B-to-B Insights: At Your Service
Services with any degree of complexity and a significant price tag generally cannot be sold with one-step direct marketing. Are there exceptions? Of course. But most marketing of services is two steps or more, with the initial promotion generating the lead, which is then nurtured and closed in subsequent steps.
What offer works best in lead generation for selling services? Best practices call for dual offers, one hard and one soft. The hard offer in lead generation for services is typically to arrange a meeting or conference between the service provider and prospect for purposes of discussing the prospect's needs and how the services can address them.
The soft offer in lead generation for service marketing is typically the offer of a free brochure, whitepaper or other content related to the services and the problems they solve. Reply mechanisms for both soft and hard offers include a reply card, phone, fax, email and Web.
Are reply cards outdated in the Internet age? I think not. Even if the prospect ultimately replies online, the reply card is a visual indicator that a response is called for; the URL may be added at the bottom of the reply element.
Prospects who have a pending need for the services will want to meet with the service provider and therefore choose the hard offer. Prospects who might be interested down the road but have no need now or in the near future are more likely to choose the soft offer. Typically 90 percent of respondents will choose the soft offer. So, without the soft offer, these valuable leads would be lost.
Lead nurturing is an old concept with a new name. As a guideline, and this varies widely from marketer to marketer, 10 percent of the leads received will turn into sales after an initial response and perhaps a follow-up or two. By comparison, with ongoing nurturing of leads, 30 percent or more will turn into sales.
Bob Bly is a freelance copywriterwho has written copy for more than 100 clients including IBM, AT&T, Praxair, Intuit, Forbes, and Ingersoll-Rand. McGraw-Hill calls Bob “America’s top copywriter” and he is the author of 90 books, including “The Copywriter's Handbook.” Find him online at www.bly.com or call (973) 263-0562.