Target Your B-to-B Lead-Gen Efforts by Vertical and Job Title
Here's a painful truth: B-to-B lead generation takes a lot of hard work even before you execute any marketing or sales program.
Work smarter, not harder, and follow these six steps to make a real difference:
1. Do Your Homework.
What do you know about your existing customers? Do they fall into any particular vertical industries? What types of job titles do they encompass? It's doubtful that they're all C-level executives—chances are your real customers are well down the food chain. Select your top four or five vertical industries, identify their job titles, and plan your next steps with these verticals in mind.
2. Find Prospects That Look Like Your Target.
Finding the right target is not like finding a needle in a haystack, and if you've always relied on renting a compiled list, then good luck to you. Think like your targets: Do they belong to an industry association? What conferences do they attend? What publications do they read? Join their industry organizations, attend industry conferences and read their trade publications—increase the breadth and depth of your industry knowledge. Most of these organizations/events make their lists available for rent, and their data is probably more current and accurate at the levels you're really targeting.
3. Determine Your Target's Pain Points.
What problem does your product or service solve? It's probably different by vertical industry and by job title or function. Rent your list and use an outside research firm to contact prospects to help identify the challenges facing them in your particular area of expertise. Familiarize yourself with their industry lingo, decision-making processes and organizational structures.
4. Gather Sales Support Assets.
Use the information gathered in step three to reposition your product, create new whitepapers or author industry articles aimed at different functional areas within each company. Review existing case studies, and determine how you can refresh and repurpose them by vertical industry based on your newfound insights. Create assets digitally and in hard copy so you can use them in fulfillment and follow-up efforts.
5. Create a Destination of Information.
Before you start reaching out to prospects, create an online destination beyond your existing Web site. Organize your new assets by vertical industry, as most organizations want to know that you understand and have experience in their categories. A health care company, for example, probably will not have the same challenges as a financial services organization. And it's most likely that your solution wouldn't be identical either. Directing the health care company to a site tailored to that industry, with case studies it can relate to, will go a long way toward creating confidence in your abilities.
6. Execute an Outreach Program.
Now that you know your top four or five verticals, you're ready to tap targets on the shoulder. Create a campaign by vertical target in order to highlight key benefits that are most relevant to that target (you should know what these are as a result of your research in step three).
All of your outbound communications to each of these job functions within each of your target verticals should be different. The individual in finance, for example, will want to understand ROI, while the individual on the technology side might be concerned about how well your product can be integrated into existing technology.
Your research already should have helped you identify the pain they're facing, so leverage that learning in your communications. Whether it's the initial contact, the follow-up materials or the landing page, mirror what you've heard to make the conversation most relevant from the beginning. Your participation in industry events and conferences should help you establish the correct tone and language in your communications.
More Granular Targeting Equals Better Response
B-to-B marketing should never apply a "one size fits all" strategy. The more relevant your communications—and the more you can demonstrate that you understand a prospect's particular industry and business challenges by tailoring your solution—the more likely you are to engage in a meaningful discussion with your targets. Listen to feedback and refine your communications accordingly. And yes, the results will be worth it.
An award-winning creative director, writer and in-demand speaker, Carolyn Goodman is the president of Goodman Marketing Partners, a direct marketing response company in San Rafael, Calif. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A blog that challenges B-to-B marketers to learn, share, question, and focus on getting it right—the first time. Carolyn Goodman is President/Creative Director of Goodman Marketing Partners. An award-winning creative director, writer and in-demand speaker, Carolyn has spent her 30-year career helping both B-to-B and B-to-C clients cut through business challenges in order to deliver strategically sound, creatively brilliant marketing solutions that deliver on program objectives. To keep her mind sharp, Carolyn can be found most evenings in the boxing ring, practicing various combinations. You can find her at the Goodman Marketing website, on LinkedIn, or on Twitter @CarolynGoodman.