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Andrea Johnson

Event Marketing: How a technology start-up made a trade show splash booth-free

Andrea Johnson July 8th, 2013

Brickstream, a retail technology company, was too late to rent a booth at the year’s most important industry event where it had to have a strong presence. But, the team turned this marketing nightmare into a marketer’s dream come true.

Here’s what happened

Brickstream’s products – behavior intelligence-gathering technology that helps retailers measure shoppers movement through their stores – were well known in the marketplace, but its brand wasn’t. Since the company first offered a behavior-data capture device seven years ago, it sold its devices through worldwide channel distribution with little branding. The product is a staple in the marketplace and is selling very successfully without it.

But, when Brickstream decided to sell a new queue management software product directly, it realized it was time to refresh the brand. The best opportunity to kick off that effort was at the NRF Big Show. This conference, sponsored by the National Retail Federation, is the largest technology event for retailers. Unfortunately, it was less than three months away, and there was absolutely no hope of renting a booth space – they were sold out long before, and the waiting list was long.

Here’s how Brickstream responded

Brickstream enlisted the help of Arketi Group, a B2B marketing and public relations firm, to help create the impact it needed – booth or not. Together, they developed a stand-out identity which included:

1. Branding the devices as SeeMore 3D and SeeMore 2D and the new software as QueueIQ

This is the first time its devices had an actual name. To make the branding memorable, they created a personality around the brand which included:

  • A mascot, Seymour, whose:
    • Face looks like one of Brickstream’s two-lens cameras
    • Name is a play on the device name and idea that the cameras help you “see more”
  • A facelift for the corporate website www.brickstream.com and the corporate brand including the identity system and collateral suite
  • A playful, but focused, blog  www.hate2wait.com dedicated to the QueueIQ application that helps retailers manage customer wait times
  • A Facebook page for Seymour
  • A Twitter identity for Seymour, @SeymourKnowMore
  • A LinkedIn profile for Seymour

It combined these elements to promote the new brand at the trade show. This included:

  • An actor in a Seymour mascot costume who worked the event by handing people who were standing in lines “Hate2Wait” buttons. These buttons directed them to the blog site where a running clock showed how much time is wasted by waiting.
  • Raising funds for victims of Hurricane Sandy by encouraging participants to be “Seen with Seymour” and post their photo with Seymour on the Facebook page or Twitter feed. The effort raised more than $1,200 for the Red Cross relief efforts.
  • Taking videos of Seymour interacting with attendees and posting them online.

2. Creating walking billboards

Brickstream created mobile booths by:

  • Decking the sales professionals out in orange-and-white-checked golf pants, and
  • Arming them with iPads, where they could access a short presentation

The pants were instant conversation-starters. If that conversation produced a prospect, the sales professional could show him a brief slide presentation and capture his information on the iPad.

Christina Ellwood, Vice President of Marketing, Brickstream, admitted the sales team was not eager to wear such outrageous pants.

“When the CEO put the pants on and showed them off around the office, that sealed the deal,” she laughed.

The pants attracted so much attention that at the end of the show, Ellwood was approached by show attendees who asked to purchase them from her.

3. Securing sponsorships

Even though most of the top sponsorships were snapped up months before, Brickstream scored great awareness by sponsoring a 5 foot by 30 foot floor tile at the event’s entrance.
“It was huge, bright green and directly in front of the registration area, so you couldn’t miss it when you entered the show,” Ellwood said.
They also:

  • Sponsored a reception and an interactive map
  • Placed their logo and website link on the event’s webpage

4. Making the most of partner relationships

One partner had the space to share a booth with Brickstream and allowed the team to display some booth graphics. Arketi Group developed integrated graphics that communicated the new brand.

“It looked fantastic,” Ellwood said. “You wouldn’t know that it was two companies using the same space. Each area was nicely delineated while still conveying a unified look and feel. The partners loved it.”

Brickstream created an identity program for the other partners who placed signs at its booth which proclaimed “Powered by Brickstream.”

5. Following up

The fun didn’t end at the trade show. Brickstream sent attendees a direct mailer with a magazine called The Wait Times featuring Seymour throughout, encouraging the reader to help reduce their customer’s wait times. It was sent in a thin tin box and included:

  • 3D glasses to view a 3D advertisement featuring the Brickstream SeeMore 3D smart device.
  • Articles on how queues affect customers and the retailer’s business, and how retailers can manage them

This booth-free approach to trade show promotion produced more than 30 highly qualified direct leads and 200 prospects for Brickstream in addition to a spike in leads for its partners.

Ellwood is delighted with the results and plans to use this approach at future trade shows.

“We generated awareness you just couldn’t pay for,” she said. “As a young technology company, you have to spend your money very carefully and get more bang for your buck. Together with Arketi, I think we did a very good job of making sure every tactic we used at this trade show made an impact. We really stood out and made a memorable impression.”

