Category: B2B Trade Show Marketing

Why B2B marketers must read this book on lead generation.


The title of David Scott’s new book “The New Rules of Lead Generation: Proven Strategies to Maximize Marketing ROI” is a bit misleading. It doesn’t just cover the new rules of lead generation marketing that involve LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. It covers all the channels and all the practices necessary to achieve successful B2B marketing lead generation.

As the CEO and founder of Marketfish, David Scott knows his stuff. When he tookScott Book marketing courses at the Wharton School, all he learned about was brand marketing. Thrown into a B2B marketing position when the CMO left the $3.5 billion publicly traded software company where he worked, he had to learn fast. Over the years he has discovered the value of data, testing and measurement for all channels. He now shares his knowledge and experience in this comprehensive lead generation marketing handbook.

B2B marketers must read and share this book if they:

  • Have been so focused on entering social media — or any other single media or tactic — that other necessary lead generation channels have been neglected.
  • Want a comprehensive refresher course on B2B marketing best practices to ensure that nothing valuable has been missed.
  • Have beginners on their team who need to learn what effective lead generation is all about.
  • Need to better understand the importance of data, brand, B2B marketing math and all the other elements that turn million-dollar companies into multi-billion-dollar companies.
  • Are worried that they’re missing one of the seven most successful lead-generation approaches that companies are using today.
  • Have budget limitations and want to focus lead gen dollars on tactics that can maximize the return.
  • Want a handy list of how-tos on any aspect of lead generation marketing.

Highly readable and very informative, this book doesn’t miss a beat. I recommend it for every member of every B2B marketing team — beginner or expert — wanting to maximize the success and the ROI of their company’s lead generation.

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The most popular posts from B2B Marketing Smarts in 2012.


What follows are the five most popular blogs posted on B2B Marketing Smarts in 2012. They are not only packed with useful information on B2B marketing best practices, but they can give B2B marketers a little insight into what their competitors may be researching, reading and implementing now and into the coming year.

In case you missed any of these, here they are again for your review.

Also at this close of the year I have the opportunity to wish all my readers a rewarding and successful 2013.

Take your B2B trade show booth from boring to spectacular.
This guest post from Daniel Frank suggests how the right activities and practices can significantly improve the number of visitors to a B2B trade show booth, the time the visitors spend at the booth and how that visit can stand out from the competition.

Two B2B marketing rules that cross all forms of communication.
Don’t miss reviewing these two basic rules that, when followed, consistently enhance the readability and impact made by a B2B marketing message.

B2B marketing’s 10 most common copy mistakes.
Regardless of one’s marketing experience and background, there’s likely at least one rule here that a B2B marketer could be missing. Check out this list and see if there isn’t some little improvement that could enhance the impact of a marketing communication.

B2B content marketing: Be noticed in this attention economy.
Thanks to the Internet, smart phones and more, demands for our attention have multiplied tenfold. Here are a few elements that B2B marketers may have missed that can help their messages stand out when trying to reach their target markets.

Use others’ B2B marketing landing page wins to boost yours.
Here are eight ideas that have been tested by others and have proven to improve the conversions from B2B marketing landing pages.

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B2B marketing secrets were rife at the 2012 DMA Conference.


My recent attendance at the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) Annual Conference and Trade Show produced a wealth of B2B marketing learning. The sessions I attended were full of quantitative information on best practices. The booths I visited revealed a number of sophisticated new technologies for managing customer communications, refining customer data, personalizing mailing packages and getting access to email data by geography. The information was great.

Unfortunately, for the vendors with booths in the exhibit hall, there was one issue that wasn’t great — signage. If the problem appeared at just one or two booths, it wouldn’t be worth writing about. But with rare exception, after reading everything the signs had to say on each booth, I still had to ask the magic question, “What does your company do?”

When I first read Ruth Stevens‘ book Trade Show and Event Marketing I learned about the best practices for trade show booth signage. They include:

  • Make the message short, clear and easy to grasp.
  • Use a typeface that’s legible enough to read at 30 feet.
  • Make sure the visitor knows — within seconds — what the company does.
  • Avoid signage that makes the visitors do all the work.

