THE OLD MARKETING rule book has been largely thrown out the window, particularly for business-to-business marketing.
In the past, events and corporate entertainment, brochures and trade shows, were the lynchpin of international business development, but things are very different in 2019.
The businesses we see every day are finding it difficult to keep pace with what seems an infinitely changing marketplace – how do they keep up?
The Golden Pages have long since been replaced by the bible directory that is Google. Where once there was direct mail, now there is email marketing running in tandem with direct mail.
Cold calling is, for the most part, a thing of the past and lead generation has assumed its place in the marketing world.
Press advertising has been largely supplanted by content integration, digital advertising, jobs boards, recruitment postings… the list goes on.
Getting the message right
The basic rules of marketing remain steadfast, but in essence, it all comes down to the right message, the right person, at the right time.
But the ways in which we drive that message home are now completely different to 20, or even just 10 years ago. The landscape has changed, almost beyond recognition in some instances.
So, while we stick to the knitting in terms of goals, the key to a successful marketing campaign has been and always will be, creating a message that resonates with your target market. Businesses must learn to navigate these new waters in terms of the tools they use to achieve these goals.
Regardless of how advanced marketing has become, when it comes to international lead generation you must start with the basics and ask, “Who is my audience?” and “What do they want to know?”.
Once you are inside the head of your consumer, things get easier. Most businesses are solution-driven, so it is only when you can drill down and really understand your audience’s pain points and pressures, that you can really begin to present them with your solution.
Be the teacher
Making their job easier, through education, is one of the most successful lead generation tactics you can employ.
Whether it is the creation of an e-book or a white paper, the rules are the same – the content must be strong, and the headline must matter. Once you have hit the mark on these then you have your audience.
It’s a value exchange: They are giving you their feedback and you are giving them the expert content they want and/or need.
Take a cybersecurity company looking to secure new leads – using in-house expertise, they are able to create a useful e-book on new hacking scams affecting businesses, and ways to prevent them.
The solutions feature the product. The e-book is then free to download, but users must include their name and email. This provides the cybersecurity company with a database of people for whom their expertise and offering are relevant.
These same people can be further engaged with through programmatic advertising, search and social media. Contacts can be turned into leads which can be passed onto a sales team.
The next steps in the process is conversion and this can be lengthy. How much of this can you automate? Ideally you are looking at a five-point email campaign, where you have a mix of marketing emails.
In practice, the sweet spot for conversion may vary between the first contact and the fifth, depending on the business. Tracking the conversion journey will provide valuable data for your business, and a clear understanding of the optimum point at which you should pick up the phone and make direct contact.
What about the tracking? Hubspot and Marketo are the biggest marketing automation tools in use in Ireland at the moment. They allow lead capture, nurture and sales tracking, all in one stop.
It can be expensive for small businesses, but it’s possible to get going on Hubspot on their free version. As leads are qualified, they become SQL (sales qualified leads) and then proceed along the path to customer.
These automation tools offer fantastic options for businesses looking to scale. Of course, it still comes back to having the right message, to the right people, at the right time.
Not all leads are created equal
So where do you pull people into your lead generation funnel from? The answer is wide and varied, depending on your business.
It’s important to measure channels, leads and their values. The leads could come from PR, programmatic advertising, conferences, online search, speaking opportunities, social, social advertising, video, email marketing, etc.
Understanding what channels are working best is crucial to optimising your campaign accordingly. Not all leads are created equal.
This year has been great for bringing even more sophisticated marketing opportunities to business to business marketers, and I have no doubt that we’ll see even more advancement in 2020.
But the basics will remain unchanged. Content that matters to people – it must look professional and convey knowledge, insight and expertise. If your content reaches the right people, then both you and your audience will triumph.
Ruth Fuller is the managing director of Fuller Marketing.