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How to turn on the voice of the customer in your B2B content marketing

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A few years ago, one of my colleagues told me that he felt like a teenage boy who got a girl to say yes to his invitation for their first date, but not to the second.

He was discouraged because he couldn’t close his large case sales, in spite being invited to finalist presentations.  He admitted that there had to be something wrong with his sales pitch.  He needed his marketing colleagues to help him nurture business leads before making the sales pitch.

He was right about where he went wrong:  His interactions with potential customers were always about making a sale, not about explaining value propositions that addressed their needs and made them want to buy.

To state the obvious, marketing narratives and sales pitches must be relevant and resonate with potential customers.  With the pressure on marketers to produce content that generates business leads and converts prospects to sales, it is ironic that only 17% of content marketers reported that their organization’s content marketing strategy was more successful when compared with one year ago.

A possible reason for this weak outcome is that there is a lot of content marketing that is more focused on making a sales pitch, which can be a real turn-off.  Even if customers don’t quite know how to define their needs, I believe that it is necessary to incorporate the voice of the customer in marketing communication as a lead in to sales pitches and finalist presentations.

Henry Ford reportedly said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”  

And even if they would have said they wanted faster horses, the insight was that there was a real need for speedier form of transportation.

 

 

Three turn-offs

Here are three common mistakes that turn potential customers off, and how to avoid them

1.Large amounts of data and information that don’t add  value.  

Target audiences usually have seen or read about various solutions to the problems and challenges they are facing.  The last thing potential customers need is a rehash of what they already know.  Repetition is boring and so is data-heavy text.

One way of getting around this is to integrate the voice of the customer and highlight insights gained from customers’ input, which could then serve as the starting point to present potential solutions.   By doing this, potential customers see that their needs are deeply understood and are being addressed.  Quotes from industry associations, stakeholder groups and market survey results are generally regarded as good sources that echo the customer’s voice.

2. Jumping quickly to speak about your branded solution in communication material. 

Potential customers don’t initially care about product features and brands.  They have a problem to be solved and they need to know about the pros, cons and impacts of the solution. Promoting a branded product or service up-front can be a real turn-off as it sends the message that the sales transaction is all that matters.

A better approach is to be brand agnostic, at first.  Explain the rationale for the solution options and clearly highlight how the needs identified by the customer are met.  The branded solution can be introduced in a case study and in the call to action for potential customers to make inquiries.

3.Describing features and benefits without validation from a credible source

Potential customers want to hear the voice of other customers who are facing similar challenges and have similar needs.  A call to action that does not ask for a sale, but makes a valuable offer (e.g. demo, time limited trial, consultation) is always appropriate.

The use of a real-world case study or customer testimonial in marketing communication, gives a voice to the customer in front of other customers and adds credibility to the marketing and sales plans.

Vendor or partner

From my own experience in the healthcare sector, the feedback from potential customers and other stakeholders always boiled down to the need for partnerships rather than vendor/buyer relationships.

Potential customers want to partner with providers who deeply understand their business needs

Access to C-suite decision-makers is gained when vendors are regarded as trusted, credible partners.  Credibility comes from using subject-matter expertise to help potential customers think differently about their problem and how the solution options create value for the customer.

Save the explicit sales pitch until after awareness, consideration and preference have been gained and trust has been earned.

Here are a few tips on how to create content marketing material that engages interest and builds trust –

  • Light use of data to validate key issues
  • Succinct summary of the challenges and issues
  • Engage readers by giving each stakeholder group a voice
  • Integrate stakeholder recommendations in the solution proposal
  • Case study and customer testimonial to validate the solution

 

Camille Isaacs-Morell loves social media and enjoys reading articles and blog posts on content marketing. She currently seeks opportunities to contribute to the success of business-to-business enterprises and non-profit organizations in a leadership role with direct responsibility for developing the marketing strategy to support business development and stakeholder engagement.

www.camilleisaacsmorell.com

See the BIG picture. Focus on what’s important.

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Align Marketing & Sales. Build Customer Communities.

