Posts related to B2B marketing and sales

At Revenue Architects, we are big advocates of inbound marketing with leading solutions like HubSpot, Act-On, Marketo, and Mailchimp for email marketing but we also work with a number of industry sectors where a stronger outbound approach is still needed. For example at professional services businesses like consulting, law firms, financial advisors, the promise of “inbound” is a bit over-hyped and a more balanced approach is critical.

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We recently conducted a review of a campaign that was underperforming expectations. Our team was contributing elements of the campaign and we were very disappointed in the results. What was going wrong? What were the red flags?

English: Red Flag

The campaign was focused on marketing a leading technology solution to a target market based on geographic named accounts.  The client was following core principles of inbound marketing and digital marketing offering unique premium content for download and involving a number of components:

  • Active blog content
  • Active Twitter engagement
  • PPC Campaign
  • Microsite with landing pages aligned to key words
  • Relevant copy on each landing page
  • A call to action with premium content
  • Embedded conversion forms using a leading marketing automation platform
  • eMails tailored to each value proposition and landing page
  • A direct mail program to a validated list of targets.

The content was solid and the program was being executed carefully with iterative updates to enhance content and offering language. On the surface, everything looked good. So, why was the client getting limited response?

To evaluate the program, we took a commercial end-to-end revenue perspective and looked at the revenue cycle. We divided the campaign into three elements:  Top-of-the-funnel (TOFU), Middle-of-the-funnel (MOFU) and Bottom-of-the-funnel (BOFU). We looked for red flags.

Here were our findings:

Overall

  • Product revenue performance was good for the business with a concentration on a few large accounts, however the business was not coming from the campaign – rather it was coming from existing customers
  • Performance was driven largely by account-based sales efforts
  • The value proposition seemed to provide a clear competitive advantage, however no validation had occurred with target customers (a red flag)
  • The campaign incorporated many leading digital marketing and inbound practices and partner organizations recognized the program as unique and a stand out among peers.

TOFU- Top of Funnel

  • A microsite was of a very high quality with good relevant content & messaging and the team maintained a strong social media presence which was also building increased organic presence
  • We found that there was a very small target market– the campaign was targeting a named set of companies of only a few hundred companies (a red flag– was there a broad enough market? If the target market is this focused, why the emphasis no an inbound strategy?)
  • A sophisticated PPC Campaign was underway – with a substantial budget (another red flag– why so much investment in PPC with such a targeted audience?)
  • Direct mail campaigns also had little or no results or traction
  • No other new business lead sources were identified.

MOFU – Middle of the Funnel

  • The marketing list had been in place and marketed to for over a year with little or no results. The list was limited in size and consistent with the target company list.  The list was validated and augmented, but this remained a major red flag. Was this list ever going to produce results? Was the campaign targeting the right market?
  • There was no need for a nurture program and lead scoring had little relevance given such low lead gen results
  • Marketing automation was implemented well and while better campaign and email coordination and tracking across campaigns were needed, this did not explain a lack of lead generation within this campaign
  • The company was not engaged any consistent telesales (another red flag – especially given the highly targeted nature of the customer audience) Past telesales had mixed results depending on product, firm, timing and message.

BOFU – Bottom of Funnel

  • The direct sales teams were successfully closing deals and the existing account base for the organization was the primary source of product revenue
  • However, cross-selling the existing account base is difficult with entrenched vendor and sales relationships.

What did the red flags tell us?

The campaign needed to refresh its target universe/ marketing list and expand its exposure while also taking a deeper dive review of the value proposition by conducting a focused survey. Given the target market, budgets needed to shift from the top-of-funnel  inbound and PPC lead gen toward more 1:1 tele-prospecting and sales engagement.

By taking a commercial focused approach and mapping the end-to-end revenue cycle from marketing to sales, it became more apparent where to focus attention and make improvements.

I am operating out of our Vermont Office – which is really a home office looking out over the mountains of northern Vermont including Mt. Mansfield and the surrounding hills  a few miles from the pristine Caspian Lake in Greensboro.

Today’s highlight includes the installation of a solar energy system to generate sustainable energy for our home.  In keeping with this blog’s focus on sales and marketing, I thought it would be interesting to reflect on the sales and marketing process that I experienced with the team from SolarTech in Vermont.

So, what was the marketing and sales cycle? Actually it was very typical of a “considered sale”.

