Category : Marketing Strategy

4Jan
Call CampaignB2B Cold Calling Can Work, and Here’s How

B2B Cold Calling Can Work, and Here’s How

“Cold calling is expensive and doesn’t yield a great ROI.” Unfortunately, we’ve heard this claim from business owners more times than we can count. In reality, cold calling done right can raise the profile of a business, connect sales reps with qualified, interested prospects, and help convert cold leads into happy customers. However, there’s a reason why so many throw in the towel when it comes to cold calling: because it’s easy to make a very expensive mess of a calling campaign. On the other hand, when businesses follow the right formula, cold calling can be exactly the right kind of cost-effective tactic to warm up new prospects in their industry.

Why Traditional Cold Calling Campaigns Fail

It comes down to quality and getting what you pay for. Too many businesses throw together a calling campaign with no real strategy, a poorly vetted list, and an ineffective script because they’re worried about spending a lot of money on a tactic that might not work. To make things worse, a burned-out or overburdened sales team member is often placed at the helm to manage it all.

Everything from script writing to the cold calling itself takes a high level of skill, time, and energy in order to pull off. When you haven’t invested in the guidance of cold calling experts, it’s virtually inevitable that a business will spend a lot of money on a brand damaging venture with next to zero ROI. This is just one of many examples for why cutting corners in marketing is more expensive and less effective in the long run.

This doesn’t mean we’re suggesting that a business can simply outsource their calling campaigns to self-proclaimed experts and expect measurable rates of success from any service provider. Another common mistake business owners make is relying on underpriced telemarketing companies to run their cold calling campaigns. These agencies often use inexperienced calling talent who can’t connect well with prospects, and are more likely to do brand damage than serve as effective brand ambassadors.

As with any type of marketing, an ineffectively executed tactic will result in a waste of resources. With calling campaigns, enviable ROIs don’t just happen – you have to work for them.

Modern Cold Calling Campaigns Done Right

First things first: a successful cold calling campaign begins with a strategy and a high quality list, which should include direct mail addresses, company names, the names and titles of individuals at those companies. Narrow down your target market with appropriate demographic information like SIC codes and revenue stats. Using a more narrow, targeted list prevents you from spending resources on lists dominated by unqualified leads and helps your callers make the most of the time they spend reaching out to prospects.

Be cautious when attempting to utilize email in conjunction with a calling campaign. Most email automation services won’t even allow you to upload or email a purchased list. Work with an expert of using email ethically and responsibly.

The next step is writing a script that aligns with your overall strategy using tried and true script writing styles. A quality script provides answers for all likely contingencies and customer responses to prevent the conversation from actually feeling scripted. This requires writing scripts for leaving a message on an answering machine, for speaking with a skeptical customer, and working your way past skilled gatekeepers. The primary focus of an effective cold calling script should always be on the needs of the potential customer first, while providing just enough information at the right intervals to keep a lead engaged without overselling. With the aforementioned components finessed throughout a script by professional script writers, a cold caller can actually start to build relationships out of cold leads and prime them for later conversations with your sales talent.

However, even with a professionally written script, an inexperienced caller is set up to fail at a cold calling campaign. Professional calling talent dedicate all of their time to working around rude, angry, or disinterested individuals on the phone and won’t get discouraged or timid after being turned down a few times. Using professional cold callers also allows your sales team to maintain their enthusiasm and put their skills and energies towards nurturing qualified leads and actually closing sales.

If all of that information seems like a lot to digest, there’s no need to worry. Our team of marketing experts, script writers, and calling campaign developers is here to provide additional guidance whenever you need it. To get in touch, visit our Contact page here.

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9Jul
target-with-people-620x350-539x350Grow Smart With Targeted “A” List Marketing

Grow Smart With Targeted “A” List Marketing

At some point in their growth cycle, most companies learn through trial and error that not every paying customer will generate a positive impact on their business. Growth in the wrong direction can cause any business to stall or even regress. Smart, sustainable business development requires targeted marketing aimed at your most profitable customers in order to attract more of them. This is called finding and marketing to your “A List”, which involves strategically crafting services and messaging around the specific needs of your most ideal clients.

