B2B marketing “Advice from the Top.

This year’s Business Marketing Association’s (BMA) early June conference in Chicago was a big coup for the Colorado BMA Chapter. It was at this event that they proudly released their new collaborative book on B2B marketing Advice from the Top: The Expert Guide to B2B Marketing.

The Colorado organization’s Executive Director, Marilee Yorchak, describes this book as “a compilation of real-life case studies from 24 B2B marketing experts. It’s like having your own consultant right there with you.”

It was my pleasure to join with my colleague Dave Ariss of Ariss Marketing Group to co-author Chapter 23, which reports on the success (and insight) gained from a combination direct mail and email test campaign we created and managed for a technology publisher.

These success stories cover all the critical B2B marketing topics:

  • Strategy
  • Content Development
  • Implementation
  • Success Measurement

So what do the folks at the top have to say? This book is jam-packed with useful advice. It includes such valuable info as: how to make sure your research is accurate and actionable; a step-by-step guide to creating effective marketing plans; how to tell a compelling company story; how to get sales and marketing to support each other’s efforts — and a lot more.

If you’re serious about marketing success, having a copy of Advice from the Top within arm’s reach is a must.

It’s available directly from the Colorado BMA at BMA Top Advice or from Amazon.

How often to send B2B lead acquisition efforts? Find your Uncle Harry.

Several months ago, a prospective B2B client called me for messaging help on her company’s sales-generation email program. Because her Web service is available for a low monthly fee, she doesn’t need to nurture leads but seeks, instead, to generate ready buyers.

On the call, she told me that she is sending emails out to the same list of 20,000 small-business prospects via Constant Contact every week. I let out a small gasp when I first heard this. Any B2B company emailing me weekly would have been opted-out a long time ago. Yet, she says her opt-out rate is low. It’s possible that many of her emails are going into spam folders and aren’t being seen at all; however, they do generate some business.

Then a recent blog post, “eMarketing – How Many Touches Produce Results?,” from Manticore Technology, a B2B marketing automation provider, addressed the email frequency issue. In their words, they had “set out to discover how many touches are optimal for multi-touch email marketing campaigns.”

They offered an educational eGuidebook to the same target list, sending one email per month for four months. Here is their result:

Email #1: 1235 downloads
Email #2: 585 downloads
Email #3: 52 downloads
Email #4: 17 downloads

In direct mail marketing, the predictive formula of results when sending the same message to the same audience is a 50% drop in response with each successive mailing. This example in emailing shows a greater decline that may or may not produce similar results if repeated in the future.

But the question remains, how often is too often? What’s the answer? The number is different for every company, every product, every target market. Only through testing can a B2B company determine which frequency is the most productive and cost-effective. Only through testing can each company find their Uncle Harry.

Who’s he? Uncle Harry is the guy that triggers how often a company should mail lead generation offers to the same group of prospects. Here’s the story:

Many years ago, an insurance company that sold primarily through direct mail was trying to determine how often it should mail offers to its base of prospective customers. Their marketing team broke the mailing list into groups and tested various mailing patterns. The one that performed the best for them was to re-mail every 90 days.

They found that mailing more often cost more and did not produce enough additional business to justify the additional mailing costs. On the reverse, they found that waiting longer than 90 days did not boost response significantly enough to justify the wait.

So why was 90 days the magic number for them? Because Uncle Harry died.

That’s right. Every 90 days, there are enough people in the country who have a relative die to trigger the awareness that maybe they need to get life insurance.

How does this consumer example apply to B2B marketing? Because, most of the time, the decision to move ahead with finding a solution to a particular business challenge relates to an event. Uncle Harry may not have died, but perhaps a big customer was lost, a competitor won the bid for a new customer, costs suddenly rose or one of hundreds of events happened that triggered a change in company priorities.

