Category Archives: Events

Events are a major tool used by businesses to drive new leads, provide nurtuing and sales developement content and support customers, users and partners

Smart Texting Beats the Batch Technique

There are some problems associated with using the batch method for sending text messages in support of your marketing campaigns.

For example, we have found in the past that delivery levels are very poor and there’s no good enough explanation for why that should happen. Another problem I have with batch texting is that it is difficult to directly tie a specific text message into a cohesive campaign in terms of how the message delivery is timed. Since I’d rather not look like I’m spamming someone with a mass message, my preference is to lead with a carefully targeted voicemail and use a text to follow up with a link to available detail.To do that, the follow up text messages cannot be sent in a batch of thousands but need to take their timing cue from the delivery of my voicemail.

Finally, I don’t like that with batch texting you don’t have any ability to accept replies.  Texts are a lot like emails in that they are very easy to reply to and so I think they’re a great choice for collecting RSVP’s to trade shows and other events and especially good for communicating at events.

We’ve had a lot of clients asking about batch texting services, but I think they deserve a better alternative than that.

The 5% Data Solution

One field at a time. One day at a time.

That’s how the quality of your database erodes.  It doesn’t go from perfection to garbage overnight, but you can be sure that with every passing day your data quality is degrading, if you’re not doing something to fix it.

Updating information in a database is the marketing equivalent of upgrading your drains.  It’s a boring, expensive job that no one wants to do.  Spending money on lead generation, nurturing, customer events and advertising creates programs that you can directly tie to more revenue and justify your very existance.  But upgrading a database?  Nope. No one wants to spend their budget on that.

But it IS necessary. Your data quality is CRITICAL to deliver ROI (even though it might not be instantly evident). So, how can you make it less painful?

I’d like to propose the 5% Database Maintenance Program.  Conceptually it’s about as simple as it gets.  Tack 5% onto the budget for every single marketing program that is driven off your company database and at the end of the program invest that money into improving the data in the records where problems were found.

If it’s something that you haven’t been doing already,  in the beginning, that 5% will not be enough to fix all the bad records and flawed fields you find.  You’ll need to prioritize your data improvements.  Here are some examples of the types of information you might choose to fix first:

  • Verify that companies are still in business
  • Correct company phone/fax fields
  • Fix email addresses (although I suggest that an email that suddenly starts to bounce back is probably a bigger issue than a bad email address)
  • Verify contact employment
  • Fix address information
  • Update/replace/verify employee names and titles
  • Contact phone numbers – direct lines and extensions
  • Key qualification information – system types/current product sources/fiscal dates/planning cycles

Early on, when there isn’t enough money to complete all the fixes, you’ll probably focus on replacing lost contacts and confirming whether companies are still in business, but if you choose the right partner to do the work with/for you, you can communicate your priorities and over time, bring your data to the standards required to deliver good campaigns.

The REAL Benefit of a Live Message

Talking about some delivery stats with our production manager, I was again reminded that when the objective of a campaign is to deliver a business message, the best way to get a great return for the client’s money is to use every available means to communicate that message.

For Boxpilot, that usually starts with a guided voicemail, delivered during a regular business day. But it never stops there.  Many extra messages are delivered off hours – at both the beginning and end of the day.  Off hours delivery doesn’t’ necessary mean 2:00am – we target the windows of 6-9pm and 7-8:30am local time.

Following up voicemails with an email lets you reinforce the persuasiveness of a spoken message with written details and the “Reply” button on email offers one of the easiest and quickest response options available. But guided voicemail with or without a follow up email, is just one type of delivery – although I grant you, it’s the best known. 

Some companies don’t use voicemail and messages are taken by receptionists and personal assistants during the day.  It’s not at all uncommon for these companies not to have personal voicemail boxes in the evening either, just shared department mail boxes.  I’ve experienced this a lot with professional services like; medical and dental offices, in the construction industry, with retailers and with some accounting and legal offices.

Boxpilot is a company with a responsibility to deliver as many of our clients messages as possible, so it made sense to extend our service to include the delivery of what we call “Live Message” to receptionists and personal assistants.  While a few clients have not elected to try this service, feeling that it reduces their absolute control of the message, I don’t think their resistance is necessarily serving them well.  Since our client’s must sign off on the exact message scripting and since the most effective live messages are just the key information that will be recorded on the message pad, they do have control.