How to Identify Your A List 

Start by mining your existing customer list for the types of businesses that make the most profitable purchases or have the potential to make them. For a manufacturer, that could be a repeat customer that puts in the most lucrative product orders with the most reasonable turnaround demands. For a B2B service-oriented business, that would likely be the type of customer that signs up for a continuous program or contract. While we hope your most profitable clients are the ones spending the most with you, that may not always be the case. There are instances where your biggest customer may strain your resources, leaving you with a razor thin profit margin, in which case you don’t actually want more customers with similar orders. Even if you you consider yourself a “one-stop-shop” for a variety of industries and applications, identify customers who purchase the products and services with the highest profit margins.

Those customers are your A List. The rest of your customer list may still provide some business, and there’s nothing wrong with continuing to serve their needs when those less ideal customers find you, but your marketing resources should be primarily devoted to campaigns aimed at the top tier. The idea of targeted marketing isn’t to shrink business, it’s to grow in the most profitable areas with the most cost-effective strategy.

Use Targeted Marketing to Grow Your A List

When we retool messaging, recalibrate your Adwords strategy, or venture into new digital spaces in ways designed to reach your most profitable customers, not only do you keep those existing high-value customers engaged, more of the same tier will start to find you. By contrast, a business that directs resources towards less desirable customers will become swamped by their least-profitable customers and stunted in their ability to provide exceptional services to the customers they want the most of. That strategy not only drains business resources, it can damage your brand in the eyes of your A List.

A successful A List marketing strategy focuses on connecting and reconnecting with those specific businesses. Potential tactics could be as simple as sending your A List a targeted email campaign pertaining to the specific products or services they want, or offering them a referral discount. This is the easiest, least exclusionary way to market to your A List. Other tactics may involve retooling the aesthetics of your website and social media presence to reach your ideal customer. If your A List is a bulk-buying budget conscious customer, a minimalist, no-nonsense website makeover could be more appealing to them. When your A List is comprised of individuals with advanced degrees, taking an elevated tone to your messaging will likely give you more credibility in their eyes. These types of tweaks may not be appealing to D and C List customers, but it’s ok to allow your targeted marketing to filter out those who won’t benefit the long-term growth and viability of your business. As a matter of fact, that’s the point.

For more information on how to reach your A List and letting go of the customers you don’t need, connect with our team of marketing experts via the Contact page.

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12Jan
RoadmapWhat’s Your Marketing Strategy in 2018?

What’s Your Marketing Strategy in 2018?

By now, you already have your fiscal budget in place and have cemented all your major business goals for 2018. You likely have a good idea of how many new employees you’ll need to add to your workforce this year. Major business goals or new equipment investments for the year have been discussed and agreed upon. You have sales and revenue goals. Business leaders spend a lot of time and energy in creating their strategy and goals for the year.

But what is your marketing strategy for 2018?

Let’s Back Up. First, What IS a Marketing Strategy?

A marketing strategy outlines the approach you want to take to achieve marketing goals and reach your target market. Your strategy can focus on customer retention and cross selling, reaching new audiences, or a myriad of other things. Your marketing strategy works hand in hand with your business goals. After all, marketing encourages business growth – your strategy and business goals determine in what ways you want to focus that growth.

Once you have a concrete understanding of the type of strategy that makes the most sense for your business goals, that informs all your marketing activities, so they are all working in harmony towards the same objectives.

It can be tempting to say your business doesn’t need a marketing strategy if you’ve never had one before. After all, you are doing fine – growing even – and your business uses traditional sales staff to meet business goals. And a skilled sales team can certainly grow a business. But if you are growing now, imagine what your business potential could be if you gave your sales team better tools!

Your business goals are a destination, and your marketing strategy is the vehicle for getting there. Sure, without one, you can try to move in the general direction you want to go, but you may not be taking the most efficient route. Twenty years ago, if you were driving to an unfamiliar destination, you needed a roadmap or atlas. Now, nearly everyone uses a GPS or navigation app because they are more effective and efficient predictors of traffic, construction, and other obstacles in the way of getting where you need to go. Roadmaps and atlases still work, but if you want to get to that new destination on time, most people would opt for the option that gives them the greatest advantage.

From Creating a Strategy to Activation

Look at your current situation and goals and assess where your greatest potential lies. Do you often hear from new customers, “I never knew about you guys!” Or do your current customers say, “Oh, I didn’t know you could do that too!” Those are all starting points when deciding where to focus your strategy.

You likely already have an idea of where your company needs to grow, but you may not have the time necessary to create a marketing strategy and implement it. If that’s the case, outsourcing your marketing can be a way to bridge the gap. On the other hand, you may have a clear direction mind, but you lack the manpower to activate your strategy and carry out tactics, 360 Direct has a program for that. We call it our “Hands and Feet” program, where we put your marketing ideas into action.

