Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Do you really know your prospective clients?

Recently, a friend of mine returned from her summer vacation in Provence (France), and having become enchanted with the place, she recommended I read Peter Mayle’s “Encore Provence”. The book, written by a British author who made his home in Provence, is most intriguing when he describes the cultural differences of the region. Through his anecdotes we come to appreciate that the differences are real, and that though they are experience immediately, they can only be understood with time and after many personal encounters.

When I started reading, I was guilty much as you probably are of assuming that the only prominent cultural differences would come from an Anglophone living in a Francophone environment, but this was not the case. Peter Mayle elaborates on the beauty of Provence by contrasting its people’s ways with the Parisian way, with the British way, and with the American way. He even touches on the differences between Marseille and Avignon, both in Provence—and how the ways of doing business in one does not apply to the other.

Thus, when you consider entering a new market, or you are about to launch a new product to a target market you are unfamiliar with, it is instrumental you verify that:

  1. Your have identified the prospective market that would most benefit from your solution
  2. You target market can afford your solution
  3. You understand how your target market operates and how your prospects expect to do business with you
  4. Your solution features are highlighted in a way that fits like a lock and key, so you can open the door to your prospects

All the above is a result of:

  1. A well-thought marketing strategy
  2. Fine custom of your branding to the market that you are after
  3. Creative marketing campaigns that attract the attention of your specific target market
  4. Constant evaluation of your marketing results to ensure that you really address your prospects’ needs

If you are looking to turn more of your prospects into paying clients, please do not hesitate to contact us. We offer suggestions and solutions to make sure you have the right market approach with your products or services.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What's Special This Coming September?

If this September is anything like the last one, a lot of organizations are going to be ramping up their B2B marketing efforts. Last year, when the end of summer came around, the search volume for business-to-business marketing in the United States started to increase, reaching its apex near the end of September. In Canada, we observed similar results, as you can see in the charts.

The summer months, in comparison, are much more relaxed. Many people take their vacations and put off major B2B marketing projects until the fall. This means the competition is lower at that time. But when this September comes around, what are you going to do to stay ahead?

The Slowdown and Marketing Strategy

The economy has experienced another slowdown this summer. Is it time to halt your B2B marketing? Make no mistake, this time it will be most challenging for the companies that target federal clients. Private businesses have mostly recovered since the last economic crisis. A good indication of this is a recently released report by Gartner: Quarterly IT Spending Forecast July 2011 that claims that dispite of the economic climate worldwide, IT spending forecast has been revised up from 5.6% to 7.1% quarter over quarter. That means no cutting back on B2B marketing and instead adopting an aggressive marketing strategy to get ahead.

A report published a few years ago by BMO Financial Group investigated how Canadian businesses were affected by the global economic recession. It indicated that the most successful and least impacted organizations all had few things in common: they were always seeking to expand into new markets and unknown markets; they were refocusing their customer bases and getting rid of non-core business; and they were not afraid to forego the familiar and embrace the risks that can ultimately lead to further success.

Therefore, use these times to go on the offensive. Ramp up your B2B marketing, introduce new products, and spend a lot of effort making sure they’re in your customers’ minds. By taking a weaker economy head on, not only can you plow through the tough times, but you are ideally poised for rapid growth the moment there is an upswing.

This coming September, your competitors might be considering all of the above. Don’t fall behind, call Direct Objective to grow your customer base and expand into less familiar B2B marketing tactics or strategies.

Monday, July 18, 2011

What Google +1 Means for Effective SEO and the Future of the Internet

“Relevance is about relationships.” That quote from the Google blog represents the idea behind their new ‘+1’ feature, an answer to “Like” and “Share” from Facebook and Twitter. When people searching Google find something they want to recommend, they can hit the “+1” button in the search results or on the actual page to share their recommendations with their Google contacts. The short video below from Google’s blog gives a quick overview of how everything works.

However, B2B business marketers who have spent considerable resources increasing their page rank suddenly are learning that +1 revolutionizes search results. Google is developing an algorithm to account not only for search engine optimization factors like keyword patterns and incoming links, but from the point of view of social networks as well. A result that your friend +1’ed (for the record, +1’s, +1’ed, and +1’ing are the accepted spelling) could be elevated above other results for various search strings and appear higher in the search results. Not only that: +1’s will show up on both search results and AdWords. This may have major impact on your online advertising as well.

So What Do I Do Now?

