It's Your Call
When corporate marketing organizations hang their hopes for a burst of high quality sales leads on a campaign that uses just one promotional vehicle, the campaign often implodes.
This happens daily, whether it's a direct mail program that failed to drive attendees to an event, or an e-mail campaign that triggered minuscule response to an exciting offer.
By integrating multiple marketing tactics into each campaign, you can maximize the number of prospects reachable within your lead database.
So, how best to initiate an integrated marketing approach?
Two Birds, One Stone
It's best to aim a marketing effort—supported by other activities—at a specific event. Telemarketing, for example, has proven to be a highly effective support activity.
The saying "kill two birds with one stone" applies here. For a special event, such as a seminar, marketing managers know the goal is to drive quality attendance, which can foster more near-term sales. Yet, it's also a great way to incorporate a lead qualification effort within the invitation process.
First, send a direct mail or e-mail message to a targeted list. Next, place an outbound phone call during which potential attendees are asked a series of lead qualification questions.
During this process, some prospects will indicate they cannot attend the event or respond to the offer, etc. Have you lost these prospects? Not at all. This is the perfect opening to start the qualification process by asking pre-sales questions that determine: role in the purchasing process, time frame for purchase, competitive landscape, and budget allocation, among other things.
Responses to these questions will dictate what the next appropriate step is, including:
>a focused sales call from an account executive.
>periodically nurturing the lead through consistent communications.
>deleting the prospect from the sales funnel.
By integrating multi-touch tactics you'll drive higher responses, increase near-term sales opportunities and help identify leads that are better suited for a lead nurturing/lead incubation campaign.
For example, AccessLan Communications, a startup firm in the DSL (digital subscriber line) market, faced daunting competition in its early days. "We had to raise the brand awareness of AccessLan along with the company's product," says Allan Linden, AccessLan's former senior director of marketing, who today operates Communications Specialists, a San Jose, CA, global marketing consultancy.
An outbound marketing campaign was developed using several Webcast seminars as a key component. Linden purchased a list of prospects to target for his seminars, and after pre-screening the list, gave emark Solutions 1,000 names to call. Our mission was to tell prospects about AccessLan and its Webcast seminars, and also follow up on leads that came through other concurrent media channels.
"The net result was phenomenal," says Linden. "On average, we had 130 to 210 quality leads that were in attendance of each of six Webcast seminars. We netted our very first customer, which turned out to be a $12 million customer."
Strike While Hot
A combination of activities yields event attendance and high quality database upgrading. Right up to an event and right after it, a client using an integrated marketing services provider can identify prospects that represent near-term sales opportunities or "hot" leads.
This client can apply the next round of communications to these leads via outbound sales calls, further identifying the needs of these leads so that a program can be structured to meet them.
Occam Networks of Santa Barbara, CA, another startup company where Linden worked, faced a collapsing market for one of its new products in the telecom sector. The company had a small promotion budget and management was naïve about how to use outbound marketing activities.
"Our challenge was to analyze the potential and realize if there was a market left out there, and who these people were," says Linden.
Occam targeted innovators and early adopters for its audience, and used emark Solutions to help it pre-screen and pre-qualify its audience. About 3,800 people were called, yielding 1,000 pre-qualified leads for the first of two Webcast seminars.
From emark's telemarketing campaign, there were 160 attendees— much higher than expected. "Those 160 people stayed throughout the whole seminar," Linden adds, "which is unbelievable. And this was due, in part, to the pre-screening … knowing that we were talking to the right people and presenting a topic that was of interest."
By using telemarketing to support a specific marketing effort, you will be able to make personal contact with your prospect database more effectively. And by engaging those people in a meaningful and informative conversation, your company will determine where the prospects lie in your sales funnel, and, in turn, where the near-term sales opportunities are.
Greg Wease is director, client services, emark Solutions, Inc., an integrated marketing services firm in Portland, OR. He can be reached at (503) 207-4000, (800) 334-2085 or email@example.com.