22
Jan

Technology Project Sponsors will Often be More Receptive to Follow Up Telephone Calls

As marketing communications teams and their counterparts in sales ponder over contact lists to identify individuals likely to be receptive to telemarketing calls once promotional content has been received, we think it makes sense to include any individuals identified as sponsors of relevant (not to mention current and ongoing) technology projects.

Of course, the challenge is to verify the freshness of information on any contacts who look suitable for inclusion in this group. An individual’s past history as a technology manager, 5 years prior, provides little indication, if any, of the suitability of including the individual in the targeted group for technology that a business plans to sell today for implementation in the near future. Therefore, some initial work is required to put together a truly useful list of contacts for one’s coordinated direct marketing effort.

The initial work to which we have just alluded falls into the category of research. In our opinion, news — as current as possible — provides useful content for research efforts. Press releases, case studies, and success stories often include quotes from project sponsors. As well, industry-specific articles on technology in relevant publications often do the same. There are 2 impediments to the usefulness of the information obtained from news:

  1. Usually the news is historical, meaning that the project has been completed. Certainly this point is not an impediment for companies with products intended for implementation after a successful technology roll out, but for other companies with offers meant for inclusion in an implementation plan for technology, these names will likely be of little value
  2. The individuals named in press releases, case studies, or success stories are usually inundated with unsolicited contact after their names have been published. They are not likely to welcome receiving yet another piece of unsolicited marketing collateral.

Despite both of the above points, any individuals named in these publications can be safely assumed to play a current role as a sponsor of a relevant technology project. The task, going forward, is to create effective marketing communications content that will cut through the haze of notoriety and get some attention.

It is worth taking a moment to mention 3 other resources that can be useful as your business identifes individuals sponsoring technology projects relevant to one’s product. These methods include studying membership lists of trade associations, discussion groups on related topics, and even alumni lists from prominent educational institutions. If your business can subsidize the type of in-depth contact research activity required to collect useful information from these 3 sources, you may even get a jump on identifying promising candidates for your next critical hire.

In the next post to this blog we take a moment to explain why project sponsors will likely be more receptive to a coordinated product promotional campaign that includes editorial content and judiciously selected opportunities for direct engagement via telemarketing.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved

21
Jan

It Makes Sense to Revisit the Usefulness of Cold Calls in 2013

Where possible it makes more sense for technology businesses to implement what we have referred to as coordinated direct marketing campaigns than it does to merely implement unsolicited telephone calling, otherwise known as “cold calls”, as a means of breaking ground on engagement with a market sector.

IMB Enterprises, Inc. offers considerable current experience with both approaches. In our opinion, the costs associated with the amount of wasted effort that can be made on unplanned, ad hoc, “cold call” programs are prohibitive, regardless of whether the costs end up being shouldered by a third party service provider or by a technology business, itself. Of course, carefully planned campaigns that make use of cold calls may, in fact, be successful.

A number of factors, including

  • the quality of a contact list given an objective for a campaign
  • the titles and responsibilities of prospects targeted for calls
  • the visibility of a company’s brand in a chosen market
  • and, finally, the level to which the reason for a call amounts to a topic of general interest in a market

have a direct bearing on whether or not a cold calling campaign will produce useful results, or not.

Each of the above factors are much better handled within the context of a coordinated direct marketing campaign. For example, a dedicated effort can be made, in advance of actually initiating the kind of campaign that we recommend, to put together a truly useful set of names for a contact list. In fact, the marketing communications piece, itself, can provide a method for testing the usefulness of the names on the contact list. To implement this method, language should be included in the marketing communications piece that qualifies the level of involvement (if any) of specific individuals on a list with a set of targeted activities. For example, specific pieces of marketing collateral can be designed for audiences of technology users, buyers, and even sponsors (meaning stakeholders with a vested interest in ensuring that technologies successfully deliver on their promise).

Following further, it may well be that it will makes sense to provide telephone call follow up for some of the roles specified, while it may not make sense to plan on such follow up for others. Therefore, using a list carefully, and, specifically, in conjunction with a range of marketing communications options based upon role, can help, substantially to ensure that the right follow up efforts are made for the right set of contacts.

In the next post to this blog we will look further at why prospect titles should be used as an important indicator of whether or not it makes sense to follow up on marketing communications with a telephone call.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved

14
Jan

Marketing Communications Content Should be Used to Produce Opportunities to Directly Engage with Market Participants

IMB Enterprises, Inc. has considerable experience identifying opportunities for clients to meet with prospects who want to learn more about our clients’ products, services, or integrated solutions. Usually the type of opportunity that we produce is a meeting between a representative from our clients’ team and a prospect.

Often this type of service is called “lead generation.” However, we won’t use the term lead generation over the next series of posts to this blog. “Lead generation” is, in our opinion, a vague term that, literally, refers to an undefined process, “generation”, which somehow produces “leads”, meaning the names of contacts and prospects likely to have an interest in specific products/services/integrated solutions.

Further, the term “leads” is, itself, hard to define. For example, what does interest really mean? In fact, it is often the case that interest can arise as the result of any of a wide range of factors, not all of which will result in a purchase.

We think it is much more useful to break up the process of promoting products to attract sales prospects into a series of steps, which are each clearly defined. Once each of these steps is clear, then the method of managing these steps to ensure success should be clear, as well.

