Category: Nurture Marketing


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.

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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.

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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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Writing Case Studies

Case studies have an advantage over other marketing collateral you might create: they involve a third party proving your message for you. If done correctly, they’re the ultimate credibility builder and deserve to be prominently placed on your website and your other marketing materials.

Case studies are, in essence, customer success stories. So you should write them like any other story. They should have a beginning, middle, and end. The featured client should have a clearly-defined business problem, with obstacles recognizable to your audience. And your company is the hero that swoops in and saves the day.

Keep case studies as simple – and as short – as possible. No more than 750 words is ideal. Use pull quotes, bullet lists, and section headers to make it easier to scan. Instead of stock photos or clipart, ask the client for images that highlight their product or service.

Even if the focus is technical solutions, case studies can still be engaging and compelling – it’s all in the presentation. Charts showing data are great, but don’t go overboard. Ultimately, there should be just enough information to tell the story clearly and succinctly.

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We send out a newsletter to nurture our prospects and retain our current customers. What else should we be sending?

A newsletter can be a great way to stay top-of-mind of your prospects and customers on a consistent basis, but it shouldn't be the only way you reach out to your audience. Nurturing is a long term process with a more personal approach.

In between newsletters, try:

  • Sending one-to-one emails -- whether you're sharing an article or just checking in, personal messages are a quick way to let a customer know that they're on your mind.
  • Making a phone call to ask if there’s anything else you can help them with. Many customers probably expect a phone call only when there’s a problem or when you’re trying to sell them something. It's an unexpected way to delight a current client.
  • Asking their opinion on a new product, service, or feature. This can be done informally or in a more structured way, such as giving them a short survey. Customers like having a say in these matters -- they are, after all, the ones who will be using the product/service -- and you will gain valuable insight.
  • Sending a gift – a book, like the latest business bestseller, is a great example. It's another way of giving the customer value without asking for anything in return.

And just saying thanks every once in a while goes a long way.

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Tips on Generating Ideas for Your Company Blog

A blog is not only great for SEO purposes, but it's also an excellent forum to offer educational, compelling information in a more low key manner than traditional marketing. Above all, it’s a great way to add credibility to your organization.

However, writing posts on a consistent basis requires a certain amount of time, energy, and ideas. How do you find topics to blog about?

Scour the internet and social media to find out what people are talking about and what questions they're asking about your industry. On Twitter, people may be discussing a recent article or piece of news. In LinkedIn groups, people might be asking for help with a specific problem. Find other blogs in your field and subscribe to their RSS feed -- this will give you a good idea of what topics are compelling for the reader.

Beyond social media, think about the questions your clients and prospects ask you on a regular basis. Create a list of topics and start writing. Build a catalogue of “evergreen” posts and couple that with occasional timely posts reacting to an article, current event, or a piece of industry news.

Posts don't have to be long – aim for 150 to 200 words – and they don't have to be every day. The important thing is to be consistent. If you start off posting once a week, commit to that schedule. Before long, you’ll have a compelling company blog that demonstrates your company’s expertise.

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Do White Papers Belong Behind a Sign-Up Form?

You’re offering a white paper or another type of download on your website. It’s full of valuable, compelling information, and most of your prospects would be happy to read it. Should you put this piece of content behind a sign-up form, in which the prospect is forced to give you their email address?

In general, the answer is no.

On a certain level, it makes sense: you’re providing something of value, and in return, shouldn’t you get to add a name to your list of prospective customers?

Here’s the key: you’re providing this content to demonstrate that you know your stuff. It adds credibility to your organization, and it may lead to the prospect becoming a customer.

You don’t want to place an obstacle in front of a prospect getting something that makes you look good.

If you want a prospect's email in order to send them your newsletter, always ask their permission first. And if that white paper is high quality, it'll be that much more likely that the prospect seeks out your newsletter, your expertise, or your services.

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Rules for Email Marketing Bliss

According to the Direct Marketing Association, every dollar spent on email marketing -- this number is an average -- generates $43.62 in revenue. That might seem like an absurdly high return, but it's highly likely that marketers who get those types of results follow specific guidelines and best practices. Below, some rules to set up your email campaigns for this kind of success.

Talk like a person

Remember: we're communicating with people. Stay away from "marketing speak" -- use language that is familiar and personal, like you're having a conversation at a party.
 

Campaigns mean long-term

Marketers often try to say everything at once. There's a lot to accomplish: educating your prospect on your company, demonstrating your company's subject matter expertise, and showing the value of your products or services.

With a campaign, you have the opportunity to convey important points over a long term period. Create an Action Plan for a full year; give yourself the time to create a strong a lasting impression.
 

Customize messages by segment

When it comes to segmenting your lists, the formula is simple -- PITS. Product, Industry, Title, and Sales Pipeline. Different products/services require custom messages to a targeted prospect list, as do different vertical industries.

You don't want to send the same message to the CEO and the CIO. Research has shown that people with different positions within companies react differently to specific words, phrases, and messages.

Segmenting lists allows you to optimize your email marketing efforts and deliver the right messages to the right people.
 

From who?

Don't overlook the "From" field. People receive hundreds of emails a a day and the messages they pay most attention to are those that are from a familiar name.
 

Graphics

Keep your graphics to a minimum and stay away from canned templates. It's inexpensive to brand your own custom look and feel. If you do like graphics, put them at the bottom of your message as part of your signature block.
 

Subject Best Practices

Keep the subject short, personal, honest, familiar, and specific.
 

Create a smooth landing

Every email campaign should also include a landing page that reflects its messaging, through consistent branding and copy.
 

Test

Get in the habit of testing. Experiment with different copy, subject lines, landing pages, and offers. Important tip -- when testing, always change one thing at a time.
 

