The route to success for every business is to create and define an amazing marketing plan that will run and run. The problem is, so many businesses follow the same old methodology of cold calling, hiding content behind a form to get an email address before cold-calling again or simply hoping for the best.
With over thirty years in sales and marketing, it would be a foolish act not to attempt to dissect and deliver a comprehensive explanation and strategy for generating new business. No one wants to simply keep doing what they’ve always done just to get the same results.
2020 has presented everyone with a new set of parameters with the whole COVID 19 change and down-turn, so this makes it an ideal time to present our case to help businesses create a marketing plan for investment, secure new investment, obtain a new round of funding or indeed, adapt their existing marketing strategies to improve their game and make business development a priority.
Depending on the size of your business and any previous research you may have done, there are different levels of investment available from Seed to Angel to Venture Capital and Private Equity. As you know, each of these structures to invest in your business are dependent on your turnover.
Initially, how much business are you already doing?
It’s not rocket science, but the simple fact is that every form of marketing works! But clearly, some methods are more successful and consistent than others and they are dependent on scale.
As with any new business, or if you’re looking to grow/expand or obtain investment, you will have three primary issues to contend with:
In light of the above you will have answered the following questions:
Your ability to answer the above questions well will have a significant impact on your long-term ability to succeed, through creating and managing customer-centric content that endears new prospects to you and helps develop long term, profitable relationships.
According to the press and recruitment industry the average tenure of a Chief Marketing Officer in the UK is 18 months. This has been the case for the past six years. It appears CMOs are appointed, are given three months to get settled, take 12 months to roll out their new plan and then are given three months to turn it around and when they don’t, they leave.
If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got!
This shocking statistic means CMOs are failing to change the marketing practices within businesses and either they get fired, are asked to leave or see the writing on the wall and jump before being pushed.
My explanation for this phenomenon is marketing automation! Marketing Automaiton appeared around 2010, for example, Marketo was formed in 2008. Marketing Automation was heralded as the ultimte answer to marketing woes. Combining this with landing page software meant that marketing departments could tick all the boxes to get the necessary information from prospects.
The trouble was, no one was creating decent content and so the needle was never moved, companies invested heavily in marketing automation based upon the size of their email database and the return on marketing investment (ROMI) never materialised. Yet no one realised (or wanted to realise) this and every business continued to invest in the 'snake oil'. The end result was the businesses fired the CMO for lack or progress, success, ROI, whatever, and they kept employing another CMO, hoping for the best.
Read our article How to Pivot to Digital Selling.
This is a significant cause of damage to businesses as each time they move on, the CEO is forced to revert back to a cold-calling based strategy and, overall, this cycle causes mistrust in marketing professionals, which in turn fuels the tension between sales and marketing as they both attempt to blame each other for failure to move the needle.
The following content will help demystify what has long been thought of as an accepted problem every business simply has to endure.
Generating new business is all that counts. You can ‘buy’ every member of staff; it’s called paying a salary and recruitment costs. You can buy all the kit you need for your office; you can buy advertising and PR. But you cannot buy a new deal.
Your business must stand on its own merits as a business providing goods and services that make a profit.
To get the ball rolling, there are a number of standard activities most businesses will undertake, so once you’re clear on what they are and how they work, you can move on to the planning stage that will seriously appeal to your investors.
Telesales cold calling is a 200-1 shot of finding someone interested enough in your product to want an appointment.
The number of calls an individual can make per day, manually, is about 70-80. Most people called will not be available! Approximately 90% will be ‘in a meeting’, on a break, gone to the loo, out to lunch, on holiday, off sick and so on.
Of the people that are actually spoken to, approximately 10% will say “OK, send me some information”. At this point you need to ensure you have content that can be sent immediately by email and that this email and content reflects that you have called them and not simply sent a generic email. Secondly, it makes good business sense to create an email sequence expressly for the people telephoned, who have shown an interest in your product or service. Finally the CRM platform (e.g. salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics) must be set up to automatically appoint a call-back in a few weeks’ time.
As most people will be unavailable, you will have a considerable number of call-backs and so they need to be processed and managed accordingly.
Productivity can be increased through integration using a dialler connected to a CRM system; this can increase outbound calls to about 120 calls per day. Progressive dialling will increase it to 150 calls per day; and Predictive dialling (which many people don’t like) can increase the number of people you dial to up to 200 calls per day, particularly in a Business to Consumer (B2C) environment. I would stress this is unlikely to be that successful for B2B call scenarios.
Currently, most telephone-based or business development related personnel use Sales Navigator as their go-to platform to access a prospect's contact details, especially in Account Based Marketing (ABM) scenarios.
