Category Archives: Marcom

Marketing communications

5 B2B Top Fives You Need to Check Out

Looking for a round up of short, compelling summaries on what’s what in B2B?

Check out this list:

  1. Five B2B Digital marketing Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making
  2. Five B2B MarCom Strategies to Increase Sales Now
  3. 5 B2B Lead Generation Techniques that Actually Work
  4. 5 Reasons to Use Voicemail to Reach the B2B Buyer
  5. 5 Top Content Marketing Metrics






5 Reasons to Use Voicemail to Reach the B2B Buyer

With all the choices available, finding a way to connect with B2B buyers has never been more challenging.  Traditional offline choices such as business publications, trade shows and direct mail are expensive media choices and (other than direct mail) not targeted enough for most needs. Online choices like email, PPC and search engine marketing are highly cluttered. Social marketing is extraordinarily time-consuming and so far just about impossible for most companies to measure and content marketing,  the newest darling on the block is extremely difficult and expensive to develop.  Beyond blogging, content creation is out of reach for the vast majority of companies and even maintaining an up-to-date blog is more than most businesses can manage.

So, this is a good time to take another look at your old friend the telephone and seriously consider ways to integrate voicemail messaging with your programs this fall.

Here are 5 Reasons Why Voicemail Will Work:

  1. Voicemail is totally targeted and a proven response booster. Your messages are delivered only to the exact people you want to reach with exactly the right message for them. There is no spill into outside audiences and no waste on contacts who will never care about your message. That precise targeting is just one of the reasons why voicemail can be added to your direct mail, email or web activity and boost your response rates by an average of 25-40%.
  2. Voicemail offers outstanding timing flexibility. It can be planned strategically and when needed deployed tactically. Short lead times, fast market coverage and the ability to almost instantly switch gears (and messages) when the need arises makes voicemail a brilliantly versatile tool.
  3. Voicemail creative is fast and easy to produce and virtually free.  All you need is a script and a person to say it.  And, just for the record, scripting help is as close as your Boxpilot Client Service Director and the best voices to use are the real people in your company. No writers, researchers, graphics, videos or endless content meetings.
  4. Voicemail builds real human rapport.  The emotional power of the human voice, like a smile, is a powerful tool to communicate excitement and enthusiasm. Like eye contact, a voice has the power to communicate belief and believability. That emotional delivery means that voicemail plays beautifully with other methods like email or direct mail, which deliver facts, stats and logical proof.
  5. Voicemail is the least cluttered media environment.  Yes, it’s a media choice, no different from email, on or offline advertising, broadcast or social messaging, with one big difference, it’s nowhere near as cluttered. In fact, it’s a pretty safe bet that when contacts are listening to your message, you have their full attention.

Not as sexy as social, as tech savvy as marketing automation nor loaded with the bragging rights of video content, voicemail is still a fast, easy, direct and persuasive way to communicate with the B2B buyer.

Businesses are People, Too

I was just reading an article about Marketing and selling to doctors because I recognized that making a sales or marketing connection with a doctor or other professional – particularly in a smaller practice, presents some unique challenges. The article author Stewart Gandolf summed it up quite succinctly when he wrote:

“Doctors are notoriously hard to reach. They are unbelievably busy, refuse to use technologies like voice mail and email, and are protected by the most aggressive receptionists on the planet.”

Indeed, reaching out particularly to doctors and also to similar professionals (dentists, lawyers, accountants) was one of the driving forces behind Boxpilot’s live message service – but I digress…

Further on in the article, as the main points necessary to make an impression on a doctor came to light, it became pretty obvious that they really aren’t all that different from communicating with any other business – large or small.

Every marketing and every sales person knows that you need to start with an excellent offer. So why does it seem that we have so many truly feeble offers out there – like for example and event invitation whose only offer is that you can “see us demo our product”? I promise you, that wouldn’t get a doctor to your event.

If you can’t come up with an even marginally unique selling proposition and instead have to rely on a “me too” benefit, no one will get excited.

Get to the point, quickly. No one has the time to listen to you beat around the bush in a fruitless attempt to render them breathless with anticipation.

Add value to their daily business life, not just to their business. Make their lives easier, richer, happier, less stressful and win a customer. Most of the business messages I see don’t even acknowledge that the people who are in their customer offices are any more than a cog in the wheel (except of course for the decision making cogs).

Communicate with them as a real person who deserves their attention, respect and their business. I see a lot of businesses fall down on this point.

I think if we took more of our marketing and sales campaigns and measured them against these simple standards, they would me more successful and ironically, I think that these are guidelines that offer a point of competitive difference to smaller companies, who actually have a few real human faces of their own.

Are You Brave Enough to be Brilliant?

One night last week, I picked up a message on my home office phone and was blown away because the caller left such a terrific message I was mesmerized into listening to his every word.

