable prospect, while the sales cycle and behavioral information will help you determine which messages to send to which groups. Specific types of marketing content will appeal to prospects and customers in different stages of the sales cycle. Thought leadership and best practices work best during the awareness stage; comparisons, reviews, and pricing information will be helpful during the research stage; and information about your company is most effective in the purchasing stage.

Benefits of Data Profiling

The most important element of a successful B2B marketing campaign is the list. While renting or purchasing lists is a viable option, why not focus on building and profiling your existing data?

Marketing to an in-house, profiled database allows you to send more targeted messages to smaller groups. Over time, this will lead to decreased marketing costs and increased response rates.

Below is an example of how you can separate your existing data into three different prospect groups, and the different types of messages you would send to each for an effective marketing campaign.
 

Group 1: Likely to Purchase Within Two Years

These prospects are in your target market and have a long term need. Stay top-of-mind with this group by implementing a 12-month marketing campaign to build a relationship with these prospects.

What to include:

  • Lower-cost touches (i.e. email)
  • Messages that establish your business value and qualifications
  • Messages that provide items of value (i.e. educational pieces like white papers or reports, or other offers such as discounts or free trials)
     

Group 2: Currently Using a Competitive Product/Service

Target these companies with specific competitive offers and information on making the move to your product/service.

What to include:

  • Educational pieces and messages on the benefits of your product/service over the competition
  • Webinars and sales pieces addressing the challenges that come with moving
  • Financial offers to make the move easier
     

Group 3: Qualified Decision-Makers Ready to Purchase

These qualified leads are ready to purchase soon. You want to send these companies high-value offers and messages that help them feel good about choosing your product/service.

What to include:

  • High-value financial offers and touches
  • Assessments geared toward migration
  • Messages of safety and ease to make their decision easier

Without profiling your existing database, you would have to send a universal marketing campaign to all these prospects – never hitting the right pain points or sending the right message to the right prospects. But if you invest in profiling, you will be able to tailor messages to each data group and yield much better results.

David's blog

SWOT Analysis for the New Year

Do you need a leg up in setting some goals for your company as the new year approaches? Consider doing a SWOT analysis beforehand.

SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Strengths and weaknesses are about looking internally, while opportunities and threats are about looking outside your organization.

Once you've compiled an accurate snapshot of your company at the end of 2013, it becomes much easier to set specific goals for 2014.
 

Strengths

There's a good chance your biggest strength is people. This could include employees, members of your team, strategic partners, and, of course, yourself. Each person you work with – and the skills they bring to the table – is a potential strength.

Some common strengths might include:

  • Skill sets and core competencies of employees and team members
  • Strong relationships with clients, partners, vendors
  • Team chemistry and communication
  • Your company's identity, brand, and core values
  • Your company's products and/or services and value they provide
     

Weaknesses

This portion of the SWOT analysis might be more uncomfortable to complete than the others. But honesty is important - the goal is to take weaknesses and turn them into strengths, and you can’t do that if you don’t accurately identify specific areas where your company is weak.

Some common weaknesses might include:

  • Lack of resources – money, personnel, or time
  • Weak sales or marketing
  • Lack of a specific skill set
  • Pricing is too low or too high
  • Poor communication between team members
     

Opportunities

Opportunities don't just mean potential clients – they could also be current clients. Think big – opportunities aren't just limited to your specific niche.

Some common opportunities might include:

  • Selling more to existing clients
  • Identifying potential clients
  • Identifying potential partnerships
  • Moving into a new market, or providing a new product/service
  • Favorable economic factors
     

Threats

You think 'threat' and the first thing you might picture is your competition. But your partners and vendors can be threats as well – maybe even more so.

Some common threats might include:

  • Competitors
  • Partners and clients changing their business model
  • Clients going through a leadership or personnel change
  • Market conditions
  • Unfavorable economic factors
     

David's blog

Direct Mail Writing Tips

Since a vast majority of marketing messaging is email-based, sending old-fashioned direct mail to your clients and prospects is a good way to stand out. Here are some tips for direct mail success, no matter your marketing budget.

Grab them with the opening

Make the letter compelling at the very beginning by asking a question or relating a personal story. A strong opening makes it much more likely that the recipient will read the entire piece closely. But even if you have a great first paragraph, there's no guarantee the reader will pay such close attention, so you need to make sure you…

Make it scannable

If the content allows it, use bolded bulleted lists, as well as headlines and quotations. The idea is to make the letter as fast and easy as possible to read.
 