In some cases, telephone calls have dropped in favour of sitting on the computer and researching individuals and their working groups, in order to market to a team instead of a single individual.
This approach can have the appearance of sending out multiple emails with the same attachment in the hope that someone will take the bait and then follow up the email by making a phone call.
The reality is, that ABM only works effectively when you have agreement and buy-in from the prospective business and you have specific content aimed at each individual, having first understood the personas involved.
ABM is an intelligent way of connecting and marketing, yet few businesses are prepared to do the ground work in terms of creating multiple content items to appeal to a variety of different personas.
The Pros; When you’re starting out, you need to get the ball rolling and if done efficiently, telesales/cold-calling can build some interest. If you don’t have the financing or personnel, it’s not complicated to get a small team together and crank out some appointments and at least find some interested parties.
The Cons; It’s time consuming, soul destroying, expensive and immediately sets your business up on a treadmill that dictates if the process stops, so does your business. Additionally, you need a software solution to make and manage a significant number of calls, which will take time to set up, and the suppliers often demanding you pay up in advance. For example, Salesforce will cost £20 to £60 per person per month paid annually in advance, which is not so much, but this excludes the consultancy necessary to set it up correctly and make it automated to send out content.
You also need to ensure that you have the right ratio of telesales people to sales people. Ideally it needs to be three-to-one. That’s three employed telesales people supporting one sales person, who is out on the road meeting people and closing them. You will also need to consider who is going to create the telesales system, train the telesales people and manage them.
Three people can possibly create 24 appointments per month, plus a further 48 interested prospects. A sales person could attend 24 appointments per month with 8 days set aside to perform demos or other related work.
Whilst this may seem logical and ideal, if you’re paying the £30k per annum for each telesales person, plus £60k and commission to the sales person, you’re immediately into your telesales setup for £150k+ before anything is sold or any commission paid.
Considering your overall costs, it also excludes any SaaS, training, configuration consultancy, additional support personnel or senior staff, so you better make sure you’re making enough profit to pay everyone else’s wages too!
This methodology is to create a wide selection of content items designed to help, inform and train potential customers. The glaringly obvious first stage is to create the content in the first place. To do that you need to apply the salesXchange Social 334 Strategy. This recommends a business create multiple content items, in advance, and publishes the content over a given period of time.
Click to download the brochure below:
The important point regarding Social 334 is it ensures you can evaluate your overall tone of voice and, equally important, you can ensure you don’t have any unnecessary gaps. Too often, marketing plans are devised and never fully executed because they are created ‘just-in-time’. Invariably something gets in the way, they lack continuity or they simply lose momentum.
The content needs to conform to the Google parameters of well-written and accessible content and it needs to be distributed via a number of platforms and methods.
For you to become the preferred supplier, make your content unrestricted, educational and available in multiple media formats such as written, video and podcast, as there is no way anyone can second guess how or when someone wants to consume information. For example, a director or decision maker may listen to a podcast on their commute, review technical specs at their desk and watch some videos whilst they are eating their lunch or at home!
Finally, we recommend you identify and plan the scope of content required. It is essential you plan for the following:
These are key articles that will appear high on the search engines. They are your thought-leadership components and must conform to a recognised structure recommended by Google.
These are long-form articles/blogs that provide detailed information, approximately 3,000 to 6,000 words long and include an introduction summary, H1, H2, H3 titles, a clickable table of contents, on-page navigation, numbered lists, bullet lists, videos, graphs, diagrams, tables and graphics.
The objective of a Primary Content item is to have a call-to-action to your Product Page or other applicable action.
And finally, the article must be written in language suitable for a twelve year old to read.
These articles can be anything you like, from Corporate & Social Responsibility (CSR), News, Staff Achievements, Christmas Party photos and so on. These articles simply help present your social side and are not intended to rank high on the search engines.
Whether a browser arrives from a Primary Article call-to-action or direct from a search engine, these are your flagship sales pages and can include the same variety of content as Primary Content mentioned above. Also consider linking to an FAQ section, Chat, direct telephone numbers for Support or Sales and so on.
Liken your Primary and Product content to that of a sales person. Make sure it is attracting enough views and is converting; if not, edit it until it does. If, after time, it does not perform successfully, then consider deleting it and write new content. See the illustration below.
We have a detailed article about defining SEO on all your content and understanding the difference between Primary, Secondary and Product content.
There are two distinct trains of thought about gated content:
Option One – Content in Exchange for an Email
The first option is to place all content behind a barrier (approximately 80% of all content) that demands the browser submits their email address, as explained below with Pay Per Click. This creates two problems. Firstly, the content cannot be referenced and indexed on the search engines, as the search robots are unable to access the pages or content, which means your content cannot be found.
