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Top Five Lead Gen practices

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Jon Miller in a recent post at Marketo.
Top Five Lead Management Best Practices:

1.Be everywhere. “Cast your marketing net wide so customers will find you no matter where they are searching,” he advises. (as long as they are within your target market profile).

2. Build prospect profiles. Create a lead database to manage and store all your leads, and then make sure you have a strategy in place to keep that database clean (e.g., lead de-duplication).

2.Automate lead handoffs. He offers an example: “Define different lead status values to indicate whether someone is a qualified prospect but still nurturing, or a true sales-ready lead.” Then update their lead status in the CRM system.

3.Provide sales-lead insight. Give the sales rep the prospect’s history, and offer insight about the “interesting moments” that caused that person to become a lead.

4.Recycle leads as necessary. If your sales rep can’t follow up right away, or the prospect isn’t available, don’t let a lead just sit and turn stale. “[H]ave a process in place to reassign the lead or escalate the issue,” Miller advises.

Internet Marketing – A viable marketing strategy in a down economy

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Laura Lake explains some good ideas when it comes to internet marketing ideas and strategy.

We are watching our pennies and slashing our marketing budgets so where can we market that provides us the most cost effective vehicle as well as gives us the efficiency we need in this economy? It’s the Internet.

Why is internet marketing the most cost effective and efficient? It’s the only marketing vehicle that allows you to make tweaks and changes to your campaigns on the fly. When was the last time you ran a marketing campaign and realized it wasn’t pulling the results that you had hoped for? Do you remember the hopeless feeling you got when you saw the campaign was going to be a flop? Of course you do. If you had used internet marketing you could have made the changes at the first sign of failure. The changes could include tweaking the text, modifying the graphic or strengthening the message.
I’m not saying internet marketing is easy, but given some effort and even guidance you can make internet marketing a viable option to sell your services and products. I’ve provided you a few resources that will help you understand the importance of internet marketing strategy as well as guidance that will help you get started.

Internet Marketing Strategy: What Can it Do for You?Having an Internet marketing strategy gives you a measurable and definitive way to target your market and position your business so that those looking for what you have to offer are finding you easily. Learn what it can do for your marketing efforts.Read more

Internet Marketing Strategy : Why is it Important?An Internet Marketing Strategy is just as important as a business plan. Find out why it is important and the risks and problems you can face if you proceed without one.Read more

ABC’s of Creating an Internet Marketing StrategyThis can often leave marketers confused and wondering where to start. Learn a formula that will help you experience internet marketing success in 2007.Read more

Five Levels of Internet Marketing and the Sales ProcessCreating a successful online sales process can be accomplished by making sure that you represent and court your visitor through the five levels of the sales process on your site. You can do this by meeting the psychological needs that your visitor has. Find out how in this three part series.Read more

Top 10 Internet Marketing Strategies Internet Marketing can attract more people to your website, increase customers for your business, and enhance branding of your company and products. If you are just beginning your online marketing strategy the top 10 list below will get you started on a plan that has worked for many.Read more

Five Myths of Internet Marketing for Independent ProfessionalsThe vast majority of what appears on the Internet about marketing is designed to help you market products and services sold and delivered exclusively on the Internet. What does that mean for the independent professional whose web presence is primarily aimed at selling his or her own personal services? Learn how to identify and avoid the five myths of Internet Marketing for independent professionals in this guest article by C.J. Hayden.

6 Ways to weather an economic downturn

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Robyn Haydon from Flying Solo has some great ideas about how to survive as a small business or sole practisioner in this economic climate.

A wise business mentor once told me ‘the best job security is the security you create for yourself’. I think this is true in any economic environment. So what is the answer for solo businesses? I think it’s planning. If we establish defensive measures now, we will be ready if and when this wobble turns into a full-on slump. Here are a few ways to weather-proof your business against the looming clouds of an economic downturn.

1. Review your target markets Geoff Kelly, a leader influence consultant I spoke to, believes that not enough of us “spend enough time targeting the right niche”. Kelly has shifted his focus from small-to-medium clients to those “more medium” sized. The risk-averse could consider government clients, if the offer suits, as government will always pay its bills.

2. Adjust to short-term thinking Expect prospects to be tight with time and cash and don’t take it personally. Try improving something they already have or do, rather than selling something completely new. Accept smaller projects.

3. Adapt your offering to what customers want now Talk to your customers and find out how the economic downturn is affecting their business. Come up with ideas, products or services that will solve the new set of problems. Always be relevant.

4. Be smart about keeping your customers Turn that long-term handshake agreement into a monthly retainer for regular work. Incentivise repeat business by offering extras without devaluing your core offer.

