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Oct 26, 2006
Event Wrap-up

MarketingSherpa's Boston Summit Wrap-up Report: B-to-B Marketers Reveal How to Improve Lead Generation, Nurturing & Measurement Tactics

SUMMARY: This week, 210 B-to-B marketers gathered behind closed doors for MarketingSherpa's 3rd annual East Coast Demand Generation Summit. Useful revelations included:

#1. How to overcome internal politics so your leads aren't "black holed" and your budget isn't slashed

#2. Lead gen registration form improvements

#3. Where to get (more) great content for your newsletters, white papers, webinars & podcasts

#4. Advanced lead nurturing tactics

Here are our notes for everyone who couldn't make it:
This week, 210 business-to-business marketers, including execs from SAP, Philips, Prudential, SunGard and Sybase, gathered in Boston for MarketingSherpa's East Coast Demand Generation Summit.

(Note: The West Coast version of this Summit takes place Nov. 13-14; see link at end for details.)

Four common threads emerged across all the Case Study presenters ranging from Agilysys to Siemens, despite their differences in tactics, products and marketshare

#1. How to overcome internal politics so your leads aren't "black holed" and your budget isn't slashed

Although average sales cycles are lengthening, B-to-B marketers' typical job tenures (now just 23 months) have been getting shorter and shorter.

Plus, when CEOs see the decreased cost per lead that Internet efficiencies can create, they're as likely to cut your budget as increase it.

MarketingSherpa's own Research Director Stefan Tornquist presented depressing survey data from Summit attendees: 82% said 'Finance doesn't understand how lead generation contributes to the bottom line.' Gulp. ... And you expect the CFO to blithely OK your 2007 budget?

Also, 60% said the leads we generate have low credibility with sales.

How can you keep your job, your budget and your influence in those conditions? Everyone agreed that your top priority should be to get complete corporate buy-in as to what the definition and value of a "sales-ready lead" should be.

Thereafter, never, ever, ever call anything a lead that's not one. One attendee explained why: "I'm a former salesperson who's now in marketing. When you say the word 'Lead,' my blood pressure goes up and I start getting really excited. Then I immediately get depressed. Oh, they're not talking about leads at all. They're only talking about inquiries."

Other tips from speakers:

- Don't present all your wealth of metrics to management. "Shorten your metrics, present a dashboard pick just five metrics to report," advised Dave Martin, Director Online Marketing at Allegiance Inc. Aside from inquiry-to-close rates, another useful metric is the percent of your leads that wind up being pursued by the sales team.

Plus, give separate metrics for leads that are marketing influenced versus marketing generated -- nothing can bring you more bad will than getting these confused.

- "Scientists - they are binary. Black and white. Any gray and they freak out," said Jeanne Hopkins, Senior Director Marketing & Communications at Symmetricom.

How can marketing keep that internal demographic population thrilled? "Whenever you have news about them get out a press release to their hometown paper and alumni association publication. Nothing makes an engineer happier than saying 'Look, Mom, my name is in the paper!' You can build a lot of good will with that."

- Last but not least, some of the best advice on building goodwill with the sales department came from Scott Santucci, CEO BluePrint Marketing. "Attend sales training in person. Don't just read up on it! Don't you hate it when non-marketing execs come up to you and quote marketing factoids they've read? Don't just flip through the sales training binder and think you know how sales works."

#2. Lead gen registration form improvements

Civilians might think online registration forms (i.e., Contact Us, White paper registration, etc.) are incredibly boring, but reg form tweaks were a red-hot topic at Sherpa's Summit.

Stefan Heeke and Inga Broerman of Siemens presented the results of several multivariate tests the US division has been running on its Web sites, including search marketing landing pages. "A little change on the Contact Us form gave a lift of 115%" they reported.

Paul Dunay, Director of Global Field Marketing for BearingPoint, reported he had "raised white paper registration form completes from one in 10 to three or five in 10 by adding a two-minute podcast [audio file] as a teaser on the white paper registration page."

"Don't try one size fits all offers," cautioned Info-Tech Lead Analyst Michael O'Neil. Data from his newest study, presented exclusively at the Summit revealed that company size profoundly affected the type of educational white paper an exec would sign up for. Small businesses and very large businesses often preferred 101-style papers, versus mid-sized companies.

However, he agreed with John Connell, Marketing Programs Manager IT Business Edge, that the place for these varying offers was *not* your registration form, but rather a landing page or navigation bar further upstream.

Connell, who presented a new informal study of the top 10 mistakes on lead registration forms said one common error is to included questions such as "Please have someone contact me about setting up an appointment today!"

"Don't push extra offers on your registration form," he advised. Give the relationship some extra time. They may have never heard of you."

