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Give to Get Appointments

One of the surest ways to build the trust required to do business these days is to be able to demonstrate your willingness to give, to add value, before you ever ask for anything in return.

Certainly you’ve seen this dynamic play out in the act of referrals. You’ve probably also seen or felt the impact of this mentality in the offering of free white papers, how to seminars and evaluation sessions.

But what about in a lead generation environment where you’re trying to create awareness and land an appointments? What about using this thinking in situations where you are essentially trying to get the attention of a prospect that doesn’t yet know you exist? Can the give first mentality be used to open doors and create enough trust to get you invited to tell your full story?

Here’s a simple campaign that I’ve seen do just that.

  • Acquire a highly targeted mailing list from Hoovers, InfoUSA or Jigsaw.
  • Send an email and postcard to a small number, say 100, using variable data printing on the postcard to display the prospect’s name big and bold.
  • In the email use the prospect’s name only in the subject line.
  • In the body of the email and for the postcard copy simply state that you have a few ideas on how they could get x (x = more clients, better return, few errors, more done, etc – it’s what you sell) – don’t add anything else about you or your solution, just keep it to that one line and add a link to a personalized landing page (using a pURL) from a service like SendPepper. (there are lots of services that can accomplish this, but I really like the features from SendPepper)
  • The personalized link and page features the name of the prospect and provides five or six of your best recommendations or tips. Don’t hold back, give them some really good information and advice. The content of this page can be segmented for different variables, but for the most part the actual content will be generic, but still valuable with a personalized feel driven by the pURL technology.
  • If you’re using an integrated tool like SendPepper, you’ll get notification when someone visits their page and you can then follow-up with even more great information and a call to action, such as an appointment, evaluation or presentation of more customized ideas.

A couple things to note:
This works at a far higher rate than simple bulk mailing because of the personalization and because you’re offering something of value that is easy for them to consume and simple to understand.

Too often we try to spell out multiple offers in hopes that something will stick – keep your message dead simple and intriguing and you’ll get far more response.

Keep the batches small so you’ll have plenty of time to follow-up immediately and analyze what’s working and what’s not. Most services allow some amount of split testing as well.

How to Automate a Lead Engagement System

landing pageTechnology has allowed us to move past the days when we simply drove a prospect to our website, captured their name and email address, and started them in a drip system in hopes that at some point they would click on a link in one of our emails and buy something.

Today’s lead generation system is a fully automated lead engagement system aimed at delivering the right information to the right person at the right time – and helping the sales team spot the perfect prospects ready for further engagement. By chaining together a series of web based applications you can create a system that engages, analyzes, and even gets pretty close to thinking about how to create better leads.

Below is an example of how a system like this might flow

  • Run a series of ads using Adwords and Facebook promoting a free downloadable eBook
  • Create seriously interactive and user friendly landing page forms with wufoo
  • Automatically test two versions of landing pages using a landing page tool like Unbounce or Google website Optimizer
  • Landing page success page includes Audio Acrobat audio recorded instructions on what to expect next
  • When prospect requests copy of free eBook Solve 360 CRM creates a record and sends email to Flowtown
  • Flowtown analyzes the social media activity associated with email and appends CRM record with social media data
  • Based on social media activity criteria Flowtown creates influencer alerts and tags records for segmentation
  • Segmentation information is sent to Constant Contact to enroll prospect in one of a series of email follow-up campaigns based on social media participation
  • Email series invites prospects back to a series of video landing pages using personalized URL technology from SendPepper that also creates a post card mailing with personalized data from the campaign
  • When a SendPepper pURL landing page is visited the Solve 360 CRM creates a task and the appropriate sales person receives a mobile alert to call the prospect

A system like this can be created by any size small business and gives you the kind of fire power that would make a salesperson at a Fortune 100 company giddy – as long as you also monitor every aspect using a tool like Google Analytics to help improve conversion at every step.

The entire process can be designed, monitored and tuned in such a way that it feels appropriate and elegant for each prospect that experiences it. While few things will ever replace person to person contact in the world of engagement a well designed lead engagement system is the front line tool that can help you create the know, like, and trust required to get that all important first meeting.

10 Small Business Lead Nurturing Tools

lead nurturingLead nurturing is the act of following up with leads in a consistent and, hopefully, logical way moving them gently along the path of becoming a customer.

In some high end, long decision process selling environments it’s the only way a sale is made. “Hi, glad to meet you, call me when you’re ready to buy,” isn’t a very nurturing approach.

In today’s marketing world smart companies are tapping powerful nurturing tools and technology to help their prospects get to know, like, and trust them, make sales when competitors can’t get past the front lobby, and charge a premium for their products and services.

In some cases it’s a matter of automatically dripping more and more information, in others it’s case of knowing exactly when your prospect is showing interest and in still others it can come down to gaining greater knowledge about your prospect by simply using technology to understand their behavior. (Don’t worry, none of this need be done in a creepy way, it’s all a matter of using technology and the information your prospects willing share.)

The secret is to stay top of mind and continue to educate, but do it ways that have impact.

The following ten tools are ones that I would suggest to most any small business owner to use in tandem with a cadre of education based marketing content in the form of ebooks, audio, video, newsletters, surveys and seminars.

1. BatchBlue – a lightweight CRM tool with a twist. BatchBlue makes it very simple to add your prospect’s social media profiles thereby having access to their blog and twitter feeds right at the point of interaction. Really great for your journalist target market too!

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