Cutbacks Force Greater Marketing Accountability

Widespread budget cuts and demands to ‘do more with less’ have forced corporate marketers to step up their accountability and measurement efforts and improve collaboration with other organizational departments, according to a recent survey from Marketing Management Analytics (MMA) and the Association of National Advertisers (ANA).

The study also found that cost-saving measures are causing marketers to shift campaigns away from traditional media toward digital formats, away from brand-building activities toward promotional tactics, and into lower-cost media in general, MarketingCharts reports.

“With the economy still struggling to find its way out of the doldrums, marketing accountability has moved from the category of ‘nice to have’ to ‘must have,'” said Douglas Brooks, SVP and marketing officer for MMA. “Management and finance are getting on board in increasing numbers, and becoming enthusiastic champions of marketing accountability as they see the results in black and white.”

Improving Effectiveness Without Spending

Nearly all the firms in the survey (92%) say they are taking steps to improve marketing effectiveness without spending more in 2009. To do so, they are employing significant tactical changes:

  • Shifting investments from traditional to digital media (70% of respondents).
  • Shifting advertising investment from brand-building initiatives to promotional marketing (53).
  • Shifting into lower-cost media, i.e. local vs. national TV spots, 15-second vs. 30-second, etc (38% of respondents).

Read the full report at;  Cutbacks Force Greater Marketing Accountability, Collaboration – MarketingVOX

– Steve (www.SPMsolutions.NET)

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The Five Sentence Email

emailWhen you send email, you most definitely want it to be read! With everyone’s inboxes bulging at the seams with unwanted come-ons you face an awful lot of competition in your recipient’s inbox for their attention. Getting read is no small feat,  getting your reader to take action even a greater accomplishment. Lets face it – E-mail that takes too long to respond to results in continuous inbox overflow for those who receive a lot of it.

Good writers know that lean, vibrant language is almost always preferable to verbose, rambling writing. There is virtually no writing in the world so good that it can’t be made better by making it shorter. There are exceptions, of course – a contract needs to cover every possible potentiality, as does the text of an international treaty, but these documents are not really meant to be read, they’re meant to be enacted.  

Writing concisely offers benefits on its own – the short email, particularly the email whose contents fit into the preview pane without any scrolling, has a much higher chance of gaining a reader’s attention than one that starts off with three pages about trivia.

This is what Mike Davidson (five.sentenc.es) figured out – if his recipients were half as slammed as he was, he figured they could use some relief from long-winded emails that ramble on and on in the guise of pleasantries. Instead, he committed himself to writing emails that were five sentences or less, every single time.

That’s all well and good, of course, but how can you make sure you say what you need to say if you limit yourself to five sentences?  You don’t want to leave anything out, right? Fortunately, super-entrepreneur Guy Kawasaki offered this advice – “whether UR young or old, the point is that the optimal length of an email message is five sentences. All you should do is explain who you are, what you want, why you should get it, and when you need it by.

A good outline for a five-sentence email might look something like this:

  1. Who are you?  – This might be skipped if you already have a relationship with the recipient; otherwise, in as little space as possible, explain the relevant facts about yourself.
  2. What do you want? – Explain why you’re writing the email, what you expect your recipient to do about it, and any relevant information they need to respond with the appropriate action.
  3. Why should you get it? –  Why should they bother? Explain why your request is important, and if relevant, what’s in it for them.
  4. When do you need them to act? Open-ended requests get responded to whenever the recipient gets around to it. Be as specific as possible, so that your recipient a) has a sense of urgency, b) feels that their response is important to you, and c) feels inspired to act.

If more information is needed, a formal report, a webpage, or some other document is probably going to be better-suited rather than presenting it than an email. Send an attachment, send a link, or schedule a face-to-face meeting if necessary; don’t blast off a giant email that takes you hours to write in the vain hope that it will be read. It probably won’t!

This material was summarized from Mastering the Short Email by Dustin Wax.

 – Steve (www.SPMsolutions.NET)

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Collecting Web Leads

forms

Once you start getting visitors to your website, then it’s time to concentrate on capturing their contact information so you can market to them. There are many ways to set up simple web forms to capture this information depending on how technical you are or how much you want to pay a 3rd party solution.

Remember these basics. The most effective way to get someone to give you their email address is by offering something of REAL value in return (e.g. an article, newsletter, etc). Keep your web form short and basic. Asking for too much initial information is a sure way to kill your response rate. Offering visitors something of value ensures you get people who actually have interest in what you do and therefore they agree to ‘opt in’. Having a long list of names that don’t really have any interest in what you offer is a waste of time and effort. Quality is much more important than quantity.

Your objective is to not give out anything until you confirm their email address. This is usually done by simply letting them know that you will be emailing them further instructions on how to download the promised information. If they don’t give you a legitimate email address then they won’t get the information! Try not to send documents as email attachments. Many people have problems receiving them. Instead point them to a website location where your document is being stored. You can either store your document on your own website hosting server or use a 3rd party online storage solution (usually free) from Windows Live Skydrivedocstoc, or Google Docs.