Other times, a business leader is so entrenched in the company that an outside perspective is useful or even necessary to assess the strengths and weaknesses of your brand’s image. 360 Direct offers a Business Marketing Diagnostic for cases like that — with no obligation to purchase any other services.

No matter where your starting point is on the road to maximizing your brand power, consulting an expert strategist can help point you in the right direction. Make the most of your 2018 by giving your team a clear path to succeed in meeting their goals with a marketing strategy.

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14Dec
Lead GenerationLead Generation Starts in Marketing, Not Sales

Lead Generation Starts in Marketing, Not Sales

What percent of leads do your salespeople close? That number varies from company to company, but a lot of it depends on the quality of leads your sales people have. Traditionally, companies have bought list, mingled at networking events, and, of course, pounded the pavement to get prospects further into the purchasing funnel. But if you are still doing that, you may not be using their time the most effectively.

The way people consume information has changed drastically, even in just the past few years. As a result, there’s been a dramatic shift towards inbound marketing to complement your sales strategy. After all, who’s more likely to convert — the company who searched for a product you provide, found your website, read your blog, then called you, or the company whose contact information you purchased and then called out of the blue a few times a year?

And what would you rather your salespeople spend their time doing? Having cold conversations with companies who may not know about you or need your product, or following up with prospects that have already expressed interest? Give your sales team a competitive advantage by allowing your marketing department to first warm up their lead bank.

Save Money By Marketing for Lead Generation

Companies that generate leads through their marketing department spend less per lead than those that leverage their sales team as their sole relationship building mechanism. The cost of social media advertising, creating and sustaining a website, producing email newsletters and digital content is less expensive than the cost of time going door to door, making cold calls, networking membership fees, or attending events because it takes a lot more time and energy to educate leads to the point that they are interested in doing business with you without unobtrusive inbound marketing doing all of that work for you.

Traditional sales strategies force a company to waste its resources on attempting to build connections that more often than not, just don’t convent into sales. In contrast, an effective inbound marketing strategy automates the relationship building process and allows an already warm-ish lead to learn about your business on their own terms, making them much more receptive to your marketing efforts altogether. As a result, starting with a group of targeted, higher quality leads and allowing them a choice in how they engage with your content helps companies to spend less upfront per lead and allocate less time towards building relationships with leads who won’t end up converting.

Boost Sales Team Morale and Customer Relationships

Shifting the burden of lead generation from a sales team to a program like the 360direct.com marketing team doesn’t mean your star sales staff will sit idle. In reality, they will spend more productive hours nurturing warm leads with a faster sales process and higher conversion rate from beginning to end. When looking to improve conversion in order to help drive more and more sales, you might want to have a look at a CRO guide for web forms to see how many different ways you can help drive conversion on your site. More efficient sales conversion allows your employees to leverage their unique communications skills for success, rather experiencing discouragement and burn-out that is common with the traditional sales beat.

In addition to better conversion rates and more efficient sales processes, companies that begin their lead generation strategies with their marketing departments also benefit from a better brand image. Unfortunately, traditional sales strategies that require sales persons to engage awkwardly with cold leads often leave the impression of a “manipulative” or “slimy” interaction. No one wants to feel coerced into buying a product or service they don’t want, and saving your elevator speeches for the folks successfully funneled into your lead bank via targeted marketing instead allows your potential customers to view your sales team as helpful and educational on products or services they already have an interest in. The resultant positive customer relationships can increase brand loyalty and the likelihood of repeat purchases.

The total benefits of employing marketing and sales strategies in tandem are many, and as inbound marketers, we are passionate about creating action plans that work smarter, not harder for our customers. For more information on using marketing to retool your overall conversion strategy, connect with one of our experts via our Contact page.

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15Nov
Holiday MarketingHow to Market Meaningfully During the Holidays

How to Market Meaningfully During the Holidays

The holidays are busy for just about everyone, including businesses. Between last minute product orders, tight deadlines, and personal obligations, executives in the B2B marketplace are not likely to want to take your calls, open an eblast, or read a lengthy blog on your latest product or service. This is why so many marketers fall back on “fun” and “light” holiday content that doesn’t actually provide meaningful information to their audience, hoping that a heavy dose of holiday cheer will be more readily consumed. Though this type of content might seem more digestible, it tends to be equally useless to both the industry and your brand. Here’s how to create content that is both relevant and eye-catching during a time of the year when your target market doesn’t have much time to stop and listen to you.