What did he do so well? I’ll sum it up in three words – Conviction, Originality, Believability.

From the moment his message started I could tell that when this guy called me, he was stoked!  His enthusiasm was evident in every syllable  that crossed his lips and yet, there was nothing obnoxious or over the top in his delivery. He sounded like a life long friend, sitting across a table, sharing the secret of his happiness.  He spoke with utter conviction.

His delivery broke – or more accurately – rewrote many of the rules about business messaging-  and thank you for that!  He was interesting and personable.  He made a brilliant use of pauses and even breathing to help communicate his point.  No jargon, no cliched acronyms.  He put his pitch in such simple terms that it was unlike any business message I’ve heard in very a long time.  And he was believable.

But what I truly loved, was that his message was a recording and if it hadn’t been delivered at 11:00 at night I never would have guessed. And that’s what got me so excited. It wasn’t just a brilliant message,  it was a brilliant recorded message. I want every recording that our clients make to be as good as that message.

So, what was the secret sauce that made it so good? 

I would say there were three things anyone responsible for scripting or creating a recorded message needs to layer onto the basics, if they want to do something really good.

Own Your Subject.  That might sound like a no-brainer, but I’ll happily debate the point with you.  Having listened to thousands of client produced voicemails and helped with the scripting of at least a few hundred, I feel pretty comfortable saying this.  Most of the messages are written by people who either don’t really understand what they’re writing about or they just don’t believe in it.  Think of how many overworked marketing juniors have been forced to pound out emails and craft messages extolling the virtue of some event without clearly understanding the content.  A great message starts will totally owning the subject matter.

Write/rewite. Record-re-record. After you write – rewrite and keep at it until every word and every pause has a reason to be there and you’ve killed any word that doesn’t contribute to SELLING your call to action.   Now you can move onto your first recording.  Record a couple of takes and then listen – not to choose the best one so you can go on to something else.  Listen to your messages so you can figure out what you need to do better. Be picky.  Go for perfect.

Be Brave  When I worked in advertising I can remember one of the very best writers (who had numerous awards to his credit)  explaining to me (the totally clueless junior) that only brave clients got brilliant commercials, because brilliance ALWAYS requires a risk.  Brilliance is never the safe choice.

I believe that a lot of our clients don’t really try to make the best possible message because they’re more interested in playing it safe.  They don’t try to convince the person on the other end of the phone that it isn’t a recorded message, because they fear that a lousy job of it might turn people off.  In over ten years of working on voicemail campaigns I have never once heard a complaint that a message worked too hard to sound real.

So – would you rather be brilliant or boring?

Declining Response Rates – Stop Shooting the Messenger

The most visible and important measure of success delivered to any company by any B2B marketing campaign is the direct response.  It blows awareness out of the water.  A direct response is more valuable than any measure of brand preference or image because it opens a dialogue for more marketing, it opens a door to sales revenue (heck- it might even be a sale) and it’s the only sure way to ever directly evaluate ROI.  You put out a message and a selection of your contacts put up their hands and ask for more.   Marketers love responses and responders…..almost as much as their colleagues in sales. And that’s why the media that can deliver the most direct responses is always the “darling du jour” of B2B marketers.

The challenge that is vexing so many of us now is that real responses are hard to come by…and getting harder. It seems that many people feel this is happening  because the tools we use to drive responses – direct mail, email, voicemail, telemarketing – are losing their effectiveness.  And so, the rush to social media marketing is fueled by the hope that it will somehow fill the void and drive a host of new responders into our waiting (hungry) arms (jaws).

Good luck with that plan.

If you’re serious about improving response rates, the first step is to accept responsibility for your messages and stop blaming the messengers, even though its true that when, for example – email, voicemail, direct mail were the shiny new toys on the block, generating responses was like shooting fish in a barrel.

In the early days, your messages were automatically novel, unexpected and an original approach. The response rates were terrific. But as messages like yours proliferated and dulled those shiny new communications channels, they all moved down the continuum from unique and special, to fairly common but frequently useful, to more of the same old junk.

