Archive for July, 2009

“We catch fish using fishing rods, nothing else”

July 29, 2009

Recently, while at an event, I had a discussion with a marketing director at a large law firm here in Boston. The subject of online lead generation was brought up and here was his knee-jerk response:

“We are not interested in online lead generation at the law firm, because we’re primarily a business to business law firm and we only get business from known referrers.”

I found this response odd, as most of our clients are in the B2B space, but not surprising. Many people are not privy to the current data and trends surrounding social media, online marketing, and purchasing behavior for the B2B buyer. I immediately informed him that we work with many law firms, accounting firms, and consulting firms in the B2B space. I supported my statement by sighting recent data and statistics from reports and studies by Forrester Research, MarketingSherpa, MarketingProfs, and B2B Magazine. I stated that nearly all of the data and qualitative analysis suggests that B2B buyers of technology and/or services are influenced by social media, and that most B2B marketers plan on increasing their online marketing spend in 2009.

Here was his second response:

“Well, we don’t want that type of business that you get online”

Huh? It was like someone claiming that they don’t want the business they get from public relations, advertising, direct marketing, or even networking. In my response, I explained how one of our professional service clients (that offers audit, tax, consulting, and wealth management services – with over 400 employees) is averaging over 20 new business leads per month, and has generated over $600,000 in new contracts that directly resulted from, and are tracked by, our efforts over the last 6 months. I also cited how when I have made purchasing decisions for our 20+ person agency in the past, I was greatly influenced by product reviews and advice/referrals from individuals in my LinkedIn groups, as well as from content that I downloaded online and from search results on Google. He still wasn’t buying it and so I moved on.

fish-stocking-1Later in the day I asked myself, “Why wouldn’t someone want this type of business (from online sources)?” I thought about what he said and equated his statements to something like “We catch fish using fishing rods, nothing else. We don’t want to try using nets, fishing boats, or any other means because we don’t want the type of fish that you catch using these tools.”

Thinking in these terms helped me to understand that there really was only one answer to my question… It wasn’t that this marketer didn’t want this type of business (as I am sure the firm’s leaders would agree); it was just that this person didn’t want to engage in an activity that he didn’t fully comprehend. This is a very common issue among c-level marketingfishing execs.

My conclusion led me to another question—with social media adoption (for general usage) among B2B buyers growing at a much higher percentage rate than that of B2B marketers (for marketing purposes), wouldn’t it make sense that the marketers who embrace this shift in purchasing behavior at an early stage also be the ones that realize the greatest benefit (i.e. the largest “catch”)?

My advice to any person in a senior marketing role is to educate themselves as quickly as possible on the current trends, data, and purchasing behavior of the B2B buyer and how the Web is influencing and impacting their purchasing decisions.

If you don’t like change, you‘re going to like irrelevance even less.”— General Eric. Shinseki, retired Chief of Staff, U. S. Army

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Forbes Insights Report: Where C-Level and Senior Executives are Looking (and Interacting) Online

July 21, 2009

Online lead generation can be a bit difficult to conceptualize when it is not considered under the right context. It is important to understand that leads can only be effectively generated online when the tactics employed, take into consideration the actual online behaviors of executives who hold power to make purchasing behaviors.

Along that vein, Forbes Insight recently released an excellent report, entitled The Rise of the Digital C-Suite: How Executives Locate and Filter Business Information that surveys and analyzes the digital activities of senior and C-level executives. Some of the findings were not necessarily surprisingly (executives under the age of 50 were more likely to use the Internet for business purposes on a daily basis), while others were (streaming business-related video and webcasts are becoming increasingly popular for members of the C-suite).

Diving into the report further, it becomes clear that while senior executives differ in their online behavior depending on their age, the majority of them all use the internet to, at the very least, supplement their information gathering, networking and business intelligence activities.

Other key findings include:

  • 74% of executives find the Internet to be “very valuable” in terms of helping them to find information vs. 25% of executives who find print newspapers to be “very valuable” for the same purposes—Further evidence that the newspaper industry may be doomed.
  • 63% of executives surveyed indicated that search engines were “very valuable” to helping them to locate business information—Supporting importance of search engine optimization (SEO) initiatives.
  • 70% of searches are prompted by something that an executive read online vs. 38% that were prompted by an online advertisement—Editorial content (from online sources) remains more credible and engaging than ads, but these statistics also support the increased visibility and influence of blogs, wikis, and other forums for content dissemination.
  • 41% of executives under the age of 50 click on the paid listings on search engine results vs. 6% of the executives over the age of 50—As younger executives move into the C-suite, pay per click advertising could become an even more integral component of marketing campaigns.
  • 25% of executives view work-related content on business-related websites (including 33% of executives under the age of 50)—Webinars and other informative videos have grown in significance (perhaps in part due to their ability to convey complex information in a more memorable fashion).

But most significantly, Forbes’ report found that executives under the age of 40  “Generation Netscape”), the same executives that are more likely to fill the most important C-level, decision making roles within their organizations in the coming years, are frequently engaged in Web 2.0 related activities. The findings include:

  • 35% of executives under 40 maintain a work-related blog
  • 32% contribute to, or read, micro-feeds through sites like Twitter (more than half of those executives state that they use Twitter daily or several days a week)
  • 40% subscribe to and read content through an RSS feed

So while the report makes it clear that executives of all ages have found that the Internet is an important vehicle to help them identify and filter important business-related information, it is abundantly clear that the next crop of C-level executives (“Generation Netscape”) already have a firm grasp of the relevance and work-related benefits of new media tools.

These executives, likely to exert scores of influence on the C-level decision making process in the years to come, are using the web to engage, collaborate, network, and consume valuable information. Sales and marketing teams need to act quickly to master these same tools so that can generate leads through the same venues that their future buyers are frequenting every business day.

Marketing to a World with a Short Attention Span

July 10, 2009

Steve Rubel of Edelman Digital recently wrote an article for Fast Company reporting that people are spending a record amount of time on social networking sites: Twitter and Facebook, etc.

These sites are so attractive of course because they offer streams of brief information updates. Because these “pipelines” of brief status updates enable us to consume information quickly, many people are neglecting other news outlets. Traditional news websites present well-researched, quality information in well-thought-out formats, but, this sort of information takes longer to process than the quick snippets available on social networking sites.

People’s desire for ever-speedier information and communication is further evidenced by the demise of voice mail. Boston Globe correspondent Beth Teitell wrote an article about how people overwhelmingly prefer text messages to voice mail because they “can’t stand the endless prompts just to hear a longwinded – and often pointless – message.” With impatience for voice mail increasing, a market for services that transcribe your voice mails to text has erupted.

With the reach of online ads on mainstream news sites declining due to the decrease in website traffic, marketers are having to adjust their promotional strategies.

But, these streams of constantly updating information are posing quite a challenge to marketers. How can they break through these streams and reach their target audiences in real-time?

To make their messages stand out, some marketers are posting messages frequently, thereby increasing their visibility. However, these frequent status updates often come across as spamming (a big social media “no-no”). Other marketers are fairing better, by building a presence on all key social networks and integrating information across the different platforms. They’re using social media to build relationships with their current and prospective customers. They’re listening to them, engaging them in conversation, and making them feel as though they belong to their “brand tribe.” And, of course, they’re empowering them to be ambassadors of their brand.

It’s a point that we continue to hammer home, but it’s an important one. New communications outlets require new communication strategies.

Using LinkedIn to Generate Leads

July 2, 2009

We have addressed it previously on HEAT, but it remains a topic that we consider to be instrumental in helping to conduct effective online lead generation campaigns. LinkedIn, when used properly, is an excellent tool for a variety of sales and marketing tactics, including prospecting, content/collateral distribution, and expert positioning.

To learn more about how to become an advanced LinkedIn user, check out our free webinar on “How to Effectively Utilize LinkedIn for Lead Generation.”

After your viewing, let us know if you have any additional questions about how to make the most of your LinkedIn account.