Why you could be losing up to 80% of your sales. (And what you can do to keep them.)

Written by Katie DaggettB2B Marketers Losing Sales

Let’s start off with a little math.

First, enter your company’s revenue in the past year.

Now, multiply that number by 5.

Your total is how much revenue your company could be losing if you aren’t nurturing your long term leads. Of course, you probably aren’t losing all of your sales from long-term leads, this figure simply reflects the potential leads that could be lost at some point during the sales cycle.

“Long-term leads can represent as much as 80% of your sales,” says lead generation expert, Brian Carroll, in his book Lead Generation for the Complex Sale. And if you aren’t nurturing your leads with meaningful contact throughout the buying cycle, these are sales you could be losing to your competitors.

Now, while that figure may sound alarming. What it really represents is an amazing opportunity.

Why?  Because the majority of your competitors ─59% of companies according to Marketing Sherpa’s 2012 Lead Generation Benchmark Report ─ still don’t have lead nurturing programs. So, by reading this report, and acting on the advice within, you’ll be well ahead of the game.

Why is lead nurturing so important?

First of all, it keeps prospects engaged with information they really care about and that can help them make the best purchasing decision. Lead nurturing is a gradual process that guides prospects from where they’re at right now, to where you want them to be in the buying cycle.

A secondary benefit is that the information you provide can serve as the “proof” your prospect needs to persuade other decision makers within their organization that yours is the solution to buy.

And what is the number one tool for nurturing your long-term leads throughout the buying cycle?  Content.

If you want to ensure these future customers remain in your funnel, you must have a relevant, consistent conversation with them. This means engaging them with information — content like articles, newsletters, whitepapers, and videos — that they’re eager to read, share, and act on.

So, what determines useful content?                   

First, let’s discuss what it is not:

  • Talking about your company, how great you are, and describing product features…
  • Hard sales, strong calls to action, “buy me now” statements…
  • New product or service “announcements”

What good content should do is offer information that helps solve a major problem your buyers have. For example, if you sell accounting software, you might offer a white paper that explains what to look for when purchasing accounting software.

Remember, of course, to offer a general solution, focused on the buyer’s problems, and talking about general business issues and market trends, rather than pushing your company, product or service.

It’s also important to keep in mind that leads are people, and that your goal in building a successful lead nurturing program is to build a relationship with them with useful content.

The goal when creating content is never to sell, but rather to support a conversation. The question you should be asking when creating your content are, “Is this helpful” and “Is this relevant?”

By creating valuable content, you’ll also be giving your sales people tools to support their conversations with customers, giving them something helpful and relevant to offer and discuss.

Key Benefit #1: By giving your prospective buyer genuinely helpful information, you are helping to position yourself as a trusted advisor and someone he will likely look to for a solution when he finally is ready to buy.

If you’d like more tips on developing your lead nurturing program (or improving the one you have), check out my FREE white paper: Content Marketing Complete Guide.

Will you land more customers with a wide net or a smart hook? Narrowcasting vs. Broadcasting

Written by Katie DaggettB2B Marketing - Narrowcasting vs. Broadcasting

Suppose you decide to become a fisherman, knowing that the people of your village prefer a specific type of fish called the “blue-finned flyer”. The blue finned flyer is smaller in number and hard to catch, so the people of your village are willing to pay a premium price to get it.

Considering yourself somewhat of a smart businessperson, you decide to specialize in catching and selling blue-finned fliers.

The traditional way to catch fish in your community is to cast out your net, haul it in and sort the fish at the end of the day – selling whatever you bring in. Now, this approach does bring in a great number of fish with minimal effort, which is why most of your fellow fishermen use this method. The downside is, out of the daily catch, only a very small number will turn out to be the blue-finned fliers you are looking for.

So, you decide to try a different approach.

You decide to study the blue-finned flyer and get to know them as well as you can. What do they prefer to eat? Where in the river do they prefer to congregate? What time of day are they most active? What attracts them? Repels them? And so on.

After much research, you determine that the best way to catch a blue-finned flier is to bait your hook with a very specific type of insect, go out in the very early morning, and cast your line into the reeds along the shore.

Do your efforts reward you with a massive number of fish each day? No. But you are successful at reeling in exactly the type of fish you are interested in catching – and you bring in more of this fish than any of your competitors. You don’t sell a great number of fish each day, but those fish you do sell fetch a premium, so you end up earning more per fish for your time and effort.

So, how does “narrowcasting” apply to content marketing?

The first time I heard the term was in an interview with Avaya’s CMO, Mark Wilson. He used this method, when launching a software product, to target prospects in the financial industry. By focusing narrowly on the habits of decision makers in this industry, his marketing team was able to devise a plan to target their prospects heavily throughout their day – from the newspaper’s they read at breakfast, to the elevators they rode up to their offices. Wilson’s team carried out their highly targeted efforts for three years. And, according to him, the product launch was the most successful in the company’s history.

In my opinion, too many companies take the easy way out with “spray and pray” marketing methods. They devise one message and broadcast it to the masses.

Will they attract any leads that way? Sure. But they will turn many prospects off as well. Many of whom could have been converted into sales had they been approached with the right message at the right time.

The moral of this story?

Take the time to get to know your customers and prospects. Really study them. What are their needs? What do they read? Where do they congregate? What motivates them to take action?

You can find this information out by scanning your customer databanks, talking to your sales people, studying your analytics to see when your prospects first contacted you (after a webinar, an email, or a live event); what types of content do they most respond to, what are they talking about on social media, read the magazines they read, hang out where they hang out.

Then, take this information to create personas (or bios) for each of your various audiences. Make them as detailed as possible, until you can see them as a real live person sitting in front of you. Then write your marketing content as if you are speaking one on one with that person.

Finally, deliver your content through the channels you know your customer prefers – webinar, a written report, via Twitter or LinkedIn or email. And, provide the information your prospects want, when they want it (this comes from knowing the stage of the buying cycle they are in-for more on that, you may want to download my white paper).

Bait your hook with the stuff your customers want.

Cast your line along the shoreline in the early morning, when your prospects are primed and eager for the information you have to offer.

Become a trusted adviser, rather than a talking head with a megaphone.

You will be rewarded, not with massive, untargeted traffic to your website, but with a select group of highly qualified leads that are ready and willing to buy from you.

What approach do you prefer when creating your content – one with broad appeal or do you target a narrowly focused audience? Leave a comment and share it with us.

And if you’re interested in an easy-to-follow guide to improving your content marketing efforts, click here to download my white paper “The Marketing Pro’s Guide to Creating Great Content”.