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Today’s savvy marketers know that consumers want to have access to information 24/7 to help them navigate the maze of purchase choices. Content marketing – the creation, curation and distribution of relevant information to attract and retain customers – has emerged as a key component in marketing strategies with the aim of building communities of engaged customers and contributing to the achievement of sales targets.

But how effective has content marketing been in generating quality sales leads? To what extent is content marketing contributing to business development goals and revenues?

Just over half — 51% — of marketers told Forrester Research their content marketing efforts are only somewhat effective in delivering business value; 27% rated the strategy as “neutral”; 6% said it was somewhat ineffective at delivering value; 1% said it was not effective at all.

Providing more engaging, relevant content could possibly lead to an improvement in these results.

However, I believe that for content marketing to be effective, Marketing and Sales have to be aligned on the definition of the customers they target, on how prospects will be engaged and converted to customers and on key performance indicators.

Aligning Marketing and Sales

  • Defining qualified leads

Generating a targeted number of sales leads from content marketing activities is not an indication that Marketing is effective or contributing to business success. What really counts is whether leads will generate sufficient revenues to achieve sales targets.  Effective content marketing strategies build engaged communities of prospective and loyal customers who have the potential to generate new business that meets or surpasses sales targets.  Therefore, Marketing and Sales must have a clear and common definition of a “qualified lead.”  A “qualified lead” ought to be defined in relation to current and anticipated customer needs and the short to long-term revenue potential of the lead in relation to Sales’ targets. It is the responsibility of Marketing to ensure that content material provides relevant information, engages interest and prompts responses from consumers who will be considered as qualified leads.

  • Managing the pipeline

The aim of pipeline management is to ensure that business development opportunities are optimized, target customer populations are reached and that qualified sales leads are generated and nurtured. This means that Marketing’s plans must be timed and managed in tandem with Sales’ capacity to follow-up on qualified leads to avoid clogging the pipeline.

Important planning activities should include agreement on data capture from engagement tactics, screening criteria to identify qualified leads and the content material that will be distributed at various stages of the customer journey.   Both Sales and Marketing must work with a common data base, marketing automation or CRM system and agree on how interactions with potential and current customers will be interpreted in relation to needs anticipation and their place on the customer journey.

  • Moving from content to conversion

Mapping appropriate content, its format and delivery to the various stages of the customer journey increases the likelihood of sales conversion.  To do this, there has to be an understanding of how the target customer populations access and use content resources.

More importantly, Marketing and Sales must agree on a clearly defined business process for lead capture and determine the points at which Marketing refers qualified leads to Sales.  Incentive compensation for referrals and conversions should also be integrated in the business process.

The table below presents high-level suggestions on the mapping of content to the stages of the customer journey.

journey

Measuring content marketing effectiveness

Today’s marketing technology tools make it possible for marketers to identify and contact anyone who shows an interest in digitally delivered content.  Under pressure to prove ROI, marketers devise tactics that are intended to create and build engagement.  The download of an eBook, the posting of a favourable comment or interactions of any kind should not be interpreted as readiness to purchase and are not the best indicators of content marketing effectiveness.

Quantitative and qualitative engagement metrics and qualified lead ratios are better indicators of content marketing effectiveness. 

  1. Community engagement and advocacy metrics –

The ratio of visitor engagements to social media impressions and/or visits to web sites indicates if the content marketing material has been effective in creating awareness and purchase consideration. Engagements include the number of clicks on social media posts and click throughs to other web pages, retweets, shares, comments and direct inquiries.

Customers, who are brand advocates, are loyal, repeat buyers, influence others to purchase and are considered a trusted source by their peers.

Advocacy is a very important qualitative and quantitative metric.  Qualitative, because it involves observing what customers are saying about the product and the brand in on-line posts, discussions and various social media.  The number of shares, followers and discussions initiated provides quantitative data on brand advocacy.

  1. Lead generation metrics –

Key lead generation metrics should focus on qualified leads as defined by Sales and Marketing.

