Nurturing Leads through the Sales Cycle

Lead nurturing is the marketing concept that buyers span different stages of the buying cycle and you need to respond to them by where they are in this process. Buyers are taking the buying process into their own hands without contacting you. So, you need to create a dialogue with this buyer on his/her own terms by offering serious content for them to study on their own. This means you have to have some idea of who your leads are. We suggest you start with your most recent buyers. Then look at those potential customers who are most similar to your recent buyers. Who has recently inquired about your product, visited your web pages, or is already in your database but has not yet purchased?

A technique long used by B2C marketers can be effective for B2B marketers as well. It’s creating a persona describing your typical buyer. Make a list. What’s his or her job title, industry, age, education, situation, problems, and goals? Create several of these personas to wrap your brain around who your potential customer is. This will help you focus your campaign on the needs of this customer. In other words, don’t try to fit this person into your sales process, but align your processes to fit who this customer is, what the needs are and the customer’s buying process. (more…)

Do We Need More than One Way to Connect?

Two articles crossed my desk recently. One was entitled “Meetings Deliver”, a white paper on the ways that face-to-face meetings of all kinds have a positive impact to drive sales and profitability. The other was an article on how virtual presentations saved one company “serious time and money”. Which one is correct? To be fair, they both are. Xerox uses online presentations for both training and lead generation. Due to tight travel budgets, employees and channel partners attend training classes online. Marketing presentations include product demonstrations and customer testimonials. Xerox controls the information required by viewer log-ins to maximize lead generation. This way they know which customers were interested in which topics. All well and good. However, Xerox still attends dozens of live events every year.

This boasting of the holy grail of virtual creates the impression that face-to-face is a big waste of time and money. It’s just not that easy. We’re part of the human race, and most of us need more interaction than via our computer screens. What’s important is to recognize the opportunity to mix and match to create a strategic solution. According to the MPI white paper, some of the business benefits of face-to-face include the opportunity to “seal the deal” and form long-term relationships, the ability to build trust, and improved productivity. In the local economy, meetings deliver direct and indirect employment for millions of people. One figure quoted states that a 10% increase in business travel would raise GDP by 1.5% – 2.9%. (more…)

Great Offers from Leading Mexico Resorts

We had the pleasure to meet with representatives of some high-end properties in Mexico. There are great deals to be had for meetings through 2011.  Just to give a few highlights we heard:

Several years ago Mexico implemented a 0% VAT on international conventions organized through foreign meeting planners. Be forewarned – incentive meetings do not qualify for the 0% VAT. The VAT varies in cities; Cancun and Los Cabos have a 10% VAT, Puerto Vallarta, 15%. The VAT exemption is regulated by the Mexican government, the rules are clearly stated. The meeting must have daily sessions running from at least 9am to 12pm, and be one of the following: (more…)

Capitalizing On Market Opportunities With Low-Cost Or Cost-Neutral User Conferences

In our last blog post, Vicki pointed out that market share shifts are most prevalent during a down economy. This happens because some companies hold back and slash their budgets. Their brand suffers, and this creates a void with opportunities for competition. Sure this is a time you have to cut costs, but cut the right costs to divert resources to activities that create value. Just to name a couple of high-tech success stories in recent times, Microsoft and Intel both started in downturns. Pre-existing companies that made gains when the economy was down include Google, PayPal, and

So how does one take advantage of market opportunities, especially if the budget has been cut? Consider hosting a user conference. Your initial reaction may be to scoff and say that it would be too expensive, too time consuming and not possible. However, if planned properly, it is possible to create a low-cost or cost-neutral conference. Does this sound too good to be true? Well, we are here to tell you that it is not. Success comes from the proper strategy. (more…)

Looking at the Upside of the Downturn

I do not mean to make light of the difficulties many companies and people are facing during this recession. But I have been thinking that there is a bright side to it. It forces us to be more reflective. We were blessed with an unprecedented run of good fortune previous to this recession. We were happily producing and consuming. We didn’t need to, nor did we have time to think deeply about our brand. Well, my friends if you haven’t started yet, now is that time.

This morning on the local radio station I was reminded of this fact by a terrific article entitled, “Mass. Companies Find Upside in the Downturn“. The gist of the article is that market shares change more during a downturn that any other time. That many companies have trouble being flexible and the others take advantage of the sudden openness of the consumer (B-to-B or B-to-C) to try something new, especially if the value is there. Check out the article’s race car analogy. (more…)

Don’t Just Sit There – Market!

