Businesses selling complex intangible products and services typically steer clear of mass market advertising campaigns for sales leads. This strategy makes good logical sense when one considers the fact that intangibles have subjective value contingent on specific situations; for example, a software programmer who can only write programs with the CICS software language (Customer Information Control System created by IBM) has no value as a software developer outside of a computing environment run by a mainframe computing system, generally manufactured by IBM or some of its direct competitors . In contrast, effective mass market advertising is generally built around products that have commonly understood brands in the marketplace. Usually all of these products are tangible, for example, laundry detergent, automobiles, clothing, etc.
Direct marketing may provide a more fruitful approach to producing complex sales leads. According to the Direct Marketing Association, “[D]irect marketing is an interactive system of marketing which uses one or more advertising media to effect a measurable response and/or transaction at any location.” (Credits to Carol Scovotti, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and Lisa D. Spiller, Christopher Newport University). Direct marketing techniques include telemarketing, a prodigious approach that produced $100 billion in sales in 2002 (credits to the Direct Marketing Association).
Telemarketing campaigns can be targeted to specific prospects. For example, a staff augmentation business with a roster of CICS programmers can utilize telemarketers to specifically restrict prospects to only decision makers at businesses with IBM mainframe computing systems. The success of this type of telemarketing campaign depends upon a high quality level for contacts; in other words, targeted individuals must play a role in decision making for the business, the computing environment must run on COBOL and CICS, and there must be a need for software development. If any of these three criteria are missing, the value of the telemarketing campaign will be diminished. Therefore, a useful contact list must provide the foundation for the telemarketing program. Useful contact lists can and should be obtained from sales personnel, from vendors, from an internal research effort, or from lead development over electronic media.
Successful telemarketing campaigns can lead to substantial revenue, often within a stealth marketing strategy. For competitive reasons it may be advantageous for a business selling complex products and services to operate in an invisible manner, “under the radar”. Direct marketing techniques like telemarketing are active selling techniques whereby prospects are contacted by a marketer. Therefore, these techniques are very useful tools that preserve anonymity within the market.
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