First, there is no need for panic! Google’s algorithms will always place most emphasis relevancy, not exclusively on relationships. Not everyone will let the Google +1 button determine their clicks, or even enable a Google account that has a broad contact list. Top spots on the search result pages will still be highly valued. Second, and perhaps most importantly, the +1 feature will likely have far greater an impact on B2C business than B2B for now. Buying a coffeemaker because a couple of your friends recommended it is a vastly different decision process than choosing the right software solution to mesh with your IT infrastructure. There are more factors to consider when making a major purchasing decision for your company’s future than “what does my roommate from college think?” Effective SEO will still increase your company’s page rank to the level where major potential clients will take notice.

That said, it is important to be prepared for the possibility of Google +1 becoming an important marketing tool in the future. The simplest way? Think traditional: start creating engaging, original content, design your website with aesthetics and usability in mind, and keep your company on the first page of search results with carefully targeted SEO. Talk with Direct Objective today about your options in the imminent Google +1 online world.

Monday, April 11, 2011

How Does Marketing Content Development Drive Business?

Before we examine why marketing content development is so crucial, let’s first define what original content means. Professional copywriting isn’t just filler built around a sales pitch: it should be original, enlightening, and written in a sophisticated way. Prospects who read it shouldn’t feel like they’re being marketed to. It should try to capture an idea, a thought, or a piece of advice that your target market will find informative and helpful for their business. It can often be the toughest kind of selling: marketing without appearing to market. It’s not just a wolf in sheep’s clothing: it’s a sheep in wolf’s clothing, wearing a sheep costume.

Marketing content development has become especially powerful due to its direct impact on your online and offline industry reputation. Using professional content writing services to generate well-written content in your sales marketing materials can land you a prime place in respected industry magazines and draw attention to your company or solution.

Today, however, content development has become king due to its importance online. Due to the overwhelming quantity of website content development, search engines are playing an important role to find the right information before you buy a solution; utilizing Search Engine Optimization (SEO) when writing original and authentic Web content enables your webpage to rank higher on search results. But professional copywriting is not only for the Web. Email marketing campaigns should have an attractive subject line, so that your prospects are enticed to open them, while the copywriting content in the body of the marketing campaign should entice you to click. Social media marketing should feature original content development that will add value and engage your followers. Both online and offline advertisements should feature attractive content and clear call-for-actions.

Ultimately, these procedures will allow you to drive more business, and create new opportunities for your salespeople. Every time you can spark client interest though new original marketing content, your salespeople will be able to more easily close deals and drive new clients to your business.

Marketing content development is a delicate balance between information, selling points, and wordplay. If you’ve got any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to contact us for content writing services, or to discuss how marketing content development can leave its mark on your future clients.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Website Conversion Optimization: Are You Converting Your Web Visitors Into Clients?

So you’ve invested a ton of money and resources into a professional-looking website. You brought in top designers, spent hours creating original and engaging content, hired a professional to customize it for search engines, and finally were able to launch a new online image for your company. You’ve checked the analytics, and your traffic is stronger than ever.

So what next?

As arduous a process as creating a website is, it’s only the first step of investment. Measuring traffic is one thing, but are you converting your visitors into sales? Who exactly is visiting your site? Have you considered innovative ways to convert the traffic that you already getting into paying clients?

The first step to website conversion optimization is to determine what your website goals are. Is your site just a product showcase or online brochure? Or is it a method of receiving information about prospective leads? Next, you have to evaluate the effectiveness and performance of your website to achieve those goals. You may need to customize sections of content and design to appeal to particular targets. Finally, you need to have the capacity to analyze and understand the behaviour of your visitors, and determine how best to convert casual visitors into regular customers.

So how does a casual web visitor become a paying customer? The most important aspect of successful conversion is timing. While your visitors are still on your Web site, you still have their full and undivided attention, but once they move on with their search, they are already focused on the next issue. Therefore, prospects are far more likely to respond to immediate calls for action then a delayed email communication. One recent research initiative by a CRM management firm tested website conversion optimization strategy by tracking website traffic and responding to certain visitor scenarios with personalized approaches. The result? They increased their visitor conversion by 296% in just 6 months.

There are many methods of website conversion optimization, and not all of them are suitable for the needs of your website. Talk with Direct Objective today about your options, or leave a comment below about your own experiences with converting Web visitors.

Direct Objective Consulting on LinkedIn

Monday, February 14, 2011

Attracting Clients in a New Marketing World

As we discussed in Direct Objective’s December blog about the Major Shifts of Business-to-Business (B2B) “New Marketing Evolution,” traditional marketing sales processes are becoming less effective. Many companies’ marketing strategies are based on the concept of a controlled sales environment, where actions are driven by a “number game.” Simply put: the more outgoing calls you can make = the more your message is pushed onto potential clients = more clients. In a new world where the Internet is so dominant, this equation is not necessarily true anymore.