But, the solution will not necessarily be found with a new messenger. I think what we need to do is take a good look at our messages and figure out why no one can be bothered to answer them.  So, because we all love lists, here are my

Top Seven Reasons Why I Didn’t Get Enough Responses….In No Particular Order

  1. The message was never received.  (Bad data)  If you fail to invest in your data,  you will throw money away on every campaign you execute in every medium with messages that can’t be delivered to people with missing, incomplete or incorrect contact information.  In some ways, this is the worst possible mistake because you’re making the same mistake over and over.  It messes up all your metrics. An undelivered message is like a golf putt that doesn’t make it to the hole. Each has a 100% chance of failure.
  2. The message was unclear. (Bad writing)In order to grab a persons attention you must be direct and crystal clear.  Messages that are filled with jargon, that use a senders “company speak”, that ramble and are simply jumbled and poorly organized don’t drive a response.
  3. The message was not compelling.  (Weak Offer) Was there anything that said “read and act, now?” Don’t list a bunch of features that your engineers think are cool, highlight a benefit that your reader needs (preferably desperately) and if can’t communicate a sense of urgency, why will someone interupt an already busy day and respond?
  4. The message was not relevant. (Bad Targeting)  You sent your message to the wrong person. Either you were completely off base and your product/service and offer were of no interest to the individual or company you sent it to, or you matched the wrong benefit to the title.  As a rule of thumb, you’ll get better responses offering Executives benefits that are relevant to their responsibilities, so why are so many campaigns structured with a single benefit statement offered to all job titles in a company?
  5. The message didn’t speak to current priorities. (Wrong time)  Unless your campaigns are themselves in response to specific triggers, timing can be a matter of luck.  There is only one solution when everything else looks right and that is to keep on trying.
  6. Your message was lost or forgotten before action was taken. (No follow up) You can’t rely on a one time message to communicate any campaign because while rare, it is possible that you’ll strike the right chord, with the right person and they’ll be interrupted before they can take action.  Events can quickly overtake even the most interested potential response, even one that could easily turn into a sale.  So, it’s imperative to make more than one attempt to get an action executed.
  7. The campaign parameters never defined “enough”. (Weak objectives) It’s entirely possible that if you don’t run through the numbers and work with a realistic expectation of what you’re responses should be, you can spend your money without a hope of driving a positive ROI.  For example, I can’t think of a universe where a list of 1000 CEO’s will deliver 100 attendees to anything but the most exceptional business event.

To deal with your declining response rates is a challenge that will require your skill, your hard work, your resourcefulness and a careful but adequate allocation of your budget.  I admit that this doesn’t sound all that encouraging, because it isn’t easy.  But unlike pinning your hopes on the next marketing discovery, if you focus on a brilliant message and stop expecting the messenger to do the work for you, (like in the good old days) you will have a shot at improvement.

The Voicemail Opportunity

In spite of the incredible advances made in email marketing, social media and marketing automation, the telephone is still one of the most powerful sales and marketing tools at the disposal of any company.  True, we often don’t use it well, leaving messages that ramble and don’t speak to the interests of our customers and in many cases we support typical sales reluctance with a misguided perception that sales people shouldn’t be reaching out to customers who aren’t already screaming to buy.

Let’s face it, most sales reps are looking for the path of least resistance to a completed sale. With all the emphasis placed in the marketing press on inbound leads, the value of social conversations, the (greatly exaggerated) death of cold calling and some cockeyed idea that potential clients who don’t want sales people banging down their door day and night is somehow a NEW market condition, it’s all too easy for mere humans to resist the urge to pick the phone and try to talk to someone.

Can you tell that I think that many of these resistance points are bogus? I do. But, one thing does stand in the way of developing an immediate dialogue whenever a sales rep picks up the phone, and that is voicemail.

Now, whether you view voicemail as an obstacle or an opportunity is pretty much up to you.  But how you choose will have a real effect on your success. Obstacles get in your way, they slow you down and in many cases become an excuse for failure. Opportunities, on the other hand offer new ways of doing things and new roads down which you can travel to find more success. In the best of all possible worlds, your competitors will only see the obstacles that voicemail presents and will not see the opportunities.

Voicemail provides a way to take corporate communications created for the universe of prospects and customers and make them yours, by leading with a message in your own voice to say “here’s something I thought would be of interest and value to you”.

Voicemail means that no dial is ever wasted.
Voicemail gives you an opportunity to develop rapport with new contacts.
Voicemail pushes you to the top of a huge group of companies and people trying to be heard.
Voicemail offers you sound bites to start wearing away points of sales resistance.
Voicemail differentiates you from all those competitors who think they can be successful using only email.
Voicemail allows you to automate your outreach on the phone, just as you can with email and even better, allows you to combine the two to drive a more complete message, taking advantage of the personal, persuasive appeal of your voice and the efficient distribution of factual content via the written word.

With all the changes we have seen in the last 5 years, some things have not changed.  If you want your message to stand apart from the cacophony and clutter, don’t just run with the crowd.

Are you SURE Your Clients are Sold on Your Service?

Last week I talked with a client who thought we used computer dialers to deliver messages.

It seems like an impossible thing to believe, given the number of years that we have built our differentiation from a ground zero of NOT using computer dialers, but actually confusion can happen quite easily.  There are many clients for whom we have worked for several years and with staff turnover, we regularly inherit new main contacts- or I guess you could say employees regularly inherit us as a new vendor.

