Webinars

Content may be king; relationships are personal

Since time immemorial selling has been about relationships. From the three martini lunch to immeasurable rounds of golf and scads of tickets to sporting events, salespeople have used every method possible to connect with and cultivate prospects (and clients) at a personal level. Now we’re being asked to believe that a new, disruptive technology has somehow altered the landscape. We no longer have to connect with people at a personal level to establish a trusted relationship. Now we can do it with content; a powerful, less expensive alternative – marketing automation! Content is king; no handshakes required, thank you very much.

So, how do we know what content to send them? What are they interested in and how do we know that? Exactly how interested are they? Where in the journey toward obtaining a solution are they? Where’s the pain?

If you follow the marketing automation model, and many do, you send out dozens of emails to people each month, each with a content offer. And then you track what they respond to and act accordingly. You send them whitepapers and round them up into webinars. Each time you gather more and more information about them (although, in practice, it always seems as if they ask the same questions each time I respond, no matter how often I respond, almost as if they really don’t know me at all).

Sounds to me like a lot of investment in creating content (although they tell you that you can “repurpose” the content you already have) and not so much invested in asking me the important, simple questions like: Why did I ask for that whitepaper? Why was that webinar topic of interest? What’s keeping me and my colleagues up at night? Where are my priorities and my company’s priorities at the moment?

They don’t bother asking me any of that, but they do send me lots of free content. The problem is that, when I look at the content, I discover that it’s either relatively shallow or, even if it has merit, it generally doesn’t quite apply to me or my specific challenges.

Eventually, I stop clicking and stop asking because I have actually soured on the relationship. It doesn’t give me what I need. I get no value from my time investment.

Of course, other than having to pay for creating the content (a substantial cost if done right), on the surface it seems as if it hasn’t cost them very much to generate highly qualified leads. I suppose if you are already investing in scads of content creation, then repurposing it will work. But, for most companies, that’s not the case.

No doubt, some people find that strategy hits the spot for them. The content they use is on the mark; it meets the needs of prospects and brings them into the fold through a self identification process. They may even make a purchase and become customers. When you measure the acquisition cost of that sale, it may seem attractively low, especially when compared to the cost of having to engage people personally from day 1 (excluding, of course the substantial investment in content and software/services).

But what about me, my needs and a sale to my company? That’s lost. Who’s measuring lost opportunity cost? Who’s assessing what might have happened if someone had taken the time to engage me directly, asked the salient questions, cultivated me at a personal level and earned my trust and my business? How does that figure into the cost per customer acquisition matrix?

It seems to me that if I’m going to buy into the marketing automation model, I want to do it on the basis of knowing what interests a prospective customer BEFORE I send them content. I always want that content to be relevant to their needs, and I want every single touch to bring value to the relationship – a clear statement that I listened, I heard and I have responded accordingly.

I can’t risk basing my relationship development strategy on inferences – on remote behavior from a distance. I prefer proactive to reactive. I need to speak with them first, understand their needs, concerns and aspirations. I need to establish a detailed profile of who they are, how they go about making decisions, how important to them is finding a solution and, most importantly, what are they trying to accomplish and what have they tried already that has failed. I need to know them – personally.

With knowledge of who they are and what’s important to them in hand, I can build a regimen of delivering exactly the content they need, knowing that it will bring value to them and establish the beginning of a trusted advisor relationship. And to achieve that most effectively, I need to invest in my own resources or hire a company like ETI Sales Support that has the people, skills and experience to engage them personally, consultatively and reliably to build a positive brand image, assess the level and quality of the needs they have for the solution we represent.

Do you have a strategy to maximize participation in your upcoming event?

How much are you investing in organizing and conducting events such as Trade Shows, Webinars, Seminars and conferences?  Do you have a plan for maximizing attendance and optimizing the ROI on that investment?Quite often, companies feel compelled to create and attend events, in spite of their high cost and (all too) frequently low ROI, because that’s what their competition is doing. Instead of developing a plan to maximize the ROI on their investment they choose, instead, to reduce their investment to a bare minimum. The strategy is just to be there to "show their faces."