5. Widen your new business net Sharpen up your market presence – revamp your website, or get one; revisit your customers for testimonials; talk up the value customers get from you as opposed to competitors. Shelve brand-building in favour of marketing campaigns that get an immediate return. Ask existing customers to refer new ones. Think about how you could do business with customers based interstate or overseas.

6. Know and respect your value Shawn Price, an independent career management consultant, points out that we ‘independents’ can be attractive in an economic downturn because we can offer more expertise, more flexibility and a lower risk and level of commitment than full-time employees.

The Amazing Power of Growing a Big List

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by Wendy Maynard, Marketing Maven

You may think your biggest business asset is your equipment or your inventory. But, you have two assets even more important than these. Your first big asset is your expertise: your unique knowledge and the specific way that your company helps your clients.

Your second asset is your list of satisfied, loyal customers, as well as your pool of warm prospects with whom you are building a relationship of credibility and trust. Building this list and keeping in touch is your ticket to an ongoing, steady stream of income – no matter what the economy is doing. And this is true regardless of the type of business you run. These individuals will develop a fierce brand loyalty and they will spread the word about how much they love you.
Here are some tips to build your list of leads and prospects:
If you have a website, make sure you have some kind of name capture mechanism. In exchange for people’s contact information, offer a subscription to an ezine, a free report, an e-course, coupon, sample, or some other perk.
Make sure you have an effective online system to collect the names of your customers and prospects. The best program I’ve found for managing my lead generation and follow-up activities is MavenMerchant.com. This program allows you to set up a name capture form for your website or blog, as well as autoresponders to automate the process of communicating with your list on a regular basis. Set it up and let it work for you as your online salesperson – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
If you have a physical location, place a sign-up form in an obvious place for your visitors so you can stay in touch with them on an ongoing basis. You can offer an incentive to sign up such as special coupons, discounts, or a print newsletter with tips. For instance, one of my clients owns a retail boutique and she offers special VIP Customer Discount Events.
When you give speeches, presentations, and attend trade shows, collect the names of people you interact with! In exchange for their contact information, offer people a prize like a free product or a discount. You can do the same thing if you offer telephone seminars or online courses to your clients.
Grow your list by conducting a joint venture with a like-minded business. This is one of the most powerful ways to grow a list of qualified leads. For example, a mortgage broker and Realtor can offer a free seminar on home buying. Both businesses can collect the names of the attendees.
Submit articles to various websites, ezines, and industry publications. Make sure each article has a resource box with information about your business and a link to a name capture page. Submit Your Article is a powerful service that will send your articles to numerous websites. For a fre.e online service, try EzineArticles.com
Good ‘ol phone calls can also do the trick. They often say something like: “Oh my goodness, I am so glad you called! Getting in touch with you has been on my list for weeks now. Let’s set up a time to meet because I have this great new idea for a project…” And off we go!
Direct mail is a relatively inexpensive way to keep in touch. There are so many different types of direct mail you can send to your list. But you can keep it simple. All you really need is a regular postcard to remind people of your presence. If you want to get more complicated, you can send a printed newsletter, thank-you card, or special letters with gifts inside.
Anyone and everyone who has ever purchased from you should go on your list. It is much easier and cost effective to cross-sell and up-sell to past, satisfied customers than it is to convert a prospect into a customer. Regularly keep in touch to ensure your company stays in the forefront of their awareness.

Be sure to track your marketing activities with your customers and prospects. This includes direct mail, phone calls, estimates sent, and meetings. You can use something as simple as Microsoft Outlook, which has client relationship management (CRM) functions. You can also use software with more robust CRM capabilities such as ACT! or Goldmine. If you don’t need to have the latest version of these, look on Ebay for great deals on an earlier release of the software.

Action Item: Take a look at your current system for collecting names and following up with prospects and customers. How do you store your contact data? What actions will you take in the next three months to improve the list-building aspect of your marketing, and how will you reach out to them on a regular basis?

Funnel Vision – How to build a great business (from a good one)

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Great article by Hugh Macfarlane