Secondly, you fall into the same trap as above as the browser is only trying to find out some information and you will have forced them into a transaction without them knowing you. They will also be wary that you’ll try and cold call them and try to pressure them into an appointment.
The management and distribution of content is facilitated by a marketing automation platform (MAP). These platforms are great and provide an enormous amount of information and data, however, there’s a big ‘but’…
If you don’t allow the whole process to be automated, the bottom line is that you have a very expensive SaaS platform to support cold calling, on the assumption someone will call the person who downloaded the document to try and progress the relationship.
On the other hand, a MAP can place a cookie on a browser looking at your website and match it up with an email address once someone has filled in a form and downloaded a document or spent time on your website. The MAP then enables you to lead-score your interested parties and place them in your marketing funnel as a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) before converting them to a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL). If they don’t call you, there is always the danger of upsetting the browser if you call them.
Option Two – Content Freely Available
The second option is to make all your content freely available and accessible, to the point of not needing a complex marketing automation platform. In fact, more people download free content than content restricted behind a form-filling barrier as they’re wary of distributing their personal details. It is important to point out that all your content should have details about your company and contact details to help them contact you in the future.
Suffice to say, it is not essential you obtain their email or contact details as they, you and I are all capable of contacting people we recognise as able to help our businesses. Many businesses use the cold-calling type strategies out of desperation, due to a lack of confidence in their marketing ability.
The No Email or No Cold Calling method is the real ‘killer approach’ as it presents your goods and services as being a viable proposition, established through content and engagement, i.e. people actually want to find out about you and your services.
To most experienced and hardened business people, this last method is the perfect choice as it can mean the difference between obtaining funding based upon solid proof of concept and measurable social proof too and not.
Ultimately you will have the flexibility of split testing both options to see which works best for you. If you’re looking to build your brand, thought-leadership and presence, then ungated content, I think, is a must. If you have an ecommerce platform and you want to provide special offer etc., then gated content may well be the route forward.
Today, it is recognised that up to 70-80% of the evaluation process is carried out by a company looking to make a purchase before they even attempt to make contact with a supplier. And when they do, the buyer has already made their mind up who they’re going to buy from.
If a second or third company, is given the opportunity to quote, it's often only to provide a comparison with the preferred supplier, as there is the strong possibility that the ‘cold call’ a supplying company made, has connected with a business that was already 80% of the way down the line to making a decision; they then simply became the also-rans providing the comparison quotes. And finally, if they are able to quote, they may attempt to discount heavily, in order to win the business, because this is their best sales strategy, i.e. to undercut the preferred supplier.
As you can see, they best place to be in the above scenarios, is to get in on the silent conversation at the beginning of the process.
One of the first things to be aware of when it comes to marketing and branding is that the view of your company is based upon your ‘substance’ as a business. Having a photograph on your website of the directors standing in front of their new colour coded BMWs does not constitute a demonstration of branding.
Your substance as a business is the information and content you produce, enabling a prospective customer to decide if your content is valuable enough to engage with you. The more informative and useful the content, the more highly esteemed your business brand will appear.
Accepting that you will create a variety of content, i.e. video, podcast and articles, you are presented with a number of opportunities to get your content in front of your target audience.
Appearing on the first page of Google is everyone's desire and possibly expectation, however, this is wholly dependent on the structure and substance of the content that has been created. There is more about the structure of the articles under Content to Attract Customers relating to Primary and Secondary Articles, detailed above.
The diagram below illustrates how you are able to market your content and the various platforms open to all businesses. The key is to understand the platforms, how to manage and structure your content and for your website to extract the most exposure and benefit.
As part of your business plan you will probably budget for an amount of advertising, more than likely on a social media platform such as LinkedIn. If you do, still bearing in mind you are targeting B2B, you will always be directing people to either a Landing Page or your website. Therefore, you need to ensure you adopt a segmentation and multi-persona strategy which means not creating a one-size-fits-all approach.
Ultimately you can only attempt to ‘hang out’ where you know your customers are and this will start with social media. Either you already have people following you, and your advert will be seen by the right people, or you will need to engage the services of LinkedIn and pay for your adverts to appear in the newsfeeds of your target audience.
Part of your campaign is to ensure your PPC advert(s), banners or adverts expressly speak to an identified persona and market segment.
Your advertising structure on LinkedIn should use short adverts, i.e. videos or meme/graphics, ‘tempting’ viewers to first listen and then click a link to your landing page or to your website where they can read, see and or listen to the full content.