It happens a lot with a great many customer/vendor relationships.

New contacts are using a service for a specific series of tasks, because we’ve been added to their job description or they’ve been directed to use that supplier because they already work with their company, but they’ve never been sold on using that service by the vendor.

While I love being grandfathered in once in a while, it occurred to me that in never trying to actively communicate the benefits of our service to new contacts, within existing and often long term clients, we’re doing them and eventually ourselves a major disservice.

By not “selling” your current contacts on the value you offer and making sure that they have a full understanding of what you do, how and why you do it….and why they buy from you, you deny them the opportunity to take advantage of your help when faced with a new and potentially unrelated challenge.  They won’t be able to make the leap to see how you can fit in to a different situation.

By not completely communicating the value, you place your contacts in the potential position of using your product or service and not being able to adequately defend that decision should a management change result in program or supplier reviews.  “Because (your predecessor) told me to do this” is not the kind of answer that will endear a marketing program manager to their next department head.  While their careers are certainly not in our hands, I’d rather not be a reason they were reviewed poorly.

I find a small irony here, given all the marketing play to the concept that most buyers don’t want to talk to a rep until they’ve more or less already made up their mind about what to buy. So it’s easy to understand how ensuring that ALL the contacts within a long standing account have a complete understanding of your value might not be a big priority with the sales team. But it should be. The competition will step into your shoes if you’re nice enough to leave them empty for long and that junior marketing coordinator who is charged with executing the details without being given the benefit of buying into all of them may very well be making those decisions one day – here or some where else.

Respect every contact you have and be certain they’re completely educated about your company. It’s only fair.

By not communicating our value, our contacts will not defend us, or the decision to use us. We will be vulnerable to our competitors, no matter how unscrupulous or inferior they are.

Should These Words Feature in Your Voicemail Messages?

I just read an interesting post about the 12 most powerful words  by Deiric McCann to influence people and if they’re powerful on paper, they should be dynamite when you combine them with the persuasive impact of the human voice. Next time you’re leaving a message – discover what new results you’ll love when  you  appropriately incorporate some of these proven little gems.

  1. Discover – the most persuasive of them all
  2. Easy – because we all want to make our lives easier
  3. Guarantee – it takes the risk out
  4. Health- it seems we’d like to live longer afterall
  5. Love- because it implies you’ll attend to their needs
  6. Money- duh?
  7. New- and of course improved
  8. Proven- business buyers are still largely risk adverse
  9. Results- that’s how everyone is measured
  10. Safety – another look at the risk aversion
  11. Save- on everything – it seems we don’t have enough of anything
  12. You

…..and for all the sales reps in the audience……

It might also be a good idea to take another look at your cold call, follow up and nurturing openers.  It’s easy to fall into a rut and when your words become a bit too familiar you can lose the conviction that needs to be attached to everything you say.  Freshen up your talking points by including some of these words.

The Best Way to Qualify a Lead

What is the best way to determine the current value of a lead?

Well, you can review the information that they have elected to download over a period of time and determine whether or not they are moving in a pattern that has been predetermined to indicate growing interest.

You could check into how many relevant social discussions they are involved with or “thought leaders” they are following.

You could email an invitation to take an online survey.

You can place a contact into a lead nurture program for a set period of time, moving them along their own little personal information highway and pronounce them ready when they reach the other side.

Or you could always talk to them.  To my mind, that is the simplest, most logical solution, but it doesn’t seem to be a very popular one these days.  I’m thinking that’s because most of the information on the subject is coming from marketers and not sales people. And that isn’t a shot at marketers. It’s just that most marketing departments do not deal with individuals. They deal with large audiences and groups of prospects or customers where one-on-one talking isn’t the communications tool it is for sales people.   Marketers use sophisticated techniques to evaluate the state of the market.  Sales people just pick up the phone and ask.

But now it appears that sales people don’t do any of their own prospecting anymore and aren’t expected to manage any lead that isn’t ready to buy….. Don’t you believe that for a second.

It might be true for the larger organizations, with massive marketing teams, state of the art marketing software and a sales system that has been fine tuned to the extent that it can dance with the angels on the head of a pin.  But it isn’t the case for the average company.  It might be the case for some software and tech service buyers, but it isn’t like that for a lot of health-care, education, financial services, distribution and manufacturing buyers and it isn’t like that for the companies that sell to them.

So I expect that for most companies, when it comes to collecting the insight to be able to score or qualify a lead, nothing beats the speed, ease and straightforward simplicity of a quick phone call.  There is a catch though.  Quick phone calls don’t often result in a connected conversation and if your sales or marketing resources are already stretched, suggesting they “pick up the phone and ask a few simple questions” might just be the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Maybe you should get someone to do it for you?

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.