It’s then that a B2B company needs to be in front of its prospect with the right message. For some, like the prospective client who called me, every week may not be too much. For others like Manticore, once a month with the same offer may be too often. B2B marketers should test their lead generation marketing frequency to find their own Uncle Harry.

Non-stop tips and insights for the muddled B2B marketing mind.

Congrats and thanks to Denny Hatch, marketing guru, commentator and author, on the recent release of his wonderful book “Career Changing Takeaways!” As the book’s subtitle elaborates, it’s a collection of “Quotations, Rules, Aphorisms, Pithy Tips, Quips, Sage Advice, Secrets, Dictums and Truisms in 99 Categories of Marketing, Business and Life.”

These mighty statements from recognized leaders and experts can instantly clear a confused mind on topics such as Brands and Branding, Communications, Creativity, Data Management, Decision Making, eMarketing, Job Searches, Website design and so much more.

Because Denny’s background is in direct marketing, there’s tons of good guidance for those of us in B2B marketing.

It ranges from the fun . . .

“I have always believed that writing advertisements is the second most profitable form of writing. The first, of course, is ransom notes.” Philip Dusenberry

To the insightful . . .

“What’s your brand? If you can’t answer that question about your own brand in two or three words, your brand’s in trouble.” Al Reis

To the live-or-die guidance . . .

“If you don’t have a competitive advantage, don’t compete.” Jack Welch

It’s a great read, a great guide and a nice break to take when one’s marketing or decision-making mind is muddled. What better refresher than to read a few guiding thoughts from the pros?

The two biggest B2B marketing campaign essentials.

Today’s B2B marketing directors have a long list of marketing options from which to choose: automated email marketing, direct mail lead generation, telemarketing, customer profiling, database enhancement, content creation, Web site re-designs, social media initiatives, trade shows, user conferences — the very scope boggles the mind.

The opportunities are great. The risk of failure even greater. By taking on too much at once, there is the risk of overload that leads to poorly executed programs and poor performance.

No matter which options B2B marketers choose to pursue, however, there are two elements that must be in place to ensure that every program is built on the essential foundation. One is the first step, the other is the last, and both are critical to B2B marketing success.

1. START: Establish the right target market.
Reaching the right buyers and influencers is the most important element in any B2B outbound marketing. Great creative and great B2B content fall flat if offered to the wrong titles in the wrong companies. Identifying the most productive customer and target market is a vital step in any B2B marketing strategy. Here is the best way to do that:

a. Talk with everyone having direct contact with customers and come to an understanding and agreement of the titles who make the decisions, those who influence the decisions, and those who are affected by the decisions.

b. Hire a company such as Acxiom, AccuData, Experian, or one of many other companies who can take your current customer list and build a profile of your best buyers by dollars spent, frequency of purchase and lifetime value.

Once the above steps are completed, choose the B2B marketing list and online and offline media that reach the identified profile and targets.

2. END: Build a reliable tracking and measurement process.
As stated above, the programs and the media channels B2B marketers can use are many. Once the programs are launched, however, if the B2B marketer is not able to measure the contribution that each makes to lead generation and sales, there is no way to determine which programs to repeat and pursue and which to dump. B2B marketers can only improve what they can measure.

When implementing multiple programs there will be crossover exposure, so tracking and measurement is not perfect. But whatever process is put in place, it should produce enough business intelligence to show B2B marketers how to optimize the performance of future efforts. Tracking devices can include:

* Dedicated URLs
* Dedicated phone numbers or extension numbers
* Dedicated email addresses
* Key codes on mail reply cards or surveys
* Data match-backs of generated leads or sales bumped against the original email and mailing lists

Not only should these tracking methods be put in place, but there must be an internal system for gathering the resulting data and turning it into useful reports. The process built must track AND measure.

This quick, readable NextMark blog — 16 Tips to Direct Mail Marketing Success by David James of Bethesda List Center — includes these two recommendations and all the right steps that go between. But whatever combination of strategies is chosen, to succeed B2B marketers should always make sure they make the right start and the right end.