There are platforms such as www.dmntn.com where you can upload your one hour video, add an intro and outro, some music and a logo and their system will chop up your video and create up to 84 pieces of different content to be uploaded multiple times to a social media platform such as LinkedIn, all without having to re-edit the video, saving you 2-3 days’ worth of editing.
If you have an existing database of opted-in names or if you have a purchased database, it is important to define the exact number and logical sequence of the emails you intend to send. Each email must have a call-to-action and a methodology to transfer the recipient from the purchased ‘contact list’ to an opt-in contact list.
The most important aspect of an email campaign is to ensure there is a beginning and an end and that you can monitor the open rates and resend when necessary.
Additionally, if you have purchased a database for your telesales cold-calling, this data can be uploaded to LinkedIn and they will match your ‘reach’ to that of the database. This can work well if you combine the two approaches.
Pay Per Click using search engines, and PPC from social media platforms, should link to a Landing Page to provide a free document or something similar and is going to be dependent on the value of your free offering/download.
Banner Adverts placed on relevant websites again should direct browsers to a suitable landing page that correlates to the banner advert graphic.
The positioning and success of your PPC advert-link and banner adverts on web sites and Google are also going to be based upon how much you’re prepared to spend per click.
Demanding personal data is a fundamental problem as you are forcing a prospect into a transaction without having first obtained their trust. Whilst this can be done in part by providing social proof on the landing page, such as displaying quotes from customers and/or their logos, it’s still a transaction and they believe you will use the data to telephone cold call them.
Your ‘post-click-marketing’ conversion abilities and overall campaign success will be determined on the layout and structure of your landing page and your ability to communicate your message. You then have to convince your browser to give up their personal details before they can download your content.
Once the browser has clicked on the PPC/advert/link and have succumbed to your amazing written or video content and are eager to give you their email details, you will then have two options open to you as follows:
Once you obtain an email address, and you intend to contact that person, you will need to search for their contact details. You then have to attempt to make contact and get through the gate-keeper. By doing this you run the risk of upsetting the individual as you will appear to be stalking them; bear in mind, they only wanted to research your product or service and if they wanted to speak to you, they would have called, so you may have risked your relationship before getting to know them properly.
If they have given you permission to email them in the future you need to ensure an email series has been created to cater for this opportunity. The email series needs to be different to any other email series you might be sending out, say to an existing database list where the recipients haven’t expressly requested information from you.
Data Scraping mapping services can tell you the name and decision makers of companies who have visited your website. Once they give you their email address to download a document, one of the platforms below will furnish you with all the additional data you need:
If you intend to adopt this approach or already do so, then it is essential that you’re aware of the different personas you intend to approach and the different content that would be applicable to different levels of seniority or technical expertise.
There shouldn’t be ‘one-size-fits-all’ when it comes to content for an ABM strategy.
Once you have businesses interested in you, like the 48 additional interested parties per month from telesales, you then need to provide a mechanism to connect with them in the form of:
Firstly, just concentrate on creating and marketing content as detailed above. If you’re already doing telesales and have an existing SaaS CRM platform and staff in place, then continue with them for the time being and build your content library and system in parallel.
Content Marketing will work for you 24/7 – 365 days per year, never go on holiday, go on sick leave or get affected by a virus. But you do have to give ‘content’ time to settle in and take root. Over time you will be able to reduce your telesales and direct sales personnel, simply because business is flowing to you without your business incurring the high costs needed to staff an outbound team.
If you’re just starting out, then start your content now. Keep writing and keep posting. The more primary, secondary and product content you have the more visible you will become.
If you have already begun receiving leads then raising capital will be significantly easier as you will have self-generated your own social proof, rather than expecting an investor to support a ‘treadmill operation’ that has the potential to fail as soon as your staff stop cold calling.
Simply remember ‘Publish or Perish’
To help steer you in the creation of a systemised structure that can run on auto-pilot, I have published The B2B Marketing Reset Playbook, a 35 page, fully illustrated guide that will help you through the various stages and ensure you cover everything needed to make your marketing a success.
The explanations used in your business plan about how you will approach new business marketing can simply be cut and paste from this article and edited to suit.
Your budget P&L will benefit from being created around a modelling structure that enables you to simply increase certain KPIs that auto-recalculate for each year through to your balance sheet. KPIs will include gross margin on the sale of the product, staff ratios, scaling and so on.
Whatever your involvement in either business development, starting a new business or arranging investment, we offer a variety of articles, downloads, video and podcasts to help you navigate the marketing jungle and hopefully steer you clear of the common pitfalls many businesses encounter.
If you need any direct help, please don't hesitate to contact us.