Standing out from the crowd is tough when your competitors are also working towards the same end. Occasionally, though, a business that has been doing ‘fine’ suddenly starts doing better than fine. In fact, it goes from being good to great. For some, this success is temporary and they soon slink back into the pack. A select few make a significant shift and go on to achieve sustained greatness.
How does a good business become a great one? Hot on the heels of his groundbreaking work with co-author Jerry Porras on the bestselling management book Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies, researcher and author Jim Collins set out to answer this question. As a result, he produced an even better book, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap & And Others Don’t.
Collins’ team of researchers drew up a list of extraordinary companies that met three criteria – they had to have performed at or below the rest of the market for 15 years; then undergone a change; and then significantly outperformed the stock market for 15 years or more.
Collins wanted to understand what these businesses had done to transform themselves into market leaders. His findings suggest there are seven keys to creating a great business.
Disciplined people
1. Adopting level 5 leadership: build enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will.
2. Considering who first, then what: begin by getting the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off it) and then work out where to drive it.
Disciplined thought
Confronting the brutal facts (yet never losing faith): all good-to-great companies began their transition by analysing the facts of their reality while being determined to rise above that reality.
4. Embracing the hedgehog concept: this entails getting clear answers to three questions:
· what are you deeply passionate about?
· what do you know you can be the best in the world at?
· what drives your economic engine?
Disciplined action
5. Fostering a culture of discipline: getting sustained great results requires self-disciplined people who take disciplined action.
6. Using technology as an accelerator: good-to-great companies avoid technology fads, but become pioneers in carefully selected technologies.
7. Creating ‘flywheel momentum’: sustainable transformations follow a pattern of build-up and breakthrough. Like pushing a flywheel, it takes effort to get things moving, but persistence builds momentum and breakthrough.
In our experience, the final idea needs further examination. Momentum is a great outcome, but how do you get it?
In business-to-business (B2B) marketing, organisations often come up with a great idea, try it once and then go looking for another great idea. This is fatally flawed. Not only is it hard to get good at anything this way, but the market becomes confused.
Consumer marketers know that perceptions take a long time to build. They create ads and sell their message consistently. As B2B marketers, we have to do the same. Create campaigns that last for years, and execute them again and again. Refine those plans when necessary, but only after robust measurement and testing.
Adhere to these rules and you’ll soon hear that flywheel humming.

Measuring Marketing – trends

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Quality Metrics Enable Marketing’s Ability to Influence Strategic Directionby Laura Patterson
Published on September 18, 2007

Various studies for the past several years from the Association of National Advertisers, Frost & Sullivan, IDC, and the CMO Council, among others, have found that CEOs are demanding more accountability from marketing. While most marketers are measuring something, survey results indicate there is room for improvement regarding metrics and the quality of these metrics.
In fact, results from VisionEdge Marketing’s 6th annual Marketing Performance Survey found that only 17% of the 136 executives and marketing professional indicated that their CEO would give marketing an A.

In addition, this study and others continue to suggest that a gap remains between a company’s business goals and the metrics marketing uses to measure their impact on these goals. Companies continue to struggle with the contradiction between priorities and action.
The need and opportunity remains for marketing to improve the linkage between marketing expenditures and delivered results.

“Marketing must improve its value to justify its existence as a centralized function,” according to Elana Anderson, a principal analyst at Forrester Research. If we don’t make our case and develop and communicate quality metrics, we may find the days of marketing as a standalone department numbered and instead find ourselves absorbed into sales, finance, or some other function.

It’s not like this is a new phenomenon. The concept of measuring marketing has been around for a long time. The question is what should we measure and what metrics are best?
In 2001, James Gregory’s article in the Journal of Brand Management shared a proprietary model that linked various financial factors and corporate images to stock prices, sales, and market share. Research at VisionEdge Marketing has found that most companies fail to measure such things as cost to acquire, order value, share of wallet, churn rate, brand equity, and other key business variables that marketing impacts. Rather, marketers have a tendency to measure such things as response rate, demo participation, event traffic, number of new contacts or leads, number of press hits, cost per lead, and lead aging.

While these metrics offer some insight into the results of specific programs, they do not link marketing to the business objectives. In fact, our studies indicate that only about one in four marketers measure marketing’s impact on the business and nearly two-thirds of marketing plans do not even include metrics.

A Five-Point Continuum
Forrester Research, Marketing Management Analytics, and the Association of National Advertisers conducted an online survey to find out how marketing professionals leverage marketing analytics. Some 50% of the respondents indicated that measurement remains the hardest part of marketing and 51% are dissatisfied with how they measure marketing ROI. Yet nearly all of the respondents realize that measuring marketing is important and influences senior management’s confidence in Marketing personnel and programs.
To make progress on the marketing-measurement front, marketing professionals must shift from tactically based metrics to metrics that are more linked to business outcomes. The measures must include both financial and non-financial goals.
This figure illustrates the continuum of marketing metrics and how marketing metrics are evolving:

