internet marketing

The “How” of Lead Generation

Last week, I wrote about the Five W’s – who, what, when, where and why – in A Formula for Lead Generation, which outlined how to create a strategy for a lead generation campaign.

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As the owner of Creativeworks, a marketing agency dedicated to increasing marketing for SMBs, once we’ve created the strategy for an online campaign with clear objectives and methods, we focus on how the campaign will be executed. As a follow-up to last week’s post, I’d like to share with you a number of tips on how to perfect your online marketing campaign.

  1. How to get your audience’s attention: The first step after creating the strategy is engaging your audience.  We have found that presenting an offer of some kind is the best way to attract your potential customer. Think of a type of offer you would be comfortable presenting. The offer needs to be engaging enough to entice the audience, but can’t appear to be too good to be true. Otherwise, your audience will steer clear of it. For example, the offer can be a free download of a whitepaper, a discount on product or services, or a chance to win a prize.
  2. How to get their lead information: Customers know that in order to receive an offer, they have to do something. Once you have your audience interested in your offer, they should be on your site’s landing page. In addition to containing details regarding your offer, this landing page should include an online form for visitors to fill out. This is the lead generation acquisition piece, and the questions will vary depending on your individual needs.
  3. How to get the offer: Once they fill in the online form, an email will go to you, for lead generation, and an email or similar will go to them, delivering your offer (e.g. offer code, download link, whitepaper attachment).
  4. How to process the lead: Once you have the lead information, it is up to you as to how you process it. It should follow a sales process. For example, ensuring that contact is made within 48 hours of receiving the lead, second notice is sent within a week, and after 10 days, a phone call is made.  You have to evaluate what sort of process works for your company.
  5. How you look: Ensure that all design and copy elements are consistent with your brand. If the first time your potential customer sees your brand is via this online advertising, it needs to reflect the same look and tone of your brand on your website, and all other aspects of your business.

These tips, plus last week’s tips on strategy, will help you to get started, and to work towards launching an online lead generation marketing campaign. If this all seems a bit overwhelming, or you don’t have the internal resources to take this on, you might want to consider getting some help or advice from a marketing agency.

Have you done any online lead generation marketing, and found promising results? Are you considering online marketing this year? I look forward to hearing from you in the comments below.

Why Stop-and-Start Marketing Does Not Work

All businesses see fluctuations in their revenues. And it is understandable that when faced with “cash flow” issues, many businesses owners look to cut what they deem to be “unnecessary expenditures”. However, I can tell you from my many years of marketing experience that marketing is an integral part of your business, and stopping marketing activities can have a dramatic impact on your business.

A good example of this in practice is the 2008 financial crisis. Many businesses were faced with huge revenue challenges, and although some decided to stop their marketing and withdraw from their consumers’ radars, there were those that looked at it as an opportunity to “market smarter”. They continued to invest in their marketing, and not only survived the crisis – they actually thrived. Fueled by a strong marketing presence, these companies pushed forward with bolder strategies, and thereby gained a competitive advantage.

The reason that marketing is so important to businesses is that marketing is your main lifeline to customers and sales. Without it, you can’t be sure that customers know who you are, and what you are selling.

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I’d like to share with you a few tips to consider, if you are ever in a situation where you are contemplating stopping or “pausing” your marketing activities:

  • Sync your business operations to be in line with your marketing strategy, so that if you have a “weak” month, you can pick up sales leads and revenues via another avenue.   For example, if you know that August is traditionally a bad “cash flow” month for your business, plan to combat that with a campaign running in July and August. Your marketing strategy plays a key role in your success.
  • Stop the marketing activities that are using non-measurable tactics, and replace them with other more measurable marketing practices.
  • Focus your advertising campaigns on lead generation instead of simply brand recognition.
  • Leverage social media strategies to increase engagement, audience and potential leads.
  • Find more ways to connect with your customers, so that you will be “top of mind” when they are making a buying decision.

I understand why, when faced with a crisis or dip in revenues, companies look to cut marketing budgets. But, simply stated, as “marketing” encompasses everything you do to place your product or service in the hands of potential customers, your marketing really needs to be continuous.

With markets becoming more competitive, it is more important that you get ahead of your competitors – by any means necessary.  That should start with a great marketing strategy, and continue with “smart”, measurable tactics that attract customers to your business.

Have you ever contemplated stopping your marketing?  What impact did this have on your business?  Please share your experiences on the importance of continuous marketing in the comments below.

Rebranding Case Study: IT Business Advisors

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Ahh, rebranding.  So much is talked about on this topic, but sometimes the proof is in the pudding or in this case, the proof is in the case study.

The Stage

Facilitate

IT (FIT) had been in the IT business for over a decade.  Their original focus had been providing IT solutions as well as a variety of other IT-related services like website design and hosting.  Based on customer needs, they changed their focus to technology management for a specific target audience – small businesses.  FIT needed a brand name and branding to reflect this new direction.

The Work

FIT had to differentiate itself from its competitors. But the FIT name and brand attributes – including the company name and brand slogan “Make IT work” – no longer seemed appropriate. The brand did not ‘speak’ to their audience or communicate what they specifically do.

We worked with them to investigate how the brand might address the company’s new direction of becoming a technology management resource for small businesses.

In addition to research on industry best practices, a comparative analysis was conducted on their competition. Potential new company names were tested with their customers, and discussions with customers, management, and employees were analyzed in depth by the Creativeworks team.

The Outcome

Based on the competitive research, as well as best practices and Creativeworks’ marketing experience, we recommended that the “new FIT brand” feature an advisor in its core message.  An advisor sentiment communicates to customers that this company is more than an expert; they can solve customer concerns on a specific topic, which in this case was coupled with technology management.

The “advisor” message was then integrated into the branding with core attributes being trust, experience, knowledge, and superior quality staff and products.  Quite simply, the new brand was now positioned as “the brand to trust for all your technology management needs.”

At the time, there was no other IT service provider that focused on trust as a unique angle, or was known as being an advisor to small businesses.  In this industry, these were identified as ideal and strong differentiators.

Facilitate IT changed its name to IT Business Advisors and a strong tagline was added: “Your trusted technology management team”.  This further defined and positioned their brand.

Key Lessons Learned

Firstly, rebranding is also about change: change of mindset for owners, management, employees and customers so including them in the process, even minimally, is key to its adoption and success.

Secondly, when rebranding, continually check your process by asking:  Does it deliver an accurate perception of their identity?  Does it improve customer confidence in their business?  Does it increase their profile?  Will it help enhance their competitive advantage?

Lastly, rebranding is not about new colours, websites or even a new logo (although that is part of implementing the rebrand), it’s about creating a company message that employees and customers understand and can rally around.

Bonus
Read what our client has to say about this experience in a press release we issued as a result of winning an international creative award for this rebranding initiative: http://www.ourcreativeworks.ca/2012HermesPlatinumAward.html

 

Have any branding stories you’d like to share?  I’d be interested in hearing from you.