Trade show and exhibition marketing is not always handled in the optimal way by exhibitors. Despite that fact that there is enormous value through participation, many companies fail in the follow through. There are so many ways to maximize involvement beyond just the booth space. The most effective companies understand that exhibiting is not just a real estate transaction, but also a relationship one. Trade shows are a great place to forge all kinds of partnerships. This includes customers, potential customers and other exhibitors.

Yes, 2009 was a tough year in the exhibition market. What we saw was that companies are running leaner and sending fewer attendees. Still, interest was high and the attendees were very focused. This meant they were paying attention and learning – especially from those vendors who reached out. Face-to-face is still the medium for bringing B-to-B buyers and sellers together. Sign up for your sponsorship early – you’ll get a better placement on the floor, and you will have the benefit of the event marketing done by the host. Exhibitors should plan pre- during- and post-marketing campaigns. Have the host send relevant electronic and printed materials to the attendee list prior and post the show. Post information on your sponsorship on your website – preferably on the home page. Send a press release to the media on your sponsorship and include any announcements you will be making. (more…)

Negotiating for Meetings – Part II

In our last post we talked about the buyer’s market in the hotel market. That said, you still need to go into any negotiation with your homework done. Preparation is key. Understand your strengths and weaknesses, such as regarding dates/rates/space. For example, do you want the event held in the venues high season/low season/shoulder season? Are you negotiable on this? Non-peak dates, even at luxurious properties, will be less expensive. What about the day of the week: business hotels are busiest during the week, while resort hotels are busiest during the weekend. Go into the negotiation with an understanding for the other party’s perspective. What are their priorities/deadlines/pressures? Develop a list: what are must haves, like to haves, gifts; and keep focused on the goal. So, maybe they offered you free coffee, but what you really care about is the room rate. They’re dangling free limo service, but perhaps you need more breakout rooms. Another important tool is to share your historical data, this will show your worth and value to the hotel and make them more interested in your business. Ideally you should look at three properties to compare offers. Choose the one that gives you the best deal, whatever that means to you. (more…)

Negotiating for Meetings – Part I

The economic downturn has created some positives for planning meetings. This is the first time since late 2001/early 2002, that planners have some leverage. The reason? We are now in a buyer’s market. Industry research projects an overall 7.5% drop in revPAR in 2009, one of the largest annual declines since the 1930’s. There will be a 2.9% increase in hotel supply due to construction that is near completion. And the 2009 year-end occupancy rate is expected to hover around 59%, a far cry from the earlier average 80% rates. This means better times for planners. Some economic indicators show, and industry experts agree, this won’t last – it looks like they could turn around in 2010. Hotels are very interested in getting deals signed before this year’s end. Contracts signed in 2009, can be for events held this year, in 2010, or beyond. Therefore, if the contract is negotiated properly, you can reap the rewards now without having to spend any money in 2009. The key is to act now, and benefit from this unique buyers market. (more…)

Marketing in Tough Times

There are so many outside forces today that are out of your control. Try to forget them for the moment, and focus on what you can control. Take a deep breathe, for starters, and let your mind stop racing. A calm mind will help you focus. In times like these, it’s so important to keep in touch with clients and find new ways to fill your pipeline as well. If you can contribute information that helps clients and potential clients, they will listen. Why? Because everyone is under pressure, whether you call it downsizing or rightsizing, companies are running lean.

Marketing is basically a long-term strategy. Right now that is hard for many companies to deal with, and so they default to the lowest common strategy – they cut marketing. While this is understandable from an accounting point of view, companies need to protect their customer base and strengthen these relationships to remain the vendor of choice when the market inevitably turns around. (more…)

Sustainable Marketing

Sustainability is a concept that is back in fashion after decades of unsustainable excess. It is not a concept just for agriculture and energy, but for marketing strategy as well. Sustainable marketing is mindful marketing. It’s careful planning, watchful waiting, and strategic implementation. All companies, both big and small, have limited resources to put into marketing, so it’s important to focus on what is cost effective. It can be an act of courage to slow down, reflect on what is happening around you, and then evaluate what the next step should be. It’s bringing closure to the present before rushing into the future. There are a few ways to start the process.

A competitive analysis plots a market along matrices. The axes can vary, generally from low to high, reflecting attributes such as quality versus price for a perceived value analysis or compound growth rate versus number of product offerings. This benchmarking task plots the strengths and weaknesses of market, and highlights where companies are clumping together and where there are opportunities. Benchmarking involves determining which functions to benchmark; identifying key performance variables; and measuring performance. (more…)

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