Making the visitor do all the work is exactly what I experienced. The signs were full of benefits, as she recommends. But what those companies did to deliver the benefits was a mystery. She said the same in her book.

“As I walked the aisles, I noticed how my eye would scan the signs, in an effort to decide which booth to visit and which to pass by. Many of them left me clueless. So what does a clueless aisle walker do? They have two choices. Either go up to the booth and pose the big question, “What do you guys do, anyway?” Or, move on, mumbling to oneself, “Why don’t they just tell me what they do? Why do I have to do all the work?”

Everywhere there were the words we know in B2B marketing. They included ROI, Increasing Customer Value, Data Driven Marketing, Email Marketing, Integrated Marketing Solutions. What are the folks with Integrated Marketing Solutions or any of the other companies selling? Software? Advertising services? Marketing automation?

B2B marketers need to spend time creating a short description of what they do and put it prominently on their signs. Here are rough examples of what several booths I visited could have put prominently on their signage to clearly describe what they offer:

  • Advanced software that integrates ALL customer interactions
  • Zip code-based email marketing
  • Cloud-based CRM that engages customers with relevant communications

As past posts covering trade shows on this blog have illustrated, there are many innovative ways B2B marketers can generate traffic to their booth. You can check out some of the ideas on these posts.

Take your B2B trade show booth from boring to spectacular.
Four quick B2B marketing ideas for a short week.
Rock-Bottom Trade Show Tactics: Event Marketing on the Very Cheap

But if the signage visitors see when walking the aisles doesn’t grab them, B2B marketers may not generate the traffic they need at these costly shows.

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Take your B2B trade show booth from boring to spectacular.


Guest Post by Daniel Frank

A while back in her post “Four quick B2B marketing ideas for a short week,” Susan reported on adding a photo opportunity at trade show booths to get prospects to interact with the booth sales staff and keep visitors around the booth longer.

As someone who works with an exhibition stand manufacturer, I was glad she wrote about it, as it is a marketing tactic I enthusiastically endorse.

Interactive elements can improve B2B trade show exhibiting results in several ways. The first and most obvious is that they are a great way to stand out on a crowded trade show floor. The example Susan highlighted was putting out a life-size cardboard cut-out of an industry expert that visitors can be photographed standing next to. This cut-out grabs attention and creates buzz.

Other interactive options include such things as games and surveys. These provide other benefits, including enhanced lead capture, visitor education and insight. A great example of this that I saw recently was in a booth run by Npower. This booth offered a free energy health check to anyone attending the booth. They used a touch-screen quiz that required booth visitors to enter some details before answering a series of questions. The participant would then get a personalized report telling them ways they could reduce their energy expenditure. Not only was this a great way for Npower to generate qualified leads, it also educated visitors and gave Npower some new insights into visitors’ energy usage and level of knowledge of industry topics.

When deciding how to integrate an interactive element into your booth, you should, at a minimum, consider these three things:

  1. Objectives: What do you want this element to achieve? The Npower example was great because it achieved several objectives, but may have been a bit of a compromise. Booth visitors looking at a screen is a fairly boring activity compared to the photo-opportunity mentioned above. However, it did generate interest and valuable information for Npower. Step one is to decide what you want to achieve and what image you want to project in the process.
  2. Relevance: Say you have an idea for great game that will bring loads of people to your booth. How relevant is it to your business? Having a lot of visitors is good, but it is far better to get fewer, more relevant visitors. This is another reason the health check was great for Npower: it attracted people who worried about energy expenditure and were therefore receptive to Npower’s solution.
  3. Cost: As with all B2B marketing decisions, cost is an issue. Providing a brilliant video game that is completely relevant to your company and can fulfil all your objectives may cost a fortune to create, not to mention providing the technology on which to run it. It’s a great interactive tool to use if it is cost-effective based on what you hope to gain from making a sale.

