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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.

B2B marketing: The truth behind the trends for 2013–Part II

Last week, I judged the validity and value of the first ten of Hubspot’s “20 Marketing Trends and Predictions for 2013 and Beyond.”

This trend report covers the issues that marketers are being encouraged to pay attention to and incorporate into their planning for 2013. Here is my take on items 11 through 20:

Good Information

“Email Lives On”
This prediction promotes that email will become “less batch and blast” and more personalized. That’s good, as the more any message can be personalized the more effective it will be.

“Marketing Technology Evolves”
I hope this prediction is correct. One point promises that marketing solutions, ROI measurement, etc., will become more integrated so marketers can get a true picture of what’s working and what is not.

“Content Crowdsourcing Grows”
Leveraging viral content created by prospects and customers adds an interesting and possibly money-saving resource to the B2B marketing tool chest.

“Marketing Gets Gamified”
Not sure about the product placement possibility mentioned in this prediction; however, making content more sticky by adding some entertainment value to it is just the tactic today’s B2B marketers need to stand out and get attention.

Nothing New

“Marketing Speaks Like a Human”
This trend implies that, because of social media, marketers can start talking to their prospects as one human to another. Speaking to buyers in a one-on-one tone, based on the buyer’s individual wants and needs, has always been a hallmark of successful target marketing.

“I’ll Take Some Content Curation, Please”
The creation of more targeted and compelling content has been and should be a line item on every B2B marketing budget.

“A Picture is Worth 1000 Words”
This point refers to the hot new picture posting sites on the Web such as Pinterest. However, since the above phrase has been recognized as an old Chinese proverb, it’s safe to assume that there’s nothing new about value of pictures. How effective these sites can be for B2B marketers remains to be seen.

“Context is Content’s New Best Friend”
There’s nothing new about choosing content, messaging, channels and placements based on the profile and past behavior of prospects and customers. It’s always been and will always be a best practice.

Don’t Believe It

“Inbound, Not Automation, Becomes Priority”
I disagree with the premise that automated marketing is, overall, a failure. I agree that many companies do not put in the strategy and follow-through necessary to make automation work as it should. But automating contact with prospects and trying to move them through the buy cycle based on their past actions is still better than not following up at all. Inbound marketing does not replace this on any level.

“Outbound Marketing Loses Traction”
This claim begins with these stats: “Mass marketing gets a 2% response rate, if you’re lucky. Inbound marketing, on the other hand, can produce conversion rates 10X higher or more.” This is playing with math, as it does not compare response rates or conversion rates. If done right, responders to outbound marketing effort also have high conversion rates. B2B marketers that eliminate outbound efforts to generate qualified leads will be out of work soon.

Technology and channels continue to grow and change. But integrated strategies and best practices will keep B2B marketers on top of those trends regardless of the changes.

B2B marketing: The truth behind the trends for 2013

Hubspot, a leading inbound marketing provider, is a great resource for B2B marketing how-tos and best practices. I just took advantage of their offer to download the “20 Marketing Trends and Predictions for 2013 and Beyond” they compiled.

These are the issues that marketers are being encouraged to pay attention to and incorporate into their planning for 2013. Looking ahead and planning is one of the critical steps in successful marketing.

However, as an advocate of best practices, I have taken it upon myself to judge the validity and value of these trends. Here are the first 10 divided into three categories:

Good Information

“Inbound Marketing Grows Enterprise-Wide”
Yes, this channel should and will integrate into all aspects of marketing and all departments in an enterprise.

“Social Media Gets Integrated”
Having the ability to integrate social media with contact databases to build additional behavior data is a big win.

“Be Mobile or Fall Behind”
It’s the newest channel and it’s growing rapidly. As reported in an earlier post, 84% of C-level executives see their email on their smartphone first.

“Social and Content Impact SEO Even More”
This reports that search engines are now paying more attention to social media and content than “having the right H1 tag.” Treating all digital efforts and channels as one make a company’s SEO far more powerful.

“Companies Look to Hire More Inbound Marketing Talent”
The stats presented show that “inbound marketing” jobs have increased 53% and “content marketing” jobs have increased by 26% since October 2011. This trend may increase.

“Big Data Gets Bigger — and Digestible”
Data has always been the part of marketing that is the big deal-breaker. Any new technology that allows for access to more customer behavior data is a sure way to improve the results of inbound and outbound marketing.

Nothing New

“Know Thy Customer”
B2B marketing has always been and always will be more effective the more that marketers and companies understand their customer and prospects. Marketing automations systems are helping companies learn more about the behavior and attitudes of their prospective customer, but targeted list sources, modeling and regression-analyses have been around to provide this insight for decades.

