Inbound Marketing Shortens Your Sales Cycle

We saw this study from HubSpot the other day, and it reinforced what we know –and what, fortunately, many of our clients also understand: good marketing requires patience. However, the more inbound marketing a company implements, the sooner they enjoy the benefits of lead generation.

Refining your message and getting it out through the right blend of marketing channels takes time. And once your message is out there, it takes a while for it to go through the rinse-and-repeat cycle of multiple exposures that your key buyers need in order to form an opinion and make a purchasing decision about your product or service.

But not seeing an immediate sales bump does not mean your message isn’t being received; the buying cycle for most businesses is long and needs time to go through the essential channels before you will likely hear from a prospect. Many companies take a year or more to make a buying decision.

However, increasing the amount of inbound marketing can result in increased website traffic in an average of 7 months. What is inbound marketing?  This category includes website content development, blog posts, engaging people through social media, and implementing Search Engine Optimization.

Our clients observe that increased marketing and PR activities result in not only increased website traffic, but also in more leads from better qualified prospects. And once we implement a consistent marketing and public relations program, these increased leads become a regular thing.

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Want to talk about your marketing strategy? We’d love to help you enjoy the results of a solid integrated program! Drop us a line at kyliew@pwmginc.com.

White Papers Remain Influential to IT Buyers

When is the last time you produced a white paper? Or refreshed an old one to make it relevant to your prospects of 2010?

If you can’t remember, then stop wasting any more time thinking about it and just get busy.

This piece from BtoB (http://bit.ly/91QWFa) shows that white papers remain an important influencer in the IT buying process. And beyond the fact that this survey shows white papers to have sway over final purchasing decisions, they also are proven to serve your SEO needs, thus making your website a more valuable resource for the search engines as well as your prospects.

Integrate Your Marketing Efforts with Your Lead Generation

Pete Wiltjer was the guest speaker at the Chicago chapter of the American Marketing Association’s Business-to-Business monthly meeting in September. He talked about the importance of effectively integrating a brand message within a company’s outbound lead generation efforts. Here are a few key points from this presentation that we’d like to share with you:

1. Your brand is the whole experience of doing business with your company, including a prospect’s or client’s time on the phone with anyone representing your organization. So, even your outbound email and telemarketing should be aligned with a positive brand experience.

2. This often means fine tuning your email messages and outbound calling scripts to reinforce value, rather than only pushing for an appointment.

o For instance, try offering a free case study, a white paper or something that can assist the prospect in taking action on an acknowledged problem he plans to spend $$ to resolve.

o WHEN YOU GET VOICEMAIL: Leave an intelligent message. Avoiding leaving a message that reminds prospects of auto-dialers.

With regard to email marketing, in particular, I agree with Craig Kerr of iPost, who was quoted in this insightful article from BtoB. Kerr said that by focusing on your e-mail strategy instead of devising the next cool campaign, marketing managers should be able to demonstrate to upper management that they are focusing on return on investment. And that importance cannot be understated in a recession.

3. After all, outbound call and email campaigns should generate interest in your company.

o But it only happens when you tell a story that connects with the prospect’s acknowledged need.

o The challenge is to keep tailoring the storytelling to the interests of the prospect, not just preaching principles and products.

*Contact us if you’d like to discuss ways we can support your lead generation efforts!

Stragglers Take Note: Facebook’s Massive Growth in 55+ Age Group

The growth of Facebook over the past year has been remarkable. iStrategyLabs’ recent report on growth over the past six months, between January and July, is even more amazing for the trends that have been revealed. Take a look at the table below, featuring the iStrategylabs data.

Baby boomers have joined FaceBook at an astounding rate over the past 6 months
Baby boomers have joined FaceBook at an astounding rate over the past 6 months

What this means for many BtoB companies is that they need to think about Facebook as a marketing and communications medium. And while many consumer businesses have embraced Facebook, I have unscientifically polled peers regularly over the past few months to get their impression of Facebook as a platform for marketing. My finger-in-the-air test of which way the wind is blowing on this matter has shown me that many in the BtoB world are reluctant to consider Facebook as a legitimate platform for communicating with prospects or customers. The main exception has been the human resources department.

Since Facebook was born in 2004, HR managers have enjoyed being able to get a true look at hungry job candidates, to see what they are really like when they leave the office. Incriminating photos, videos and comments posted in Facebook have prevented many “promising” candidates from landing the jobs they wanted.

Yet many business owners I talk with have quickly called it a giant waste of time and tell me that LinkedIn is the only social media platform they will consider using for business. But with nearly six million new Facebook users since January that are 55 and over, and more than 20 million new users since January that are between ages 35-54, Facebook can only be ignored at your own peril.

As I mentioned in the Entrepreneur.com series about PWMG that followed us as we rebranded the company, I have had meaningful discussions with prospects through the Facebook ‘Chat’ function. In addition, we have a fan page for our company on Facebook, and we see a lot of traffic coming to our blog and website from employees’ various Facebook pages.

Obviously this means I can’t take part in all the fun-and-games that many enjoy on Facebook (endless boring polls, poke poke, virtual food fights, mafia wars, etc.). Too bad for me. But not really.

The 35 and up crowd may have been late to the Facebook party, but these older users are also changing the way this social media platform is and will be used going forward. How has your social media strategy changed in 2009? Drop us a line and let us know. We would be glad to share some ideas.

Recession’s Golden Egg

Tom Peters, the management guru who wrote Thriving on Chaos, knows how to run a business in times of economic disarray. (Thriving on Chaos debuted on Black Monday in 1987.)

He was recently quoted in Inc. Magazine:

“Instant, mindless cutting of R&D or training or sales force travel in the face of a downturn is often counterproductive – or, rather, downright stupid. Tough times are in fact golden opportunities to get the drop, and the long-term drop at that, on those who respond to bad news by panicky across-the-board slash and burn tactics and moves that de-motivate and alienate the workforce at exactly the wrong moment.”

Now is the time to focus on R&D and training. New product design and development is a crucial factor to the survival of a company, and companies that are cutting back on these areas may not even make it to the upturn.

Peters’ statement really hits home with us, as well.

One of our clients, the manufacturer’s buying group Prime Advantage, has recently published results of its Group CFO Survey and its Group Outlook Survey. Among the interesting findings in each survey was the fact that midsized industrial manufacturers are continuing to invest in the future through R&D. (Are there many markets that have been hit harder than U.S. industrial manufacturing?) Yet, these companies that are forced to be conservative in the way they operate continue to prepare for the hopeful future:

“87 percent of survey respondents (of the 2009 Group Outlook Survey) will be introducing new products in 2009, while 70 percent have plans to introduce new products in 2010. This echoes findings from Prime Advantage’s Group CFO Survey published in January, as 31 percent of CFO respondents reported an increase of new product development budgets from 2008 levels with 17 percent of respondents predicting development of new products or services to meet new customer needs.”

At PWMG, we see the silver lining in the current economic crisis, and have used this opportunity to re-brand ourselves; to develop a new logo, website and refresh our positioning.  And we’ll be ready for the upturn, for sure. By opening themselves to new opportunities and ideas, companies will be more likely to break out of the routines that can easily turn into ruts, and in the process, they will be among the winners that also gladly seek out fresh ideas from hungry and savvy marketing consultants like us.