Making your booth activities more productive should be a priority when spending money on B2B trade show space. These are just a few ideas on how to make the most of it. If you have more, I’d love to hear about them.
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Daniel Frank is a writer and blogger who provides advice on trade show marketing on behalf of Nimlok Display Stands based in the UK.

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Four quick B2B marketing ideas for a short week.


There is no official holiday this week. It’s just that I’m taking a long weekend away from the office — so that means I have a short week. My short week doesn’t mean I don’t have a little B2B marketing wisdom to share. Of course, it’s not my wisdom. It’s great ideas I’ve heard recently from colleagues and associates that are well worth passing along.

These apply to different marketing situations, so give them a read and see if they can’t be used to help leverage more leads, more business and more customer loyalty in your B2B marketing environment.

1. Nurture top prospects: At your next customer gathering, summit or users’ group, invite your top prospects. Then sit those prospects down at dinner next to your best customers. There’s no better way to deliver a testimonial or a success story.

2. Build customer loyalty: Create an advisory board made of up a dozen customers. Then charge this group with helping to define future product enhancements. Make the position a two-year term, so customers can be rotated in and out of the board. This not only builds loyalty but creates a very positive image for your company.

3. Make event booths more interactive: Set up a fun photo setting at the booth of your next conference or trade show. Then invite booth visitors (prospects) to have their picture taken in this setting. This is a great way to get prospects to interact with your booth sales staff. It also keeps visitors around the booth longer while they wait for their photo to be printed and inserted into a cardboard or plastic frame — branded with your logo, of course. A setting idea might be a life-sized stand-up of a famous industry expert or other famous person that the prospect could be photographed with. Another might be an image with a face cut out of a person holding an award that says “World’s greatest marketer” or “World’s Greatest CIO” — or HR director, or CFO or whatever group represents the title of your target market.

4. Strengthen customer relationships and your brand: Get involved in support of a chosen charity activity and invite customers to join in when your company volunteers. It’s great image building, helps create a closer bond with customers and is a positive activity for customers and employees.

I hope you found some of these ideas helpful for your B2B marketing. Have a great week!

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Rock-Bottom Trade Show Tactics: Event Marketing on the Very Cheap


When a client — whose company develops vertical business software — asked me to help with the booth messaging for an upcoming trade show I was stumped.

Although I had done a ton of work over the years helping clients generate booth attendance for trade shows, I had little experience writing booth signage. So I turned to colleague Ruth Stevens and her book  Trade Show and Event Marketing: Plan, Promote and Profit. What a life-saver. After reading it I learned that the trade show booth should be treated like any marketing piece and, like a headline, the booth visitor should know what that company offers instantly from seeing the sign. Since then I’ve noticed how often trade show exhibitors don’t make their product or service clear in their signage.

In today’s down economy, several clients and associates have been bemoaning how they cannot justify the cost all of the trade shows where they should be exhibiting. So, once again, I turned to Ruth for guidance. Here’s the insight she shared:

“If you are a start-up, or you’ve burned through your marketing budget for the year, or you’re simply a cheapskate, there are still plenty of ways you can take advantage of a trade show. When you consider that a trade show offers a concentrated opportunity to interact with many potential buyers over a few days, you’ll recognize the need to be there, budget or no budget.

  • Register as an attendee and use the trade show as a networking opportunity. You can do plenty of business by wandering around.
  • If you’re really cheap, buy only an exhibit hall ticket. Make appointments with your current customers and prowl around the hall together.
  • Apply for a speaking opportunity on the trade show program, which will get you into the trade show for free.
  • Host an off-site breakfast. The cheapest — and possibly most productive — meal of the day. The event will give you concentrated face time and the chance to pitch your wares.
  • Crash parties. Ask your friends and colleagues what parties or business events they’ve heard about. Stop by those booths in advance and wrangle an invitation. As long as you’re polite and not a competitor, you’ll stand a good chance of making useful new contacts — and conserving your meal budget.
  • Treat your attendance at the show as a full-blown marketing campaign. Review all the possible target audiences — attendees, exhibitors, and speakers. Set up appointments in advance, qualify prospects as you meet them around the show, nurture leads on your return to the office, and track and report on business closed. This campaign has to demonstrate an ROI like any other.”

