direct marketing came "alive" in the '90s.
Yes, many of those
on the inside already knew the power of direct for business. After all,
B-2-B has been extremely active and well since the 1950's. Yet, it took
the World Wide Web to truly awaken the full marketplace to direct marketing.
It all came about
with stories about high tech companies appearing as the lead for evening
news, on business and finance shows, as a regular feature in newspapers
and magazines. It soon became obvious that B-2-B was far ahead of their
consumer brothers and sisters with success stories from the E-marketing
and commerce world.
My introduction to
business DM was in the early 1970s. First with National Semiconductor,
then Hewlett-Packard. Following high-tech there have been many more ...
in publishing, medicine, various manufacturers, distributors, financial
and several others in services - many different companies and organizations.
This Baker's Dozen
Collection is based on 3 decades of B-2-B experience. Working "live"
in the field with real companies. And their marketing and sales teams.
A hands-on approach. To generate leads for a sales staff, to build traffic
for a special event, exhibition or store, and to sell the product direct
- pure mail order.
This is what I've
I. Establish what
you need to know
There are 2
parts to need;
#1. What does your
sales team really need to know?
Often sales people
think they must know everything before they make a sale. They use
the excuse they don't have enough information.
Obviously, there is
a set of facts that are necessary. What I'll call the "cake".
And then there is the frosting, the candles, the decorations ... all that
other "stuff". Not truly needed to get to the next level.
Make certain you clearly
establish what you need to know to make a customer.
#2. Need plays a
strong role for the buyer, too.
In fact, I feel need
is the key word. I am one of a few marketing and sales guys who honestly
believe people making buying decisions, in the final analysis, on needs.Not
wants. Not desires ... needs.So, as you build your DM program, think the
word "need" for the buyer.
Yes, feeling and emotion
and heart pounding personalization does play a part in the sales process.
Wants and desires are important. Yet, in the end, if you are not able
to establish a real need for what you have to sell, you will not make
the sale. If you are successful in working "need" into your
equation, you will.
This fact may be even
more important in B-2-B than consumer marketing. As an impulse buy is
much less likely with a business buyer.
Marketing must plan
and sales must agree on what is truly needed for successful communication
II. And then what
would be "nice" to know
Now that I've pounded
on "need", what about "nice"? Well, it too can be
Most often nice
to know is a long range philosophy. It helps in building relationships.
It is important in keeping doors open, in customer service, in gaining
referrals, in getting more business, in cementing a partnership between
buyer and seller.
Nice is all the little
stuff. Personal things about your customer. They like to play golf. They
have 2 granddaughters. Their spouse is in an allied business. They went
to the University of Whatever - played baseball in the minor leagues.
Nice is also personal
business. The name of their assistant, maybe others on the staff. Their
fiscal year. News about quarterly sales meetings. The conferences they
Nice rarely helps
with the first sale. It can be vital for the next. And the next!
III. Gain support
from your Sales staff
Nothing kills marketing
faster than a sales staff that chooses not to buy into the program.
What's the answer?
Get a buy-in BEFORE going to market. Insure from the get-go that you have
the support - the total support! - of your sales team.
Ask them in for the
development meetings. Ask them for ideas. Go on sales calls with them.
Read their sales reports. And listen to what they tell you goes on in
You don't have to
believe it all. Nor understand everything. You do have to lend an ear
and an eye. Demonstrate you care and you'll developing a winning sales
team that will support your marketing efforts.
IV. Determine your
There are no "best"
ways to get leads, build traffic and make sales. There are many different
Today the foundation
tools for successful business direct marketing are being enhanced with
electronic media. Still, the basics of direct mail, print, trade shows,
phone and fax and in selected cases broadcast - both radio and television
- have been, are and will continue to be major marketing and sales tools.
They are not going away. The only difference today is E-marketing has
been added to the mix.
You benefit by looking
at all - and selecting those that do the job you need to reach your objectives.Also,
know it is a rare case when a single media will do the job. Integrated
DM always works better.
V. Coordinate with
advertising, PR, sales promotion
Your marketing efforts
should look like they've been planned.
Which is another way
of saying you thought about them, and coordinated with others.
Not every company
has an ongoing advertising, public relations, merchandising or sales promotion
program. If you do, plan it so all aspects of your direct marketing and
sales mesh together. They fit as a unit.
Even when you're testing,
if you are to enjoy maximum results, everything must work together, hand
VI. Determine where
you will receive leads
Should your sales
leads come to headquarters first - for control and qualification and measurement
Or will you rely on
your sales team in the field to count, qualify and report?