Leads should be qualified using the data captured through engagement tactics.  As explained earlier, leads should be qualified and categorized according to revenue potential and needs anticipation.

Cost per qualified lead and cost per sales appointment are two metrics that indicate the return on the investment in content marketing.  They are calculated by dividing the number of qualified leads or sales appointments by the content marketing budget for lead generation or engagement tactics.

 See the BIG picture. 

The consistent measurement and analysis of results over an extended period of time provide benchmarks and trends that indicate the effectiveness of content marketing and the value it contributes to the business.  Content marketing effectiveness should ultimately be determined by the positive correlation between the number of leads generated and the number of new customers acquired.

Focus on what’s important.

It is important to carefully assess the results obtained.  For example, declining ratios may indicate that marketing activities are ineffective for all or some segments in the qualified lead population.  This calls for corrective action, adjustments or changes in strategy and tactics.

Finally, the on-going investment of time and budgets required to profitably sustain engagement and loyalty of new customers must be assessed in order to justify repeat investment in content marketing.

 

Related posts:

3 Mistakes e-mail marketers make and how to avoid them

These 3 KPIs may get your marketing budget approved

3 Ways to measure engagement ROI

 

Camille Isaacs-Morell develops performance-driven marketing strategies that produce measurable results in the areas of brand awareness, new business leads and sales. 

She currently seeks opportunities to contribute to the success of business-to-business enterprises and non-profit organizations in a senior leadership role with direct responsibility for developing the marketing strategy to support business development and stakeholder engagement.

www.camilleisaacsmorell.com  

See the BIG picture. Focus on what’s important.

 

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valueprop

One of the hardest things I had to do early in my marketing career was develop a compelling and unique value proposition for the group benefits plans offered by the insurance company where I worked.

In a price-sensitive, highly competitive market, we repeatedly asked ourselves how we could demonstrate and differentiate our solutions and services.

Our business strategy team agreed that when compared to our competitors’ capabilities, we offered superior customized solutions, outstanding customer service and integrated solutions.

My marketing colleagues and I decided that none of these capabilities could be used in our value proposition.  Not only were these capabilities becoming buzz words, but we realised also, that since benefits plans are tailored to the specific needs of our plan sponsor clients, customization was the expected norm as was outstanding customer service.  Furthermore, with clients using the services of multiple providers, it was also expected that our benefits administration systems should be interoperable and capable of being integrated with other systems.

We understood that to be meaningful, our value proposition had to speak to a critical customer need and had to be perceived as a bonus beyond the price paid for our solutions and services.

Multiple stakeholders.  Multiple motivations and priorities.

Staying away from buzzwords was hard enough.  What was even harder was crafting a compelling value proposition that worked for several stakeholders  – the benefits plan advisor who negotiated the best plan with the insurance company on behalf of the employer/plan sponsor client, the plan sponsor’s finance and human resources leadership teams, people managers and employees.

All of these stakeholders had different motivations and priorities.  Not all of them were decision-makers.  Some were influencers and others were the end-users.  All of them were going to be influenced by the value proposition at some point during the marketing, pre- and post-sales cycle.

Five steps to create a multi-stakeholder value proposition

Our marketing team did eventually define a compelling, overarching value proposition that worked really well for all stakeholders.  Here is a five-step process, which I believe can guide the development of a value proposition for multiple stakeholders –

  1. Identify stakeholders and their role in the purchase process
  2. Define the pain points/key issue, usually related to their mandate
  3. Identify the solution benefits each stakeholder requires
  4. Determine how value is created for each stakeholder
  5. Identify a common theme on how value is created for all stakeholders, develop a value proposition statement that reflects the theme and stands out from the competition.

The BIG picture – finding the common theme

Identifying how value is created for each stakeholder should always lead to a value proposition that is based on an overarching theme that resonates with all stakeholders and that can be expressed from several angles.  For example, “wellness” as the overarching theme can be expressed in terms of financial and physical wellness.  Financial wellness resonates with the CFO and benefits advisor, and physical wellness appeals to the CHRO and employees.

