Why B2B marketers must read this book on lead generation.

The title of David Scott’s new book “The New Rules of Lead Generation: Proven Strategies to Maximize Marketing ROI” is a bit misleading. It doesn’t just cover the new rules of lead generation marketing that involve LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. It covers all the channels and all the practices necessary to achieve successful B2B marketing lead generation.

As the CEO and founder of Marketfish, David Scott knows his stuff. When he tookScott Book marketing courses at the Wharton School, all he learned about was brand marketing. Thrown into a B2B marketing position when the CMO left the $3.5 billion publicly traded software company where he worked, he had to learn fast. Over the years he has discovered the value of data, testing and measurement for all channels. He now shares his knowledge and experience in this comprehensive lead generation marketing handbook.

B2B marketers must read and share this book if they:

  • Have been so focused on entering social media — or any other single media or tactic — that other necessary lead generation channels have been neglected.
  • Want a comprehensive refresher course on B2B marketing best practices to ensure that nothing valuable has been missed.
  • Have beginners on their team who need to learn what effective lead generation is all about.
  • Need to better understand the importance of data, brand, B2B marketing math and all the other elements that turn million-dollar companies into multi-billion-dollar companies.
  • Are worried that they’re missing one of the seven most successful lead-generation approaches that companies are using today.
  • Have budget limitations and want to focus lead gen dollars on tactics that can maximize the return.
  • Want a handy list of how-tos on any aspect of lead generation marketing.

Highly readable and very informative, this book doesn’t miss a beat. I recommend it for every member of every B2B marketing team — beginner or expert — wanting to maximize the success and the ROI of their company’s lead generation.

Steps #2-6 in creating ideal B2B lead generation copy.

My previous post covered the first and most important step in any B2B marketing copy for successful outbound B2B lead generation. That first step is the most important as it must contain the information necessary to make a connection with the prospect.

Once the B2B lead generation opening statement “gets the prospect” or “hooks them in,” there are ???????????????????six more copy steps necessary for moving that prospect to action — that is, generating a response.

Here are the remaining steps in order:

Step #2 — Make the B2B marketing offer, then immediately make the first call to action.
The reader is busy and needs to absorb the message in seconds. If the opening line says, “This message is for you,” then the next should present the content offer and the call to action. If the prospect does not read another line, the entire message has been communicated.

Step #3 — Expand on the benefit of responding to the content offer.
The next section is necessary for the prospects who want to know more before responding. This is the place to put a very brief or bulleted list of what they will learn from reading this valuable FREE information, attending this Webinar, accepting this private demo, etc.

The content of this section is often exactly what the product being sold can deliver. But, by not mentioning the product by name, the message does not come off as a sales pitch. If people think they are being “sold” and not “informed,” response rates will drop.

Step #4 — Repeat the call to action and then add a plug, if applicable.
If the information being offered is a published book or a report by an independent third party, that should be mentioned the first time the offer is made. However, if the information is compiled by the B2B marketing company, this is where that company can take a very brief bow. This might be, “This infographic has been compiled by XYZ Company, a leader in ….”

Step #5 — Close the communication.
Traditionally, in direct mail, the close would include a statement of what the prospect would lose by not responding. In the case of offering free information, what is lost is the opportunity to learn what the information covers. The purpose of the campaign is to get the prospect to request the offer. So the close should repeat the call to action and the main benefit.

Step #6 — Always add a P.S.
Since the opening line and the P.S. remain the most-read sections of personal communications, a P.S. should contain the offer or a secondary incentive to respond. Busy B2B prospects need to get the entire message as quickly as possible. Using this tactic in the P.S. helps accomplish that.

Keep B2B marketing copy simple; keep it short
Whatever is written, the message should eliminate any need for the prospect to have to think. Outbound B2B marketing should never make the prospect think — just react and act on what is being offered.

When and why B2B marketing fails.

The team at Savvy B2B Marketing has a great blog with consistently valuable information and insight. Recently they printed a wrap-up of their “10 Most Popular Posts from 2012.” One of them is a post by Chris Fell, Managing Director and owner of G2M Solutions in Australia on “The Top 5 Reasons Your Great Content Fails.

The point that struck me most from this post is that great content fails because it’s not marketed properly. He’s right. A company may have the greatest content, the greatest product or the greatest service – but, if it is not marketed properly, it can be a failure.

B2B marketing can fail, too. When prospects call me and I ask about their past marketing, I often hear stories of programs that produced zero response. This got me thinking about what causes B2B marketing failures and what I know about how to help prevent those failures.