Related Resources:

Trade Show Marketing: Tips for increasing prospect engagement

How Technology on the Trade Show Floor Can Help Your Sales Team Work Smarter and Sell More

Trade Show Follow-Up: 5 tips to optimize response

Nine Simple Tactics to Drive a Higher Return on Trade Show Investment

How to Use Lead Scoring to Drive the Highest Return on Your Trade-Show Investment

Event Marketing

Andrea Johnson

Lead Generation: How Lithium Technologies uses webinars to grow its customer database

Andrea Johnson July 1st, 2013

If you’re looking for a consistent way to build a list of highly qualified leads – then you might want to pay closer attention to what Bonnie Thomas, Director of Content Strategy, Lithium Technologies, is doing.

Thomas is growing her database month over month – with minimal investment of resources – after discovering how her marketplace loves to learn through webinars.

“In today’s highly digitized world, people have an appetite for connection as opposed to just printing out a piece of paper,” she explained. “They like to get their information from a personality that inspires.”

Two and a half years ago, she started hosting webinars when she became Director of Content Strategy at Lithium Technologies, Inc., a social software company. Back then, she hosted about one every four months or so.

“In the early days, it seemed like a lot of work, and I had a lot of anxiety about each one going properly,” she admitted.

But, regardless of that anxiety and effort, every webcast attracted more attendees than the one prior.

So, she gradually increased frequency. Now Thomas hosts one webcast a month while the Lithium product-marketing team hosts another two or so per month.

Thomas’ webcasts are more awareness focused, delivering new thought leadership or best practices, and are strong demand generators. Significant percentages of the 1,000-plus people who attend are new leads.

Furthermore, Thomas said her webcasts “are very cost effective,” given:

  • Putting together webinars has become easier for Thomas’ team, so the time investment is now minimal
  • Webinar platforms have become inexpensive and allow for easy production management, from setting up registration pages to interfacing with the audience to reviewing attendance metrics

And then, there are the benefits that go beyond list-building …

  • Webcasts enhance Lithium’s content library since broadcasts are available on demand immediately after the event and are used in lead nurturing efforts.
  • Sales professionals use these events to gauge the interests of their leads.

“Being able to say ‘We’re having a webcast in a couple of weeks’ is a great excuse for outreach,” Thomas said. “The topics they sign up for and whether they attend is also a great test of engagement – you can tell if folks really are interested and what interests them most.”

So, here’s a look into Thomas’ process for producing webinars that attract leads.

Step #1. Pair your webinar content with your marketing strategy

Thomas starts by pairing the company’s overarching marketing strategy – such as a quarterly focus on a particular product, channel or use case – and her audience’s appetite.

She gauges this by looking at other content-success metrics like whitepaper downloads. For instance, an organizational focus on social customer care and the popularity of content around ROI can become a webcast on “Getting to Big ROI with Social Customer Care.”

Afterwards, she secures webinar presenters, usually an expert inside the company and one outside the company that is perceived as a credible speaker that knows how to engage an audience.

Thomas sets up the event with presenters months in advance as the speakers she selects are in high demand.

“You could have a speaker with a great story to tell, but they must know how to tell it in a compelling way,” Thomas said. “The optimal combination of good content and an inspirational personality is critical.”

Step #2. Work with your presenters to familiarize them with content beforehand

Next, she meets with these presenters three times before the event to:

  • Introduce presenters to the content
  • Review slides
  • Practice the presentation

Step #3. Promote your webinars well in advance

Then, she moves into promoting the event about a month beforehand.

Thomas’ promotion process includes:

  • Setting up the registration page – an easy task since her platform allows her to clone previous events
  • Sending an email invitation to the Lithium database three weeks before and a day before the event – these invitations are often shared by recipients, which accounts for the new leads
  • Setting up a Twitter hashtag for the event that is printed on all of the slides – Thomas or one of her co-workers also tweets during the event
  • Mentioning it in Lithium’s social media channels, and encouraging outside presenters to do the same

Step #4. Have your follow-up materials ready to go

Last, she develops event follow-up materials so they can be sent immediately when the webinar concludes.

“My platform provides me the emails of those who did and didn’t attend so I can follow up with ‘Thanks for attending, here’s the whitepaper that you should download,’ or ‘Sorry we missed you, here’s a link to the recording,’” Thomas said.

“Preparation ensures a smooth webcast and follow-up,” she said. “But, the success of our webinar hinges on the topic and the speakers. People keep coming back, and invite others to join them, because they trust they’ll get good information from inspiring people.”

Related Resources:

Lead Generation: Phone calls turn first-time webinar into million-dollar leads

New to B2B Webinars? Learn 6 steps for creating an effective webinar strategy

Complimentary Download: Webinar Planning Timeline

MarketingSherpa Toolkit: How to Produce a Webinar

Lead Generation

Andrea Johnson

Social Media: How Motorola Solutions uses Facebook to generate more engagement

Andrea Johnson June 3rd, 2013

If you think Facebook is no place for B2B marketers, think again. And, consider the experience of Motorola Solutions.