The cost (before incentives) of the Solar Trackers  are over $50k – clearly an investment that requires consideration. Incentives bring this down nicely and the payback is reasonable considering the local cost of energy. So, this was a very substantial investment and a classic “considered sale” – where content and the web plays a role along with an active sales process.

1) My first step was research. Of course I spoke with my social network – others in the area that had experience. After learning that I wanted a tracker to maximize power,  I went to the web to search for trackers in Vermont and quickly found All Earth Renewables.  They did great work on SEO – on the first page of my organic search results. Their web presence includes Facebook and Twitter.

2) I posted to the AllSun product on Facebook – seeking to learn more from my network about options for solar power and researched forums to see whether there were any comments. I later ended up connecting with an experienced solar expert who looked over the proposal and the technology solution.

3) I wanted to discuss a solution, so I filled out a form on the web site seeking contact with a sales representative. The conversion form online was clean and simple. I had an introductory email within hours.

4) I was introduced to a channel partner, SolarTech, who managed the sales cycle. Rich Nicol engaged professionally in all aspects of the sale from feasibility to economic ROI. He handled all the objections and concerns and mapped out a solution tailored to our needs – a classic professional sales process.

In order to get this sale,  All Earth Renewables and SolarTech needed an integrated sales and marketing process.

  • Web visibility – organic search and social media
  • Channel Management – with an effective channel website including testimonial
  • Quality value proposition and product
  • Accessibility in a clean, professional website
  • Knowledgable and professional sales approach
  • ROI and product content
  • Professional service delivery leading to references and validation.
 Sold.

 

 

That’s the goal of NAPFA (National Association of Personal Financial Advisors) with the recent launch of the FeeOnlyNetwork.com for its more than 1,500 Fee-Only member advisors across the country. A parallel goal is to build the NAPFA brand and promote the benefits of working with NAPFA-registered investment advisors (RIAs) for comprehensive financial planning and fee-only compensation.

This comes as Fee-Only Registered Investment Advisors (RIA) have surged and changed the way Americans invest.  This in a climate where investors are more risk adverse, want to be involved in the investment process and, for all generations, increasingly use the web to “self-sell” before engaging.  Having a strong web presence  — including a dynamic web marketing hub, social media significance, thought leadership content and digital marketing programs — is not an option, but an imperative for advisors to be relevant and competitive today.

With FeeOnlyNetwork.com, Individual NAPFA members receive a free, search optimized profile and those who wish to pony up $250, receive a more sophisticated profile with more content, enhanced optimization and linking features. The value proposition seems solid: members can piggyback on the broader branding effort around “Fee Only” with NAPFA and generate leads and SEO value at a reasonable cost per year.

There are a number of things for members to consider in maximizing the value and effectiveness of their profiles. (See FeeOnlyNetwork mockup)

    • Differentiate the message beyond “Fee-Only”
      Use the bulleted specialties adjacent to photo and paragraph beneath it, to provide more depth and breadth surrounding resources and investment options offered, akin to what you might get from a broker dealer.
    • Choose messaging carefully
      Avoid “generic” messages like “specializes in financial planning and investment management”; be more sophisticated.
    • Align Profiles & Links
      Make sure your profiles line up across all your channels – LinkedIn, Website, Facebook, Twitter, FeeOnlyNetwork, etc. – including key words, messaging and positioning.
    • Include Links 
 Make sure all your publicly available links are reflected on the profile and picked up by FeeOnlyNetwork.
  • Complete all of the Profile Features
    This includes links to all of your social media profiles, recent articles, media mentions, welcome video and the like.  If you have more than one location, be sure to include it as well.  Also complete the company profile tab.  There will be an ability to cross-link with other NAPFA members in your company.
  • Show Bench Strength:
    The network is very “planner” and individual based rather than the firm… some investors may want to see that they can engage a firm with a broader set of expertise and specializations within the firm.  This can be done with the company profile tab, but perhaps you can influence the site’s positioning if you want to highlight both you and your company more strongly.
  • Generate Leads:
    Currently, the “Contact Me” button generates an email, however there are plans to enable a form.  Be on the look out and perhaps influence its development.  For example if it were a “Learn More” link instead of “Contact Me”, that could lead to a landing page on your website where they can further “opt-in” to learning without feeling the need to email you right away. Many “buyers” want to self-sell and learn about you (and others) without converting immediately to an email or meeting.

