Archive for September, 2009

Unsolved Mysteries: The Lead Gen Disappearing Act

A big part of my job is lead generation. Clients turn to me when they need to “stoke the pipeline” and bring in qualified leads to hand over to their sales team. In a perfect world, the sales team contacts leads immediately, makes sales and exceeds the company’s revenue goals. However, despite the intentions, there are times when no sales seem to close and the campaign is automatically deemed a failure in the eyes of management or the board.

Let’s face it; the lead generation process is not rocket science. You embark on a campaign (maybe direct mail, a tradeshow or email marketing); you identify the appropriate media outlets in which to run promotions; you present a compelling offer (perhaps a webcast, free trial or a whitepaper); you capture leads when prospects register for the offer (custom landing page with name, title, email, etc.); and then you send the leads to sales, sit back and watch the magic happen – right? Wrong.

All too often there is some kind of misconnect that happens as soon as marketing hands off the leads to sales – I call this the “disappearing act”. I’ve run programs that have generated 500+ leads, only to learn that the sales department has only received 20 (or worse, none at all). Sometimes it’s because someone has decided a lead isn’t “qualified” – but no research has been conducted or even an exploratory phone call logged to make this determination. Instead, the judgment has been made simply by looking at the company and title. Sure, sales needs to prioritize the list somehow but imagine how many prospects fall through the cracks this way!

While generating high quality leads is the number one priority for B2B marketers (69% compared to “generating PR buzz” at 33%), the biggest challenge has always been getting sales to follow up on leads. A webcast (eMedia: “Lead Generation for the Complex Sales Cycle”) I attended today enforced a great way to help with this very issue. If you haven’t already, develop a “universal lead definition” so sales will know how to prioritize the huge list of leads you’re about to give them. For some clients, we do this based on an upfront qualifying question asked during the registration process. For others, we do web research to see if the company falls within the client’s target zone and rank the leads based on this. Whatever your criteria is, sales will be much more excited with a prioritized list and is more likely to follow up with 100 Tier A leads first, followed by the 200 Tier B leads and 300 Tier C leads, versus if you just hand them a raw list of 600 names.

And, don’t forget about the leads post-campaign. Develop an ongoing lead nurturing program and reach out to them on a regular basis with simple monthly email updates, new product features, etc. You never know when a lead might turn into an opportunity.

Source: eMedia's “Lead Generation for the Complex Sales Cycle” Webcast, Sept. 29, 2009

Source: eMedia's “Lead Generation for the Complex Sales Cycle” Webcast, Sept. 29, 2009

That said, it’s important that management and boards remember that marketing is not the only accountable party when it comes to lead generation. Yes we identify, design and execute the campaigns. But it’s up to sales to follow through on each and every lead to determine whether it is qualified or not, and update their progress in the company’s CRM tool so metrics can be applied and the campaign can factually be deemed a failure or success. And if the leads are qualified but still no sales are occurring? Well, then it’s likely a larger business issue and some market research should be conducted to determine if the product/service is something the audience actually wants and needs.

Whether you’re a marketing or sales person reading this, remember that we’re all on the same side and answering to the same authorities. Good money is being dished out to execute these lead generation campaigns, so let’s help each other be successful and push the leads down the pipeline.

— Posted by Melissa Coyle

DEMOfall09: Six Picks

The other day I blogged about some of the really passionate entrepreneurs I met at DEMOfall09 and I referenced the products that caught my eye. While I did not get to dig into all 70 or so companies while I was there, here are a few that I found worth noting:

Waze – This is a way cool, and I think much-needed, application that brings real-time traffic intelligence/information to the masses via the masses (crowd sourcing). The app works on GPS-enabled Smartphones and sends back GPS points as you drive.  The idea is that through the Waze community, traffic, road changes and other information is collected automatically and anonymously. Drivers can also take a more active role by reporting on new situations from their mobile device.   I need this for my suddenly hellish morning commutes and can’t wait to find out when it will work on my Windows Smartphone (they’ve promised Symbian and Win support as of this week). It also supports iPhone and Android.