“Facebook was one of the first places we started engaging on social media,” Belinda Hudmon, Senior Director, Global Digital Strategy and Operations, Motorola Solutions, said.

Why? Because that’s the site the company’s government customers were using.

“Our strategy has always been, ‘Go where the audience is,’” she explained. “Firefighters, policeman and other public-safety personnel were engaging on Facebook. They weren’t only talking about their personal lives, they were talking about their jobs.”

The company followed the conversations of its Facebook audience and developed a Motorola Solutions Facebook business page, which features links to relevant content – such as a whitepaper on next generation public safety – that served as a response to the ongoing conversation.

However, they didn’t create content specifically for Facebook.  Instead, Facebook worked as an extension of Motorola’s publishing arm, which consists of a global editorial team that manages 16 websites in 11 languages. Hudmon’s team introduces their content to their target audience on Facebook by addressing audience questions and concerns. She indicated it is beneficial when the team does the following:

  • Use photos. Hudmon said images drive a 20% higher response.
  • Ask questions related to the content and create conversation around it.

“We’ll pose a question that talks a little bit about what our point of view is, but the goal is really to get that dialogue started,” Hudmon explained.

  • Promote the company’s Facebook presence. Hudmon noted the Facebook page sees the most traffic around events such as tradeshows and conferences. This is why the team ensures the page is integrated into all company online and offline channels. After all, if the marketplace doesn’t know it’s there, they won’t come.
  • Don’t approach Facebook like an advertising channel.

“When you say, ‘Here is this new thing you should buy and here is the offer,’ that will really turn people off,” Hudmon said. “Instead, we position new services and products in thought-leadership content that discusses them in the context of industry issues.”

While Hudmon can’t reveal exactly how many leads her team receives from Facebook, she said it generates more sales, support and general inquiries about Motorola Solutions’ offerings than any other social media channel.

“We’re not measuring return on investment at this point, but we are starting to put mechanisms in place to do so” she said. “We just know this is where our audience is and we need to be there, too. It’s like the Internet a decade or so ago, we knew we had to have a presence and we had to make sure we were driving the most effectiveness from it, but we didn’t fully understand its value yet.”

In the future, Hudmon would like to test advertising on Facebook. She said Facebook collects much more personal data than most other social media sites. That makes it easier to target advertising based on what prospects like, their interests or their connections, in addition to demographics and geography.

“While we’ve always looked at Facebook as an engagement channel, it has granular-level marketplace information that is tough to find anywhere else,” Hudmon said. “We would like to start testing this as an advertising channel [by placing our information on news streams] to see if we can get the right mix of targeting and content that will attract more people to engage with us.”

Related Resources:

Gamification: How Siemens got 23,000 engineers to learn about its brand

B2B Social Media Marketing: Focus on leads, not likes

Lessons from a B2B Summit Coach: 5 steps to cut through the noise, turn off the hype and create a B2B social media program that works

Social Media Marketing: Which type of content is appropriate for different platforms?

Social Media

Andrea Johnson

Digital Marketing: B2B marketers can get fresh, new ideas from B2C

Andrea Johnson May 13th, 2013

Regardless of whether you’re selling to people who are purchasing something for their workplace or themselves, you’re still selling to people – especially when it comes to digital marketing. Consider the words of Shawn Burns, Global Vice President of Digital Marketing, SAP:

“The B2B space has the same opportunities as the B2C space when it comes to digital marketing. We’re dealing with people, and all people behave the same. They use search, they use social and they visit websites when they’re considering a purchase. This means everything that works for consumer marketers online can also work to optimize business purchases.”

Burns will be presenting at the MarketingSherpa and MarketingExperiments Optimization Summit 2013, May 20-23, in Boston, which looks at the many ways organizations can leverage A/B testing to squeeze the highest amount of leads and revenue out of marketing efforts.

“Testing is about mindset,” Burns said. “A small marketing department can drive more business from the current Web traffic by looking at clickthrough reports, understanding the content that is getting traction and doing more of that.”

Furniture company website sparks idea, nets 400% increase in leads

It’s why Joy Gendusa, Founder and CEO, PostcardMania, a direct-mail company, builds her marketing around A/B testing. What she has learned in the process reflects Burns’ observation: B2C digital marketing techniques she and her team discovered during their off hours work very well in B2B.

For instance, one evening she was doing some online shopping. A Google search led Gendusa to a home-furnishing company’s Web page. A pop-up form appeared asking her to join their mailing list. It was her untypical response that gave Gendusa pause.

“I instantly felt comfortable and willing to give my contact information,” she said. “Then I thought, ‘Wow, that’s interesting, I’m always getting asked to give my contact information. What made me respond so quickly now?’”

She determined it was the design of the pop-up form: It looked like it was drawn by hand.

It motivated her to test a standard pop-up form against one that looked hand-drawn on PostcardMania’s home page. Within two weeks, the team noted a 400% increase in people who filled it out. This didn’t surprise Gendusa, considering her initial reaction to the home furnishings company’s form.