There are basically 3 ways to to use web forms to collect this information – the main difference being how lead information actually gets into your contact management database.

  1. Manual and Low-Tech:  Simply add a ‘Contact Us’ form to your web site or a button that triggers their local email program to send you an email requesting the information you’re giving out. Nearly all website development tools can do this. There should be no HTML code or scripts to write. You respond by sending them an email with a link to where they can find the document. After that, you manually add them to your contact manager (e.g. Outlook). This approach is easy and inexpensive but only for low volumes of responses. If you want to use a 3rd party contact form, check out formspring or emailmeform. They usually offer a basic service for free. Google Docs also offers basic forms for free. Check out my FREE Coaching Session form.
  2. Semi-Automated and Low-Tech: If you plan to collect a lot of leads and want everything handled automatically then I would suggest using a 3rd party email marketing service. These can send out mass emails or fancy newsletters depending on your preference. The approach is basically the same as before except they generate the sign-up forms. All new leads are automatically sent a confirmation email (to verify their email address) and then automatically added to your email list database. These services are inexpensive and typically the best solution for most small businesses. The big players in this field are Constant Contact, aWeber, iContact . There is even one service (EliteEmail) where you only pay for what you send out (i.e. no monthly fees). When using this approach you usually end up exporting the lead list to an excel file and then importing back into your contact manager (e.g. Outlook).
  3. Fully-Automated and High-Tech:  If you are using a CRM application like Salesforce.com, SugarCRM, or ZohoCRM then they offer (at no extra cost) basic ‘web-to-lead’ form generation utilities. In this case, they generate a form for you to put on your website which collects visitor information, automatically sends a confirmation email, and then directly puts the lead information into your own CRM database. This approach requires you to be somewhat comfortable with cutting and pasting HTML code but is the preferred approach for small-to-medium sized businesses.

It is rarely worth the effort to try anything more complicated that email confirmation before sending out your material. Forget about usernames/passwords since they are not worth the hassle and don’t worry if people don’t give you real names either. Having a valid email address is the most important item. Your goal now is to market to them in a manner they feel comfortable with so, they gradually give you more information and never ‘opt out’.

– Steve (www.SPMsolutions.NET)

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This Ain’t Your Father’s Marketing Anymore

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Marketing certainly has its roots in large and expensive campaigns intended to reach as many people as possible. This type of ‘mass marketing’ helped develop corporate branding (e.g. Coca-Cola, Campbell Soup, etc.) but was completely ‘product focused’ and treated all customers as if they had the same needs and buying preferences. Compare this to what the direct marketing folks are now doing with target marketing, relationship marketing, permission marketing, event-based marketing and even location-based marketing.

It’s interesting to see how these different strategies actually evolved.

  • Mass Marketing – The goal here is to reach the largest number of people and ‘hope’ they have interest in your product/service. Mass marketing uses mass media such as TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, billboards, etc.  This type of marketing is (was) characterized by big budgets, national campaigns, and very little actual data to measure marketing efficiency.
  • Direct Marketing – Mass marketing was flipped around when direct marketing started directly contacting consumers (using direct mail, telemarketers, etc). This new evolution (around 1960) also was the start of test-marketing to gauge the effectiveness of different advertising campaigns.
  • Target Marketing – Soon after computers became widely used, marketers began gathering data on who was buying their products and why. This led to targeting their promotional strategies directly towards consumers who are most likely to purchase their product. This market segmentation divided up customers and prospects according to their demographics, age, income, etc.  
  • Relationship Marketing – Many businesses realized that it was just as profitable to ‘sell more to each customer’ as it was to ‘sell to more customers’. This led to (around 1990) marketing that communicated with customers ‘as individuals’ with tailored information geared towards their unique buying experiences and preferences.  Obviously this requires lots of data on customer behavior patterns, profiles, etc. which helped launch the development of new business CRM applications and marketing automation tools.  
  • Permission Marketing – As consumers began to get bombarded with email spam, many businesses realized the benefits of spending more time marketing to consumers who have specifically shown interest in your product/service and (effectively) have given you permission to market to them (in a way they want to be marketed to)! This is most commonly done when consumers sign up (i.e. give out their email address) to download product information or receive a newsletter. The importance of having good customer data to personalize your marketing is critical since these prospects can remove their permission anytime (by opting out).     
  • Event-Based Marketing– Imagine someone just supplied their personal information and downloads information about a new vacation resort. This event triggers an marketing automation tool to send out a targeted promotional offer that is customized, timely, informative, and useful. Everyone potentially wins. The consumer gets something they were actually looking for – when they want it!  This type of marketing is heavily Internet focused and relies on good automation tools.  
  • Location-Based Marketing– Now that cell phones have Internet access AND they have embedded location devices (i.e. GPS locators), we can expect to see mobile advertising based on location. Of course this will also be personalized and permission-based but imagine you are leaving work for lunch and you receive a text message with ‘2-for-1 lunch deals’ at restaurants in your immediate area. Over time the system also realizes you prefer Chinese over Mexican, etc.  