In the late 1990s, I was fortunate enough to be able to take a sabbatical living and traveling on a sailboat in Mexico’s Gulf of California — or, as it is called by the locals, the Sea of Cortez. In preparation for this extended life at sea, my honey and I spent several years reading every sailing and cruising magazine available. Every time we read about a death or disaster at sea, we talked about it to understand the cause and try to make sure it never happened to us. Our conclusion was that, with rare exception, every time there was a disaster, it related to lack of proper planning, preparation or a bad decision on the part of the people involved.

B2B marketing failures are no different. Most every time a B2B marketing program fails, it’s because of a lack of proper planning, preparation or a bad decision.

B2B marketers can read blogs like mine and white papers all day long about dozens of best practices you can follow to make B2B marketing perform better. B2B marketers spend lots of time and energy on copy and design because, frankly, that’s the fun part of marketing.

But the fact is, there are only three things that can ensure 100% failure — that is, zero response to a marketing program — and none of them have to do with copy or design. They are:

  1. Marketing is targeted at the wrong industry or titles or both.
  2. There is no content or other offer being made to incentivize a response and no clear call to action — or the offer is bad.
  3. The marketing is directed at too small a number of potential responders.

Most B2B marketing teams spend 80% of their time on copy and design and 20% on market research, targeting and offer selection. The irony is that it should be just the opposite.

Perfect copy and design and a great content offer to the wrong market will fail. Mediocre copy, design and content offered to the right market will still generate some leads, even if the program does not maximize potential response.

So the best insurance against experiencing a complete failure in B2B marketing is spending more time on the big picture and less time on the details.

How to spend your B2B marketing summer.

Are B2B buyers making buying decisions in the summer? Surveying my network of B2B marketers and vendors the answer is generally no, with the possible exception of industries that have deadlines tied to government regulations.

Some B2B marketers may have different experiences, but summer has always been a historically slow time due to vacation absences. In that light, should marketers reduce their efforts in the summer because response rates to B2B lead acquisition and nurturing offers will tend to be a lot lower? Or should efforts increase in the summer because it takes more effort to generate more demand?

It’s been proven that companies that increase their marketing efforts during economic downturns recover faster and gain a larger share of the market when the economy does recover. With that in mind, here are the issues B2B marketers should consider in relation to marketing during the summer months.

  1. Increased summer efforts are likely to boost visibility and response rates in the fall. For B2B marketers needing to produce a steady flow of leads, marketing more in the summer may be a necessity.
  2. For B2B marketers with long buy cycles, less effort in the summer could result in producing a few months of poor sales months down the road.
  3. Increasing spending to generate a constant flow of leads and sales through slow summer months will result in a higher cost per lead and cost per sale. It’s important for B2B marketers to do the math and make sure those increases are acceptable.
  4. Added buyer incentives during summer months may help increase summer sales.
  5. Increased summer efforts are likely to boost visibility and response rates in the fall.
  6. If other B2B marketers are doing less, those doing more should get better visibility and attention.

With the 2012 summer more than half over, B2B marketers may not be able to take any action one way or the other this year. However, this is the time for B2B marketers to determine if they are experiencing seasonal slow-downs and be ready to respond appropriately for the summer of 2013.

B2B marketing content that disappoints.

One of our favorite genres in my Netflix-viewing household is action films. Like all films, however, to be memorable they need to contain more than action. They need characters one cares about so that the action has meaning.

It continues to amaze us how many of the films we get are disappointing. Regardless of how much action these movies contain, the characters do not resonate, the plot is weak or meaningless, the script is poor, and the acting is often amateurish. Fortunately, for movie makers, there are plenty of viewers out there who will pay to see action for the sake of action, so the movies that disappoint us are still money-makers.

That’s not true for B2B marketing content.

Regardless of the form in which the content is delivered — white paper, video, podcast, guide, interactive form — it must satisfy multiple criteria or it will not be a money-maker. It must add value, be well written, and be formatted in a way that is inviting and doesn’t diminish readability. If the content does not deliver what has been promised, or adds no value to the prospect, it reflects poorly on the B2B company that promoted it.

Adding any one of these seven elements to B2B marketing content ensures that it will have value as a lead-generation tool.

  1. Ideas and usable take-aways on how to do something better
  2. Insight into what’s happening that could affect future practices
  3. Introduction to new ways of doing things
  4. Case studies of how peers are handling challenges or critical issues
  5. Checklists or assessments that help prospects determine how well they are handling a task or challenge
  6. Benchmarks or standards being achieved in a given industry
  7. Ways to calculate ROI or other metrics

Offering content is a solid way to generate leads for B2B companies. Unlike action films, however, content for the sake of content doesn’t cut it.

Take your B2B trade show booth from boring to spectacular.

Guest Post by Daniel Frank

A while back in her post “Four quick B2B marketing ideas for a short week,” Susan reported on adding a photo opportunity at trade show booths to get prospects to interact with the booth sales staff and keep visitors around the booth longer.