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Ruth P. Stevens consults on customer acquisition and retention for B2B companies through her company eMarketing Strategy, and is the author of  Trade Show and Event Marketing: Plan, Promote and Profit.  She can be reached at ruth@ruthstevens.com.

 

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Non-stop tips and insights for the muddled B2B marketing mind.


Congrats and thanks to Denny Hatch, marketing guru, commentator and author, on the recent release of his wonderful book “Career Changing Takeaways!” As the book’s subtitle elaborates, it’s a collection of “Quotations, Rules, Aphorisms, Pithy Tips, Quips, Sage Advice, Secrets, Dictums and Truisms in 99 Categories of Marketing, Business and Life.”

These mighty statements from recognized leaders and experts can instantly clear a confused mind on topics such as Brands and Branding, Communications, Creativity, Data Management, Decision Making, eMarketing, Job Searches, Website design and so much more.

Because Denny’s background is in direct marketing, there’s tons of good guidance for those of us in B2B marketing.

It ranges from the fun . . .

“I have always believed that writing advertisements is the second most profitable form of writing. The first, of course, is ransom notes.” Philip Dusenberry

To the insightful . . .

“What’s your brand? If you can’t answer that question about your own brand in two or three words, your brand’s in trouble.” Al Reis

To the live-or-die guidance . . .

“If you don’t have a competitive advantage, don’t compete.” Jack Welch

It’s a great read, a great guide and a nice break to take when one’s marketing or decision-making mind is muddled. What better refresher than to read a few guiding thoughts from the pros?

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Two cool (and useful) services for B2B marketers


I’m not getting paid to endorse these services, but once I discovered them, they went on my “must have” list immediately. I have been recommending them ever since to all B2B marketers in need of the type of support they provide.

Each fills gaps in the B2B marketing process that enhance both marketing and sales. When you read what they provide below, I’m sure you’ll agree.

1. Enhance the power of B2B marketing campaigns.
In building relationships with customers or prospective customers, nothing beats a personal phone call.

But with today’s extensive voice mail systems, getting through to anyone by phone is virtually impossible. Boxpilot, a service I discovered over 10 years ago, takes this reality and turns it into a big communications advantage.

Their service is called “guided voice mail.” It combines the cost savings of automation with the human touch to help you make an effective phone contact with prospects or customers. Guided voice mail is a great option when B2B marketing or sales wants to . . .

  • Generate leads and close sales.
  • Boost attendance to seminars and conferences.
  • Upsell and manage relationships with valuable customers.
  • Communicate fast with customers, prospects, partners and the press.

Here’s how it works:
First, someone from the B2B company records the appropriate message via phone onto the Boxpilot system. The calling list is uploaded, and a day and time period is chosen for the calls to be made.

On that day and in that time period, Boxpilot uses live human agents to make the calls.

Live agents are used because they can get through reception and/or navigate the phone automated system to make sure the message reaches the right voice mailbox. Once the correct voice mail is reached, the agent then pushes a button and plays the recorded message.

If the targeted individual actually answers the phone, the agent will hang up. This is done because B2B marketers don’t want their recorded message played to a live listener, which would defeat the entire purpose of having a recorded message sound like a “real, personal” phone call.

When the recipient hears the B2B marketing/sales message, it sounds like a real message to them personally.

When I used this service, I sent a direct mail letter to prospects, then followed that mailing up a week later with Boxpilot guided voice mail calls. When one of the prospects responded to the marketing, she said, “I got your phone call,” having no idea it was a pre-recorded message.

A quick online search brought up other companies offering this service (Virtual Causeway, Aspyrion). I have no personal experience with these firms and their may be others.