The irony is that the response rate for Live Message delivery is typically about three times higher than standard voicemail response rates.  We don’t know why. But, it makes sense that it’s a reflection of the nature of those particular companies and maybe our clients also benefit from the necessary brevity of messages that need to be hand written.

Another delivery option that some clients have had an excellent response from is called “Live Message to Contact”.  Given an opportunity to speak directly with the person on the list and again using a controlled and single purpose script, we can create a short, controlled and highly desirable dialogue.  For example, on campaigns supporting sales teams making cold calls or reaching out for contract renewals, the call center can offer a live phone follow up call from the sales representative (think of it as opportunistic appointment setting).  Event and other invitations can get either a completed registration or an event RSVP.

In campaigns that include Live Message and Live Message to Contact, outcomes like elevated response rates, booked appointments and event registrations – all of which are incredibly desirable outcomes- are the alternatives to a non-delivery.   With all the takeovers, closures and layoffs happening in business lately, maximizing delivery percentages has a major impact on a program’s ROI.  Even if all deliveries were of the same value (which they are not) the extra ten to fifteen percent of contacts we can communicate with by using different types of delivery, are well worth the investment.  When you also add into the mix that the alternative delivery methods are actually very well received, using them can have a major impact on sales campaigns, event promotions and lead generation programs.

About Using Guided Voicemail

Late last year, yours truly was interviewed on Sales Lead Management Radio. They wanted an opportunity to let their listeners know about Guided Voicemail and how it’s used.

We talked about using guided voicemail to support event marketing, nurture leads and  make cold calls for sales reps and how you can take advantage of guided voicemail to stretch the reach of your sales team.

I realized today that I never posted a link to this interview – so here it is.

Listen to the broadcast

Event Marketing – 7 Steps to Trade Show Brilliance

I just read another good article in the blog Eyes on Sales. This one, written by Kelly Robertson identified six ways for sales people to boost their numbers this year. Here is a link to the original article which is terrific reading for anyone in sales. 6 Powerful ways to Increase Your Sales in 2012

Reading over his list, it struck me that these six ideas are also ideal ways to increase your effectiveness at trade shows. Trade shows are specific selling opportunities that can easily be pulled in too many different directions with all the activity going on. But with the money that is invested into trade shows and events (on average about one in every five marketing dollars) improving your company’s effectiveness in achieving your show objectives offers a fabulous ROI opportunity.

So, what are the steps and how do they apply to your trade shows?

Make More Appointments

For trade shows, reach out ahead of the show to the contacts you anticipate will attend. That includes local businesses that fit your needs, past attendees, session registrants, your customers and where applicable – other exhibitors. It’s reported that 82% of businesses who are judged to be the most successful at tradeshows engage in pre-show marketing. Success btw is measured asgenerated leads that turn into business.

Your goal is to book pre-set meetings with as many of the right people as possible and take advantage of this often rare opportunity to meet face to face. Your invitation program should include traditional mail, email, voicemail and live calling.

Identify Your Ideal Prospects

Don’t waste your appointment setting efforts reaching out to the wrong contacts. If the attendee profile of a show isn’t matching your target audience, then sadly, you might be exhibiting at the wrong show. Look over past attendee lists, current and past exhibitor lists and the speaker sessions, carefully. Are the sessions dealing with the problems that you can help your customers solve? Are they attracting contacts from the right departments and the right levels of seniority?

If you’re not sure if a show is right for you, attend it first as a visitor before you invest in exhibiting. Once you know you’re in the right place, determine if the organizers release a preshow list of session registrants (at least the companies) and dig into the right organizations to focus your own appointment setting activities against the best contacts, not just the easy ones.

Research Your Attendees Challenges Ahead of the Show

Session titles will often give you a starting point on the challenges that your attendees might be facing, but you also need to look at their industry publications and general news to identify the issues. Check publication websites that also focus on industry wide challenges and reports of players in that market and look at the websites for the likely attendees who you most want to talk to.

Spend some research time ahead of the show on social media sites for business where you can not only start to identify the companies you’d most like to talk with, but also look for applicable groups and their discussions to find the current hot topics and buttons.

Any confirmation of show attendance or confirmed booth appointments are special opportunities to do some detailed pre-show prospect research so that you can make the most of your face to face selling time with them.

Focus Your Contact and Selling Time at the Show

This is all about being brutally organized and taking advantage of every minute by working your own strategically predetermined sales plan.