WhoDoYouKnowAt, LLC – Think of this enterprise app as LinkedIn on Steroids or perhaps more aptly, LinkedIn With Security Layer.  It is a free and private (note: NOT social networking) networking application that allows you to leverage relationships for personal, business or civic gain in a confidential and tiered manner. CEO Lee Blaylock is a guy I’d bet on or want with me in a foxhole.  He developed the application after years working at Oracle, and I think he’s onto something. After all, how many introductions have you ever made or been asked to make via LinkedIn? What makes this app different is a “Levels of Trust” system that allows your online relationships to more accurately reflect those in the real world. With each connection, you can set their “Level of Trust” to reflect your real-life relationship. For example, when sharing a contact’s information with certain contacts, you can choose to remain anonymous. With your more trusted relationships, however, you can choose to share all of your network information.

Traackr – This is a Web 2.0 application for brand marketers, PR and marketing firms and in-house communications professionals. It allows users to harness the gold mine of information in social networks, blogs and Twitter. The application is called “A-list” or “Authority List,” and it helps you identify the people with the most clout so that you can target and track them. The company claims it can provide you a list of the most influential people online for any given subject as measured by the three “Rs” – reach, relevance and resonance. I plan to check it out in more detail soon.

MoLo Rewards, Inc. – This company has developed a wireless coupon application that allows users – via a cell phone – to scan items at the point of sale to instantly redeem coupons or loyalty rewards using either Near Field Communication (NFC) or RFID. MoLo Rewards also will allow consumers to link and join participating retail loyalty programs and earn points for every purchase by simply waving their cell phone in front of the cash register at the time of purchase.  These guys need to lock up some of the top pharmacy chains and then try to tackle the grocery giants. If they succeed, the coupon book goes the way of the daily paper or weekly shopper. CEO Robert Sprogis brought his “A” game to the DEMO stage, which further impressed me.

 

Enthusem – Can direct mail make a comeback? Enthusem is betting it can with a little Web 2.0 assistance. The company has set up an elegant approach to sending very high quality, personalized post cards through an online greeting card site that lets users send personal printed greeting cards that include a URL and a pickup code, which the recipient can type in online to see a custom video, read an extended note, or listen to an mp3 that you uploaded. This is CEO Steve Tingiris’ third company and maybe it will be the charm.

POWR – Believe it or not, these guys are bringing a new hardware solution to market. POWR (Point of Wealth Register) is a kiosk with an ATM-like interface that helps “unbanked” or hourly employees like bartenders, waiters, blackjack dealers, etc. make fast and easy deposits to personal accounts (think 401K or 529)or to make money transfers, pay bills, etc. These guys had a lot of spunk. CEO Doug Lindstrom is a veteran bartender so you know what his “light bulb” moment for his company must have been – many a morning waking up wondering where all of his tips went.  If POWR doesn’t end up getting bought by CoinStar or Western Union, I think they just might succeed on their own.

DotSyntax’s Digsby – If you have not tried it out (I have been using it for about a year), Digsby is an easy-to-use desktop application that helps people save time by managing their IM, email and social network accounts all from one location. DotSyntax unveiled the latest version of its social-media management tool at DEMO, and the new version is geared specifically towards helping solve the Twitter clutter and chaos problem. One of the key new features is a reversal from the Twitter client standard, in which tweet streams are displayed newest first. Digsby shows the oldest first with the logic being that it is easier to read threads from the beginning. I am not sure I agree, and I have yet to check out the new features yet. That’s what weekends are for …

— Posted by Tim Hurley

How “Smart” Are Smartphones?