“Whether you’re selling B2B or B2C, you’re still trying to change people’s minds, convince them to like your product more and move forward on the buying cycle,” Gendusa said. “It’s universal for all marketers and any product or service.”

Have you produced great results from testing a B2C marketing technique with your B2B marketplace? I’d love to hear about them. Feel free to share in the comments below.

Related Resources:

MarketingSherpa and MarketingExperiments Optimization Summit, May 20-23, Boston

Testing and Optimization: SAP’s Test Lab increases digital leads 27%, leads to 20% budget savings [Part I]

Testing and Optimization: SAP’s Test Lab increases digital leads 27%, leads to 20% budget savings [Part II]

B2B vs. B2C: What Does It Really Mean?

Call for Speakers: Lead Gen Summit 2013 in San Francisco – We’re looking for both B2B and B2C lead generation speakers

Lead Generation

Andrea Johnson

Social Media Marketing: Dell reveals how it turns thousands of brand detractors into fans

Andrea Johnson May 6th, 2013

Five years ago, Dell had little presence on social media. That changed when the computer company realized 4,000 conversations about the brand were happening online every single day and the company was not present.

Since then, Dell has invested millions of dollars’ worth of time and resources to join those conversations. In fact, one in 12 of Dell’s more than 105,000 employees have attended its Social Media & Community University, which encompasses up to 12 hours of training on how to best represent Dell online.

In addition, Social Outreach Services, a team representing 14 languages, actively monitors and participates in social media.

A lot has changed since 2006 and these changes have paid off handsomely for Dell – especially for its B2B business, says Richard Margetic, Director of Global Social Media, Dell.

“Social media has made more of an impact, significantly on B2B than B2C,” he said.

“For us, B2B is about relationships, and social media is all about relationships,” he added.

While Margetic cannot share specific numbers, he says B2B social media initiatives drive “a significant chunk of their B2B business.”

Here’s where he can provide specifics:

Every week, Dell’s Social Outreach Services team addresses approximately 3,000 issues. All but 3% of those issues come to some kind of resolution, and 40 to 50% – about 1,200 – of the people who initiated them end up speaking positively about Dell online.

Conceivably, by participating in social media, Dell transforms approximately 62,000 brand detractors into fans every year.

Margetic said your business can achieve similar results – just start paying attention to what is being said online about your business and industry.  By doing so, in addition to having a chance to recruit some brand converts, you’ll acquire what you need to develop a core marketing strategy:

  • You’ll identify who is talking about you – the influencers.
  • You’ll find out what they’re talking about and how they’re saying it. This will give you the key words, messaging points and pain points from which you can build marketing materials.
  • You’ll find out what social media platforms they’re using and, consequently, identify where to focus your marketing budget.

Here are the free tools Margetic advised using immediately to hear the social media conversations impacting your business:

Google Alerts: Whenever your company or your industry is mentioned online, Google will notify you. You can have these delivered daily, weekly or as they happen.

Twitter search: Type in your company name, keywords or industry to find out what people are saying in real time.

“You’ll quickly get insight into who your marketplace influencers are,” Margetic explained.

LinkedIn: Type your business name, industry or keyword into the search box to identify where you are being mentioned on LinkedIn. You can look at your first- and second-level connections and beyond to hear what they have to say about any topic you want, and filter conversations by geography, company size, industry and more.

“This is a phenomenal tool, especially when you consider that more than 85% of the visits to LinkedIn have nothing to do with job hunting. Instead, people are sharing information and driving relationships,” Margetic said.

Pinterest: Find out if your content is being repinned by going to “http://pinterest.com/source/your company’s URL.” For example:  http://pinterest.com/source/marketingsherpa.com.

You can invest in a social media monitoring tool, as well. Dell has designed its own platform to monitor conversations, but Margetic noted there are plenty of other solutions for businesses wanting to do more than manually search social media sites. These platforms allow you to manage and search multiple sites simultaneously, and see results in real time.

Margetic believed monitoring social media should be considered a key lead generation activity.

“It’s just fundamentally sound business practice,” he insisted. “Paying attention to what is being said [about you and your industry] online will tell you which people are talking, what they’re saying and where they’re saying it, which will help focus your lead-generation efforts.

“If you’re not involved in these conversations, you need to reconsider your priorities,” Margetic concluded.

Related Resources:

Becoming a Social Business – Dell SlideShare

Lead Generation: 5 tips to generate leads faster on LinkedIn

Social Media Marketing: 6 tips for running a valuable LinkedIn group that attracts prospects

B2B Social Media Marketing: Focus on leads, not likes

Webinar Replay: How to Integrate Social Media/SEO to Drive More Leads and Increase Marketing ROI

30-Minute Marketer: How to Take an ROI-Based Approach to Social Marketing

Social Media

Andrea Johnson

Referral Marketing: 8 tips for building a powerful referral channel

Andrea Johnson April 29th, 2013

Prospects that come to your organization because of peer recommendations are two and a half times more responsive than any other marketing channel, according to a study by the American Marketing Association.