“Marketing Becomes More Accountable for Revenue Generation”
Few individuals in C-level management believe in the value of marketing. However, any marketing group that is incapable of tracking lead source all the way to sales is centuries behind the times.

“Marketers Embrace ‘Smart’ Content”
What’s new is the embracing part. “Smart” direct marketers have been matching content to a prospect’s position in the buy cycle for years. Recognizing return visitors or responders and directing content to them based on their behaviors is now and has always been a best practice.

Don’t Believe It

“‘Campaign’ Fade Out, Real-Time Marketing Is In”
This is another way of saying that social media will replace traditional outbound email and direct mail efforts. As long as marketers want to keep control over the number of qualified leads they can generate and the efforts remain cost-efficient, outbound marketing campaigns will not go away. If the incoming calls and emails to sales start slowing down, my clients just crank out another “campaign” and get them going again.

Paying attention to trends is important. However, good B2B marketers should remember that best practices in marketing have not changed.

Review of the last 10 trends will come next week.

B2B marketing know-it-alls are on a fast path to failure.

In the course of putting together a marketing program for a client recently, I had the opportunity to call a colleague I had not worked with in many years. In our initial conversation I asked about her daughter (whose age I had forgotten). My colleague responded by saying, “She’s a senior in high school now and she knows everything.”

The daughter’s attitude, of course, comes from the limited experience of youth.

This attitude is evident in parts of the B2B marketing, too. A person who is new to the working world of marketing and in a position related to digital marketing, for example, completely rejects all other channels as dying or dead. Those immersed in social media think that outbound marketing is completely out of date and old-fashioned.

These individuals have not experienced the power of other marketing channels and therefore dismiss their viability. They aren’t exposed to B2B marketing efforts like these and, when they are, don’t believe what they see:

  • On a direct mail marketing survey effort designed to generate B2B leads for a large corporation, the young members of the marketing staff were shocked that 74% of the direct mail responders mailed back the completed survey instead of taking it online.
  • An ecommerce company that had been selling online exclusively for five years mailed their first printed catalog and were surprised that it delivered a 1.5% response rate. Those weren’t just leads, but sales.
  • A B2B outbound marketing lead generation campaign sent out by a publisher generated a 3.1% response from direct mail and a .6% response from email making the same offer.

One of the important steps in building a solid marketing strategy is selecting which channels to test. Any B2B marketers putting their entire budget into a single medium must be one of those marketers who knows it all.

B2B interactive social media marketer shocked.

When I checked out the top stories at B2B Marketing Zone I was a bit dismayed. Every story highlighted at the top was about social media. Yes, it’s the hot topic, but on a site that features dozens of B2B blog posts, surely there would be some variety.

Moving on to other B2B sites, I visited Webbiquity to discover Tom Pick’s amusing report of the “Top 10 Tweets About Today’s Twitter Outage.” One, of course, said, “Worst part about #Twitter being down is you can’t tweet about it.”

This observation brings me back to one of the earliest blog posts I wrote, advising B2B marketers on “Getting over our own marketing bias.” It was 2009 and I was bemoaning the fact that every blog I had reviewed that day addressed social media. Well, it’s 2012 now and nothing has changed.

I’m pretty sure that what is being talked about, and what draws attention, does not reflect what’s being done in the real world of B2B marketing. Yet a colleague of mine and his team were making a client presentation recently on a proposed direct mail marketing program. One of the team members was a new hire fresh out of a position in interactive marketing. She was shocked to learn that direct mail is the B2B client’s primary channel and how well it’s working for them.

Since nothing has changed, perhaps it is time to repeat some of the advice I gave in 2009 to marketers who think that social media — or any one channel, for that matter — is the above all and end all of B2B marketing. So I advise that, before B2B companies make any decision about which channels to use in their marketing efforts, they take these four steps:

  1. Talk to colleagues and peers who use various media in their marketing; learn about how they are used and their results.
  2. Look at published facts and figures on how the channel has been performing for other B2B companies.
  3. Determine if a particular channel has been used successfully in markets similar to yours.
  4. Test it before you dismiss it.

Learning smart B2B marketing from an industry event invite.

It may seem strange for me write about a B2B marketing event I haven’t yet attended. But the invite was so informative, I have to share. The upcoming event is sponsored by the San Diego Software Industry Council (SDSIC) and features Reid Carr, CEO of Red Door Interactive, and Harley Orion, CEO of Orion Creative Group.

