Archive for the ‘Internet’ Category
Wednesday, September 21st, 2011
One client told us recently that search engines and online marketing weren’t effective for reaching the C-Suite. That thinking is soooo 2000’s, according to our own intuition. And now, thanks to a Forbes report on CEO usage of the Internet, we have some data to back up our opinions.
Now that CEOs are typically in their 40s and early 50s, they grew up as a PC generation of executives familiar with search tools and the web as part of their information-gathering process. And while executives under 40 are most likely to use online tools, it’s not limited to that age cohort. In fact, the study showed that six out of ten executives are conducting more than six searches a day for information.
Significantly, while delegating research may be part of the stereotype, it is not the reality. More than half of C-level respondents said they prefer to locate information themselves, making them more self-sufficient in their information gathering than non-C-suite executives.
The study described CEOs as belonging to one of three digital generations: Generation Wang, Generation PC and Generation Netscape. And beginning with Generation PC, those who began their working careers during the mid-1980s, they’re online all the time, with 81% accessing the Internet on a daily basis. And those executives under 50 years old are 3 times more likely to access information from videos, a mobile device, or an online professional community.
Monday, September 12th, 2011
The recession redefined many things during the past two years, and that included how we go to market. As with other downturns, print advertising spending was dramatically curtailed, as were investments in trade shows and some of the other more costly marketing programs.
Would spending in those areas return? Many were prepared to yet again write off traditional marketing channels as no longer relevant, that they would not return to be valued by customers in how they learn about products. Yet Goldstein Group research across a variety of clients are beginning to show that customers are relying on both digital and face-to-face methods of communication – particularly word of mouth and trade shows – as important elements of the buying process.
Even further, segmenting the data by age group is showing remarkably little difference in how customers find information about new products – and in what information sources they define as “most credible.”
One interesting side note is that social media appears at the bottom for every client survey we’ve done to date for “most credible” information channels. But there’s an interesting nugget in the data: for a small group, about 7% of respondents, they’re identifying social media as their single most credible method of learning about new companies and products. It’s a channel that clearly is in the early adopter stage, but one that marketers clearly shouldn’t neglect.
Sunday, February 27th, 2011
Really interesting article on a new concept of co-branding, called “Wikibranding,” where your customers help shape your message. The old world days of marketing controlling the message is, sigh, in our rearview mirror. http://goo.gl/dg1LM
Tuesday, September 21st, 2010
Internet marketers often speak about processes being “frictionless,” of an ideal situation where sales are created quickly, smoothly and with none of the barriers traditionally facing marketers.
That’s certainly the ideal situation, one we all seek to achieve. Yet, we know from practical experience that it’s difficult to achieve, particularly in sales lead funnel management. In fact, lead flow for business-to-business companies is anything but frictionless today.
Consider the attached graphic that shows the steps for a typical multi-million manufacturer. It generates thousands of leads, sells through a direct sales force, and uses the traditional inside-outside sales support infrastructure where inside sales personnel qualify and support an outside sales team that pursues the highest quality leads. Very common and routine, yet you can see from the complexity of the chart that there are many steps a lead must pass through on its way from creation to close.
Every company contains a different chart. Whether yours matches what you see here is unimportant; what is important is that the process is involves multiple departments, multiple people and multiple steps, and making it perform efficiently must begin with someone actually plotting out the process to capture what actually takes place.
But now the hard work begins. How do you IMPROVE the process? How do you reduce complexity, cut the number of steps, improve the speed of lead flow and improve the communications that takes place (or doesn’t take place!)?
Our agency has identified nine common “breakpoints” that occur in most companies in some form in the lead chain. Improvement can’t begin until the process is documented, then diagnosed by uncovering the breakpoints common to your company. You may have all nine (unlikely) or a subset of the nine we’ve seen. You may have others not identified here. But the improvement process begins with identification, then understanding, then resolution of each breakpoint affecting your company.