That investment has now been reduced to a cost of doing business and is quite unlikely to provide any tangible return at all.At eti, we provide a range of support services designed to maximize attendance in their events.    And optimize their investments, big or small.  Over the years we’ve had some great success in “lifting” average attendance by as much as 100%  or more by engaging in a systematic person-to-person interaction with key prospects.  And we’ve also had success in identifying qualified sales opportunities as a by-product of that process.  So our client gets more eyes and ears for their message and some fully qualified sales opportunities to boot that might otherwise not have been identified as quickly (if at all).

Successes such as this require a cohesive strategy up front.  So here are some simple suggestions that you may want to think about when planning your next event.  (Just to be clear the ideas here refer to direct event recruitment not PR and marketing promotional activity which are also essential to enhancing success)

Integrated Email/Telemarketing Tactics

  • Start early (6 weeks out) and email often�
    • Incentives
      • Offer an early bird discount to motivate early registration
      • Offer a volume registration discount
    • Segment your list.
      • Mail less to known customers and prospects.  No need to inundate the ones that already respect your brand and have your solutions (unless the purpose of the event is specifically directed at clients)
      • Mail more to ‘cold’ prospects to promote both your brand as well as the event
    • Mail weekly for 2-3 weeks to the same audience making sure to remove registrants and opt outs before production
    • Provide a toll free hotline for prospects to call .. ask questions and register.  Or better still if they can’t attend then to let you know they have a need
      • Have an infrastructure ready and trained to handle these inquiries
    • Make sure to track email opens and click throughs and leverage the data to increase registration
      • Orchestrate an outbound call to people who clicked through to the website but did not register
    • Outbound calling effort to focus on the 20% that will produce 80% of the revenue to start immediately after the first email
      • Develop custom call guides
        • Track why prospects respond positively or not to your offer
        • Gather market intelligence on what would attract prospects to future events
        • Capture new contacts and verify that emails have reached the prospects you targeted andthat they are the correct targets
      • Extend the above offers
        • Trade shows specific …
          • Offer an exclusive appointment with key executives.
          • If you’re having an extra event (party) invite your key prospects personally.
          • Focus on geography.  It’s more likely you will get greater attendance from the key executives you want to talk to, if they do not have to travel great distances.
      • Confirm registrations 24 hours before the event

After the event:

Depending on the type of event you should consider including the following in your post event tactics in order to maximize ROI by identifying “sales ready” prospects and nurturing those that may convert over time.

Trade Shows:

  • Segment the prospects: Actual discussions or registrations at the booth

    • These prospects should be called via an outbound effort ASAP.
    • Time here is of the essence (within 24-48 hours is ideal) as it is likely these prospects are also looking at your competitors.
  • Dropped card in the bowl
    • Less productive segment.
    • Send an email with thanks for visiting and then test an outbound calling strategy to evaluate the quality of these inquiries.
  • Trade Show attendees
    • Unless able to be segmented these lists rarely are productive.
    • However, a low cost outbound email as well as and some outbound calling may be productive in some circumstances and should be tested
  • Webinars/Seminars/Conferences:
    • Attendees:
      • Email immediately after the event thanking them for attending
      • Conduct an outbound program to further qualify interest and sales potential
      • Those participants who represent the 20% that could generate 80% of the revenues should be called within 48 hours.
    • Non Attendees:
      • Email … “Sorry you could not make it …”
      • Call, qualify, stimulate interest and awareness and drive into your lead pipeline
        • Note:  eti’s experience is that non-attendees often produce better qualified leads/opportunities than the attendee group.  Ignore these prospects at your own risk.

eti has significant experience managing the entire recruitment effort.  As well as the post event lead generation elements.  IN addition, we offer a comprehensive registration capability to manage multiple events/locations and more.  Please call us on 1.800.466.4384 to discuss how ETI can help you maximize your event ROI.

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