Focus on what’s important – finding the tipping point for each stakeholder

To bring the value proposition to life, it is important to identify the tipping point for each stakeholder audience, and then clearly state the way value is created without diluting the overarching value proposition.  For example, the CFO decision maker will almost certainly select the benefits plan that is affordable and contributes to financial success.  Therefore, in the marketing pitch to the CFO, the benefits and outcomes of the “wellness” value proposition should be explained in financial terms, demonstrating how investing in employee wellness will produce a positive ROI that translates to fewer or lower claims experience and higher workforce productivity.

A final word

In addition to using the 5-step approach outlined above, it’s important to bear in mind the following tips, when determining how to bring the value proposition to life –

  1. Understand the current and long-term bias of the organization – e.g. cost avoidance, risk management etc.
  2. Have the prospective client define what success looks like
  3. Build momentum through communication tactics targeting the decision-makers prior to the final sales pitch

 

See the BIG picture. Focus on what’s important.

http://www.camilleisaacsmorell.com

@Camille21162

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stand out from the crowd

This year, the world’s largest multi-cultural event will take place in Brazil.  The Summer Olympic Games bring together athletes from many nations.  When the events end, the athletes return to their countries of origin… Well, not quite!  You only have to look at the multi-ethnic face of Team Canada to see that Canada is not the country of origin of many of our athletes.  The multi-ethnic profile of the team mirrors the multi-cultural mix of our country and so many other countries of the world.

Changing demographics in Canada and the emergence of potentially lucrative ethnic markets have brought attention, effort and investment in marketing to ethnic groups, with varying degrees of success.   “Multi-cultural marketing” may be a buzz word for some, or may mean big business for others.  To be successful, marketers should embrace fundamental truths, which, when understood, will dispel some persistent misconceptions and support successful multi-cultural marketing strategies.

3 Myths and 3 fundamental truths

Myth #1 – Ethnic groups are “one big happy family.” 

Fundamental truth #1 – There are sub-groups and cultural differences within ethnic groups.

For example, there are linguistic and cultural differences among Africans, people of colour from the Caribbean and African-Americans.  However, I often wonder what ROI has been achieved on Canada Post’s full-page ads in the Community Contact newspaper for MoneyGram transfers to Africa.  Community Contact is a Montreal-based newspaper that caters primarily to Black Anglophones of Caribbean origin, many of whom are avid cricket fans.  I was quite surprised a few years ago, when Canada Post did not chose to advertise its promotion of the World Cup of Cricket in the Community Contact newspaper, but continued to advertise MoneyGram transfers to Africa – a service used primarily by Québec’s African community, which does not comprise the majority of the newspaper’s readers.  This example illustrates that Canada Post, like many marketers, don’t understand that there are linguistic and cultural sub-groups in ethnic communities with different lifestyles and interests.

Myth #2 – Ethnic consumers always identify with their cultural heritage. 

Fundamental truth #2 – Ethnicity does not always play into consumer choices.  Members of Canada’s various ethnic and cultural groups generally feel a sense of belonging to Canada. 

An Ethnic Diversity Survey conducted by Statistics Canada indicated that half of the population identifies with their ethnic or cultural group.  The study also found that ethnic attachments persist, but weaken over several generations and Canadian identity increases with the number of generations a person’s family had lived in Canada.

It is important for marketers to understand the conditions in which ethnicity and cultural affiliations become relevant to consumer engagement and purchase behaviour.

I do believe that strong ethnic attachments emerge under certain conditions, such as international competitions and cultural and sporting events.  For example, the stellar performance of the Jamaican Olympic team in the track events elicited strong ethnic and cultural affiliations among second and third generation Canadians of Jamaican heritage.

Myth #3 – To appeal to ethnic groups, marketing efforts should be focused only on ethnic products.

Fundamental Truth #3 –There is a higher demand by ethnic groups for some non-ethnic products than among the general population. 