With nearly 1/5th of American’s using Smartphones today it seems no matter where you go – Disney World, restaurants, even while driving – you see the people constantly checking, responding to email and staying connected to every move of their work life in their personal time. Many people are actually carrying multiple phones now – one for personal and one for professional use – but does this really keep the individuals professional life separate? I think not. Originally embraced by the tech-savvy early adopters, now that the price of smart phones have come way down it seems everyone is using this as an opportunity to stay connected. The constant connectivity is blurring the lines between personal and professional lives and often causing disengagement from loved ones and friends in once romantic, relaxing and work-free environments.
When is the last time you were out to dinner and saw the people seated around you actively engaged in conversation and enjoying their time together? More often than not I see texting, phone calls and checking data feeds. Not only do Smartphones enable constant connection, but also result in professionals working longer hours. It is estimated that Smartphone users, due to their availability beyond typical work hours (checking their phones starting at 7:10 am until 10:00pm on average), work 71 additional minutes a day – translation 15% more per week! That’s 11,360 extra minutes, or 189 hours, a year (cue the dollar signs for all those hourly workers out there).  And, even when Smartphones aren’t used solely for work-Americans spend an average of 4.5 hours per month just browsing on them-a time drain from personal time as well .
Sure, a Smartphone is an important tool to stay connected when traveling, out at client sites and when working remotely, but sometimes knowing when to tune out is just as critical.
Posted by Danielle Millerick
blackberry%20device

Tech Fights Back

I spent Monday and Tuesday at DEMOfall09 in San Diego (full disclosure or subtle chest beating? BluePoint is a Gold sponsor) and my three big take-aways from the event were:

1)      DEMO, like the stock market and hopefully the rest of the emerging technology sector(s) has pulled itself off the canvas, is on steady ground and is fighting back.  56 companies, plus another 14 more “AlphaPitch” stage companies, pitched their product, service or idea on stage to the 600 or so attendees.  So clearly, both the number  of demonstrating companies and attendees are back to healthy levels. This, just six months after DEMO’s last event in Palm Desert, which, not surprisingly, saw much lower level of attendance with the economic downturn the primary reason.

boxing_gloves

2)      It was all about the “four Ps”-no, not those four Ps, but these:  products, people, passion and potential. There were some really cool and many compelling products unveiled.  And, the blood, sweat, tears and long hours that each company sacrificed just to get to San Diego really shone through. These guys and gals LOVE what they are doing and they truly believe in their ideas and their ability to execute.

3)      And finally, to my point about entrepreneurs, DEMOfall09 was really a return to the roots of the true start ups  being on stage. Sure HP kicked things off with a lower priced version of its Halo product called Skyroom, but other than that, there really was not a household name among the 70 attending companies.

Many of the demonstrating companies were brand new, some still a bit raw but none lacking in the fighting spirit.  Now, here’s hoping that a year from now, many of the DEMO class of fall09 companies do make a breakthrough and get funded, ship product, acquire customers and build their brands.

— Posted by Tim Hurley

Hype-speak Reaches New Lows

BluePoint’s recent job posting on LinkedIn has yielded hundreds of resumes from qualified professionals across the country.  Most of the applicants sent well-written cover letters to accompany succinct and interesting resumes.  Sure, we’ve seen our fair share of grammatical mistakes and typographical errors.  We’ve even conducted a few interviews that ended before they started, if you know what I mean. 

resume

However, my worst moment in the recruitment process occurred today when this beauty arrived on my desktop through LinkedIn.  Read it and weep for all those poor marketing people who have spent so much time in hype mode, they’ve just plain forgotten how to write. 

FIRST WITHOUT COMMENTARY

Hi Alison,

I came across your listing for a communications and PR pro focused on tech and thought it might be interesting for us to at least have an initial dialogue. As a senior executive, my disciplines encompass 360-degree experience in corporate communications and PR with a sound track record of leadership and direct line C-suite reporting. With heavy thought leadership advocacy underscoring my portfolio, I’ve authored and published numerous byline feature articles and editorial focused on technologies, while targeting a wide array of global professional audiences, and I have of course written numerous news releases.

Mastery in pitching the press taken together with a deep international media network that encompasses trades, the business press as well as industry and financial analyst communities, compliments my abilities in crafting compelling messaging. In the end, my hallmark is one of building brand equity and driving top line revenue.

Should you find my credentials of interest, it would certainly be my pleasure to speak with you.

