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When it comes to marketing enterprise software and other complex technology products or services, your efforts must do more than simply generate leads. You've got to move prospective customers from curiosity to action often using alternative and largely automated methods.
For that you need a marketing system – a group of integrated processes that work together to identify your best new business prospects, reach and develop those prospects into qualified leads and hand them over to the sales team consistently and profitably.
Here's a look at 7 prime components of a solid marketing system.
Prospect Pool. At the front end of the marketing system, you need a well-defined source of potential new business leads. If you're selling a complex, high ticket, business-to-business product or service, the world is not your market. The people in your prospect pool should, at minimum, be in the right positions at the right companies to have a need for and means of buying your product.
You can find good prospects in rented or purchased mailing lists, amongst trade publication subscribers and association members and often even in your own database.
Demand Generation. Once you have a good source of potential prospects, you need to get their attention and interest. How do do this depends on where they are in the buying process.
You can use pay-per-click advertising and search engine optimization to reach people who are already searching for a solution. You'll want to use tactics such as direct mail, tele-prospecting, email and direct response advertising to reach people who are not actively looking for you yet.
Lead Nurturing. Some of the prospects who find you through search engines may be ready to speak with a sales person right away, but in my experience 75% to 80% or more of your prospects will not be ready to buy when you first engage with them. The lead nurturing (or lead development) process in your marketing system helps these prospects become more familiar with you and your solutions, and moves them forward toward the sale.
Events, presentations, reminders, and the occasional phone call are all good lead nurturing tactics.
Stay in Touch. Some prospects are further from actually needing or wanting your solution than others. These prospects simply can not be moved forward in the pipeline right now. But if they are people who could very well need your solution in the future, your marketing system should provide you with a method of gently reminding them of your existence without being an unwanted sales attempt.
Monthly electronic newsletters or email messages are good ways to do this.
Sales Hand-Off Process. At some point, all of your marketing efforts will pay off and you'll have leads that are ready to be given to the sales team. Unfortunately, many companies do not see this hand-off as a critical part of the marketing system and, as a result, when marketing signals a lead is ready, they simply throw it over the wall to sales.
A good marketing system should include procedures for qualifying the leads, confirming the hand-off to sales, and accepting the lead back into the marketing process if it is later found to not be sales ready.
Metrics and Measurements. No marketing system should be considered complete until it includes quantifiable goals and methods of measuring progress at each step of the way. Like any other business process, you must measure and adjust regularly in order to deliver maximum results.
Your system should measure response to various marketing tactics (such as email campaigns and direct response advertising), how well you are feeding the pipeline, and how fast your prospects are moving through each of the stages.
Automation. A good marketing system delivers results through consistent and on-going communication with your prospect pool. It also allows you to communicate with your prospects based on actions – either the things your prospect does or the things the prospect does not do.
It's possible to accomplish this without the help of technology, but it is labor intensive and illegally to be as effective. There are so many good and affordable way to automate any marketing program, it just makes no sense not to do it. We use our own proprietary system for Tatum Marketing and our clients, but commonly-available autoresponders and a decent CRM will give you a good start.
When we develop marketing systems with our clients, these are the key elements or processes we always include. Once the system is set up, we can tweak individual elements as needed to maximize the effectiveness of the system. Some are more obvious than others, and I've yet to see a marketing program that runs effectively without all of these elements.