Substantive Content Can and Should Relate to the Holidays

It turns out that you don’t have to choose between content that matters and content that’s relevant to the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. Every business has needs and concerns specific to the holiday season. Almost any product or service can be dressed up with special Holiday pricing or messaging. At 360 Direct, we’ve marketed everything from robots to cardboard during the holidays, so you can trust us on this one. Finding the right holiday-related topic can be as simple as asking your customers how their business changes from October through December. Do orders slow down or speed up? Do their operations experience problems with consistency, efficiency, or workplace safety due to higher stress and shorter deadlines? Does their fiscal year end with the calendar year, and thus they are in the middle of spending the rest of their budget or determining new contracts? Find a way that your business can help mitigate those problems and market it.

A pretty eblast wishing your email list a generic “Happy Holidays” is a lot less compelling than one that addresses a problem your target market is experiencing right now, because of the holidays.

Timing is Everything During the Holidays

At the very least, time your messages wisely. You can still discuss business that isn’t holiday related, but maybe don’t send your email the week of Thanksgiving or few days after the holiday when everyone is inundated with Black Friday and Cyber Monday emails. Avoid the days directly surrounding a major holiday, when many people use PTO to travel. Even the days after a holiday, when people are getting back to the office, but they have to catch up on a full inbox of everything they missed.

It’s not just about emails! If you are sending a direct mail piece, double check to make sure it won’t arrive to its destination when people are out of the office. You don’t want it to sit in their mailbox for a full week before they finally get around to going through days and days of mail.

Keep Holiday Marketing Short and Sweet

Remember, in B2B marketing, your target is likely short on time and patience during the holidays. Even if they happen to be in a particularly cheery mood, you shouldn’t bank on their willingness to dig through a dissertation for relevant information. Whatever substantive content you have to offer, get the point. Bring in a professional copywriter to fine-tune your messaging and make your content compelling, maybe even fun if it it’s applicable to your audience. Keeping your holiday marketing positive, informative, and solution-oriented keeps your audience motivated and engaged.

Now there’s nothing wrong with sending your prospective customers a Christmas card, or posting a holiday-themed graphic on Twitter, but your marketing does not need to be limited to unsubstantial content. For more tips on B2B marketing during the holidays, connect with one of our marketing experts via our Contact page.

photo credit: Theo Crazzolara Weihnachstkugeln via photopin (license)

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18Sep
When should you fire your marketing agency?When to FIRE Your Marketing Agency

When to FIRE Your Marketing Agency

Marketing agencies can take a business to the next level. They should help your business grow and achieve goals. You know that, that’s why you hired them to begin with! But if your agency seems to be hindering you more than helping you, it’s time to rethink your relationship with an agency. Using a marketing agency requires a trusting relationship between the company and agency. While a marketing agency may use tactics that are new to your company – after all, you hired them because they are marketing experts and you wanted to expand your efforts! – you should be very involved and feel included in all efforts. Here are some signs you need to look elsewhere.

They are out of touch with your needs.

An agency should be responsive to your needs. While there should be a general plan, it should be flexible within the scope of your working relationship with them. The agency should be flexible enough to adapt to your goals and needs, not using a one-size-fits-all template of services. If you request specific efforts or marketing campaigns, and they refuse to alter or consider other opportunities or strategies, you need someone who better understands your goals.

The materials or services they provide for you should be mutually agreed upon. If an agency is providing materials you don’t need or can’t use, find someone who will create what you need! The assets made for you should work – what good is a website if it doesn’t work the way you need it to? Any reputable agency will be upfront with you if what you are asking is not something they can provide. Even if it is something they cannot provide in house, they should be able to point you in the right direction or let you know the limitations of what you are asking for.

You have no idea what they are doing.

Any agency should be able to give you a schedule of when to expect various tasks to be done, whether that’s a press release, blog, video, website build, sell sheet, or postcard design. If they can’t commit to a timeframe, or if deadlines comes and go and the only thing you get are excuses, it’s time to reconsider. An agency should keep you informed of how projects are coming along, and once deadlines are agreed on they should be met.