Focus on the recipient

Make it about them. Their business, their problems, and solutions that will work for them.
 

Have a call to action… or don’t

A specific call to action isn’t always necessary, especially when you’re sending direct mail around the holidays. You might use this as a chance to simply thank them for their business, or to offer them something: a gift, a discount, maybe even a referral.
 

Make it personal

Write the letter as if you’re speaking directly to the recipient. Avoid formal business language and buzzwords. While you’re at it, hand sign the letter and hand address the envelope.

David's blog

Holiday Marketing Ideas

With the winter holiday season upon us, here are some marketing ideas guaranteed to spread some good cheer to your clients and prospects.

Be charitable

Give a gift that shows clients you care with a donation to their favorite charity via Charity Choice. Get your team involved and volunteer for a local or industry charity event, and write a holiday newsletter or blog with pictures and details about your positive experience.
 

Skip the traditional holidays

Why not skip the holiday clutter altogether? Stand out by celebrating new beginnings with a New Year’s mailing, or send something out on Valentine’s Day.
 

Smile for the (video) camera

It’s a digital world, so why not create a video holiday card? Record your employees giving individual greetings, then post on your website and YouTube.
 

Options for the camera shy

Don’t want to be on camera? You can still take advantage of the digital “cool factor” by sending your customers an eCard. Check out sites like Enteract for a variety of designs and fun ways to personalize your greetings.
 

Think Big

People love a chance to win big prizes like an iPad, and now is the time to give them that chance. Ask people to sign up for next year’s newsletter and enter them in a random drawing. In the spirit of giving, donate one to a local children’s hospital or community center.
 

Pick up your pen

Express your holiday wishes and gratitude in a handwritten letter, mailed in a hand-addressed envelope. Enclose quality stationery or notecards personalized with their name or logo.
 

Resist temptation

Sure, you’re sending something to a lot of people and spending money on postage. But do not slip in a brochure or business card -- save that for later. Focus on sharing nothing but good cheer this holiday season.

David's blog

Characteristics of Suspects, Prospects, and Customers

You want to have a relationship with your suspects, your prospects, and your customers. But what are the specific differences between each group, and how should you modify your tactics to reach each segment the best?

Suspects

Suspects typically have no pre-existing relationship with you or your company. Most likely, they haven’t even heard of you. More than any other segment of your audience, your tactics need to focus on educating them about your product/service, building rapport, and demonstrating credibility. Remember: suspects don't know you, so they have no reason to believe that you can help them until you show them that you can.
 

Prospects

Prospects are “raised hands” – they’ve demonstrated in some way that they might be interested in becoming your customer. They might be in the information gathering stage or the evaluation stage. Prospects want tools to help them in their decision-making process, so your tactics should focus on educating them in-depth on how your product/service works, and how you are different from your competitors.
 

Customers

Customers want, simply, to be treated like customers. They want information that helps them do their jobs, and information that validates their investments (they want to feel like they made a good decision to become your customer.) Make sure you give them support mapped to their products and their processes – not your own.

David's blog

Our PowerPoint Survey Shocker

At Nurture Marketing, we help organizations build and maintain successful relationships with customers and prospects. In our humble opinions, one of the most critical nurture points takes place when sales presents to a customer or prospect. We’re not alone on this, either. The smart folks at Booz Allen (in a study cited by Tim Riesterer) found that 85% of brand decision-making and brand loyalty is created at the point of sales contact.

So, first impressions last. Now, how are those impressions made? No question: the 30 million-pound gorilla in this space is PowerPoint. More than 30 million PowerPoint presentations are created everyday by over 500 million users worldwide. That’s a lot of PPT files. Now, how many companies have air-tight systems to centralize, manage and analyze these files? Not too many. Could employees then be sending risky content in PPT format? Probably. But how much is that really happening?

Long story short, we got curious about the real level of PowerPoint risk out there, so we put together our first-ever Presentation Content Risk Survey. You’ll find the full results in that link, but here’s one juicy example: 9/10 respondents reported receiving false, misleading or outdated PPT files via email.

It just gets better from there -- you can see for yourself by clicking on the above link. Of course, if you or someone you know is looking to put together a comprehensive relationship nurturing program that includes managing, tracking and analyzing presentations, then please know that Nurture Marketing is ready to help. We’ve even found an excellent solution in SlideShark Team Edition that makes a great cornerstone for presentation management.

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