Here is a summary of the nine breakpoints most common in lead generation today:
- Lead Flow. Do you have enough quality leads flowing through the system? Pretty basic, but you can’t achieve your company’s sales goals if you don’t know how many leads must enter the funnel. In other words, if your average sale is $10,000, your monthly sales target is $100,000, and you close one out of every 10 opportunities, your sales funnel has to generate 100 quality leads monthly in order to meet your sales projections. Conversely, it’s possible to have too many leads in the funnel, in situations where you don’t have enough staff to process/qualify them, or enough budget to allocate to lead processing (yes, there is a cost for handling every lead!).
- CRM/Technology. Customer Relationship Management software should provide a platform to answer all your questions about leads, and to eliminate friction from the process. We all know, however, that too many CRM installations fail, or that most companies don’t really use or absorb the technology in ways that help the sales process. CRM technology should be used to eliminate many of the breakpoints we’ll identify here. Hiring more people, generating more leads, accepting breakdowns in communications, are all unnecessary afflictions of the process that good CRM implementation can solve.
- Lead Quality/Lead Scoring. It’s important to understand what your close rate is (10%, 25%, etc.), and how to apply that to various people, product lines and divisions. Close rate is a magic number that diagnoses many types of breakpoints in the sales process. If different salespeople have different close rates, it points to training or perhaps territory issues. If close rates deteriorate over time, it points to problems with leads being generated that are low quality, or a change in the market taking place (a competitor’s new offering or lower price). If your funnel isn’t working well, it could be that the leads you’re entering into the system at the top are of low quality. Every lead needs to be “scored” as A, B or C quality in terms of its relationship to your sweet spot, your target: these are leads that close the fastest, have the highest profit margins and generate the most repeat business and referrals.
- Role Confusion. For organizations that have inside-outside sales teams, it must be clear what lead is sent to the high-priority outside salesperson (A leads), what leads require additional qualification/processing (B leads) and what leads should be sent just to the database and are too low quality (yet still relevant) today but may bubble up to B or A quality later. Some organizations send all leads to the field, which is typically a process that is inefficient and burns out a sales force. However your company does it, the process needs to be defined.
- Leads Sent to the Right Place. For organizations with distributors or outside sales reps, what leads go to these outside resources, and when? If you sell a complex product, you may not be able to send leads out to an independent rep until they’ve been further qualified. Or, your organization may rely on the reps to fulfill that task. Every process is different, requiring thought given to the question of just which team handles which leads at what point.
- Links to Outside Reps/Distributors. Whether it’s a dedicated online portal or some other method for tracking leads, it’s important to incorporate lead follow-up with any outside resources that receive leads in your funnel process.
- Feedback Link. You’ll want to build in a feedback loop into your lead process, likely through your CRM/technology system, to track quotes and opportunities. This type of data is important not only for ensuring that no opportunities are lost, but to improve the overall process and lead quality you’re generating.
- Separate Databases. Most companies maintain a lead and prospect database, often controlled by marketing or sales, and also a separate database for customers. These twin silos of unconnected data prevent marketing organizations from selling to existing customers (the lowest of the low-hanging fruit), generating referrals, and gaining insight into who becomes a customer and why. Combining the prospect and customer database is a simple tactic for creating powerful leverage that translates into immediate revenue and insight.
- Analysis/Metrics. Simply put, marketing is math. Everything about sales and marketing can be converted to numbers, analytics and measurement, and nothing can be improved until activities are converted into numbers. Diagnosing problems, improving the system, generating more quotes and conversions, reducing cost/lead – all these basic tasks we face as managers of sales and marketing can’t begin to be solved without understanding in numerical terms what’s taking place, and what can be done to remove the barriers that analytics reveal exist.