The title, “Top Five Ways to Maximize Your Marketing Dollar,” really caught my eye because it’s a concept I’ve supported in my own marketing for many years — track every penny that’s spent directly to leads and sales.

With social media being so hot today, it can often distract B2B marketers from the full scope of elements that must be part of every B2B marketing strategy. What I love about this invite from the SDSIC is that it’s a perfect reminder of how important it is to make sure an online B2B marketing strategy covers all the bases — not just social media.

I know most of you can’t attend this live event. But even the list of what is to be covered is a great reminder of the areas that should never be left out of any online B2B marketing strategy. It reads:

  • Know your customer: How to mine your existing data, and do additional research to fully understand the needs of your target customer, how to reach him or her online, and how to position your offering for the greatest impact.
  • Define goals: Goals are more than just measurements of success or failure; setting goals helps to clarify your tactics. Knowing where you’re going helps determine the most successful and cost-effective way to get there. We’ll talk about not just the importance of setting goals (the obvious), but literally how to create goals that will streamline execution and generate results.
  • Get your website right: Before spending money to drive traffic to your site, make sure it’s ready.  Driving traffic to a dysfunctional, off-brand or otherwise under-performing website may not create the desired ROI. We’ll discuss both simple and comprehensive ways to improve your web presence, through user experience design, analytics and testing – not just so it “looks prettier” but so that it effectively communicates and converts.
  • Identify good traffic building strategies: Most people are familiar with numerous ways to generate online traffic. But we’ll give you a rare look into how interactive agencies evaluate potential strategies for each unique client, and make these big decisions using data, not opinion.
  •  Retain your customers: How to build and maintain effective retention tools, such as CRM (customer relationship management), customer lifecycle research and monitoring, social CRM tools, and email marketing, among others.

 

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.

Fun with B2B marketing

Ninety-percent of the B2B marketing copy I write is serious stuff. It addresses a business prospect’s biggest pains and challenges, then offers content or a product solution that shows the path to meeting those challenges and ending that pain.

Hopefully, my messages have energy and enthusiasm, are fun and are easy to read. But the subjects and the purpose are all very serious. In my world, it’s hard to imagine that the fun things B2C marketers do to engage consumers translate very well into the B2B marketing world.

Then I received an invite from Information Week to participate in the Great IT Security Challenge. It came from United Business Media’s TechWeb. It’s designed to test “your knowledge of IT security and lets you compete against peers in the IT market for visibility, community opportunities and a chance to win a contest prize.”

The contest is composed of possible IT security terms and a multiple choice of three possible definitions. It’s filled with a number of red herrings. The term Nimda, for instance, is simply admin spelled backwards.

The contest’s purpose, of course, is to incent the IT market to return to the UBM site every day. Not only are the trivia questions a lot of fun, but the system keeps track of points. I did pretty well for not being an IT person. Yet, when I got a question wrong, I still got 10 points just for trying.

This contest is classic social media. But, in this case, since it’s designed to drive daily traffic to the UBM TechWeb site, it’s also B2B direct marketing. The purpose of direct marketing is to change behavior. That’s what this contest does: it affects behavior.

Here is how they pick a winner:

“The specific point system is defined within the gaming interface. But in a general sense, you are rewarded for the following types of activities: returning to the game daily; answering the daily quiz; answering the daily quiz correctly; downloading content from our family of websites; and so on. The person with the most points at the end of the game wins. We have a tie-breaker system developed in the event two people have the same point totals.”

UBM even has fun describing what a participant could win:

“Fame. Peer recognition. Professional stature like you’ve never before experienced. A whole new set of online friends. And a white-hot, superthin, superlight notebook computer (we can’t say the name of it for reasons we don’t fully understand, but we think you’ll be impressed).”

What does a game like this reveal? That even the prospective buyers of IT products and services can be engaged in something fun. This information technology publisher positions itself as a resource for IT information and gets its market to interact with it on a daily basis.

I’ve always cautioned clients to be careful about using humor in B2B marketing. When someone is considering a technology solution costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, using humor incorrectly can backfire. This Great IT Security Challenge has opened my eyes to many opportunities for B2B marketers to engage their prospects and make B2B marketing fun.

Four Hot B2B Marketing Ideas Emerge from Blob

I’ve opted-in to receive content from a large number of marketing and technology publishers, so I get dozens of informational emails every day. These include Marketing Sherpa, Marketing Profs, Media Post, BMI, Target Marketing’s TM Tipline, BtoB Marketing, Direct Marketing News… well, the list goes on and on.

Every email offers educational content, a Webinar invite or a newsletter, and they all promise that the information is “must have” and will transform my marketing success.