As someone who works with an exhibition stand manufacturer, I was glad she wrote about it, as it is a marketing tactic I enthusiastically endorse.

Interactive elements can improve B2B trade show exhibiting results in several ways. The first and most obvious is that they are a great way to stand out on a crowded trade show floor. The example Susan highlighted was putting out a life-size cardboard cut-out of an industry expert that visitors can be photographed standing next to. This cut-out grabs attention and creates buzz.

Other interactive options include such things as games and surveys. These provide other benefits, including enhanced lead capture, visitor education and insight. A great example of this that I saw recently was in a booth run by Npower. This booth offered a free energy health check to anyone attending the booth. They used a touch-screen quiz that required booth visitors to enter some details before answering a series of questions. The participant would then get a personalized report telling them ways they could reduce their energy expenditure. Not only was this a great way for Npower to generate qualified leads, it also educated visitors and gave Npower some new insights into visitors’ energy usage and level of knowledge of industry topics.

When deciding how to integrate an interactive element into your booth, you should, at a minimum, consider these three things:

  1. Objectives: What do you want this element to achieve? The Npower example was great because it achieved several objectives, but may have been a bit of a compromise. Booth visitors looking at a screen is a fairly boring activity compared to the photo-opportunity mentioned above. However, it did generate interest and valuable information for Npower. Step one is to decide what you want to achieve and what image you want to project in the process.
  2. Relevance: Say you have an idea for great game that will bring loads of people to your booth. How relevant is it to your business? Having a lot of visitors is good, but it is far better to get fewer, more relevant visitors. This is another reason the health check was great for Npower: it attracted people who worried about energy expenditure and were therefore receptive to Npower’s solution.
  3. Cost: As with all B2B marketing decisions, cost is an issue. Providing a brilliant video game that is completely relevant to your company and can fulfil all your objectives may cost a fortune to create, not to mention providing the technology on which to run it. It’s a great interactive tool to use if it is cost-effective based on what you hope to gain from making a sale.

Making your booth activities more productive should be a priority when spending money on B2B trade show space. These are just a few ideas on how to make the most of it. If you have more, I’d love to hear about them.
Daniel Frank is a writer and blogger who provides advice on trade show marketing on behalf of Nimlok Display Stands based in the UK.

Mini-quiz on how to avoid a B2B marketing iceberg.

It’s a sad piece of history we are remembering this week with the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic on April 15, 1912. When there are public tragedies, there’s an immediate call for who or what to blame. In the case of the Titanic, however, there was only one cause — human hubris, the “overestimation of one’s own competence or capabilities.”

Hubris is a dangerous state of mind in any walk of life. B2B marketing is no exception. Hubris in marketing is not likely to cause the death of 1514 souls, but it can cost the job of a CEO, CMO, marketing VP, director or manager, product manager, or other player. In the case of a private B2B company, even the owner is hurt, as poor marketing decisions can reduce market share and the bottom line.

I’ve formulated this simple 10-question mini-quiz to help B2B marketers determine whether they may be suffering from the kind of hubris that would mean a bad outcome of their marketing, and possibly their future. Any “yes” answers are a sign that there may be an iceberg in their path.

1. We do not track cost per lead and cost per sale on every campaign.

2. We don’t believe in testing — we know what our customers want.

3. I personally like what we’re doing, so it must be good.

4. I personally don’t like what we’re doing, so it must be bad.

5. Our competition is doing it, so we need to do it, too.

6. As long as my boss likes what we’re doing, my job is safe.

7. We don’t need a strong offer — the product will sell itself.

8. The message makes sense to me, so our customers will understand it.

9. Nobody reads long copy anymore.

10. Direct mail is dead. Everything we need to do can be done online.

11. Everyone’s talking about social media, so we should dedicate a lot of resources to it.

Lift B2B marketing response by putting time on your side.

It’s never a good idea for B2B marketers to project our own personal opinions and practices on the B2B audience to which we market. How we like to receive information, our work patterns, and our preferences are not likely to mirror the people who buy our company’s B2B products or services.

But there is one area in which all of us in B2B marketing and in the B2B buying community are exactly alike — that is, we have too much to do and too little time in which to do it.

Not long ago I wrote a blog about “Four Rules for Communicating with the Crazy-Busy Prospect,” which focused on how to organize and present B2B marketing copy so the heart of the message could be comprehended with a quick scan.

Then, a few days ago, I learned another powerful way to use time to gain an advantage in B2B marketing. What I learned from one of my technology clients is that she’s cut back all of her Webinars to 30 minutes. Not only has this measurably boosted attendance, but it has generated emails from customers and prospects thanking her for this time-saving way to learn.