A member of our B2B Lead Roundtable Group underscored this statistic when she noted recommendations are how one of her clients earns most of its customers. It’s no wonder she wanted to find the best way to formalize her client’s referral process.

I brought her question to three referral marketing experts:

  • Angela Bandlow, Vice President of Marketing, Extole, an advocacy management platform
  • Gal Borenstein, CEO and Chief Strategy Officer, the Borenstein Group, a branding, marketing and public relations consultancy
  • Richard Beedon, Founder and CEO, Amplifinity, a brand advocate management platform

All agreed the most powerful referral programs aren’t campaigns or tactics, but rather executed as long-term strategies that build new marketing channels.

Here’s some of their advice on how to make this happen:

1. Identify your audience

Be warned – this may not be the person who signed the contract, or whose name is in your database. That person could be the chief financial officer instead of who you really want – the person who works with your product every day.

“You could offer someone a flight to the moon, but it will only be relevant if the person getting the message is actually interested in your product,” Borenstein said.

2. Know precisely why they chose your product

Borenstein related this illustration:

“Let’s say your customers bought a piece of electronic equipment. Your marketing and sales department could insist that customers bought the equipment because they loved the product. In reality, they purchased it because the price was right or the shipping was convenient,” he said. “If your messaging is misaligned with their motivations for buying from you, it won’t be believable and they won’t respond.”

Make sure internal perceptions align with external reality by going to customers directly, through surveys and interviews, to identify the top three to five reasons why they buy from you. Never assume you already know.

3. Identify when they’re most excited about working with you

“The best time to ask for a referral is when customers are happiest and most engaged with your company,” Bandlow said. “There’s no one set formula to determine this. It’s going to change with the types of products and services you’re selling.”

4. Know what motivates your audience and know their regulations

Bandlow shared a story of a client who sold very technical products. They sampled multiple incentives to identify what their audience would like best. While most of what was sampled fell flat, one item succeeded against expectations – a t-shirt featuring the words “data nerd.”

Here’s what happened when they expanded the program to their entire marketplace:

  • They identified more than 400 brand advocates
  • Advocates shared across Facebook, Twitter, PURLs and email
  • They drove 156 sign-ups for their services
  • Their average order value was 28% higher than leads from other sources

However, some organizations have strict rules around gifts.  Bandlow points out you can get around that by offering:

  • A contribution to a favorite nonprofit in their name
  • Discounts on services
  • A free pass to an annual industry conference

5. Make it personal by using your sales people

“It’s not all online and digital,” Beedon said. “The best way to acquire referrals is face to face. Furthermore, calling it an Ambassador or VIP Program as opposed to just a Referral Program can make it more appealing and personally rewarding.”

“Make the prospect feel special through a personal, face-to-face invitation by their account representative,” he continued. “Design a mobile app so that it’s easy for your sales professionals to enroll people anytime, anywhere.”

6. Remember referral sources aren’t just customers

“Employees and third-party affiliates can recommend you to as many people as your customers – sometimes more,” Beedon said.

7. Promote your program across all marketing channels

“Place your referral program on banner ads, in newsletters, on the front of your website – anywhere you’re touching your customer, employee and partner audiences,” Beedon advised.

8. Have reasonable expectations

“If customers don’t buy in the winter, don’t launch a program on January 1 with the hope of increasing your numbers. Make sure your expectations are aligned with what the market will bear,” Borenstein said. “Furthermore, don’t focus on the leads you’re going to get that quarter, consider lifetime value. A handful of customer referrals for a $100,000 piece of equipment, for instance, can result in millions of dollars in business over time.”

Related Resources:

Should lead generation ignore current customers?

Lead Generation via Industry Experts

8 Questions to Steer Your Marketing Priorities

On Lead Nurturing: Looking for a “hot” date?

Referral Marketing

Andrea Johnson

How Reversing the Funnel Increased Sales by 14% for a Sales Incentive Company

Andrea Johnson April 15th, 2013

Traditional marketing practice presumes the more you invest in driving leads through the top of the sales funnel, the more revenue will come out the other side. But, when Certif-A-Gift Company, a sales incentive company, reversed this presumption, it ended up increasing sales by 14% and moving prospects through the sales cycle 23% faster.

The company had previously invested most of its time and resources at the very top of the funnel by building awareness among its channel partners. Certif-A-Gift Company developed features-and-benefits content, went to trade shows and made office visits.

“We wanted to get them on track to call us first if an opportunity did arise,” said Mark Repkin, Vice President, Certif-A-Gift Company. However, only 10% of its channel partners have a need for a sales-incentive program in any given year.

“Spending all that time and energy on an ‘if-come’ [basis] was very expensive,” Repkin admitted. “Then one day, our marketing team had this crazy idea, ‘How ‘bout we ask our partner representatives what they need from us to help them get more sales?’”