While agencies are not employees working in house, where you have the option of strolling to their desk and asking a question, they should be accessible within reason. You should be able to call or send an email and receive a response within a reasonable amount of time, including project updates, answers to questions, or time/cost estimates. If you can’t reach your agency and don’t receive regular contact or updates from them, that is a red flag.

You are worried about losing everything.

If you are unhappy but are sticking around because you don’t have the log in information for your accounts, or because you think you’ll lose your website if you change companies, that’s a surefire reason to leave. That problem does not resolve itself, and it only gets worse with time.

If this is your situation, read your agreement carefully to see who “owns” the website or other creative assets. Unfortunately, there will be few options if your contract states they retain ownership. But that doesn’t mean you should stay with a company who is holding your company’s assets hostage! Look for an agency that gives you complete ownership, and realize that you are going to have to rebuild many assets. Before you tell your current agency you are thinking of leaving, start speaking confidentially to other agencies or coders to determine how long it will take to remake those assets, always ensuring that you will retain ownership once they are complete. They will help you proceed with minimal disruption to your business.

How does your situation stack up?

If any of this sounds familiar, it’s time to revisit your options! Your company deserves better marketing, and you deserve someone you work well with. The company/agency relationship is critical for marketing success. Finding a good fit is essential.

It’s for these reasons and more that 360 Direct doesn’t use long term contracts or retainers – instead we prove our worth every month for you. We also guarantee you retain ownership and access to all your accounts – including your website! After all, this is a relationship, not a hostage situation. We believe in transparency on all levels. You can count on us to be upfront, even if that means we can’t fill your needs. To start a conversation about whether or not we could be the agency for you, contact us!

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29Jun
Why Marketing Design Matters ImageWhy Marketing Design Matters

Why Marketing Design Matters

It’s easy to neglect updating the marketing design in your materials. Many times, companies use the same design for their marketing materials and just plug in updated specs and product information.

Over time, it’s easy to fall into complacency and lose that critical eye towards pieces that have been working for you. After all, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” Many companies are satisfied as long as the information is correct. Unfortunately, that’s not enough! There are a lot of companies competing for your prospective customers’ attention, and with our shrinking attention spans, individuals are becoming accustomed to making snap judgments. Your product information could be saying you are leading your industry, but your marketing materials may be telling a different story.

Print Materials

Most B2B companies understand the continued need for print materials in their marketing mix, but even those marketing staples have evolved to incorporate updated marketing design. People now spend less time than ever digesting what’s in front of them – about seven seconds! Gone are the days when individuals sit and read large chunks of text they are handed or receive in the mail. It’s all about bullet points, sub headers, and an appealing design. So, bare this in mind whenever you need any Promotional Signs or any other marketing materials printed for your business

If you are taking your updated information and plugging it into the same brochure, sell sheet, or postcard template your company has been using for years, your materials likely aren’t as effective as they could be. People have complained about the amount of advertising they are exposed to since 1759, and the advertising clutter continues to grow annually. There are two ways to increase your odds of prospective clients paying attention.

  1. Get to the point. Companies have to assume their materials are only given a cursory glance before a reader decides to put it aside or to delve in and read more. Give your readers the information they are looking for as quickly as possible in a straightforward manner. Provide easy options for them to get more in-depth information, should the want it. Your layout should be easy to follow; colors and font should be crisp and clear.
  2. Get creative. How many postcards and flyers do decision makers receive in year? A month? A day? Make sure yours are standing out and not getting lost in the shuffle. This doesn’t mean gimmicky. Some well-placed images, a less common size, or a memorable and fitting cutout or insert could be all it takes.

Even with a robust print material campaign, most prospective clients will check you out online before calling to make an appointment or purchase. Which leads us to…

Websites

Even if you don’t know anything about the technical aspects of websites, you know an outdated website when you use one. It’s hard to navigate, it’s difficult to use on phones, and overall takes a long time to find specific information when you have a question. Companies that continue to have a website that is not “mobile friendly” are immediately creating an unnecessary barrier for prospective clients, since 42% of B2B decision makers use their mobile device for research.

In addition to the mobile friendly aspect, load times and content layout dramatically impact how long a prospective customer stays on your site. In fact, if your load time is more than three seconds, many people could leave your site before ever seeing the content. (Remember that 7 second attention span?) Of course, outdated information is sure to be noticed. As prospective customers gain information on their options, they are sure to check you out online. Make sure they like what they see! Current marketing design practices for websites include ensuring your site is responsive and contains relevant images and videos to further engage prospective clients.