Like me, many people feel they can spare 30 minutes but not an hour. How often have I attended a one-hour event only to have to leave early because of a more pressing demand? In fact, I would attend more Webinars if they were only 30 minutes.

I hear push-back from many B2B marketers like, “Oh, we can’t cover the subject properly in 30 minutes.” I’d recommend they find a way to edit the presentation down to its core and make it work. One approach might be to create a Part I and Part II presentation of the materials for two separate events.

If this tactic would mean increasing attendance and getting attendees to stay for the entire presentation, it may be well worth testing.

Is your B2B marketing missing a secret ingredient?

The network of B2B marketers digitally sharing news, information and expertise through LinkedIn, Twitter, and dozens of other sites is currently focused on social media. Not long ago it was talking about email marketing, SEO and other tools available to B2B marketers today.

Each of those digital marketing methods has value for communicating, building relationships with prospective buyers, nurturing them through the buy-cycle and more. But there’s one thing digital media doesn’t do well and there’s one medium that can deliver it most consistently. This secret ingredient is “longevity” — and the medium is direct mail.

Tweets arrive, race through groups of users and are gone. The daily emails that arrive on the desktops of B2B buyers and influencers number in the hundreds. Email communications grab attention quickly and then are gone — often never to be seen again. There are times when they don’t even grab attention.

The only medium or channel that has the ability to stay around and add valuable longevity to a B2B marketing investment is printed material sent through the mail.

Printed material can physically sit in stacks on the desk to be picked up and read later. Printed material gets read offline when there are no other electronic distractions. Many business buyers take material to be read in the convenience of their home. Printed material gets filed for future reference.

I experienced this personally just this morning. I received an email invitation from a stranger to bid on a project. The inquiry was sent to my main email address, not the info@ address I use on my Web site. So naturally, I asked where the sender got my name.

Her answer: “I received a cold marketing letter from you in 2009 and saved it. How about that for longevity?”

Putting a physical piece, letter, brochure, data sheet, CD, or other bit of information in the hands of your targeted prospects gives them something to review at their leisure, save, pass along to associates, pass around at meetings, file and reference later.

It works now for generating qualified leads and gives your B2B marketing investment the long life that doesn’t readily exist in other B2B marketing channels.

One B2B social media expert who’s got it wrong.

I’m not a social marketing expert. I don’t pretend to be. My expertise and knowledge are in the outbound arena. I’ve written many times that I still believe in outbound marketing because I see it working cost-effectively for all my B2B clients. They use it to reliably fill their pipeline.

Yes, inbound marketing is cheaper. Yes, it works. But users of it cannot control the volume or the timing of the inbound inquiries it receives. Outbound marketers using proven B2B direct marketing practices can.

Here’s the reason for my rant. Perusing B2B Marketing Zone, I saw the reposting of the blog by Dragan Mestrovic on his inBlurbs site “How to save 62 percent of your budget with inbound marketing.”

He knows inbound marketing. His advice and the statistics he presents are all perfectly valid.

This rant concerns what he says about outbound marketing because, on that subject, he’s way off base.

Outbound marketing communication is one-way.
Initially, it is. A B2B marketer sends a message that reaches out to a targeted group. That message, however, is designed to generate a response. The minute there is a response, the communication instantly becomes two-way.

Outbound marketers’ customers are sought out.
Of course they are. But the customers being reached are not random. By accessing targeted databases of opt-in customers, members of groups, trade show attendees, carefully compiled databases and more, the B2B marketing firm is reaching out to those companies and individuals who match the profile of their customers.

Outbound direct marketing has been around for so many years that the level of database sophistication is staggering. Unlike what Mestrovic proposes — that marketers fill out a persona sheet to build a customer profile — an outbound B2B marketer uses data companies such as Acxiom, Accudata or one of many others to build a statistically sound customer CHAID or regression model. That model is then matched against rental lists to find prospects that match the customer profile. There’s no guesswork involved.

Outbound marketers provide little or no added value.
Do inbound marketers think they invented content? It’s been around as long as direct marketing has been around. It used to be called an “offer.” That’s how outbound marketers get a response — by offering educational information. The very subject of the content is designed to generate qualified leads. B2B marketers test various offers against each other to let the response from the market tell them which is the best.

Outbound marketers rarely seek to educate or entertain.
See above about education. Entertainment can be part of any marketing message — outbound or inbound. But it needs to be used carefully, as a poor use of “cleverness” or “humor” in marketing can backfire and negatively affect the brand.

Mestrovic says that outbound marketing is losing its efficacy. But in the real world, B2B companies calculate what they are willing to pay to get a qualified lead and, once they do, they’ll find that outbound marketing is still a bargain and that, unlike inbound marketing, it can predictably generate those leads.