Monday, April 19th, 2010
The news this past week that Reed Publishing walked away from more than 20 of its premier magazine titles, unable to sell them, is shocking news, even though we’ve all known for some time the magazines were up for sale. Reed closed a variety of magazines that were dominant in their markets, even some #1s. What does this mean for the value of print? Yet another signal print magazines are dead? Here are some thoughts:
- I don’t believe they’re dead, but the Reed magazines that survived were the ones that made more revenue in their online businesses than from print. It signals definitely that “readers” can still be drawn to do magazine communities, but they spend more time with them on the magazine websites than in the print magazine.
- I think that balancing print in with a wide variety of tactics that encircle our sweet spot is the right course of action. The closure of magazines this past year has made the survivors thicker, more likely to remain viable long term. So it will be easier to pick which ones we should support.
- The role of editor quality is becoming more evident. In a world filled by blogs, casual thinkers and less-than-insightful writers, there’s a lot of junk to wade through. Engineers are still busy people, and time is still a premium. The publications and websites that do the best job of sifting through information to present exactly what readers need to know, with the most insight, accuracy and crispness, will be the ones that continue to draw an audience.
- As one of my publishing friends said (nod to you, Bill Barron of Hearst), print has to be viewed in a balance, like anything else. It’s not a “print OR online” choice, it’s a “print AND online” world. No more than 10-15% of a budget should be spent on print, and only in those publications where there’s PROVEN readership of the print magazine. That’s the bottom line – readership. If people read an email newsletter, we run in it. If people read a print magazine, we should be visible there as well. We should go where customers spend time. End of story.
Thursday, May 28th, 2009
There’s no shortage of cool tools coming out for business owners. I heard about many at a conference a few weeks ago in New Orleans, and some of the hottest included:
- Google Voice (formerly grandcentral.com), a one-number voice mail/email service; grasshopper.com is similar.
- Heard of live chat? That’s soooo early 2000s! Try video chat inside gmail (Google) email accounts, where you can see friends while chatting.
- Run a timesheet-oriented business? Try www.slimtimer.com, an online tool to simplify timesheets.
- Worried about losing your company’s institutional knowledge, or scrambling to find the same documents again and again? Store it all on a free password-protected wiki, at Googlesites, without needing to code in html.
- Looking to create a group of like-minded people to share coffee, war stories, best practices, etc.? One may already exist, or create one on your own at www.meetup.com.
- Create your own live video streaming show, for free of course, at www.ustream.com. (Distribute it – for free – on www.tubemogul.com.)
- Go beyond old RSS feeds to www.feedburner.com (of course, now also owned by Google) to build your own audiences and push your content to more people.
Does anyone charge for software anymore? Enjoy.
Tuesday, May 19th, 2009
Many business-to-business trade magazines are melting away in this environment. Yet two client experiences we’ve had here at the agency led us to wonder, “Maybe it’s more important to be ‘published’ on Google than in a magazine anyway.” Here’s what happened: we placed an article for a client in its industry’s leading trade journal, only to have the sales rep call to say the article won’t run unless the client buys an ad. “Sorry, but we’re in survival mode here, and now you have to pay to play.” That’s not a good sign for the long-term prospects of that magazine. The next day, we heard from another client that the turnout for their recent webcast far exceeded anything they’d done before, and they traced it back to a simple news release we distributed on the wire (with key phrases optimized for search engines, of course). While they usually have 200-400 attending a webcast, depending on the topic, this one drew 1200 registrants. Anyone doing a routine Google search for the topic, they discovered, ran across the webcast release, and many registered. So, the event was successful, even though the release didn’t run in any of the industry’s print publications. We’re seeing that more often, the moment a release hits the wire, people discover it and it receives vast, immediate exposure, particularly when the release uses the wire services’ optimization tools.
Tuesday, May 12th, 2009
It’s a global world, but is your company’s name reaching global online markets with the same impact as here in the United States? The first step toward world domination for your brand is to extend it by buying your domain name for the other countries to which you sell. Example: www.acme.de (Germany), www.acme.fr (France), www.acme.jp (Japan), etc.