Many companies find themselves stuck with a webmaster who built their site but doesn’t do great updates or are unwilling to keep up with best practices. The task of building a new site can seem daunting and even impossible. That said, it is well worth it to invest in a responsive website that will be easy to update and make changes to in the future. The internet will continue to evolve; if you are already behind, it will only get worse until you make that investment.

Regardless of what industry you are in, the design of your marketing materials matters. Your marketing design is as important as the machinery or materials you use for your products. You wouldn’t go years without considering an update or evaluating best practices, and the same should be said for your marketing efforts.

If you are concerned your marketing materials don’t align with today’s best practices, contact us for a free discovery appointment, where we will evaluate your current materials looking for opportunities – with no commitment from you.

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13Jun
How Businesses Can Find ContentHow Businesses Can Find Content

How Businesses Can Find Content

Savvy businesses understand the need for current, relevant content for their followers. Whether it’s blog posts, email blasts, or social media posts, businesses need content to present to their followers and keep them engaged and interested in the brand. Developing a content strategy, on the other hand, is often easier said than done. The first hurdle is determining what is newsworthy to your followers, and how to find the news within your organization.

You can’t write about everything, every time.

If each email you send looks like a rundown on all the products or services you offer, there’s some room to grow. Anyone can look at your website to get that information! If the information in your emails remains the same, what is the incentive to continue opening the emails and clicking on the content? The same can be said for social media channels. If the information being presented is more like catalog listings, there is little reason to continue to actively follow your organization. That’s not what you want!

These followers have already made the emotional connection and investment to like your page, sign up for your email, or click on your blog. They are asking for deeper engagement. Don’t give them a catalog listing, give them something to dig into! Narrow your focus and provide rich content on a specific product or news item.

How do you find your focus?

Your company likely has several offerings or areas of focus. How do you choose what to focus on? You want to choose what is most relevant to your company and the industry. A newsworthy item could be a new product or service you are introducing. Time sensitive information, like a new award or an upcoming trade show you are attending, is also an example of something you want to ensure your followers hear about.

Of course, you may not have breaking news on a weekly or monthly basis. That doesn’t mean you have nothing to talk about, though! This is a chance to highlight your company’s offerings with content that differentiates you from your competition. Don’t regurgitate information readily available on your website, brochure, or catalog. Add value to your content.

If you have great relationships with your clients, write a case-study that showcases an instance where you really solved a major business pain for them. This kind of piece can require some legwork and elbow grease, but can really move perspective clients. Work with your client and get their permission before embarking on this path. Ensure that you will not share any proprietary information, trade secrets, or other competitive knowledge. Instead, focus on what problem you solve for them. Is their process faster now? Their turnaround time shorter? Are you saving them money, making their products safer?

Are your products doing good in the community? Create a human interest piece by focusing on how your products benefit the community. If your products or services don’t lend themselves to any feel-good stories, what about the rest of your company? If you have any community programs or service projects, let the public know what you are doing!

Lastly, highlight an existing product or service. The key here is to offer more information than what people would be able to read in your brochure or catalog. Companies can use this opportunity to address any common misconceptions, FAQs, or to focus on largely unknown or underutilized features.

When selecting the product or service to highlight, there are a few things to keep in mind.

DO

  • Select an area of your company that you excel in.
  • Choose a line that you want to expand in, and have the capacity to do so.
  • Focus on a product or service with a good ROI for your company.

DON’T

  • Pick a product or service you are discontinuing or trying to get out of. (Unless you are highlighting a sale!)
  • Write about a product or service that you don’t have the capacity to expand in.
  • Highlight something with a poor ROI for your company. If your content drives new business, you want it to be business you want.

Strategize when to release your content.

Once you have content, decide when to release it. Some content is evergreen, but if your product has a cyclical lifestyle, it’s important to think about the timing of your release.

Releasing your content during a high volume time, when your product or service is used the most, will hit followers at a time when they are actively thinking about your product more and experiencing a business pain. You’ll be more likely to grab their attention, but less likely to make an immediate sale, since they will already have providers in place for that cycle. On the other hand, if you have a feel for when your target audience is reassessing their processes and considering new providers, that’s a great time to have deeper engagement with them via a well-thought piece of content.

