Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Recession is Here - Time to Become an Eco-Marketer

When I say that you should become an eco-marketer, I don't mean that you should add some corny green recycle image to your website (who would do that?) or support a "Save the Whales" campaign. Although I'm a big supporter of environmental issues and started my career running an environmental organization, I would like to focus on eco-marketing in terms of demand creation.

I focused my research this week on how I can help my customers build out a demand waterfall as defined by the smart people over at SiriusDecisions. During my research, I stumbled upon a great article by the Canadian Marketing Blog called "2009 B-to-B Demand Creation Trends" eh (Canadian joke). It's here where I came across the term eco-marketer and I wanted to build on the excellent analysis that they have already provided. However, after I drank 10 cups of coffee, I've created my own version of the eco-marketer. Here are my three Rs that I recommend to become the best eco-marketer you can be in a down economy:

The Three Rs of Marketing and a Bonus R
  1. Reuse: In a down economy you need to reuse all of your marketing resources that you have out there and maximize your marketing investments. Here are my recommendations:
    • Reuse your webinars. If you have run a live webinar, post the archived version on your website behind a form. It's been proven that archived webinars can generate more leads then the actual live event.
    • Reuse your email newsletters by ensuring they are posted on your website. This is a simple one but it's surprising how many e-newsletters remain only in email format. I would recommend to post in on your website and even create an RSS feed. With an RSS feed, you can promote in your email footers and it can be re-used by other bloggers and companies. You should even consider creating a blog and reposting your newsletter articles on it.
    • Reuse your live presentations. If anyone from your company or your customers are speaking on behalf of your company ensure that you film them and add them to the resource area of your website. You can even just post the slides or the speech text. Don't miss these great opportunities to build marketing content.
    • Use social media techniques such as Twitter and YouTube to maximize the effect of your webinars, videos and white papers. For example, you can mention on your twitter profile that you've just released a new blog post or newsletter. Think of social media as a big marketing ecosystem (see, I am focusing on the environment) and make sure you take advantage of all the tools out there. In this way, you can reuse your marketing materials as much as possible.
    • Reuse all of your marketing materials in your lead nurturing efforts. Having the right content for automated lead nurturing programs can be the most difficult part of a lead nurturing campaign. However, many companies have all of the materials they need already created. Even though some may be dated, if the materials are good they should be reused. You don't need to just focus on pushing out new content, you probably have some gold nuggets that may be hidden on your site.

      For your nuturing campaigns, create a document that outlines all of the marketing content that you have and map this to the buying process of your target audiences that you have identified (assuming you have created defined marketing segments).

      You would be amazed at how you can reuse the content you already have (blog posts, newsletter articles, industry white papers, demos) and create a specific and defined automated program that is designed to target a specific segment and has a specific marketing goal.
    • Create marketing campaigns that can be reused. For example, if you have a large marketing team, create processes so that you standardize your email and landing page templates. Tweak them as necessary based on your successes (or failures). Another example is to create automated program templates such as an event management or lead nurturing template. These templates can be copied and reused.
    • Reuse (and abuse) your whole company. If you have Jimmy from the development team who did a lunch and learn on how he coded a solution that will benefit your clients, get him to write it down and post it on a blog. If Sarah from your Support team came up with a great solution to solve a customer problem, video tape her and post it on your site or include it in your next newsletter. MAXIMIZE YOUR ENTIRE COMPANY IN YOUR MARKETING EFFORTS. Did I just write in caps?

  2. Reduce: Not only should B2B companies reduce the amount of lead leakage where leads are being lost is the sales/marketing funnel by tightening up processes, the following also needs the be considered:
    • Reduce the amount of communication that you're sending to leads. Are you saying to yourself "Are you on drugs Chad? Why would I want to send less communications when I need to keep up the number of leads to my sales team?". In a down economy you need to work on further segmenting your campaigns and matching your communications to the right person at the right time. Any emails, direct mail etc... send should be based on a person's interest and the stage of the demand waterfall that they are in. This type of eco-marketing will achieve the best results and ensure that you conserve (another eco-friendly term!) you're ever shrinking opt-in database in the tough times ahead.
    • Reduce the amount of time it takes for qualified leads to be followed up with. An automated lead nurturing process will help deal with leads that are qualified but not yet ready to buy and thus reducing leads falling through the cracks but a process needs to be put in place to put the best leads on the desks of your sales team so they'll follow up right away. The best solution for this is a lead scoring process that scores leads based on their explicit information (industry, job role etc...) and their implicit activity (offers they've downloaded, emails they've responded to). With this type of process in place, you can ensure that your sales team is "cutting through the crap" and following up with the best leads before your competitors.
    • Reduce the complexity to getting access to information on your website. Optimize your landing pages by removing any unnecessary fields. Ask for more information only if it makes sense to the potential lead. Consider building up a profile of the lead over time. This requires more effort as you need to think through the stages on getting this information but it is worth it.