The question is the
same for every sales force. Captive or distribution/dealer network, a
single office or dozens. Central control, without any doubt, gives you
a betterhandle on results. On the other hand, with central control your
leads will be slowed in getting to your reps ... anything from
a day or two to several weeks. Depending on how automated and efficient
There is no right
or "best" answer - you need to evaluate your total marketing
and sales program and make a decision. And be willing to change it - when
you need to.
VII. Decide how
will you accept leads
Do you need a toll-free
telephone number?What about a fax number?
Will you offer E-mail
response? And can your prospects reach you directly from your Web Site?
Will you includea response envelope in your mail, a coupon in your ads?
The more ways you
offer your audience to respond, the more response you can expect. As each
will select the way that works for them today. If they're in a hurry they'll
phone, fax, E-mail. If not they may mail.
You really don't care
how your prospects express interest, do you? What you do care about is
that they DO express interest!
VIII. Define what
is your best lead
All prospects are
not created equal ... some are much more "equal" than others.
There are many levels
of qualification ... here is a 5 step process that works for me.
Adapt these thoughts to fit your B-2-B needs.
The very best leads
are Passionate. These are the people who want to talk with you NOW. They
are super ready to make a buying decision. They have a need and want it
Next best are Hot.
It is urgent you get to these folks quickly, as they are most likely shopping
... talking to you and several others.
Warm is the next level.
These are honest prospects, yet they do not see an immediate need or urgency.
They are looking to the future.
Fourth down the ladder
are Cool leads. Yes, they raised their hand to be counted - still, they
are not ready to be counted - yet.
On the bottom rung
are Icy leads. Usually they did not understand the offer, the product,
the deal, the timing. Or, they might be the wrong person in the right
How you qualify is
not important. That you DO qualify is very important to your marketing
and sales success.
IX. Decide the process
to qualify leads
You are going to qualify
your B-2-B leads ... see above and it quickly becomes understandable why
this is important.
Now, what is the process?
Should you automatically follow-up all leads equally, you will waste lots
of time and lots of money. And make your sales team very unhappy.
Still, there is not
a formula. How you qualify depends on your products and services, your
marketplace, your competition. It depends on your ability to have add-on
products and upgrade sales. It depends on your audience ... are you talking
to current customers seeking repeat business? Or brand new prospects?
And it depends on your offer and your price.
There is no right
or wrong way - there must be a way.Decide what that is, and do it.
X. Know, how will
you service your best leads, your less than best
Since all leads, just
like all customers, are not created equal, part of your DM B-2-B marketing
planning must be how you follow-up, follow-through and service your best
And then your not
so best leads.
Whatever you decide,
decide not to handle all leads the same way. i.e., based on size
or revenue or geography or industry group is fine. Treating everyone the
same is a mistake - and a waste of your time and money.
For Passionate and
Hot leads a 1:1 sales call may be in order. For Warm and Cool a telephone
follow-up could be best.
This is another area
where close coordination with your sales team is vital. They will help
you make the right decision
XI. Determine what
your fulfillment packages will be
Even in today's electronic
world most B-2-B buyers want paper.
Yes, your WWW site
can be important in getting a lead - by offering an introduction to your
collection of products and services. And for a very few that may be sufficient.
For most it will not be.
Some have found "Fax-Back"
an excellent way to quickly fulfill a request, and to get paper into the
hands of a prospect.
And direct mail -
the "old-fashioned" direct mail fulfillment package - is still
needed today. Most likely sent the old-fashioned way,by mail - maybe express
if you sense an urgency. No matter, it is paper.
Oh, and different
packages for different levels of prospects. Remember, they are not all
XII. Decide how you
will analyze success
As in any program,
if you can't measure it you can't improve it.
It is rather easytocount
the number of leads you receive.And those received by phone, mail, fax,
E-mail. You can track where the leads came from - which media; mail, television,
from a trade show.
If you make direct
sales or have a captive sales force, you can also track leads to a sale.
If you sell through an outside rep organization of any type, it is not
as easy to be exact.
Direct Marketing by
definition is a medium that is measurable. Which means you can trail from
a sale back to a lead, put a cost against it and financially measure your
Even when it is difficult,
it is not impossible to have a strong, if not exact, measure. Be certain
to decide - before you go to market - how you will analyze for success.
XIII. Now ... what
else do you need to know?
Before you finalize
your Business-to-Business Direct Marketing plan, ask yourself these questions;
- What is happening
in our industry?
- What is our competition
- Are new players
or products affecting what we do?
- Will our plans
for the next 3 to 18 months change our message?
- Have you coordinated
a program between marketing, sales & management to insure a team
- What about operations,
manufacturing & accounting ...?Are they on board?
- What factors outside
our industry can change our plan?
- Will regional or
world events influence how our audience responds, and thus our results?
You will most likely
add to this list.
Okay, that's it --
13 Platinum B-2-B Lead Generation Ideas that work. Try 'em.