#3. Where to get (more) great content for your newsletters, white papers, webinars & podcasts

Robert Lesser, President Direct Impact Marketing, revealed October 2006 study data showing that Blogging (12%), Web conferencing (13%)and Email Marketing (44%) were seen as the most critical lead generation tools by surveyed B-to-B marketers.

"Content is king. I can't emphasize that enough," declared Doug Ziewacz, Director Marketing for Everon Technology Services.

"If you've only got one writer, hire one more. If you've got two, then hire two more. I can't stress the importance that quality on-topic content is going to have on your search results," noted Allegiance's Martin.

"It's all about the content. Luckily you have more than you think," added Symmetricom's Hopkins.

"You have content that's languishing out there," noted Wayne Bernot, Marketing Director at Agilysys. Such as?

o R&D department data that went into creating the product in the first place

o Customer surveys

o Great third-party articles and white papers (it's OK to talk about content that's not your own.) ""Become a voracious reader, take in a lot of new data," advised IBM's Jacques Pavlenyi.

o Video and/or audio interviews with customers about their own pain points and strategies (note: NOT just testimonials about how great you are.)

o End-user surveys and stories. "Talk to end users. They love to talk about the job they do all day long." noted Lynn Tornabene, VP Marketing DoubleClick.

o CEO studies. IM said they do a 700-CEO study every year to figure out what keeps their clients and prospects up at night. "Of you can articulate the marketplace's pain enough, the sales cycle can collapse," noted BluePrint's Santucci.

o Content (or ideas for content) that's on your own in-house Intranet or wiki.

Wherever the content comes from, it must resonate with the end-reader. "You cannot have a site where when they finally land, they do not immediately see themselves." said Karen Breen Vogel, President & CEO ClearGauge. It's all about articulating industry and pain points on the landing page - and your home page.

#4. Advanced lead nurturing tactics

If you think lead nurturing is either sending out an email newsletter and/or making an "are you ready to buy yet?" phone call once a month, then you are sadly behind the times.

Why do so many marketers still fall into that monthly generic touch trap? "Nurturing is new," admitted Gary Spangler, Platform eBusiness Leader at DuPont. "Historically nurturing has always been face to face. However, online nurturing now enables sales people to be more focused."

Marketing keeps the prospects warmed and educated and sales talks to just those that truly are "sales ready."

"Up to 60% of our prospects are in that longer-term cycle," noted Gretchen Clark, Hewlett Packard's Marcom Manager. "We found 10% of these will be long-term wins if you set a nurturing agenda. These are definitely sales that would have been lost to the black hole otherwise due to lack of communication."

Her team's tactics include a carefully measured blend of telemarketing, email, postal direct mail, virtual events each addressing prospect pain points in a highly targeted manner.

The end goal is marketing as "drip irrigation" rather than one-off big splash events or campaigns.

"Awareness needs to be ingrained in their minds, so when they think of problems they think of how we can solve them," explained Deborah L. Kase, AG Marketing Manager for IBM Emerging Markets.

Her favorite tactics, "road shows, intimate thought leader get-togethers. Shifting, adapting marketing to smaller and smaller audiences until you've got a segment of one."

"We don't use mail merge," said Mike Schultz of Wellesley Hills Group describing their nurturing campaign for Deep Customer Connections. "We figure out what we wanted to say to each of 400 companies and send different emails to each of them."

He added, "Success in nurturing is not about your logo or your creative. It's memory. Would your campaign make them remember you in that elusive time of need?"

"When they are ready to buy, make sure you're in front of them. Sales readiness is a marketing function. Leads may come in hot and then play the hurry-up-and-wait game. We're here when you want to come back to us." declared Everon's Ziewacz.

One key differentiator: he's streamlined the proposal process with templates and systems so customized proposals are out the door in under 20 minutes instead of the 45 minutes it used to take. "It's worth it."

Although it's become awfully fashionable this decade, don't give up on postal direct mail, as a part of the nurturing mix.

Using RFM analysis, John Toraason, Marketing Director for B&B Electronics, segmented his prospect and customer database carefully. Top performers got expensive catalogs, middle-level got smaller versions and the lightweights got a postcard.

Is all this nurturing worth the (extensive) extra work?

Kate Baar, Marketing Director of Hitachi Consulting, said she tested sending in sales reps to meetings arranged by appointment-setting firms (which did nothing but get you the meeting from a series of cold calls) versus appointment setting as a result of a more extended nurturing campaign.

The appointment setting firm only cost $650 per meeting but she discontinued using them after 30 meetings even though the meetings were for the most part at the right companies with the right people. Turns out none of that business ever closed.

Why didn't it? She explained, "Your rep goes into the meeting with no pain points established, no information on the decision process or any depth of relationship built up already. All that marketing time and effort has just been moved from before the meeting to after the meeting."

She continued, "After we ran this test, people here understood much more about how much marketing it takes to move prospects down the nurture path. Relationships are more about a one-time call-through. This is a marathon, not a 10k race."

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