If you’re going to be making the rounds of other booths, plan your schedule ahead of time and work the exhibitor list in advance to book fixed appointments. Identify the players and know what companies and issues to focus your research on. Reach out to contacts in what should be their own selling downtime and don’t expect to be able to just waltz up to the VP at their booth during a busy time and have them give you more than the time of day (if that).

Once you’re at the show it’s too late to spend your time on the phone or on your laptop trying to find the best contacts to set up a time to talk.

Use Your Most Effective Tools to Connect with Decision Makers at the Show

As has already been stated, once you’re at the show, it’s too late to spend your own time on your laptop and phone trying to reach out to contacts to confirm appointments, invite to events or update the reasons they want to come and see you.  Instead, set up automatically executing communications campaigns to run during the show. Remember that just because you’re going to take a campaign approach, it doesn’t mean that you lose personalized contact. Segment your lists into similar groups. Voicemail, used alone or in synchronized voicemail + email campaigns is a great way to keep your contact plan more personal. As well, don’t hesitate to bring your own company heavy hitters to bat for you by having them record peer to peer invitations and updates on your behalf.
Use all the personality, technology and influence that’s available to you to make the most of this target rich environment.

Fine Tune Your Presentation Angles

So, you finally catch the attention of a C-Level contact you’ve been trying to connect with for 2 years and you bore them! What did you do wrong? For starters you might have fallen back into one of those almost inevitably trite opening sequences like “So how are you finding the show?” or other event equivalents of talking about the weather and then you probably made it worse by only talking about your company.
A trade show discussion is just like any other regular introduction meeting in person or on the phone. You can’t take up the discussion – even the opening of it – talking about you or your company, your many blue chip clients, international kudos and/or ground breaking research. They don’t care. Really, they don’t. Your new contact cares about their company, their problems and their needs and that’s why they’re at the show.

It’s time to re-work that opener you’ve been beating to death for the last five years and replace it with some intelligent, discussion provoking, questions and ideas that will NOT have your new contact wishing they’d instead opted for the courtesy boxed lunch rather than spend their time talking with you.

Bring notes! Now I know some people will not like this idea, but write out the main questions you have for a new contact before you sit down and don’t hesitate to check your notes. There are a few reasons why this is a good idea, the first being you’ll get the important questions covered. But, on top of that you’re tangibly demonstrating that you have thought this through ahead of time, that you’ve done your homework and you’ve taken more of your own time than you’re asking of them.

And when they answer your questions- be totally certain you understand what they said. If you don’t understand say so and ask for clarification immediately. Don’t just stand there going “uh-huh uh-huh” and nodding your head when you don’t have the faintest idea what they’re talking about. If you’re afraid that asking for clarification will make you look like an idiot, don’t worry. You’ll easily look like twice the idiot when they realize from the glazed look in your eyes that you don’t have a clue what they just told you and you’re too full of your own ego to admit it.

Make a powerful connection and differentiate you and your company from your competitors and you’ll be remembered positively after the show.

To Kelley’s 6 points, I’m going to add a seventh.

Be the First with the Best Follow Up

Situations change but most principles will stay the same and as far as lead follow up is concerned the principle is this – Do it Now!

I confess that I used to think that following up on a lead immediately -like within five minutes of an internet lead- felt desperate and rather tacky, but I was wrong. In this overwhelmed business environment where contacts who used to be fairly reachable in 6 attempts now take more like 18 tries to get a connection, you must follow up any shred of interest immediately. Waiting even half an hour to call on an internet inquiry drops your connect rate 100X.

Now, you can’t follow up on your trade show connects in five minutes, but if there is a follow up to be done or more information to be sent, do your best to get it into their hands (and keep yourself and your company in their head) before they get swamped with whatever backed-up at the office while they were away.

Once again, campaign communications like segmented recorded voicemails or voicemails with an email follow up, emails or short live messages and of course live calls are a perfect way to get to the punch before your competitors clutter up the environment. You won’t likely get much of an answer right away and you don’t want to swamp your new contacts, but if you can steal their attention for just long enough to identify a next step, you’ll be well on your way to ensuring that the time, planning, work and considerable expense that you and your company has spent to get to this point has the best chance of bearing profitable fruit.

Communications at a Trade Show

During a major show, the content and timing of your communications and calls has to be well-planned ahead of time so that your programs can execute seamlessly and (preferably) without a second thought on your part.

