Last post I discussed the fact that the telephone, or telemarketing, can still be useful to modern B2B marketers. At the end of the post I suggested 3 different uses for the phone that marketers should consider making use of... so let’s see what’s behind door number one. Ah, yes...using the phone as a vehicle to support and promote marketing initiatives.
This is a pure marketing function and involves integration with the rest of your marketing department’s activities. For example - if you are planning a series of webinars or seminars, ostensibly for lead generation purposes, you might consider using the phone to promote these events and drive attendance. Alternatively, a post-event telephone survey, seeking feedback on the recent event, would not only provide valuable direction for future events but would also provide you an opportunity to qualify the prospect and determine if they may be a candidate for your products or services. Or, perhaps, you are attending a trade show and you want to drive traffic to your booth. It might be a good idea to contact people you know will be attending the show, or who you think will be attending, and invite them to stop by your booth. Since most marketing tactics require budget to implement and execute, you want to ensure these programs have the highest possibility of generating a return on your investment.
This seems like a no-brainer, no? You have a list of people that you think might be interested in your event, you call them up and invite them to attend, come see your presentation or visit your booth. Surprisingly, I find that most people rely on word of mouth (WOM), Twitter, Facebook and email communication to promote their online events. Often it’s just the company website. While I would never suggest dismissing these tactics to promote your marketing events, I know they don’t go far enough.
There are 4 main benefits of using the phone to promote your marketing initiative:
- This is a proactive approach. You are not waiting for people to RSVP, find your site, read or re-tweet your tweets. You are directly approaching people, letting them know why they should be interested in your event and, in many cases you can help prospects to register for events by having your telemarketing agent actually fill out the registration form for them.
- You are deciding the audience that you want to market to. This is true for email as well, but this gives you the opportunity to specifically select the list of people who you want to invite to your event.
- The phone gives to the greatest degree of flexibility in terms of how you approach and customize your message. This is not true with an email or word of mouth. If you send a corporate VP an email invite to your event, they might not open it...might not even notice it if they are particularly busy and you have no control over who sees a re-tweet of your tweet. However; if you call someone and they are busy, you always have the opportunity to engage their gate keeper in conversation, 0-out to the operator, etc...giving you the opportunity to find out if this is something the gatekeeper thinks they might be interested in, when/how to approach them best, whether they have a direct report who might be easier to reach, etc...
- You are cleaning your lists at the same time. Each time you make contact you have the opportunity to update your contact information so that future campaigns have a lower email bounce-rate and a higher sales rep productivity rate.
The phone (or more specifically one-to-one human interaction which is best facilitated by the phone) is a very powerful tool for promoting marketing initiatives. Too many people rely on the sending of digital communications to convey an idea, or an invite, or an opportunity without ever reinforcing that communication with verbal, live dialog, thereby making it easy for the recipient to ignore or forget you. If you’re going to spend the time and money to send an email, or post a tweet, the assumption is that you need to earn a return on that investment. Not phoning the contact seems like a recipe for failure; even more remarkable is that we’ve seen so many marketing campaigns go from good to great simply by adding this one additional element. And I haven’t even dealt with the idea of proactively soliciting opt-ins!
Tomorrow we talk about how pre-qualification might just save a life. Check back for it.
I read a very interesting article over the weekend in the online edition of the Ottawa Citizen. The article was discussing the results of an anthropologist's study of how email, texting, and Facebook have changed the breakup ritual for university students. The study is called "The Breakup 2.0: Disconnecting over New Media" and it's published by Cornell University Press. It's a fascinating and revealing insight into how students use social media to research people they have interest in, or how they communicate (AKA flirt) with people they may like, and how they break up with people once a relationship ends.
Personally, what I found the most intriguing, is how students read into the most subtle of changes (i.e. - a status update, an update to a list of interests or hobbies, a picture posted online) and attempt to extrapolate what is being implied (even if nothing is being implied) and then act based on the assumption that their extrapolation is correct. I was exhausted just reading the article and could only be grateful that I was happily married and didn't have social media influencing my dating experiences when I was a student.
Of particular interest to Marketers was how the study revealed social media was applied differently based on the nature of the relationship. Quoting from the article "Relationships evolve in a series of stages involving different types of technology. Contact on Facebook indicates casual interest followed by texting, which is more personal. Going from texting to phoning indicated even more seriousness." Doesn't that sound to you like a lead generation campaign? Add email to the front of that flow and you've got an impersonal impression all the way to a very personal impression. The trick is, when do you know when the right time is to move from one stage to another? Well, it seems, there really is no standard set of rules.
Again, quoting from the article, "Even more interesting to Gershon as an anthropologist was that while the students believed that there were right and wrong ways to do things, they couldn’t agree on what was right or wrong. One student, for example, asserted that when a couple breaks up the dumpee gets to make the Facebook announcement — and added that everyone in her sorority thought so, too. Others argued that both parties should tell their friends in person or over the phone before they made the breakup 'Facebook official.' Or that the honours went to whoever could get to their Facebook page first.'People were clear on the rules. Just not the same rules,' says Gershon, an author and assistant professor at Indiana University."
What we do know is that people engage using different mediums. You need to have content that serves them using the medium they prefer. We also know that once people engage, they keep on going back to that medium to move the relationship along. All of this points to the needs, as a Marketer, to introduce the idea of marketing automation; you can add lead scoring, and lead nurturing, relative to prospect behaviors. In other words, if they like emails, then the lead nurture can keep on emailing them. If they like phone calls, then the lead nurture can keep on calling them. Further, the engagement level, and the associated score, tells you if what you're doing is working or if you need to try a different form of engagement.
Looking at it another way, as a marketer, or as an anthropologist, you'd better have great lists and the ability to segment them sufficiently to reach them in a manner, and with a message, that sends the right engagement signals.
If not, you might find yourself un-friended faster than you can spell Breakup 2.0.