8 Tips on Generating High Quality B-to-B Leads

December 10, 2014

Let’s face it, in your world, qualified leads are or should be the holy grail of marketing. According to a report by Marketing Sherpa, 78% of B2B marketers biggest challenge is generating qualified leads.

Here are some tips on how you can improve your process:

  1. Create a plan - that will include message, method of delivery, when to hand lead to sales and measuring ROI.
  2. Define your USP - What is your unique selling proposition? What makes you or your offer different from the competition?
  3. Offer them something of value for free - If you want them to start an engagement, you need to show some good faith and give them a tool they can use everyday (conversation chart, smart phone button, competitive parts interchange).
  4. Match the offer to the audience - Not all messages are for all audiences. A concrete tool offer to a HVAC contractor probably won’t get much return.
  5. Capture and nurture leads - Once you get a lead, there has to be some qualifications done before sending it to sales. We’re not trying to overload the sales department with leads, rather we want to give them qualified leads that they are excited about calling on.
  6. Handing off the lead to sales - Depending on the criteria that you’ve developed, you need to forward the lead and what you know about it (in the sales funnel) so when sales calls on them, they know what to talk about, i.e., initial evaluation stages, engineering comparison questions or ready-to-buy type of questions.
  7. Close the loop on the lead - Did they buy? If not, why? This should be documented in a CRM system so we know why you’re gaining or losing sales.
  8. Review performance - Repeat what’s working and stop what isn’t.

Are You Still Pitching or Are You Starting a Conversation?

December 2, 2014

I’m still amazed by the number of folks who are still trying to sell me something instead of trying to solve my problem. I think it’s because they are struggling with their story and finding the right voice to tell it on. The old school model of glad handling and feature benefit selling has gone by the wayside for the most part.

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Let’s face it none of us wants to be sold. We want to have a conversation. Humans, by nature, are social by design and want to interact with others. Interaction is a two-way street where both parties are part of the conversation. It’s not grabbing attention, but earning and holding attention.

How do we do this? By acting and speaking HUMAN. Storytelling is an essential human activity and must be a vital part of your strategy.

I recently read an article in Chief Content Officer magazine by Kevin Lund and Eileen Sutton that talks about speaking human and gives us some tips on how to be successful at it.

Here are some highlights:

  • Be Clear - No marketing speak. Use plain English with no jargon and more heart.
  • Be Helpful - Be relevant to a specific issue. Show them how you add value.
  • Be Concise - Keep it to the point. Less is better.
  • Be Consistent - Use the same voice and tone throughout all channels.

If you can figure out how to make life easier for your customer, everyone wins.


UPS B2B Purchasing Insights Very Enlightening

October 29, 2014

UPS

UPS recently released a study they did on the behaviors, preferences and perceptions of industrial supplier performance.

Industrial distribution was once dominated by family owned companies built on personal relationships. Things are changing, and now suppliers (whether they are distributors or manufacturers) need to be not only aware of, but be a part of the online movement.

The UPS study surveyed 1501 online. The respondents were either sole/joint decision makers and the survey included only stock only products (no special orders). Annual spends ranged from under $50,000 to over $250,000.

Here are some insights from the study that I found interesting:

  • 40% of those surveyed were only on the job for less than a year.
  • 23% were on the job less than 5 years.
  • 50% of purchasers say having a catalog and sales rep are important in making a decision.
  • More that 50% are making purchases online.
  • 33% of purchasers spend most of their budget online.
  • 34% say they go outside their existing supply base to make an online purchase with a new vendor.
  • Preferred research methods for new products were websites and search engines.

Are you still with me? So what does that me for you? It’s an opportunity for you to keep the business you have and expand outside your normal trading areas. Yes, buyers are concerned about quality, availability, price and delivery. But they are also interested in an integrated system that makes the buying process easy — from picking a product to making hassle-free returns.

Suggested action items from the survey:

  • Online selling is changing they way people buy things — embrace e-commerce (but not exclusively)
  • Continually improve the customer experience — make it easy for them to purchase from you
  • Be in the right place at the right time — utilize SEO (search engine optimization) and SEM (search engine marketing) to make sure people find you when they are looking

Care to share what you’re doing online?


Are You Using Automation Tools to Help in Social Media?

October 22, 2014

We’re all trying to do more with less. When it comes to social media, it’s no different. We should be focused on content and use automated tools to help spread the word on social platforms. Every industry is different, but following are some automation tools you should consider and an infographic on the best times to post.

Here’s a list of tools that I’ve used that will help you schedule and post your content at the best time: 

  • SocialOomph – I use this tool to help repurpose my content. Scheduling to publish content is very easy across your social media accounts.
  • HootSuitePro – Allows you to manage up to 50 social media profiles, schedule your content and report your analytics.
  • Buffer – Helps you manage multiple social media accounts at once and easily schedule content.
  • ManageFlitter – Tools that will help to optimize your Twitter account and identify your Twitter accounts’ prime time.
  • Tweriod – Analyzes both yours and your follower’s tweets to give you the best time to tweet.
  • TweetWhen – A Hubspot tool that shows what days and times get the most retweets per tweet.
  •  Insights – Provides information about your Facebook audience.

