We all want qualified leads and yet, when it comes to generating them, many IT businesses fail to observe basic principles. As a result, they end up totally disillusioned with 'marketing' or continue to throw good money after bad. Here are some observations from 15 years of working in and through the channel together with suggestions for developing more successful campaign outcomes:
1. Lack of campaign planning
Many marketing campaigns I have seen over the years have not delivered because they are either 'knee-jerk' attempts to spend allocated funds or, more commonly, lack necessary planning. Having quarterly marketing campaigns mapped out will make a big difference to your lead generation efforts. Of course, this plan may change, according to circumstances, but it will provide focus for working on the business, not in it, and serve as a springboard for marketing that sells.
Plan all the way to the end, taking into account your target market(s), competitor activity, telemarketer availability, printers, Web designers, vendors/partners and that old chestnut, the school holidays. There are five essential questions you must answer:< br/> 1. Who are you talking to? < br/> 2. What are you trying to get them to do? < br/> 3. Where do you find them? < br/> 4. When should you speak to them? < br/> 5. Why should they do what you want? < br/> These questions will help you look at things from the potential customers' point of view. < br/>
2. Being all things to all people
Your business cannot and should not try to please everyone. Make sure the right businesses like you and accept that others will not. That's how the world works and you should market your business accordingly. Segmenting into industry verticals based on geographical, employee or revenue criteria is a great place to start rejecting businesses you don't want to appeal to and focusing your messaging on those you do.
3. We, us, our
Most websites, collateral and promotional material I see is inwardly focused about the business in question. 'You', 'your' and 'yours' are the most effective words to use in Web and brochure content as opposed to 'we', 'us', and 'our'. Here's why: Firstly, 'you' are what you're interested in most of all - sad but true. 'They' are not interested in how great you are, but how they can benefit from engaging with your business. Secondly, research shows the more times you use 'you' words in your messages, the more they get read. Conversely, the more you use 'we' words, the less interested people are.
4. Lack of competitive understanding
To build a successful campaign, it's vital to know what other companies are promising to markets you both target. This will ensure you develop a differentiated value proposition. A good test for this is to put a competitor's logo on your creative to see if they too could conceivably provide the product or service being promoted. If the answer is no, go for it; if it is yes, consider a rethink of your messaging.
5. Not understanding the purpose of marketing
Marketing is a funny art where everyone has an opinion, regardless of their background, yet few understand its purpose beyond generating leads for a particular campaign. It's not just about pushing your product and services on a database purchased from a list provider. It's about knowing your prospects and customers. The only way to do this is to market consistently to a segment over time and build profiles of those businesses that can be used to more effectively market to individuals within them.
6. Lack of testing
Failing to test means wasting time and money. Testing provides valuable information about your targets and how to market to them, compares different tactics, and highlights mistakes you make. I have learned more about successful marketing from mistakes than from campaigns that delivered above expectations. Testing doesn't have to be complicated. Here are some ideas: 1. Record and keep copies of everything produced< br/> 2. Measure and record results: < br/> • How many people did you target? < br/> • How many responded without prompting? < br/> • How many responded with prompting? < br/> • How many meetings were gained? < br/> • How many quotes were generated? < br/> • Average value of quotes? < br/> • How many sales were made? < br/> • What were the total and average value of sales? < br/> 3. Try A/B testing. Develop two types of advertising and send them to different database sample groups. The highest resulting sample piece can then be sent to a larger audience in your target market< br/> 4. If you use telephone marketing try several scripts for the same campaign and see which delivers the best results< br/>
7. Not communicating your value
When you're looking to develop your next brochure or piece of collateral think about a question that every prospect or customer asks (usually subconsciously) but which few IT companies bother to deal with in their messages: "Why should I choose you?" Are you the cheapest, quickest, best value, safest, most trusted, friendliest, most tested, fastest, most advanced, latest, oldest, most loved, most reliable, easiest to deal with, most helpful? < br/>
If you think it's because of your customer service, technical ability or a great product then think again. Yes, they are important but everybody says they have them and, as such, they are not a differentiator. Imagine you are an IT manager or CIO in a target market of your choice; What are the issues you face in your business, your stresses, your risks? How does your business solve these issues? < br/>
8. Not focusing on how to grow the business
It pays to look at how you want your business to grow and how marketing can help achieve those sales objectives during the coming year. With that in mind there are only three ways (at least that I know of) to profitably grow a business: < br/> 1. Find new customers< br/> 2. Increase the average number of transactions per year with existing customers< br/> 3. Increase the average value of each sale you make to those customers If you focus on how much growth you would like from each of these three areas it will help to direct your marketing efforts into the right areas. < br/>