The easiest way to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to marketing is to shift your fundamental focus; namely, from Push Marketing to Pull Marketing. Why spend enormous resources chasing down clients with constantly changing needs and ways of absorbing information, when you could entice customers to come to you? Not only does it reduce the cost of finding new clients, it also ensures the quality of clients you attract will be exponentially higher, since they’ve already recognized your company as a potential solution provider.

Your next step is to identify the right tools that can help you effectively make the transition from push to Pull Marketing. Some recent examples from our clients include:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) - One of our clients has been an industry leader for the past 15 years, but potential clients had difficulty finding them on search engines way down on Page 16. They are now located close to the top on the first page, and their Web visitor inquiries, along with their web-generated leads have grown significantly
  • Company Blogs & Social Media – In an age where we prefer to rely on friend reviews and not necessarily on slippery salespeople, an open relationship with clients through a blog or social media outlet can build trust. We assisted one of our clients with writing their blog, spreading positive information by social word of mouth, and engaging clients with their solution and as a result, saw their registration levels increase dramatically
  • Whitepapers – One company we worked with had an extremely intricate and innovative solution, but it was very difficult for them to explain it to their target market. We wrote a special whitepaper and distributed it to influential industry figures, and their company is now attracting the right clients who have an understanding of how the solution can work for them.

There are a number of other new techniques that can simplify the Pull Marketing strategy process, but it’s most effective to create a marketing strategy which successfully integrates several. Every Pull Marketing strategy should have a unique approach, but it is now clear that Pull Marketing is no longer just advisable; it’s a necessity in a rapidly changing marketing world. Talk to Direct Objective today to discuss your options for Pull Marketing strategies to get ahead of the marketing curve.

Direct Objective Consulting on LinkedIn

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What Lufthansa’s Bad Customer Service Can Teach Us about Marketing

Recently, I had two friends stuck in Egypt as the country collapsed into chaos. As you probably have heard, the calls for a change in government grew violent, and as the situation became increasingly unstable, foreign governments began advising any of their citizens in Egypt to evacuate immediately. The incumbent government, in an attempt to quell the uprising, cut off prominent telecommunication systems, including the internet. Thus my friends inside Egypt asked me to arrange for their departure.

They were supposed to fly out of Egypt on Lufthansa Air, and so I called Lufthansa to arrange an immediate flight change. They already had two tickets for February 20th, so it should have been a fairly simple procedure to switch flights in such extreme circumstances.

I was surprised to find, however, that Lufthansa’s “good-will” policy regarding the Egyptian crisis only applied to people flying “between January 28th and February 15th.” Therefore, any ticket exchange would cost $250 in booking fees, and would only apply to flights a week later. If I wanted to buy a ticket that would leave the next day, the agent said without hesitation, I would be charged the maximum fare for a one-way ticket, and my friend’s original February 20th tickets would not be refunded. When I spoke to the supervisor about the seemingly arbitrary date of February 15th, he curtly replied “I am not God, sir. We have to set a date for the conflict to end.” He then refused to let me speak to his supervisor, and suggested I send a fax. After two days my friends are now safely in Montreal, but there are still some serious questions that need to be raised.

As a human being, my perception is now that Lufthansa is willing to risk its clients’ lives in order to make a few extra bucks. And as a marketer, I can tell you that this is not a good strategy. At the cost of little short-term money, they lost three customers (or more, if you’re reading this blog!). A company as big as Lufthansa should know that it’s ten times more difficult to find new clients than keeping existing ones. If Lufthansa is keen on remaining profitable in the long-term, a humanitarian evacuation crisis is the perfect way to create good publicity. Assist foreign governments and cut deals to fill their flights that are anyway partly empty. Instruct customer service representatives not to get off a phone call without resolving a situation. Pack each leaving flight to the brim, and send planeloads of happy stranded travellers back home to tell everybody what they feel about Lufthansa Air. But instead, Lufthansa’s “good-will “ included an expiration date.

So we’re left with a few morals to the story:

  1. The quick buck is good for pyramid-scheme operators, but businesses that want to develop and grow need to invest in and respect their clients and prospects for ensured long-term success
  2. Think out of the box, and find creative ways to turn potentially negative opportunities into positive results
  3. Customer service is part of your company image. Make sure to involve your marketing people when you set client policies.
  4. Finally, don’t fly to the danger zones of the world. And if you must, don’t do it with an airline that turns its back on its clients when they’re really in need.

Direct Objective Consulting on LinkedIn