Take-aways from this marketing evolution …

Mass Marketing is moving to Relationship Marketing

Few Large Campaigns are moving to Many Customized Campaigns

Product Focus is moving to Customer Focus

Short-Term Revenue is moving to Long-Term Customer Loyalty

Resources …

The CRM Handbook– great book on CRM implementation, especially read Chapter 2 (CRM in Marketing)

Post from BNET on the subject of ‘Broadcast Marketing‘ and why it doesn’t work anymore.

 

 – Steve  (www.SPMsolutions.NET)

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Why Your Business Needs a CRM Database

crm

One of the many challenges facing small businesses is keeping track of their customers, prospects, and vendors.  In this economy, customers are  spending less and taking longer to make buying decisions. Today’s CRM solutions allow you to keep track of  all your critical relationships, especially your sales leads, ensuring you get maximum sales revenue.

Many businesses also find themselves unable to grow solely by referrals alone.  Some are now marketing for the first time and wondering where to get new leads and who to address their marketing efforts towards. Remember, leads can come from a number of different sources including current customers, past customers, referral partners, vendors, tradeshows, seminars, website searches, etc. – as well as purchased lists.

Your existing contacts and relationships are an obvious first place to start but getting them all collected and stored in a central location can be quite a difficult challenge. This is where a simple CRM database can help out. It could be as simple as an Excel spreadsheet or (even better) an online, database-driven tool like SalesForce.com. These types of  database CRM tools have now progressed to the point where they are cost-effective and easy to use for smaller businesses. Check out a few of the on-demand, SaaS (software as a service)  solutions that charge a reasonable ‘per-user’ monthly subscription.

  • Salesforce.com – the big player in the industry with many  partners
  • Sugar CRM – a popular ‘open source’ provider with good features
  • Zoho CRM – inexpensive CRM (plus other small biz apps) 
  • Free CRM – yes it’s free but is pretty basic and includes ads

For a reasonable fee and no long term contract, you can keep all you contact information in one location, safely backed-up and online, where you can access it anytime and from anywhere using a simple web browser. Now you just need to categorize your leads and contacts (i.e. where they came from, what their interest is, what the next steps are, etc.). Obviously if your database is large, you’ll want to concentrate on short-term business opportunities first without getting completely bogged down in data entry and updating.

So what should you expect to achieve by implementing a centralized, database-driven CRM system? Well if you do it correctly you should have;

  • A permanent, centralized (and safe) storage of of all customer data and transactions.
  • Improved business ‘relationship’ with your customers.
  • A bigger pool of prospects to market to.
  • Better visibility and control over marketing and sales effectiveness.
  • More insight into new opportunities and sales forecasting.
  • Fewer leads that don’t get followed up on.
  • More qualified leads being passed along to your sales team.

For more information visit some of these sites:

    Benefits of CRM        Open Source CRM?       The CRM Handbook

And they’re certainly are some real issues to address when implementing any CRM system. Here’s a great post that summarizes things to expect:

   9 Dirty Little Secrets of CRM

– Steve      (www.SPMsolutions.NET)

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New B2B Marketing/Sales Trends

To survive this difficult business environment, businesses cannot continue doing what they’ve always done in the past. Marketing and sales are now being forced to ‘do more with less’ due to reduced staffing and budget cuts. Here are some of the trends I’ve noticed in the B2B marketing and sales world …

  1. There is an increased emphasis on measured results and ROI of all marketing expenditures.
  2. Sales cycles are getting longer with buyers much more cost conscious about their purchases.
  3. Businesses now need to generate new leads outside their normal sphere of relationships and contacts.
  4. Increased use of marketing automation tools to reduce expenses – while still nurturing leads who may turn into prospects in the future.
  5. More emphasis on website copy optimization that clearly portrays a company’s ‘value proposition’ and a clear ‘call to action’. No more ‘business card’ websites.
  6. Growing use of internet marketing and search engine optimization so businesses can easily ‘be found’ when prospects are looking for their product/service.
  7. Tracking and monitoring of website traffic including keywords used to get there, and referral sites.
  8. Increased use of multi-channel marketing campaigns (print, email, internet, telesales, etc).
  9. Prospects are looking for (and downloading) much more product information and collateral as they perform their due diligence before buying.
  10. More effort is being spent on lead scoring so the sales team is only given qualified leads and expected to follow-up on all of them.

In the good old days businesses may have been able to flourish with casual marketing efforts and less than 100% lead follow-up but not anymore. In this challenging economy, every qualified lead might be worth thousands of dollars to acquire making it more important than ever to (1) understand which marketing approach worked the best and (2) ensure each and every one is followed up on by the sales team.

– Steve  (www.SPMsolutions.NET)

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