Quality content is not a continuous sales pitch, regurgitating information from your website, brochure, and catalogs, and you don’t necessarily need to offer sales to get your target audience’s attention. Your content strategy should use what your organization is already doing to generate relevant, engaging content that will keep your followers interested in your company.  360 Direct is a Milwaukee and Chicago Marketing Company.  We can help you execute these strategies!

 

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31May
email marketingEmail Marketing’s Place in a B2B Industry

Email Marketing’s Place in a B2B Industry

Email marketing has been a popular choice for years now, known as an inexpensive option to directly reach consumers. Emails consistently have the highest ROI of all marketing channels. But are they still working? And are they more fit for B2C companies?

The answers are, “Yes, they are still working, and they are just as fit for B2B companies!” In fact, B2B companies have a higher Open Rate and CTR than B2C companies when it comes to email. Let’s take a look at a few reasons your B2B company should employ a robust email marketing campaign.

For one, emails can help establish your business as a forward-thinking thought leader in your industry. Presenting new, helpful information to decision makers will keep you at the top of their mind when they encounter a business pain that needs a solution you already provide.

Second of all, emails have a higher rate of engagement than social media. This could be because people who sign up for your email list are already more engaged in your company than those that click “like” on social media, or it could be because people are in the mindset for reading more and deeper connections when they sit down with their email than when they casually scroll through social media channels. Regardless, emails has proved in multiple studies to be more effective than social media. Not to mention, many of your client and contacts may not be connected to you on social media!

Lastly, emails are a great way to stay in contact with clients and interested parties with long buying cycles. You are well aware that B2B sales are relationship based. Nurture and grow that relationship by providing interesting and relevant information for them in between sales calls.

So now that we’ve covered why B2B companies should send emails, what should be in them?

Email Marketing in a B2B IndustryEmail marketing is a great tool for both B2C and B2B businesses, but those emails are very different in terms of content.

A B2C email typically has a call to make a purchase, but B2B emails are best when they present new information. B2B emails should focus on being educational and informative, encouraging recipients to “Learn More” rather than “Buy More!”

This is a great opportunity for B2B companies to reach decision makers and educate them about problems they may not know about and introduce them to the solutions you provide. Rather than list your products, show them an in-depth case study so they can see how your company can affect change and solve their business pain. It’s also the perfect place to announce new products or services you offer, trade shows you will be attending, and other developments that are relevant to your clients and show that your company is constantly growing and developing.

Even when content is rich, detailed, and informative, don’t bog down the email by making it too lengthy. Post your case study, whitepaper, or product announcement on your website. The email should contain enough information for your recipient to determine if it’s information they want to learn more about, and then provide a link for them to do just that – on the company website, of course.

As with all email marketing campaigns, only send an email when you have something interesting to tell you recipients! For many B2B companies, an email a month is frequent enough. As always, monitoring your results can guide the decision making process for adjusting any marketing campaign to achieve best results.

We would also recommend you make sure that you use an Email Encryption service. It is important to send out quality information in your emails, but you want to be sure that your are only sending out the information you are aware of and not leaking private company information with emails that aren’t encrypted. Make sure you find a service that offers your the right protection and email encryption service for your business before you choose one.

While there are some differences in B2C and B2B campaigns, there are similarities as well.

Segmenting your audience to get the most pertinent information to your recipients realizes the best results, particularly for larger companies with several focuses. Otherwise, companies run the risk of recipients getting into the mindset that emails from you are not always relevant or helpful.

As always, only use email addresses that people have willingly given and opted-in to receive correspondence and give a clear opt-out option in emails. If your company is getting ready to add email marketing to your marketing mix, ensure recipients are told in their first email what your emails will be used for and how frequently they can expect communication.

Companies that take the time to develop great emails will reap the rewards in better client relationships and a great ROI. If you aren’t currently investing in email marketing, it’s never to late too begin and see how your business benefits.

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25Aug
Marketing Inspiration From A Brand IconMarketing Inspiration From A Brand Icon

Marketing Inspiration From A Brand Icon

In June 2016 Coca-Cola celebrated being a source of successful marketing inspiration for 130 years. A dominant global force and world renowned iconic brand, every company marketing a product can learn from them.

Coca-Cola’s sustained success is largely attributed to marketing strategy, innovation and goal-based ad spend. So what can we learn from them? Even iconic brands do not take a break from marketing.