Work with your sales team to identify top priority contacts who you expect to have in attendance and create a mini-communications plan around them to ensure that this opportunity isn’t wasted. If you have company representatives speaking at an event, boost their profile and your company by using them as your spokespeople to invite your target contacts to attend a presentation of connected event.  A personalized voicemail message with an email or text message follow up is a great way to deliver this during a show. Since there’s no way your speakers will be able to leave a few hundred voicemails during such a busy time, pre-planned voicemail and email campaigns can deliver their messages to the group(s) of your choosing.

You can also incorporate text messages with voicemail and/or short live messages via attendees’ mobile devices during the show with time sensitive information or announcements.  Pre-event promotions are a way to help collect mobile contact information for show attendees. Indicate the phone type on your database, to segment cell phones from office numbers.

The telephone is perfect communications tool during a large event because a trade show or major seminar is one of the few opportunities large groups of like minded people have to actually meet and exchange ideas in person. Personal contact campaigns couldn’t be a better fit.  If possible keep your chosen spokespeople available to chat and se sure they’re aware of the messages delivered in their name and who they’re being delivered to.

Don’t wait until after the show to incorporate new contacts into your data base.  Download new scanned contacts as you go and even if you’re simply collecting business cards, don’t leave them sitting until the end of the show.  Find someone to update your information during the show and don’t miss an opportunity to appropriately message Day One contacts with Day Two or Three updates and invitations.

After a major show, while your marketing team is still in the process of sorting and beginning to qualify the potential leads, you can make an immediate follow up call particularly to thank people for attending one of your events or presentations, while you’re still fresh in their minds.  Again, third party help can be secured quickly and very affordably to help put lists into a workable state, although using scanning systems make list creation easier. 

You can take advantage of an early relationship building opportunity to have the follow up or thank you messages delivered on behalf of the most appropriately matched contacts within your company.  Have one of your own executives leave message for C Level contacts, have technical people reach out to other techies and mirror seniority levels.   These campaigns are easy to structure in advance. The contacts can be adjusted as you move raw leads into your early lead management/sales funnel. 

 Don’t forget to differentiate your company from a host of faceless and voiceless competitors by developing a personal contact with voicemail, voicemail + email and live calling.

Promoting Your Next Trade Show

According to MecLabs’ Marketingsherpa, tradeshows are budgeted for a major portion of 2012 B2B marketing expenditures across organizations of all sizes.  From large  (1000+) organizations with 33% of their budget to Medium (100-999) at 20% and Small (<100) who typically budget 19% of their marketing spending.

The numbers seem somewhat surprising given all the hype around inbounds web leads, social media marketing and marketing automation, but given that again, according to marketingsherpa the perceived effectiveness of tradeshows moved up to the fourth most effective marketing tactic – from seventh and taking into consideration the cost of show participation the numbers do actually make sense. Tradeshows, in spite of their obvious success have appeared to be on the decline for the last several years, but just like so many other tried and true marketing tactics, they’re experiencing that back and forth rise and fall in popularity that affects just about every B2B marketing tactic.

So, with the new confidence that the market is showing for trade shows, how can you maximize the effectiveness of every dollar you spend? In other words, how can you hold as many productive introductions and conversations with a cross section of representatives from qualified companies?
Basically, you have two main streams of promotion available to you – passive and active.

Passive promotion is the work you do to drive inbound leads (who will all think that contacting you is their idea). The tools at your disposal for passive communications are social, site based and word of e-mouth. Blogging and discussions can build background interest and credibility within the appropriate communities. Announcements and white papers posted to your site – preferably with associated auto-responder email series for down-loaders can incorporate news about your tradeshow participation and the events you’re planning. Look for interesting hooks and promotions (maybe even fun) to induce contacts to share your emails or site information.

Both before and during the event, be sure to take advantage of mobile opportunities with short videos that your contacts can share and stay up to date with new smart phone event apps that can help you create interest around your participation and perhaps incorporate a useful at-event service for your contacts. Look at replacing at least part of your more traditional handouts (also known as throwaways) with QR codes. And of course, Tweet your little heart out both before and during and after the event, combining a preplanned schedule and up to the minute spontaneous Tweets.