NAPFA says it has made a significant investment and allocated considerable resources to the FeeOnlyNetwork.com, a partnership with Advisorology, LLC, the parent company of the FeeOnlyNetwork.com and FinancialAdviceNetwork.com.  The partnership promises to continue to enhance the FeeOnlyNetwork.com.  Members would do well to actively participate in its evolution.

 

Thérèse Byrne is a Client Partner & Digital Strategist with Revenue Architects specializing in helping clients take advantage of modern marketing approaches to projects from the vantage of creative, innovative and agile solutions to growth. She works with a number offinancial advisor clients developing strategies and implementing compliant marketing solutions enabled by technology and inbound marketing.

So, you’ve realized that you need Marketing Automation! What now?

With a variety of different solutions available – from enterprise to start up – how do you know which solution is right for your organization? Marketing Automation evaluations typically involve both a diverse stakeholder team and a myriad of potential solutions.

  • Diverse choice – many marketing automation suppliers, sales force automation solutions, eMail marketing solutions, etc.
  • Committee buying – the need to facilitate a group of stakeholders in the decision (often including the board of directors)
  • Stakeholder viewpoints –managing a variety of needs (tactical vs. strategic) to align sales, marketing and technology teams
  • Political persuasions – more often than not, key team members bring pet projects and pre-established preferences
  • Organizational culture –implementing a marketing automation solution involves business alignment across the organization – the culture must be supportive and aligned to adopt the new strategy.

We recently published this eBook to serve as a guide to provide you with the information you will need to assess marketing automation vendors and choose which solution is right for you.  Our view? The process should be objective and facilitative to align the organization around a clear choice. Need help? We can help you facilitate the process with our Objective Solution Selection (OS2) methodology:

  1. Document Requirements
  2. Determine the short list
  3. Conduct the evaluation
  4. Rank the vendors
  5. Perform due diligence

Often sales people do not actively follow up on marketing generated leads. This may be a result of poor sales behaviors, but it is more likely that sales teams are not confident in the quality of the sales leads they are getting. Marketing Automation is a powerful technology, but it is important not to “over automate” the classification of the lead.

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Creative digital video should be in your media plan

Recently, Jim Schwantner and Amy Hunt joined the Revenue Architects team. Amy and Jim are highly experienced creative marketers – their specialty is creating creative digital video to drive communication and brand velocity. This blog post blends our collective thinking and suggests the mandate for building creative video into your digital marketing and PR strategies.

You can drive market velocity with creative video content. As humans, we are wired to consume moving visual images. Now that we are inundated with content, we value video communications as a preferred medium to learn and engage. On TV, 90% of us who can fast-forward through commercials will do it, but we voluntarily watch a staggering number of videos online. Computers and handsets win a bigger “share of screen time” every day. Online is the new primetime, with 19.5 billion videos viewed… per month and over the next two years, it is estimated that companies will grow online video spend 300%. Video needs to be core to your PR and marketing content plan.

Creative digital video makes relationships and real accountability possible. TV advertising delivers your message to the mass audience and is about impressions: millions are watching “Good Morning America” or “Ugly Betty,” and you can buy the right to interrupt them. Online video is about relationships… with your idea, your cause your brand.

However, static corporate talking points and blah-blah-blah words don’t cut it now. You need creative video content to capture audience interest and intent. With digital video, viewers initiate the interaction, and you can measure time spent with you, and you can guide them to take action. Two of the video models we create are Explainer Videos and Documentary Branding.

Explainer Videos

The Explainer Video is powerful tool in the translation of otherwise complex ideas into a clear and memorable engagement for the viewer.

Explainer videos are ideal treatments for new products and key moments in the evolution of an organization. The Explainer Video speaks to the reality of how we all have come to rely on visual presentation across all phases of professional and personal communications. The B2B customer requires both the specificity of traditional longer form business communications and the impact of content delivered across all the media they encounter in home, in office and in between.

Documentary Branding

Documentary Branding is defined as the space where credible ideas about corporations and their brands are likely to emerge in the future. Consumers are increasingly mistrustful of the images, motives and representatives of large corporate entities. The idea of Documentary Branding is to offer a perspective on the brand that emanates from a broader population of employees and spokespeople and customers that are presented in real situations speaking candidly about the companies they work for.

The subjects of Documentary Branding in the hands of a skillful director can deliver a deliver a disproportionately significant influence on the way people perceive brands and situations.

 

 

So, how do you take full advantage of creative digital video? You will need true creative leadership to get this right… blended with the business approach to connect outcomes with clear business metrics. See more at this link.