Starting at the bottom left and working up and to the right, we can use this illustration as a framework to explore how marketing metrics are evolving from tactical to strategic. Activity-based metrics refer to those things we can count. This was marketing’s first foray into the world of measuring—looking for things we could count, such as press hits, click-through rates, CPMs (cost per thousand), and so on.
Most marketing plans today consist of activity lists, such as the number of ads to run, the number of tradeshows to attend, the number of new product brochures to produce, the number of research studies to conduct, and so on. Marketing then reports on the status of these activities—ads ran and responses per ad, Web site visits and downloads, contacts per tradeshow, etc. These are then turned into charts in an attempt to present the marketing dashboard.
Yet with activity-based metrics all we have is a colorful status report and no information on the impact of these activities on the business. The company cannot make any key business decisions or determine whether strategies are working.
Operational metrics, the next level, is a step forward. These metrics focus on improving the efficiency of the organization. Typical metrics in this stage include cost per lead, lead aging, leads per sales rep, and campaign payback. The goal is to squeeze out any inefficiency. While this is a noble pursuit and an important one, marketing efficiency alone will not make a company successful. What really “moves the needle” in terms of business performance is how well its marketing identifies product opportunities, positions these products, builds market traction against the competition, and fosters customer loyalty. Performance outweighs efficiency.
Both activity-based and operational metrics are a good place to start, but neither serves as an accurate indicator of strategic effectiveness. Neither enables the organization to determine which efforts are having the greatest impact; neither provides a quality control process, focuses on marketing’s contribution to the company’s overall valuation, or serves as a good way to demonstrate marketing’s accountability.
To address those issues, marketing executives and professionals need to evolve to outcome-based metrics to develop quality measures. Outcome-based metrics focus on three specific and common business outcomes: market share, customer lifetime value, and brand equity.
Once we accomplish a systematic approach to outcome-based metrics, we will have the basis for advancing to leading indicator metrics—those that help us determine the likelihood of a particular outcome and eventually creative models to use metrics to predict outcomes.
And once we’ve mastered leading indicator metrics, we’re only a few financial models away from predictive models—those that allow us to predict a business outcome.
Creating Your Marketing Executive Dashboard
Marketing performance management and metrics tracking would be incomplete without a way to capture and report the metrics—that is, a dashboard. Ideally, metrics indicate the business health of your organization. A dashboard is the visual representation of a firm’s health and provides a snapshot between actual performance and the goals. A good dashboard facilitates action. It not only reports on the metrics being monitored but also serves as a vehicle to help decide on what actions are required and their priorities. Yet, according to a 2005 study conducted by CMO Magazine, three-fourths of marketers have no formal scorecard.
Creating a dashboard is more than just producing a few charts and graphs. A good marketing dashboard serves as a visual and diagnostic vehicle that communicates marketing’s effectiveness and impact on business goals. Every metric provides a specific perspective on the firm’s business. Some metrics indicate whether there is a problem today, and others help alert marketing to a potential problem down the road. The status of the marketing organization on the metrics continuum will impact what kind of dashboard it can create. As the business goals change, it will be important to revisit the dashboard to make sure the dashboard metrics are still in alignment with the business needs and goals.
As companies progress along the metrics continuum from activity-based to outcome-based, the dashboard will also evolve. Outcome-based metrics involve a dashboard that hones in on the primary business outcomes: market share, customer value and shareholder value. Because these metrics tend to be more market centric, the dashboard begins to provide more strategic insight and direction.
The greatest challenge for the marketing organization is how to capture the metrics. Manual aggregation of data across multiple spreadsheets comes with potential issues, ranging from error-prone reporting to poor utilization of internal resources. Moving from a spreadsheet-based system to an automated system provides greater benefits to the organization as a whole.
A mapping process helps with defining the metrics and ultimately the dashboard. As a result, most companies select metrics and a dashboard that reflects the following six categories:
Market growth
Customer value and net advocacy
Profitable deal flow
Opportunity pipeline
Competitive health and market value index
Product innovation pipeline
Regardless of the metrics you ultimately choose or the categories represented on your dashboard, a good dashboard provides insight into performance, fosters decision-making, and aligns strategy with implementation.
Measure What Matters
We began this discussion about the need for marketing to be more accountable and to develop quality metrics. Hopefully, you have some new ideas on how to focus marketing metrics around business outcomes and how to develop quality metrics that will help you provide insight into how marketing is making a contribution to the company and how to demonstrate that contribution to senior management.
As you continue on your marketing performance journey we hope these ideas lead you to…
Focus marketing metrics around business outcomes.
Develop quality metrics that will help you provide insight into how marketing is making a contribution to the company.
Demonstrate that contribution to senior management.
And we hope your journey will include the following three actions:
Start making active progress on improving marketing performance and accountability.
Even if you don’t have all the data, start with what you have, define your data gaps, and develop a plan to close these gaps.
Stop reporting on activities and tactical data around campaigns and Web traffic, and focus on climbing up the metrics continuum. It may still be important to track campaign results for an internal functional dashboard. The more you can link marketing to business outcomes, the more you can influence your company’s strategic direction.
If in doubt about what to measure, select those measures that help your company make decisions and take action. When used this way, marketing metrics enable a firm to seize a competitive advantage, and they position Marketing as a strategic member of the team. MarketingProfs.com

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