  3. Recycle: By recycling leads that are in your sales and marketing funnel you will get the most out of your marketing investments. Just because a potential lead attends a webinar and doesn't respond to a sales call doesn't mean they're not interested in buying from your company. An eco-marketer may want to further investigate SiriusDecisions methodologies around calling webinar attendees "inquiries" rather then leads and not passing these on to sales until they've been further qualified through an automated marketing program. In fact, SiriusDecisions has demonstrated that webinars are typically viewed at the beginning stages of the buying process. This is just one example of how marketers need to go beyond lead generation to concentrate on the lead funnel and developing strategies to move leads through this funnel.

    Recycle your "inactive leads". Recycling doesn't just include those leads that are not "sales ready" or not yet ready to buy. You need to have automated processes that will detect those leads that you've been sending emails to (or other forms of communication like direct mail) and haven't responded. This means that they haven't visited your website, filled out a form or responded to your marketing communications. You can recycle these leads by placing them in a separate automated program with messages that are specific to this segment. This may include an email with a survey asking these "inactives" what they would like to receive from your company or a request to opt back in with a targeted offer. You may decide that it's time to take some of these leads to the curb but at least you have tried your hardest to maximize those leads that came through your front door.

  4. A bonus R is "Remove". Remove any of the following:
    • Remove barriers between the sales and marketing team. Everyone needs to work together. Think peace and joy on earth (just like a real environmentalist).
    • Remove campaigns or tactics that are not working. To do this, you need a mechanism in place to measure every aspect of your marketing efforts. This goes back to my original premise of researching the demand waterfall. Having a defined process in place where you can measure the success of your marketing efforts at each stage of the sales marketing funnel is crucial. For example, if the conversion rate of a Google AdWords campaign is failing as the effort to turn these "inquiries" into MQLs (marketing qualified leads) is too expensive and takes too long, remove it. Focus on sources that are bringing in more qualified leads.
    • Remove crappy data and automate the process if possible. You will probably have fewer leads coming in the top of your pipeline so you can concentrate on creating processes that will remove contacts that should never hit your database. This may include contacts with bad email addresses, your competitors etc... You can also look at your database for data that is inconsistent and clean it up. Where possible, you can fix this data using automated data tools. For example, it may be possible to standardize contacts that have various job titles or contacts that have different versions of a country (USA, U.S.A., United States etc...). Bad data prevents you from further segmenting your database. Clean out the crap and ensure it stays as clean as possible.
    • Remove or punish people that have not bought in. Relating this back to the environment, in Toronto we've implemented a new program for home owners that taxes you based on the garbage that you put at the curb. If you follow the three R's and reduce your trash, you save money. If you don't want to get with the program, you'll pay for it with your wallet. It's fairly straightforward.

      As an eco-marketer, you need to get the senior people bought in on your new eco-marketing mantra. If you have sales people that don't want to participate, have them penalized. If you have marketing folks that can't see the forest through the trees, remove them. It's obviously easier said then done but that's why you need executive buy-in.
I'm sure you can add here to my points above and I implore you to do that by leaving some comments. Good luck to you during some tough times ahead and be the best eco-marketer you can be.

Chad H.

PS - Here are some additional resources I used in my research (let me know if you have other useful resources)
PPS - Here are some tips to reduce the amount of water you use in your home.

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Anonymous said...

I have a tip that falls under the Reuse category for those with blogs. If you are anything like me, you kill yourself to put quality content on your blog. The thing is once it has moved to archives, very few see that content anymore. I write for my company's blog, The B2B Lead (blog.reachforce.con). We decided to repackage the great content we had on the blog into a series of eBooks (one of which is linked at the end of this post, thanks Chad). It created a totally new way to distribute and reuse our content.

Also, Chad suggests reusing your newsletter articles as blog posts. We actually do the reverse. Creating our newsletter is a snap because all I do is pull the best posts from the past month, drop it into an email template and go.

Thanks for all the great tips, Chad. I definitely had a "Why didn't I think of that for my blog" moment. Well done!

Chad said...

Good tip on using blog posts for newsletters. Return Path does this as well. Thanks for stopping buy and glad I inspired you.

Chad said...

I had someone DM me: "Chad - seriously, you want an engineer contributing marketing content?" A little company called Google does it quite well (they used YouTube as well):



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