The sad thing is, I make my living writing promises like that. But, sometimes, due to sheer volume, the emails and offers I receive melt together into one all-consuming blob.

It makes me worry that all the emails my clients are sending out might be perceived as a blob on the desk of their prospects. Then I see one offer that has a promise that relates to my area of interest and I respond. Then I see another, then another. It reminds me that it’s not the blob of promises that are the problem, but the targeting of the message. When the right message gets to the right prospect, it will resonate and generate a response.

Here are the valuable ideas I got from the few recent email offers that emerged from the blob for me:

1. Take this approach to produce more powerful educational content: When creating lead generation and nurturing content offers, it’s important for B2B marketers to leverage the knowledge their organization has that its competition does not.
From Chris Kraft, Principle and Co-Founder, Splash Media, LP

2. Extend the buy cycle past the purchase stage: Prospects go through four stages in the buying cycle: Interest, Consideration, Evaluation, and Purchase. Once a lead has been converted to a buyer, add the “Advocacy” stage offering incentives to customers in exchange for endorsements and referrals.
From Laura Lear, Director of Marketing, NCM Fathom

3. Leverage the biggest value in B2B social media: It’s difficult to time B2B marketing programs to the exact moment when a prospect has a need for a product or service being offered. A B2B marketer’s social media team should listen into the target community’s conversations and wait for the moment that group is discussing the problem that the marketer’s product or service can solve. It’s then that the prospect(s) should be approached.
From Beth Harte, The Harte of Marketing

4. Generate more leads from B2B Web sites: To generate more leads from a B2B Web site, add more frequent calls to action and vary them. “A lot of B2B companies dump ‘request a quote’ (or just contact us) on their site as their only lead generation method. This sucks. You need to offer several different ways for the user to connect with you – request a quote is fine (and recommended) but also consider offering a free newsletter, free tips, a free webinar or podcast, ask the expert, a poll/survey, and so on.”
From Amy Africa, EightbyEight

Inbound and Outbound B2B Marketers Have the Same Challenge

As usual, I started my day reviewing various opt-in emails and visiting favorite blog sites.

Inbound and outbound B2B marketers may fight over which method is best, but elements in two of the communications I read today reminded me of the big challenge common to both — and that is “control.”

First I read Steven Woods’ excellent Digital Body Language post on “Who and What Do We Trust?” In it he talks about how today’s access to information is changing the way businesses build trust with prospective customers. He says, “With the changing dynamic of how the conversation happens, there is also a changing dynamic of how trust is developed.”

Then I received an email invite from BtoB Online to attend their Sept. 30th Webinar “Beyond Content Management: 4 Ways to Engage Your Visitors and Achieve Online Marketing Success.” The opening of the invitation states, “Marketers need to be able to take control of their site visitors’ online experience in order to increase conversion.”

Although these two communications are focused on different areas of the B2B marketing and sales process, they both address the issue of “control.” Prospective business buyers do what they want, when then want and how they want. It’s a marketer’s job to do everything possible to influence those actions.

Inbound B2B marketers conduct SEO, are active in social media, conduct AdWords campaigns, post content on targeted informational Websites and more. Outbound B2B marketers send out content or sales offers through direct mail, email, and telemarketing. These two groups fight and debate, but both approaches are essential for success in today’s B2B marketing worlds and both groups have the same challenge of attempting to “control” the actions of their target B2B market.

Every B2B prospect and situation is different, but there are human traits and circumstances that B2B marketers can leverage to help take more control over their prospects’ actions.

B2B marketers must know that today’s prospect has limited support resources and is over the top with work. Every marketing decision, practice and communication should be based on seeing the prospect in that light, as follows:

  1. Keep communications short and to the point.
  2. Make it clear, quick and easy for prospects to act on what is being offered.
  3. Speak to prospects in the first person and communicate the benefits they will gain from acting on the offer.
  4. Be sure to offer information that has real value to your target market. Check out Ardath Albee’s Marketing Interactions Blog on “When Thought Leadership Isn’t” for insight on how marketers can help make their company a prospect’s trusted resource.
  5. Communicate differently to different titles. Goals and problems vary from title to title. Communications should be versioned to address those differences.
  6. Communicate and make contact often enough so that the company being marketed is top-of-mind as the prospect moves through every step of the buying cycle.
  7. Give the prospect a clear ‘next action’ in every communication.

From tweets to AdWords to landing pages to email invitations to Website pages and content libraries, the marketer’s ultimate goal is to control the prospect’s actions as much as possible. Control comes from understanding human nature and using the practices that leverage that understanding.