The first step in building a successful product promotional campaign is to target the marketing communications component, meaning the promotional editorial content, to the specific market segment most likely to be receptive to invitations to engage in a manner that will produce useful information. There are 3 key aspects to this first step:

  • The content must be targeted
  • A specific group of recipients, meaning a subset of the overall market, should be the intended audience
  • and, finally, the objective should be to collect preliminary information that can be used to qualify individuals and their respective organizations as to the likeliness that they will emerge as customers

It is by no means a simple matter to successfully accomplish each of these three steps. We think that the challenges that arise for clients as they realize mediocre returns from their efforts to promote their products contributes to a general skepticism about “lead generation” services.

In the next post to this blog we will talk about what we think successfully targeted product promotional content is all about.

If you are tired of mediocre results from product promotional efforts, and would welcome a fresh look at your marketing and sales plans for your products, please consider IMB Enterprises, Inc. We have current experience working with software products, services and integrated solutions for enterprise business markets and comparably sized organizations in the public and not-for-profit sectors. You can telephone us at +1 631-673-2929. If you prefer electronic contact, then please contact us. We are enthusiastic about opportunities to engage with businesses looking for a truly effective method of producing market interest.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved

11
Jan

Product Awareness Collateral for Channel Partners Should Include a Call to Action

There is no less a requirement for a call to action to be included in a piece of product awareness marketing collateral than is the case for any other type of promotional marketing communications. In fact, driving engagement is, perhaps, a more pressing objective for this type of marketing communications than is the case for other types of promotional material. After all, legitimate opportunities for ISV staff to engage with channel partners outside of joint sales calls are usually rare. Therefore, it makes sense to use an opportunity to present product awareness information as an occasion, as well, to schedule a follow up telephone call.

The most obvious reason for a follow up telephone call is to ensure that recipients have correctly received the intended message about a specific product, or product line. Certainly it makes sense to enlist the support of channel partner management in this effort. Specifically, efforts must be made to convince channel partner management to encourage their personnel to make themselves available for these follow up telephone calls.

We have participated in quite a number of these efforts where the management encouragement piece was missing. In each of these cases it proved to be very difficult to gain commitment from personnel to speak with us about the product awareness information that they had received. Subsequently we determined that product awareness collateral was less effective as a method of attracting the attention of sales, and maintaining it. Bottom line, a follow up telephone call can be a very powerful method of wrapping up a product introduction for channel partners.

These follow up telemarketing calls should be carefully scripted to ensure that each and every important point has been received by the individuals contacted by the telemarketing team. In fact, we think that the team of telemarketers selected for the follow up telephone call activity ought to be selected by the same marketing communications team responsible for the creation of the product awareness collateral. After all, the purpose of these calls is to ensure that each of the individuals contacted have a useful understanding of the product in question. It is important to note that a “useful” understanding is one that empowers the individual newly empowered with your information to relay the right message along to her contacts in an enterprise IT organization, or even contacts from influential line of business (LOB) units.

Keep in mind that an important objective of the entire product awareness campaign will likely be to multiply the number people broadcasting a correct message about your products, related solutions, and, of most importance, benefits.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

10
Apr

Telemarketing Calls Deliver More Return as a Follow Up to Marketing Communications

Tech innovators with products and services for complex markets should include telemarketing programs within their sales efforts. But telemarketing campaigns will deliver much higher results when they are initiated subsequent to completion of electronic and/or print marketing communications efforts. Simply placing telemarketing calls from “out of the blue” to unsolicited recipients will deliver substantially less favorable results.

Obviously, the trick is how to obtain addresses for mailings, email blasts, etc. Certainly the best solution for accumulating addresses is to reach out to existing contacts (prospects, customers, industry participants, etc) to collect addresses; there is a stronger likelihood that these “familiar” contacts will be willing to provide addresses. We don’t see much value in purchasing address lists. We think participants in these lists have little “skin in the game” and, therefore, constitute a low probability as regards sales development. Therefore, better to collect addresses through any/all ongoing market outreach activities. Over time a sufficient number of addresses can be accumulated to justify an initial marketing communications campaign.

As Ernan Roman pointed out in “Integrated Direct Marketing”, NTC Publishing, 1995, the telemarketing campaign should commence within 24 to 72 hours of distribution of marketing communications. If your marketing communications effort is an email blast, we think it makes sense for you to use an email delivery service that will provide you with statistics on the number of times your email piece is opened and, even better, by targeted recipient. This type of tracking can be obtained by popular services like Constant Contact or through Outlook Services for Microsoft Office 365. Obviously, telemarketing should reach out to known recipients before working on the larger group of recipients who do not appear to have opened the communications piece.

Where truly opt-in recipient addresses are in short supply, another method of contacting the market is to distribute a press release. There are lots of services presently available in spring, 2012 to distribute press releases. It must be noted, however, that contacting a market through a press release will produce a bunch of contacts from the press, itself. Any sales prospect contact will have to be forthcoming from readers of your press release who opt to reach out to you for contact. These responders will be much fewer in number than participants throughout the rest of the market.

The best use of telemarketing in the aftermath of a press release campaign is to call media contacts who received the press release through the campaign. Once again, time is of the essence. Therefore these reporters, etc. should receive calls no later than 72 hours after your press release has been opened.

If your firm would like to learn more about how to coordinate telemarketing with print marketing communications, then please contact Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion. You may also email Mike at imblonder@imbenterprises.com.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved