Five Steps to Successful B2B Targeted Demand Generation Campaigns

February 7, 2011

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Here are five actions that will always help your demand generation campaigns succeed.

Every formula for successful targeted campaigns requires two elements:

  • Know your audience
  • Drive an integrated approach between sales and marketing

But most of us need a few more specifics. Here are five actions always worth investing your time and resources in.

1.     Tap your sales team to define buyers and influencers.

If your organization has already adopted persona-based marketing, you’re several steps ahead of the curve, but it’s important to validate this audience with sales: decision-makers, influencers and other key participants in the sales process.

If sales is the ultimate recipient of leads, you want to make sure they’re bought into your (marketing’s) prescriptive approach to targeting.

And if you’re not entirely sure who your audience is, sales can be a great place to start. A seasoned sales executive is on the front lines every day and has a considerable amount of insight they can lend.

2.     Focus on developing audience insights.

If you haven’t yet adopted persona-based marketing, now is a good time to begin. Defining audience personas essentially means understanding who they are, what they care about, and how to talk with them, not at them. See my brief guide to persona development for busy B2B marketers to learn more.

3.     Target identification.

You need to physically identify your target—decision-makers and influencers. Start with sales: Understand their priority accounts (either for prospecting or cross-sell opportunities), and which contacts within those accounts they’ve already identified. Some sales teams will have no problem pulling a targeted list of companies and 2-5 contacts (best case) within those organizations.

However, if you have no contacts at your targeted companies, there are several methods to build out a list. The most successful list-building methods will require time and effort to hand-build, leveraging a combination of data (available online, often for purchase) and calling (for validation).

4.     Participate in an integrated touch strategy.

Even the most stellar marketing campaign—great offers, compelling visuals/call-to-action and persuasive messaging—won’t reach its full potential without sales support. When sales follows up on all inquiries immediately, there’s typically a significant increase in impact. And I’ve often found that buyers will be much more receptive to a proactive phone call after receiving a relevant and interesting package or offer.

5.     Communicate impact.

This goes both ways. If you want to get sales jazzed about a campaign, it’s helpful to SHOW THEM THE $$. Let them understand your projected path to revenue. Identify where in the process they’ll have an opportunity to make an impact (see #4). Set up campaign codes in Salesforce.com or other CRM tools to indicate the source of leads, and keep track of their progress through the pipeline.

Since partnering with sales is clearly key to building successful targeted campaigns, see Five Tips for Bridging the Gap Between Sales and Marketing to give your campaigns a real depth charge.


Proof That Personalization Can Open Doors and Close Sales

January 26, 2011

If you wish all targeted account campaign results looked like this, let me take you through the steps that made these possible.

These results demonstrate:

  • The value of targeting
  • The power of personalization to sell a high-value solution
  • The significant role that sales plays in demand generation marketing programs
  • That sometimes you need to break the rules

Targeting, personalization and sales integration

A large telecoms company wanted to engage with senior technology executives at top-tier companies, but these prospects were in markets where the company had little to no brand recognition. Not the easiest way to start a relevant, personalized dialogue.

Sound familiar?

Then one of the company’s sales engineers had a breakthrough idea: why not use the customized network diagrams he was preparing to help close contracts as an introductory clutterbuster? This would show not only how the company could address their unique network challenges but also how committed they are to providing great, personalized service.

The company tapped B2B agency Babcock & Jenkins (BNJ) to turn this provocative idea into a reality. (Full disclosure: BNJ is my home base.)

Collaborating closely with both the sales and marketing teams, BNJ developed a pilot targeted accounts campaign that included:

  • A multi-touch, high value series of communications, including  a dimensional direct mailer that included the customized network map in an architectural blueprint tube plus a handwritten note from the recipient’s named sales rep directing them to a personalized microsite via a personalized URL (PURL). Other touches included a “teaser” package (complete with brownies and coffee) and a follow-up note card and email “from” the sales rep.

Brownie

  • A personalized microsite featuring a short welcome video from company’s CTO, direct contact information for and a picture of the prospect’s named sales rep, a 40-page recommendation specific to their company, and more.
  • Passive profiling to give sales deep insight into each prospect’s interaction with the site, plus a sales alert that immediately notifies each rep when their target responds to the site.

Given its 10-to-1 ROI projection (including  impressive sales already closed) and other phenomenal results, the campaign is being fine-tuned for further rollouts. One happy sales rep noted, “This is the best marketing program I’ve seen in my 15 years in the business.”

The key elements

And the rule-breaking?

Well…most sales-cycle models (and seasoned marketing folks) typically recommend that early-stage outreach content stay on the soft side: thought-leadership content such as white papers or third-party articles. Specific solution and implementation information normally comes later, once you know more about your prospects and their particular needs.

However, the small size and tight targeting of the audience allowed delivery of specific relevant information upfront, condensing some of the usual getting-to-know you stages of content provision.

Have you broken (or invented) rules of targeted marketing for breakthrough results? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments.


Why Microsites (Still) Matter for B2B Demand Generation

January 17, 2011


Consider this your cheat sheet for explaining how microsites serve an important role in the marketing mix—especially in initiatives that are demand generation-focused.

For both B2B buyers and B2B marketers, it comes down to three issues: relevance, access, and control.

Why Microsites Matter to B2B Buyers

Immediate access to relevant content: Whether they’re C-suite decision makers or rank-and-file influencers, B2B buyers don’t have time to deep-dive through corporate websites for content relevant to their pain points and position in the buying cycle. A microsite instantly aligns content to a visitor’s area of interest or persona.

Easy sharing: Rarely is a single person responsible for B2B purchases, so being able to share highly relevant content easily and quickly is a big plus. Sharing a single microsite URL and directing colleagues to one place (instead of collecting and sending bits and pieces) greatly streamlines the process.

Personal connection: Microsites that include a PURL (personal URL, e.g., http://www.sitename.com/jane) enable a completely tailored experience for each visitor. That could mean the B2B buyer not only receives content appropriate to their role, they may also have direct access to and information about their dedicated sales rep. A microsite could also include an area where information requested by the B2B buyer can be uploaded and archived.

Why Microsites Matter to B2B Marketers

You’ll capture more valuable leads with the microsite’s sharp hook than the corporate site’s wide net. (Naturally, you need to do testing and optimization to ensure this is done well.) A corporate website serves more successfully as the central repository for an organization’s traffic and complete content.

Pipeline profiling: Based on how B2B buyers interact with and consume content on the microsite, you can align them with business rules that will determine your next steps. Based on this pipeline profiling, you can decide whether to send them as leads to sales, or put them into a specific nurture program to receive additional content.

Control of content and production: Let’s face it, corporate websites often become battlegrounds for control; every department wants their content to take priority. Creating a microsite gives you control to do and choose what’s needed, so you can sidestep company politics and delays.

Now, the next time you hear, “Microsites are a dying breed. Corporate websites will reign supreme” (as I did recently from an esteemed analyst), come back to this post, see if their proposed alternatives address B2B demand generation needs, and let me know your views.

Of course, not every microsite is a good microsite. See 10 Best Practices for B2B Demand Generation Microsites for guidance.


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