Once you’ve planned to cover your grass roots, passive programs and drive a few interested parties to your door, you need to concentrate on your more deliberate and active trade show lead generation program. It’s all about generating visibility and promoting your company to your chosen audience to talk –face to face – with the right people. It’s about making the best impression when they visit you – at your booth or not- and then following up promptly and consistently to qualify your new contacts and focus your communications on converting the right prospects into sales ready leads.
You have a number of audience “pools” to choose from when creating the lists of contacts to run promotions to including – (in no particular order)

  • Local customers
  • Past Attendees – customers and prospect companies
  • Registered Exhibitors
  • Speakers and their companies
  • Registered attendees
  • Locally based prospect companies
  • Prospect companies most likely to be attracted to the show
  • Current prospects in any lead nurturing or sales funnel
  • Sales rep suggestions and recommendations

With the exception of a list of a list of registered attendees which can only come from the show organizers, creating lists of the companies and contacts shown above are well within the abilities of most organizations to assemble, although they will require different levels of research. If you simply do not have the staff available to manage this research, help can easily and quite affordably be found using basic web and telephone research services.

Depending on the timelines; direct mail, email, web announcement and newsletter promotions can create advance awareness of your participation at an upcoming event. As you get closer to the show you really need to add telephone calls and voicemail messages mixed with a few emails from your marketing and/or sales teams. They’re a more personalized way to issue event-within-the- event invitations, including booth and floor appointments, reminders and confirmations, demos, networking events, dinners and other receptions.

A Little Known Service

Boxpilot has the capability to help companies requiring fast database research.  One of the advantages of a large call center geared to delivering messages to businesses is the availability of skilled callers who have abundant experience in reaching out to businesses, verifying and sourcing contact information over the phone and confirming that information with a message delivery.

In fact, the same call center teams can pre-test lists and obtain some of the most basic information using the internet.  You can do that as well of course, utilizing your own in house resources, but the question is can you do it as quickly or affordably? For purposes like major event communications plans with an unknown local component, a  specialized industry focus or even a geographically sorted list of prospects its not unusual to find that the house database gets a little skimpy when you need to dig deep.  Time sensitive opportunities won’t wait the several weeks it usually takes to retask inhouse resources with database building.

So the next time you need something pulled together quickly, you could try talking with  your Boxpilot sales rep.

Just a thought.

Marketo – Revenue Rockstar Fall Tour

As the company leading the evolution from B2B marketing automation software to revenue performance management, Marketo has an abundance of knowledge to share about:

  • Getting your sales and marketing teams working better together to accelerate predictable revenue growth
  • Best practices to measure and optimize your revenue generation
  • How companies have been able to thrive in a weak economy

Here’s the Fall 2011 Tour Schedule

  • September 20 – Seattle
  • October 4 – Boston
  • October 6  – Atlanta
  • October 11 – Toronto
  • October 18 – Raleigh
  • October 20 –  Falls Church, Virginia
  • November 1 – Chicago
  • November 3 – Austin
  • November 14 – North Jersey, New York
  • November 16 – London, UK
  • November 17 – San Diego
  • December 8 – Silicon Valley

Here’s a link that will take you to their main registration page to Register to Attend this Free Event.

Social Media, Events and the Human Voice

Here’s a brief synopsis of a presentation scheduled for the Continuing Education Marketing Conference – August 29-30/12 in Chicago.

How to add a human voice to your website, social media, and email marketing to promote any type of event.

Websites, Social Media, and Email are terrific ways to promote your events, but what about human contact? I have been working with clients for the last ten years driving registrations and attendance to seminars, conferences, road shows, and webinars – paid and unpaid alike. The one thing we have found that can always boost the numbers is something simple: human contact!

The fastest,easiest,and by the far most affordable way to add human contact is to add a real human voice to your event communications!

A study was just released from the Missouri School of Journalism that verifies how social pages with a human voice…as opposed to a purely institutional presence… were better able to build a sense of trust and improve communications with contacts and page visitors.  Satisfaction scores were higher too, and in fact the entire interaction was ranked higher.

So, I recommend that you put a human voice to your email, social programs, and web pages. You can increase trust, improve communication and satisfaction. Your event enrollments will increase dramatically. Here are 8 simple steps to get you started:

  • Identify the right “voice” people in your organization
  • Feature them in your blogs and social pages using audio and video files
  • Link your Tweets so you have more comprehensive content in audio form
  • Offer an audio option on your forums and social conversations
  • Offer and collect phone information for personal follow-up
  • Ensure your audio content matches the quality of your written content
  • Use the phone to support your email invitations and remainders
  • Use “guided” voicemail to communicate without intrusion

See  more information or register for  the Continuing Education Marketing Conference run by Clemson University