The team brought in a marketing strategy firm to help with this process. For six weeks, the firm interviewed enough Certif-A-Gift channel partners to see consistency in the answers. [Editor’s Note: Repkin did not want to share exact numbers for competitive reasons.]

“It was obvious that our channel partners wanted more leads from us, but a trend emerged amongst all of the top sales people. They were asking for more tools to use when they were in front of the customer,” Repkin explained.

The company found these top channel partners …

  • Needed to give influencers a document to convince others in the buying process to use sales incentives from Certif-A-Gift. Repkin explained relationships are often built at a lower level, but when it was time to advance the relationship, the lower-level contact wanted to introduce the idea to management without the channel partner.
  • Had many of the same types of questions on how to sell and execute a sales incentive program.

In response, over the next year, Certif-A-Gift would take its focus from top-of-funnel awareness to end-of-funnel closing materials. This included:

  • Creating a straightforward, concise executive overview document that is …
    • Used to help influencers secure a meeting between the channel partner and the decision maker
    • Free from traditional discussion about features and benefits and focuses entirely on the business case for running an incentive program
  • Developing a free 60-page e-book, SalesContestology. It outlines the principles of designing an incentive program. When channel partners or customers download this e-book, they:
    • Receive an email every two weeks that outlines a chapter in the book. “I call it spoon-feeding,” Repkin said. “If you don’t spoon-feed, the e-book is going to reside on their desktop and they’re never going to read it.”
    • Must answer this question to download the book: “What is your single most important question about sales contests or motivating your team?” The language used in the responses is repeated in the executive overview document and other sales content.
  • Creating short videos, fewer than four minutes, which answer common questions channel partners have at the later stages of the sales process. Certif-A-Gift’s inside sales team directs partners to these videos, and invites them to call back if they had more questions.

“Channel partners can use these videos to educate themselves at their own pace, in their own time, and go back and revisit them if needed,” Repkin said. “This gives the inside sales team more time to coach and mentor instead of explaining the same information over and over.”

Ironically, by focusing on the end of the funnel, Certif-A-Gift’s top-of-funnel activity expanded. As channel partners actively used Certif-A-Gift’s end-of-funnel content, they offered recommendations to make it better, which informed top-of-funnel efforts.

“You can only brag so much about yourself before you get to the point where no one is paying attention,” Repkin said. “Focusing on helping our channel partners close deals gave us more empathy to their needs, and therefore, we were able to create lead gen content that became more relatable and more effective.”

Related Resources:

B2B Sales Cycle: 4 steps to avoid the wasteful ‘no decision’

Webinar Replay: Six Funnel Focal Points to Finish 2011 Strong – Part I

Webinar Replay: Six Funnel Focal Points to Finish 2011 Strong – Part 2

Fresh Ideas to Reignite Stalled Leads and Accelerate the Sales Funnel

Marketing Strategy

Andrea Johnson

Direct Marketing: 6 steps to drive more through sales pipeline

Andrea Johnson April 8th, 2013

We’ve all heard about how the digital age has been brutal for print media, and I fully expected direct mail to be taking a hit as well.

After all, who pays attention to print anymore?

It turns out your prospects are.

That’s the word from Joy Gendusa, Founder and CEO, Postcardmania, and Ken Pikulik, Director of Process and Strategy, ResponsePoint. And, they have the numbers to prove it.

Pikulik pointed to three recent campaigns with multiple B2B corporate clients.

“We’ve seen a 12% lift in response rates by incorporating the use of letters and other mailers to supplement email communication,” he said.

One organization in particular received 50 leads for a service package priced well over $100,000.

Gendusa explained the success of her own client base of smaller businesses:

  • A bookkeeping service attains five new clients each month and nets more than $60,000 over the lifetime of each customer.
  • A $10,000 campaign of 12,000 brochures, including postage, has an estimated lifetime return on investment of $1,250,000 for a national credit card processing company.
  • A report-writing software generates $12,000 in weekly revenues from a direct mail investment of $1,930.

These direct-response campaigns did not achieve success with old-school batch-and-blast direct mail approaches, however. Gendusa and Pikulik are expertly combining the best of old techniques with new technology. They offer these tips to help you do the same.

1. Pinpoint your audience and painstakingly segment it.

Know the issues that will be most compelling to them, and use their jargon in your direct mail pieces.

“We do a lot of segmentation,” Pikulik said. “In the healthcare field, for instance, we segment based on practice knowing that different specialties will respond to different incentives. Doing simple things, like using the terminology of their specialty, will grab their attention. Keywords aren’t just for the Internet.”

2. Make them want to read it.

“If you have space available to put a marketing message on an envelope, do it,” Pikulik said. “Grab their attention from the outside.”

3. Drive them to the Internet.

“Give them something that will make them want to engage with you,” he said. “This could be a whitepaper, a discount, a video – something that they will value regardless of whether they buy from you.”

Pikulik cited the client who got 50 leads for the $100,000-plus solution: They offered prospects a template for an RFP – essentially, they gave their prospects everything they needed to know to evaluate their solution.

