Over the past seven months, Wanted Technologies has successfully transformed itself from a business-to-consumer Internet software company to a business-to-business ASP. We were fascinated to learn from VP Marketing Tracey-Lee Batsford just how she managed it.
Q: Can you first describe what you did as a business-to-consumer company and what changed in your model?
Batsford: In 1997 we created a windows-based software available for download on sites like Cnet that job seekers could use to simultaneously search 30 jobs sites. Late in December ’99 we were kind of going into a game where even though we weren’t competing with job sites, software was a thing of the past. So instead of attracting them to us, we thought why not become an ASP and furnish software to consumer sites grappling with decreasing rates?
To be quite honest our first business client Hoovers came to us, they triggered the idea by telling us ‘We need this.’… Simply slapping syndicated news content on a site may not help retain users. Why not help users accomplish day-to-day tasks instead? If they are at Hoovers looking for financial information, why not give them job opportunities to view there instead of having to go elsewhere?
Q: Once you made the decision to switch from B-to-B , how did you handle the transition? Did you just dump your old B2C clients?
Batsford: Conversion was difficult at first. We literally switched overnight. We converted hundreds of thousands of our consumer users to using one destination [http://www.wantedjobs.com] by sending a carefully spun preliminary to all users, ‘in order to serve you better…’ putting everything on the line. We spelled out the benefits, no downloads, faster search time, etc. We also told them we’d be furnishing software for other Web sites, ‘if you’re in the finance profession you may want to visit Hoovers.’
We converted them because you never know when they could be potential customers. It was politically correct to do so. You’re not closing doors. You’re not ‘the guys who made that software and now you’re not supporting us any longer.’
The wantedJobs.com site also serves a dual purpose as a showcase site for potential B-to-B clients. We became our own ASP client! Instead of bringing B-to-B prospects to existing clients, we could show them what it looks being implemented by us.
Q: Have you found B-to-B harder or easier than B2C marketing?
Batsford: Marketing-wise it’s been so much easier for me to explain what we do now to journalists and potential business partners. It’s easier in terms of positioning and getting a clear message across. B-to-B is such a load off my shoulders! With B2C there are so many different types of verticals, you use the same message but you have to tailor it differently for each one in increase your ROI.
Q: What specific marketing campaigns did you do to get new B2B clients?
Batsford: We haven’t done any broadcast marketing. The dot-com noise out there is insane and our budget was limited. Direct email used to be great but the pendulum has swung backwards and direct mail works better now if you’ve got a well-done, glossy, print brochure and it has a very pertinent message. People think, ‘anybody can do email, but these guys can afford 4-colour process brochures so they must be fairly established.’
The average amount of time it takes to make a deal depends on the client. You can send the contract and do the back and forth and everything within a month to six weeks. I’ve seen less. We don’t harass people. The sales team will call back but they won’t call back every day. Our politeness and non-harassment approach works better.
Q: What’s your other advice on doing successful B-to-B marketing?
Batsford: The big thing that applies to any business is target, target, target. I don’t know how many times I get pitches from content and tech providers who if they had done just a little homework they would have known it was stuff totally not applicable to us.
You have to find out who your client really is. You’re marketers, it’s your job! I don’t want to sound clichéd because you hear it all the time, but it’s one-to-one marketing. I’d rather target directly to one prospect addressing their needs than to do a mass mailing and get a .5% response rate!
I also wish marketers would remember prospects don’t care about corporate blah-blah. How cute and wonderful your product is. They care what’s in it for them. That’s all they care about. They don’t have time for anything else.
Your value proposition should be on the first page of your Web site. No Flash demos. Just what’s in it for the customer. An end user will spend three seconds on your site, if they don’t see what they want in three seconds they are out of there!
Q: You’ve had a lot of success getting media mentions, maybe because you once were a professional journalist so you know how their minds work. Can you give us any tips?
Batsford: It’s a long process. There are so many aggressive PR people and so many press releases that make noise that it’s hard for people to pitch stories. Yahoo Internet Life voted one of our clients their “Best Online Career Center” so we tell that to reporters and explain we power that site. It gave us the stamp of approval.
You can’t start at the top and work your way down. Start at the mid-tier and work your way up. The biggest aren’t the be all and end all.
We’ve had tremendous success with mid-tier publications. The story has to be funky. We monitor traffic and noticed that people were using software the most at 3pm -- so they were looking for jobs while at work. The Red Herring did a story on that.
Other successes include Office.com, DigitalCoast Daily, eCompany, VentureWire, Forbes Small Biz, etc. -- they’veproduced quality leads. People who ask ‘have you been in Wired yet?’ they don’t understand.
Remember journalists are just so sick of being pitched fly-by-night stories and non-relevant stories. It’s been a six month process. We’ve tailored our pitch to each journalist. We take a very ‘Canadian Approach,’ we’re aggressive in terms of sales but polite. If you’re polite to journalists, furnish them with what they need and only pitch relevant stories you’ll be successful. I’d rather send a release to five highly relevant publications than a mass release to five hundred publications.
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