CAN SPAM

Learn the rules against spam and follow them. It's much more effective to send your messages to a small, targeted list of people you know than a large list of purchased prospects. Personal emails to people you know are never spam.

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Building Compelling Offers

Learning opportunities. Gifts. Promotions. Incentives. These are all examples of offers -- those items that compel prospects to pay attention to you. Offers should be a core piece of every marketing campaign. Yet, as marketers, we often struggle to find compelling pieces or consider them an afterthought.

Bring these items front and center by taking the time to build up a strong offer sheet. This way, you'll have a substantial selection of pieces that can be used throughout your campaigns, on your website, and in sales calls.

Start by creating an inventory of your current assets. Make sure you identify separate offers for different stages of the sales cycle: for earlier in the sales cycle, learning opportunities (such as educational articles) offer your prospect something that can keep them engaged and open to your messaging. For later in the sales cycle, consider offers that aid in the decision-making process -- trial offers and assessments, as well as pricing and financial incentives.

Tips

  • Create high value offers for the highest value prospects. For example, send your best prospects that hot new business bestseller.
  • Focus on educational timesavers: how-to guides, articles, and survey responses.
  • Hire a freelance writer to create pieces for you. Consider creating a back-catalogue of content that you can use over the course of long term period.
  • Put value behind your service offers. For example, a free assessment is generally perceived as a sales call, and therefore wouldn't necessarily qualify as an effective offer.
  • Avoid gifts and trinkets as a call to action. Real prospects generally won't take an action to win a chance at a free iPod or other item. Instead, use these items at trade shows, raffles, or events.
  • Buy offers when you don't have them. Sources like Harvard Business Review have white papers and articles available for download.
     

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No More Accidental Referrals

Referrals are often the best source of new business. But like all other marketing activities, gathering referrals is most effective when you have a plan of action. Here are some proven ways to help develop your customer referral strategy:

Make it personal

When asking for referrals, you're talking to people that you already know well. They might be friends; they might be clients. In any case, it's a personal connection. And maintaining that connection is what counts.

When you ask for a referral, you're asking someone to give you something of personal value -- a relationship that they have with someone else. Their reputation is on the line when they recommend your business.

This means that every point of your referral strategy needs to reflect that personal approach. Instead of sending an email, consider the impact of mailing a handwritten thank you card. If you're sending a gift, think about what's meaningful to the recipient -- whether it's a round of golf, a book you both talked about, or a bottle of wine for an enthusiast.
 

One size doesn't fit all

A key part of developing your referral plan is targeting your referral sources. These sources can include family and friends, clients, influencers, and other networking groups:

Family and Friends:

These are built-in referrals who are happy to help because they want to see your success and appreciate the recognition. Help them out by specifying what you're looking for. A lead or a direct introduction? Is there a certain industry, job title, or size of company you're targeting?

Also, keep your request simple -- don't ask your cousin for the names and contact information of the procurement officers in the region's top 150 companies. Instead, he may have access to a professional organization's directory or a list of recent conference attendees to share.

Finally, remember that your business-building efforts are not a top priority for friends and family, so gently remind them within a week or two of your request. Then be sure to thank them with a personal gift -- a Starbucks gift card perhaps, or an invitation to a nice dinner. Nothing extravagant, just heartfelt.

Customers:

Customers can be your greatest source of referrals, but they first need to be treated as your valued customer. Once the sale is made, you can't coast. The bottom line is your customers want information from you that helps them do their jobs better and increases their return on investment. If you provide them with what they want, they'll be happy to help you out.

Just like with your friends and family, don't overlook the personal touch with your clients. One-on-one communications with phone calls and emails work wonders. For key customers, you may wish to invite them to lunch or dinner to get to know them better. If they're not local, an investment in a personal visit once or twice a year is well worth it.

Influencers:

Who are the leaders in your industry or community that can take your business to the next level? These influencers want to be seen as trusted providers with their clients and a source of valuable information. Include these people in your marketing efforts and offer to collaborate on whitepapers, events, or provide special discounts to their employees or clients.

Partners:

Who do you already partner with? Your accountant, attorney, IT provider? Partners are a solid source of referrals since they know that you'll do the same for them. They're confident in your professional ability and gain tremendous business value from maintaining a solid network of referral-worthy providers.

Other Sources:

What other networking groups do you belong to? Professional organizations, charity committees, church, school connections, and even former clients. But you need to tread carefully here -- it's more about giving than getting.
 

Build a library

A library of ready-made referral materials will make it easier to ask for referrals and thank people.

As part of your referral library, create a:

  • A referral elevator pitch
  • A "thank you for your business" letter or email template
  • A "thank you for your referral" letter or email template
  • A "request for referral" letter or email template
     

Narrow your focus

Not everyone you know or do business with will be a referral source. Narrow your focus to the most likely candidates. These can include companies and individuals that have given previous referrals, your company's best fans, and those key influencers who you've identified.
 

Give more referrals

This is where the concept of paying it forward really comes into play. If you give more referrals yourself, you'll find people are more likely to refer potential customers back to you. Often people will make referrals that aren't quite right for your business. Why not pass these opportunities onto others in your network that you know will be a better fit?
 

Created a targeted list

Who are your top fifty targets? Share the list with your best referrers -- including friends and family -- who do they know?
 

Make it easy

Make it easy for your referrers. Even better than business cards, provide a card with your contact information plus your value proposition. Places like 48hourprint.com or vistaprint.com are cost effective websites that can make your card special.
 

Always close the loop

The secret to maintaining good referrals is no secret at all. Send a thank you note to the referrer as well as an update and a status report.


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