“The client knew that their prospects would evaluate five or six competitors with that proposal template,” he noted. “But, they included questions that would demonstrate their product’s superiority over the competition.”

4. Make sure your website looks like your direct mail.

“The postcard will pique their interest, but when the prospects go online, they will likely look at you and your competitors,” Gendusa said. “It’s critical that when they see your site they can instantly connect it to your postcard. Make sure your marketing channels are in sync.”

She advised using Google Remarketing, which she considers remarkably inexpensive, with your direct mail campaign. After visitors come to your site, ads for your product will show up wherever they’re searching online.

“It adds tremendous credibility when their prospect sees the business everywhere they go online,” Gendusa said.

5. Measure and track.

Pikulik is a proponent of using PURLs (personalized URLs) to see how many people are responding and what they’re looking at online.

Gendusa advised using a phone number specific to the direct mail to make it easier to track response. She also advised recording those phone calls. State laws may require you to notify callers that they are being recorded, so we recommend receiving legal advice before doing so.

6. Follow up.

Gendusa and Pikulik insisted direct mail is not the once-and-done deal it was two decades ago. In fact, it’s a powerful kick-off to lead nurturing.

“Not everybody is searching for what they need. In fact, sometimes they don’t know what they need until direct mail puts it in front of them,” Gendusa said.
Once they do realize what they need, they go online to learn more, and that’s where effective follow-up happens.

“You can include them in an email campaign, you can make a phone call. You can invest marketing money strategically by focusing on people who have expressed specific interest in your product,” Pikulik said.

Related Resources:

How to Build a Quality List and Make Data Drive Leads

Lead Nurturing: 3-part funnel campaign creates 70% increase in inbound calls to sales reps

The New Marketing World: Conversations not Campaigns

Direct Marketing

Andrea Johnson

Lead Generation: 5 tips to generate leads faster on LinkedIn

Andrea Johnson April 1st, 2013

Wouldn’t it be great if you could just collect hot leads by spending a few minutes a day on LinkedIn?

A member of our B2B Lead Generation Roundtable LinkedIn Group was likely dreaming about this when he asked the group for a way to generate leads through LinkedIn that “doesn’t require a lot of time, engagement and endless keyword searches.”

I posed this question to Ellie Mirman and Shreesha Ramdas. Mirman is head of SMB (small and medium-sized business) Marketing for HubSpot, and Ramdas is General Manager of LeadFormix, both are marketing organizations specializing in B2B lead generation.

Guess what? They said it is possible to generate hot leads in a few minutes a day.

But, here’s the rub: It’s going to take time, effort and content to reach that point.

(If you have heard the term “content” tossed around in marketing, but aren’t quite sure what it is, it’s just a fancy term for information. Content could be anything from a link to a newspaper article, to a blog post. Every time you see the word “content,” just think, “Oh, they mean information.”)

Here are their five essential tips to getting to the point where it’s easy to generate leads on LinkedIn.

1. Know and segment your audience.

Ramdas advised following groups, individuals and companies so information about them fills your LinkedIn stream. You’ll see what’s important to them through the information they’re posting, and the questions they’re asking. From that, you can determine what content they’ll value.

But, you only have so much time in the day, so he also advised being selective about the companies and people you follow, and the groups you join. To those ends, Ramdas suggested taking advantage of the advanced search option on the upper right corner of the LinkedIn page.

It enables you to search people by:

  • Past and current employers
  • Industry
  • Location
  • Title

For groups, he advised using the keyword function to:

  • Search by industries in your marketplace, e.g., “semiconductors”
  • Search for the roles that populate the influencers and decision-makers in your marketplace, e.g. “semiconductors, marketing”
  • Selecting the groups where they are most active – some will be open and anyone can join, others will require approval for you to join.

“Those that require approval will have very relevant members,” Ramdas said.

2. Proceed with caution if you don’t want to be perceived as a spammer.

Once you have a list of names or are a member of a group, take it slow and move forward thoughtfully.

“Build up your credibility,” Ramdas advised.

3. Post content to groups and your own LinkedIn stream that matters to your marketplace.

To do so, Mirman offered these tips:

  • Don’t sell. “The main rule of thumb is speaking to your target market’s problems or common challenges without selling your product,” she said, “and offer content that can help them – regardless of whether they buy from you – at least once or twice daily.”
  • Keep it current. “Latch onto anything around recent news and current industry events,” she advised. “Find ways to marry current events to your industry.”
  • Stay within the channel. “Stay specific to your social network, for instance, LinkedIn news does well on LinkedIn. Facebook news does well on Facebook,” Mirman said.
  • Be proactive with blogging. She advised posting at least once weekly on real industry issues that point back to your solution.“Sales and Marketing should work closely together. The marketing team should be creating blogs and other content, and Sales can help ensure they are creating the right content by letting Marketing know what their prospects care about,” she explained.

4. Is time of the essence? Consider a paid program.

They’re often the fastest way to get your message in front of your prospects, Ramdas said.