A personal phone call can be the magic ingredient in boosting marketing and sales success and Boxpilot is a cost-effective, convenient way to get it done.

2. Make the most of trade show-generated leads.
Every company manages its trade show booths and lead capturing differently. But it’s likely that each booth is manned (off and on) with sales people, marketers and/or product specialists. Controlling how each of those people captures information from booth visitors can be a messy and inconsistent process.

Then along comes NewLeads. Their service helps B2B trade show exhibitors consistently capture quality info from each booth visitor, then seamlessly integrate that information into the company’s SFA, CRM or marketing database.

A business makes a huge investment when it contracts for a booth at a trade show or conference. Collecting a stack of business cards is virtually worthless. Printing paper cards to be filled out by each visitor is inconsistent, then requires time-consuming data entry. Only a computerized system, electronically capturing pertinent and consistent visitor information, can deliver what B2B marketing and sales need to make sure the show generates a return.

That’s what NewLeads provides — trade show lead retrieval systems, lead management and lead capture solutions users can purchase or rent. B2B marketers can also get customizable visitor surveys and have the generated lead records imported into their CRM or other system overnight.

Justifying the cost of exhibiting at a trade show requires making the most of every contact made at that show. I think this solution is a great way to make the most of that cost.

I encourage B2B marketers to add these services to their marketing bag of tricks and keep them ready to pull out when the need arises.

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Want more qualified B2B leads? Say “show me the money.”


In the short post last week “Some people are better than others,” Seth Godin talked about the value of certain prospective customers over others. He makes a great argument, for instance, that book buyers are more likely to be good prospects for buying a Kindle, not because they read more but because the have “bought” books. What makes these prospects better is the commitment of money to a particular interest.

His example is a consumer one. But his point applies in B2B marketing just as well. Prospects willing to “pay money” or “invest time” to learn something are better than those who just opt in or register to gain free information. Here are three examples of prospects who show the money.

Subscribers: Prospects who fall into this category are far easier to find as there a number of rental lists available based on buying behavior. A list of subscribers paying to receive an industry publication, for example, is far more valuable than names rented from a controlled circulation publication that is free to readers offline or online.

SeminarTrade Shows: In good times, companies freely pay to send employees to trade shows for learning. In this slowed economy, not as many businesses are participating in or attending industry trade shows because of the cost. Those who do send attendees are seriously in the market for solutions.

Live Seminars: B2B marketers have long known that offering targeted content generates qualified leads of individuals who have an interest in a subject related to their product or service. Offering a live seminar, however, requires an investment of time on the part of the attendee. Time is money after all. This approach will significantly reduce response over an online Webinar, but those attending should be far more qualified.

Prospects who are actively researching and evaluating something are closer to making a buying decision. Attracting this type of lead should not be a substitute for filling the pipeline, but businesses that want qualified leads who could close faster, should look for the money.

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When being pretty does not help you stand out in a crowd.


I registered late for DMA09, the annual Direct Marketing Association conference that was here in San Diego this year. So when the approximately 380 exhibitors sent me an invite to visit their booth, I quickly drowned in a sea of postcards. One day alone I got 18 of them.

They were all clever and creative and colorful and personalized. They offered free gifts, the opportunity to enter drawings for very desirable prizes, introductory discounts — you name it. All the offers were good. But the packages and messages became a blur as they DMA Post Cardsatried to compete with each other.

The few invitations I did read were not colorful, clever or creative. They were communications enclosed in businesslike envelopes, and I could count those on one hand.

As a small consulting and copywriting business I saw all of the mailers. But I wonder how many of them made it to the desk of registered attendees who work in large corporations. In those companies third-class mail is often discarded and not delivered to the addressee.

My lesson from this experience is that B2B marketers who want to promote their booth at a trade show or conference is this: no matter how spectacular the drawing or giveaway prize or discount, bag the postcard. Instead, send your booth invitation in an envelope or express-type mailer. That way you can be sure it will get delivered and stand out in a crowd.

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