Cordially,

 (Name withheld out of pity and concern)

NOW, WITH COMMENTARY

Hi Alison,

I came across your listing for a communications and PR pro focused on tech and thought it might be interesting for us to at least have an initial dialogue (does this mean talk?). As a senior executive (clue: senior executives don’t refer to themselves as senior executives), my disciplines encompass 360-degree experience (starting to feel queasy here) in corporate communications and PR with a sound track record of leadership (how many times have you used that phrase today?) and direct line C-suite reporting (lunch starting to swirl in stomach). With heavy thought leadership advocacy (lunch lurching upward) underscoring my portfolio (huh?), I’ve authored and published numerous byline feature articles and editorial focused on technologies, while targeting a wide array of global professional audiences (really wishing I’d stuck with plain white rice), and I have of course written numerous news releases (but, of course).

Mastery (don’t go there with me, mister) in pitching the press taken together (thin ice, buster) with a deep international media network (running for the ladies’) that encompasses trades, the business press as well as industry and financial analyst communities, compliments (your thesaurus works, now try the dictionary) my abilities in crafting compelling messaging (compelling is good, I like compelling). In the end, my hallmark (as in “with my deepest sympathy kind of Hallmark?”) is one of building brand equity (so much for lunch) and driving top line revenue (I bet those sales guys think you’re swell ).

Should you (I really shouldn’t, thank you) find my credentials (what credentials?) of interest, it would certainly be my pleasure to speak with you.

Cordially, (Do I know you?)

 (Name withheld out of pity and concern)

 SUGGESTED IMPROVEMENT

 Hey Allie,

I’d like to talk with you about your job posting on LinkedIn.  I’ve been around the block a few times and know how to turn a petty phrase.  I have a thesaurus and I’m not afraid to use it.  CEO’s love me, and so do editors and reporters.  You’ll love me, too.

 Call me, babe.

 (Name withheld out of pity and concern)

– Posted by Alison Moore

Marketing’s New Normal: Doing More With Less

(Edit. note:  a variation of this post appeared on BusinessWeek.com earlier this week. )

In July Forrester Research reported that – to no one’s surprise – marketing budgets in large global companies are down 20 percent this year. Spending on TV, print, radio, magazines, and other branding/ advertising is down a significantly larger number – 60 percent! If you run a small to medium-sized company, your reaction might be, “Big deal, I never had a huge marketing budget. TV, print and radio ads are a pipe dream for us.”

Regardless, the pressures facing virtually all organizations are daunting to say the least.

While Wall Street’s spring and summer and the various proclamations from many leading U.S. economists declaring the end of the recession give reason for optimism, the truth is marketing dollars remain tight for months to come, possibly well into 2010. And guess what? The smart and the savvy will flourish during these tough times. They’ll win mindshare—and, more importantly, market share—by remaining nimble and establishing a maniacal focus on investing only in marketing resources, whether internal or external, that will deliver results and drive the all-important top line. Even better, they will do so cost-effectively.

So given the current environment, where should CEOs and marketing executives be making their marketing investments now?

NicheMarketingBullseye

Before you start seeking answers, it’s best to go back to your business plan and examine your sales forecast amount. Then consider the following steps:

1. Allocate roughly 10% to 12% of gross sales to marketing, and then adjust for key factors such as new category creation, a product/services launch in a crowded category, and infrastructure costs.

2. Reconsider staffing plans and determine if you might be able to get the services you need from a low-overhead outsourced provider.

3. Determine high-priority events such as trade shows and conferences. Then think hard about what you can do virtually—such as Webinars or white papers. They are proven, cost-effective lead generation and thought leadership vehicles.

4. Estimate lead generation program costs based on the number of leads needed to close a sale.

5. Estimate the number of impressions you need to draw in the correct number of leads and put together a budget based on average cost per impression for your audience.

(Stats to live by: Industry median response rates for direct mail = 1%; industry median response rates for e-mail = .3%; estimated lead close rate for a B2B product priced between $35,000 and $100,000 is 1 in 100.)

It sounds simple, but it is surprising how many companies ramp up their marketing and PR programs without having gone through this type of exercise.

– Posted by Tim Hurley


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