“So, for example, if I am going to target a VP of marketing and directors of marketing, I can run a LinkedIn banner ad promoting a white paper to all those members; it’s easier than joining groups and following discussions,” he explained.

But, those ads probably aren’t going to be as effective if there isn’t the groundwork of an existing relationship.

You can also pay for programs that can extract contact information from LinkedIn Groups so you can contact members directly.

“I wouldn’t advise doing this unless what you have to say is very relevant to the members,” Ramdas added. “Again, build up your credibility first.”

5. Message unto others …

Mirman believes there’s a golden rule to LinkedIn messages – contact others as you would like to be contacted.

“I get all of these LinkedIn messages from people I have no relationship with, maybe some sort of exchange at some point, but they have jumped way far ahead of the sales and marketing process by contacting me,” she explained. “They’re pitching me on an idea, solution or product that has nothing to do with my issues. It’s very irritating and I tune them out.’

The key, she said, is to share content your prospects will find interesting, share with their peers and motivate them to click through to your website and contact you.

“When you do that, you’re reaching more than just a few prospects, you’re reaching your prospects and their networks,” Mirman said. “The return on your time invested will increase exponentially and lead generation will become much easier – prospects will be seeking you out.”

Related Resources:

Social Media Marketing: 6 tips for running a valuable LinkedIn group that attracts prospects

How IntraLinks Used Social Media to Generate Twice as Many Sales-ready Leads as Any Other Channel

Lessons from a B2B Summit Coach: Five Steps to Cut through the Noise, Turn off the Hype and Create a B2B Social Media Program that Works

Social Media Pays Off Big for Over 1,000 Marketers Reporting 150% ROI or More

Is Social Media Really Living Up to Expectations?

Lead Generation

Andrea Johnson

Content Marketing: How a telecommunications company uses controversy to drive millions in pipeline

Andrea Johnson March 18th, 2013

Tellabs is a global communications equipment company supporting telecom leaders such as AT&T, CenturyLink, Verizon and Telefonica, and it’s able to hold its own in a cut-throat marketplace with competition up to 30 times its size.

“Tellabs is playing a David and Goliath game,” admits George Stenitzer, Vice President of Communications, Tellabs. “And content marketing is the slingshot that gives us a fair advantage.”

The rock in that slingshot is controversy.

“We want thought-provoking content: the kind of content that if you discussed it with your prospects in a crowded room, it should inspire an argument,” Stenitzer explained.

He cited the company’s study, The End of Profitability.

“We had a number of meetings with other industry analysts who did not share the point of view that we had in our report. They got in my face and said to me, ‘Look, your reports are all wrong. We have been following this industry for years. We don’t see anything like that coming. What are you talking about?’”

He walked them through Tellabs’ thought processes and the trends the company saw coming.

“What we found was in the course of those meetings, people were surprised,” he said. “Their eyes were opened. They gained a point of view that they had not seen before,” he says.

These kinds of conversations have helped Tellabs to:

  • Attract prospects outside of its traditional marketplace, such as Google, government agencies and utility providers using the same services as telecom companies. This has created a multi-million dollar pipeline of pending deals every year.
  • Gain worldwide industry attention. For instance, Tellabs is the only telecom company to have two stories featuring its content listed among the top 10 most-read stories for Total Telecom, an industry magazine serving readers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Here’s an overview of the steps the team at Tellabs takes to develop and distribute thought-provoking content:

1. They work with their public relations agency, one that specializes in the telecom industry, to come up with ideas which:

  • Relate to their audience’s most pressing issues and problems.
  • Point directly to Tellabs’ solutions.

They spend two months bouncing these ideas off professionals inside and outside Tellabs – from Sales and Marketing to industry analysts and journalists to customers. Stenitzer then has several face-to-face meetings with the public relations agency to hash out final ideas.

2. Once they choose an idea, they submit a request for proposal to identify an analyst firm to build a study around it. The selected firm spends several months doing research on the topic – including interviewing Tellabs customers. Actual customer quotes are always a part of their study. It’s a process that takes several months.

3. They develop how they will tell the story beyond the report itself. This includes news releases, videos, infographics, executive summaries, magazine articles and blogs.

“It will save you a lot of work if you use your industry analysts and journalists to do the thinking, questioning, writing and framing of the issues in your study,” Stenitzer advised. “Our industry journalists are well-known and respected by readers; they know how the industry works – there’s a lot of expertise we capture there.”

Stenitzer hires industry journalists for this purpose.

4. They don’t give everything away. Instead, their goal is to pique prospects’ interests to learn more, because the only way they can do so is to set up a meeting with Tellabs.

“We’ve turned content marketing into something that helps Sales get their job done,” Stenitzer said.

Related Resources:

Content Marketing: Slow, steady pay off for manufacturer

Content Marketing: 5 questions to ask subject matter experts to get the ball rolling

Content Marketing: A process for evaluating content channels

Content Marketing: 3 tips for how to get started

Content Marketing