If you’re a B2B marketer, the main focus of your job is probably generating leads for your sales team. It’s common for B2B marketers of small to mid-size companies struggle to produce qualified sales leads because they don’t have a strong understanding of the nuances of selling B2B products and services.
The more complex of a sale, the more difficult it becomes to generate solid leads. Sophisticated marketers now use a variety of social media content to keep business buyers engaged throughout the sales cycle. But it’s common for less savvy marketers to resort to simple tricks to obtain names (instead of qualified leads) in order to show campaign results.
Effective B2B lead generation campaigns are designed to handle the front end of the selling process—to engage potential buyers and build value so a sales rep can pick up the lead without having to start from scratch.
Every experienced marketer knows the basics of a good campaign:
In a down economy, people are busier—it seems we’re all handling twice as much work as in years past. This makes it more difficult to get marketing messages heard. Most single touch campaigns (such as a free white paper download) are losing effectiveness. Sales reps aren’t excited about calling someone who simply downloaded a piece of information and has no idea about the company’s product or service. That’s not a lead; it’s just a name.
To improve the effectiveness of your B2B lead generation campaigns, focus on three elements:
How many times have you flagged an interesting email invitation, only to lose track of it in your massive follow-up list?
Try using an integrated media campaign to get the attention of your sales targets, focusing on touching your audience multiple times through multiple channels:
Your multiple touches will build upon each other, hitting your targets from different angles to make sure your offer is heard. It’s more expensive than a single touch, but far more effective.
Since we’re all busy, it’s important for your offer to stand out. That’s not as easy as it seems, and it takes some creativity.
As you start brainstorming about ideas to grab the attention of your target audience, be sure that you know what your leads are worth so you know how much you can spend to acquire them.
To stand out from the noise, get creative and spend budget to entice your market to take action. Gift cards, Amazon Kindles, and free iPads are popular giveaways that many companies are using to grab the attention of their buyers. Don’t feel sheepish about “bribing” your audience to take action; sales managers use these incentives all the time to motivate reps. Just make sure you understand your numbers: If you’re giving away $5,000 worth of iPads, treat it as a campaign cost, and make sure your ROI is positive. Just be sure to give them only to qualified prospects undertaking a defined step in your sales process.
For ideas, check out these step-by-step marketing campaign planning guides that provide creative recommendations. Also, don’t skimp on the quality of the creative. B2B marketers often fail to spend as much time and effort on creative as they should. Looking good is important and still helps to differentiate. Emotion does play a role in B2B sales, and people prefer attractive design over the stodgy, dated designs many businesses still insist on using.
Finally, be sure to include telemarketing. Why? The heyday of telemarketing is long gone, but as people grow wary of digital marketing, the human touch is becoming more and more effective when used as one element in a larger, integrated marketing campaign.
Focusing on cold calling IT directors to get the solution selling process started for a high-dollar enterprise software sale isn’t going to be effective. But placing a short, succinct phone call to a VP- level IT executive, to follow up on a compelling offer (such as attending a free event or receiving a free IT analysis), is a very effective way to generate B2B leads.
Finally, work with your sales team as you’re designing your campaign, to ensure you’re all following a single process. The more Sales is involved, the less likely they are to ignore the leads generated by your efforts, and the more likely you are to generate qualified leads that produce customers.
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