The following infographic by SurePayroll, will give you a ballpark of the best and worst times to post on social media platforms.

Post-Pin-Tweet-Best-Time-OutreachCourtesy of: SurePayroll

Manufacturers: Are You Missing Out On Video Opportunities?

October 14, 2014

Video is one of the most powerful tools in your marketing toolbox. Why aren’t you focusing more on them?

A recent study from eMarketer showed that even though consumers wanted more video, 75% of U.S. marketers said videos are not a priority, and nearly half said they had no plans on increased efforts this year.

According to eMarketer, consumer-branded video increased over 16% from January to June 2014 to almost 3 billion views a quarter.

We’re a visual society with a 30-second sound bite mentality. Why not use video to deliver your message in a different way? In today’s world with the use of smart phones and desktop editing suites, compiling a video isn’t hard or expensive anymore.

The more successful videos have to do with a single subject and usually run under 2 minutes in length. And, if appropriate, add a little humor (everyone likes to laugh). Manufacturers have plenty of options for using video. Instructional how-to videos, training sales/reps, new product intros and testimonials to name a few.

Next to Google, YouTube is the second biggest search engine. Let potentials find you. Obviously the demand is there. Don’t be left on the sidelines.

If you like this, you may want to read:

Have Your Videos Gone Viral?

Why Videos are Such an Important Way to Reach the Professional Tradesman.

B-to-B Marketers: Are you Taking Advantage of Online Videos?


Blogging Tips to Increase Marketing Efforts to the Professional Tradesmen

September 17, 2014

For those who follow me on a regular basis, you know I’m a big supporter of blogs. It seems that most companies now are at least considering doing a blog.

Here are a few good reasons you should consider a blog for your company:

  • Websites are mostly static - Once a contractor has been to your website, why does he need to go back? He knows who you are and what you do. If you don’t get him to follow you on an RSS feed or fill out a form to be on a mailing list, you basically have lost most visitors.
  • Thought leadership - One of the main objectives of a blog is to set you and your company apart. What better way to increase your brand awareness and generate new leads?
  • Keep your customers/prospects coming back - When you publish new content on a regular basis, customers and prospects keep coming back. It also allows for interactions with both categories.
  • Re-purpose content - You can take a current post and use it on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to gain additional exposure.
  • Blogs can provide additional in-links - Once you establish yourself as a thought leader in a category, others will begin to link back to you and this will alert search engines that you must be saying something important.

Blogging is a collaborative process. You need and want to interact with your audience.

Here a few tips on writing a good posts:

  • You need a catchy title - Like anything else, if you can’t spark an interest, folks won’t click on to read your words of wisdom.
  • Know your audience - Know what issues are affecting them on a regular basis.
  • Have an opinion - People follow you because you give them a unique insight. Set yourself apart.
  • Be yourself - Let your personality shine through. Write like you talk. Inject some humor when appropriate.
  • Engage your readers - Ask for opinions, or if the subject matter is somewhat controversial, ask for a counter viewpoint.

Blogs are a lot of work, but if done properly, can set yourself apart in your market and ultimately get you new customers.

 


Is Brand Advocacy Part of Your Marketing Strategy to Reach Tradesmen?

August 26, 2014

Let’s face it, in an ideal world we’d all want our customers to love us! We all know that’s not going to happen, but I’ll bet you might have more advocates for your brand than you think.

Why are brand advocates important? Studies show that people rely on peer recommendations and reviews before purchasing goods. Contractors are no different, especially if you’re introducing a new product or application they haven’t used or seen before. They certainly don’t want to be the first to try something.

Brand advocates are more than loyal customers. They are your ambassadors in the trades. I’ve seen contractors with tattoos of company logos. That to me is the ultimate.

Some brand advocates will surface on their own by commenting on your blog or website several times or talking you up on an online forum.  Others might offer positive comments on a survey or warranty card. Don’t forget to ask your sales staff in the field who are calling on contractors, as well as your customer service department. They certainly should be able to identify a few. Hopefully a few will be high-profile folks within some associations that you are a part of.

One of our clients in the plumbing market was able to identify and nurture several advocates over the years. Once they brought the top 10 contributors into the main office and treated them like royalty for 2 days and then sent them home. They got a plant tour, a look at what was coming down the line as new products and met with customer service and technical people that they interface with on a regular basis on the phone or with emails. You wouldn’t believe the results of that effort. They became ambassadors on steroids!

Once you’ve found them, then what? You should set up a brand advocacy program that will give them ways to help you grow the brand. Here are a few ideas:

  • Ask them to write testimonials or reviews on new products. Then ask them to share them.
  • See if they would be willing to do a case history for you.
  • If timing permits and you can meet them at an association meeting or trade show, see if they would let you  interview them both for a podcast and testimonial video.
  • Ask them for referrals.
  • Have them test and evaluate new products before they are brought to market.
  • Have them identify potential new products.

This needs to be an ongoing effort so you’re always adding new advocates to keep the message current and fresh.

Don’t miss a golden opportunity for your customers to help sell your brand.


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