Strategy

Without a strong and precise marketing strategy it is hard to achieve desired results. Coca-Cola are famed for having an extremely disciplined strategy and as such it is no surprise that they have been so successful over the years. However, this is not to say that all of Coca-Cola’s marketing tactics have been successful. Over the years there have been some failed campaigns:

“Things Would Have Been Better With Coke”—This advertising campaign featured historical figures who had unhappy endings to their lives, such as Julius Caesar and Marie Antoinette. The premise of this campaign: If only Coke had been there, then maybe things might have turned out differently. Sales were down after this campaign and thus Coca-Cola needed to revise the advertising plan.

Innovation

If you look at the genesis of innovative marketing tactics such as coupons, sponsorship and event marketing Coca-Cola are never too far behind the trend. They realize the importance of brand recognition and by starting a sponsorship with the Olympic Games in 1928 they ensure that every 4 years the world is reminded of their global presence. By not being afraid to innovate when necessary Coca-Cola now has an 88-year long sponsorship with one of the worlds biggest events.

With the bravery to innovate does sometime come the risk of failure. Coca-Cola are no different to this phenomena and “New Coke” is a famed historical example. Whilst it was a failed product, it actually gave Coca-Cola a wake-up call from becoming too passive:

“I think we were lazy in really recognizing that we needed to reactivate or reposition the brand. If we had done that through an advertising process, I don’t think New Coke would have ever happened, but there was such resistance to any kind of change in the advertising position of the brand that we introduced a change in the taste,” Mr. Zyman said. “I know, you’ll say that’s ridiculous, and I agree. But it happened.”

More recently Coke has been re-positioning itself as the embodiment of happiness. “If you’re able to own that emotion in people’s mind space, that’s a very powerful thing,” said Chief Marketing and Commercial Officer Joe Tripodi. Once again Coca-Cola are trying to follow the trend and associate a human emotion with a brand. Much like many marketing experts Coca-Cola’s founder believed that you had to advertise and get your product out to the people. Iconic brands know that maintaining a marketing plan consistently throughout the year will reap benefits, that constant evaluation of the brand’s positioning will keep the brand at the forefront, and that resistance to change can hold a brand stagnant. What is your brand’s emotional connection to your consumers?  How can you use that emotion to connect with your consumers?

Ad Spend

Flashback to 1922 when Coca-Cola reached an unheard spend of $1 million for their ad budget. Today, the company spends $2.9 billion globally on advertising across 206 markets. Though Coca-Cola’s marketing spend is unattainable for most, the spend did contribute to Coca-Cola becoming the worlds most recognized brand. This marketing spend may be scary, but a marketing budget should not be. A marketing spend needs to be a relationship between your comfort zone and the goals you want to achieve.

Be Aware of the Relationship Amongst All Business Activities

New Coke taught Coca-Cola much about how their business practices and marketing activities relate to each other. For instance, Coca-Cola ran into a challenge of communicating with the bottlers when New Coke was introduced, which partially lead to New Coke’s demise:

“It was very exciting at the beginning, because all of a sudden we had almost a rebirth, a renaissance of the brand. Consumers were looking at it and business was booming. Consumers wanted the brand; they appreciated the brand; they knew what the brand was all about. And it was a great opportunity for us to actually reformulate the overall proposition of the brand. But the system was very tired, the bottlers were very tired. Remember, a bottler is in a small community. They were attacked by their neighbors. People in the golf club made fun of them and all that. They wanted a break. So the company lost focus again. I got very frustrated, and I left the company.” —Sergio Zyman, marketing executive.

Stay focused, understand business relationships, and know the importance of asking and listening. Local Marketing Agencies, when used correctly, should work with all components for a successful business.  A company is most powerful when all aspects of business understand and integrate with each other. Take advantage of the relationship value of each activity to each other, and eliminate silo thinking.
What Should You Do?

We can all say, “Wow, 130 years, congratulations Coca-Cola!” How does your brand stay around for 5, 10, 30 years? 360 Direct is available whether you need a milwaukee Marketing consultant, or a full marketing team. We help you establish strategy, goals, and a budget that fits your particular needs. Call 262-289-9210 or email us today, and get a complementary 30 minute discovery consultation.

Sources:

“Best Global Brands.” Business Week. Retrieved fromhttp://images.businessweek.com/ss/06/07/top_brands/source/1.htm

Zmuda,Natalie. (2011, May 2). “At 125 Years Old, Coke’s Story is StillBeing Written.” Advertising Age. Retrieved fromhttp://adage.com/article/news/125-years-coke-seeks-double-revenue-10-years/22730/

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