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B2B marketers must tell their CEOs to stop playing golf.

Today’s smart B2B marketers develop strategic, integrated marketing plans that make strong offers to targeted markets using the right channels, the right messaging and the right design. They track results, then adjust campaigns to grow and maximize those results.

These plans are carefully crafted and incorporate the latest in B2B marketing best practices. These marketers are proud of their diligent work and begin to execute the programs based on their plan.

Then their CEO goes golfing.

The very next day, that CEO walks into the marketer’s office requesting changes to the campaigns based on the great advice gotten from a peer on the golf course. Advice like:

  • “When I run political campaigns, here’s what I do.”
  • “How come you’re not doing this?”
  • “You should do what this consultant told us to do.”

If there’s a B2B marketer out there who has never experienced this, my congratulations. For the rest of us, we must resort to the only approach we can use to educate the misguided CEO we dare not insult.

  • Be ready to defend each strategy based on best practices supported by third-party sources.
  • Show what market leaders in their industry are doing.
  • Show what has been tested in the past that supports the current recommendations.
  • Offer to test the CEO’s wacky ideas (in a small test panel to minimize the damage).
  • Remind the CEO that all of the strategies are based on acceptable cost-per-lead and cost-per-sale numbers.
  • Show the CEO the negative financial impact of using his or her ideas, if unsuccessful.

This problem is not confined to golfing buddies. Influential, but bad, advice can come from spouses, neighbors, college chums and a full assortment of people who have access to the CEO’s ear but know nothing about B2B marketing.

So be prepared to correct this bad advice at any time. After all, telling the CEO to stop golfing is a lot harder to do.

My 5 favorite B2B marketing numbers.

Everyone, except perhaps the creative folks in advertising agencies, knows that marketing is a numbers game. Numbers such as click-thrus, cost-per-lead, cost-per-sale and ROI dominate the landscape of marketing numbersdiscussions.

I like numbers. They measure the real market success (or failure) of B2B marketing campaigns, they support the argument for following best marketing practices, and they give marketers real insight into the cost and potential value of various marketing approaches.

So, it makes sense to share my 5 favorite numbers to help other marketers experience the confidence and the joy that numbers bring to the strategic process. I didn’t devise these numbers. But after years of knowing them, I cannot honestly remember whose testing and research discovered them in the first place. They are:

  1. The value of following up with leads immediately: 88% of people are happy to hear from the B2B vendor within 24 hours of downloading informational content. Waiting 96 hours drops that percentage to the 40s.
  2. The reason nurturing leads is critical in maximizing sales: 45% of new leads generated will buy from someone in the industry category within 12 months.
  3. One big argument for integrated outbound marketing: Qualified B2B direct mail lists consistently provide 60% more records, business profiles and demographics than email marketing lists.
  4. Making sure the results of marketing tests are statistically valid: When testing one list or channel against another, the results of the test can be considered minimally statistically valid only if the response to each individual test cell is 85 responses or higher.
  5. Where to focus efforts in B2B marketing campaigns: Out of 100%, the elements that affect the outcome of a B2B marketing campaign carry the following weights List/Media/Data = 40%, Offer = 30%, Design = 15% and Copy = 15%.

Marketers building strategies and plans for the remainder of the year and beyond should let the numbers be their guide.

3 things B2B marketers can learn from retailers.

It has been said that for a retail business to be successful, it must focus on three things: location, location, and location. B2B marketers also have three important areas of focus to achieve success: target, target, and target.

Key people in a networked crowd.Reaching the most qualified companies and titles is still the most important element in every outbound B2B marketing campaign. The best way to identify that target is to build a profile of best customers and apply that profile against the marketing lists (email or mail) selected for outbound campaigns.

Best customers are those who meet most of the following criteria:

  1. Lifetime Value: Generated the greatest revenue.
  2. Number of Products and Services Purchased: Purchased the most products and the most profitable products.
  3. Loyalty: Remained customers the longest.
  4. Service Effort: Do not require excessive levels of service or support.

Once the above customers are identified, the next step is to profile them by the following identifiable demographics, which can be applied to available mail and some email marketing lists:

  • Industry
  • Size by number of employees and/or annual sales
  • Number of locations
  • Title of decision-maker or main contact
  • SIC (Standard Industrial Code) Current systems in place (if applicable to the product being sold)

If marketers do not have that kind of detail on their customers, firms such as Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) can append that data to the customer file for a fee.

Using a profile to define what markets, companies, titles and other criteria to pursue should result in attracting more qualified leads that might close faster and ultimately be more profitable customers. It’s an important step in building strategic B2B marketing plans.

One caveat, however: Marketers should remember that their profile of best customers could be a “self-fulfilling prophecy.” That is, the profile may show only those industries, titles, company sizes and other criteria that they have targeted in the past. It may or may not reflect the universe of opportunities.

If the marketing of a wheelchair lift has always been directed at schools, the profile will show a certain size or type of school as its best customer. In this case, marketing has no way of knowing if office building developers would not be a better “best customer,” since that market is not in the database from which the profile is built.

So, profiling a company’s best customers is a smart practice. But do it knowing that current best customers may or may not reflect the possible best customers.

Just like mom told you… “Say the magic words.”

How many truly great television commercials have you seen in your life? I can probably count on one hand the ones I judge as great. Most television commercials give credence to a favorite – but slightly altered – quote by P.T. Barnum: “You will never go broke underestimating the taste of the American public.” Originally he used the word “intelligence.”

The most dismal television commercials are those that show a person doing Old Fashioned TVsomething really stupid, making the person appear stupid. Then the ad shows that person buying the product being advertised. My take-away from the commercial is that only stupid people buy this product. I’m not stupid, so I won’t be buying this product.

Maybe they feel they can get away with that approach because most commercials, after all, are just advertising. TV advertising, in particular, is designed to change attitude while attempting to entertain. Direct marketing, on the other hand, is designed to change behavior. The big difference is that most brand advertising has no call to action. The sad fact is, however, that a frightening amount of direct marketing I see has no clear call to action either.

Your prospects are not stupid, but that doesn’t mean they are able to instantly guess what you want them to do.

  • Do you want them to download your white paper? Say it.

Download your copy of “5 Ways to Survive and Thrive in Today’s Economy” now.

  • Do you want them to opt in for your eNewsletter? Say it.

Sign up now for critical alerts via email.

  • Do you want them to call for a personal assessment? Say it.

Call now for your personal assessment of your disaster readiness.

  • Do you want them to sign up for your upcoming Webinar? Say it.

Register now to hear industry analyst Robert Smith reveal this new technology.

Not only do you have to tell them what you want them to do, but you have to tell them when you want them to do it. “Now” or “Today” are magic words Mom Scoldingin marketing. Do they make a difference? Companies in the direct marketing business have tested this and found that the addition of the words “Now” and “Today” do make a difference in response.

So just like you were told as a child to say “please” and “thank you,” the words “Now” and “Today” are a marketer’s magic words.