An Environics Multicultural Imperative study found that recent immigrant and second generation members of visible minority groups are highly educated, are interested in status symbols, recognition and appearance and are likely to own their own homes within the first six years of living in Canada.

For this reason, marketers in the banking, retail and home improvement sectors should pay particular attention to ethnic consumers.  It is important to understand when and where to invest in marketing activities geared to this audience and build worthwhile relationships without alienating non-ethnic clients.

That saidthere are needs that are specific to ethnic markets that are not being met through the mainstream supply chain.  A good example is beauty products, particularly hair and skin care products specific to the needs of ethnic groups, are not widely available in the major retail stores… I can personally say that this is my biggest frustration living in Canada!  With the new immigrant and ethnic populations growing at a rate faster than non-visible minority groups in Canada, retail marketers should consider ethnic products as potentially lucrative contributors to their product line-ups.

The BIG picture

Accepting these fundamental truths, I believe, is an essential step in the right direction for successful multi-cultural marketing.  But this is not enough.   Although some marketers may consider multi-cultural marketing as a branch or special practice of mainstream marketing, multi-cultural marketing will play an increasingly important role in understanding overall consumer trends in Canada.   

Statistics Canada predicts that by 2031, roughly one in every three people in the labor force could be foreign born.   The presence, needs and influence of these consumers cannot be ignored, and will have to be addressed in demand surveys and other market research activities, now and in future years.   Multi-cultural marketing in Canada will have to be integrated in the marketing plan of every business that intends to be sustainably successful.  This, in my view, is the BIG picture.

Consider the following areas to focus on:

  • Get to know more about ethnic and cultural communities– not just demographic profiles but also research consumer patterns and purchase motivations and how they differ from those of the general population.  (Be aware that most of the available research is on economic and sociological subjects with generalized conclusions and therefore must be read with caution as the disparities in economic and social conditions among ethnic groups could be misleading to marketers.)
  • Poll customers purchasing ethnic products– ‘Did you find what you were looking for?’ ‘If not, can we order for you?’
  • Faith-based centres, ethnic/cultural associations, particularly among the older generation, are important centres of community life and open the door for local marketing activitiessuch as the promotion of services that are discounted when bought/subscribed to by groups.
  • In marketing research surveys,integrate questions that will provide information relating to cultural differences (e.g. alcohol consumption, recreation, consumer purchases).
  • Acknowledge the Canadian identityof ethnic target market segments, while respecting their cultural values and differences in a positive way.

A final word

There is a growing body of research and resources to support multi-cultural marketing.   There may be other resources available.  Your comments and suggestions are welcome.

www.camilleisaacsmorell.com

See the BIG picture. Focus on what’s important.

This is an updated version of an earlier post.  Although the post was written 4 years ago, the myths about multicultural marketing still persist.

@Camille21162

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In the nearly five months since the start of 2016, I have opted-out of as many e-mail marketing subscriptions. When I opted in, I was pretty sure that I knew what I signed up for – quality, relevan…

Source: 3 Mistakes e-Mail Marketers Make and How to Avoid Them

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E-mail to read in an envelope with an arrow

In the nearly five months since the start of 2016, I have opted-out of as many e-mail marketing subscriptions.

When I opted in, I was pretty sure that I knew what I signed up for – quality, relevant information and marketing resources.  Knowing that at some point I would have to make a purchase decision, I realized that opting-in meant receiving frequent, scheduled e-mails and a few telephone calls from the senders.

But each time I clicked “unsubscribe”, I knew I was doing the right thing.

Experts in e-mail marketing advise marketers to have a robust subscription strategy, segment subscribers according to their needs, provide relevant, useful information and build interaction through strong calls to action.  While it was clear that the e-mailers carefully planned their subscription and content strategies with the intention of using best practice guidelines, they repeatedly committed some fatal errors that just killed my interest in being a subscriber to their e-mail list.

  • Although interesting information was being provided, it wasn’t what was initially expected.
  • The constant upfront sales pitches were overwhelming and untimely.
  • There was no perceived value in some of the calls to action, particularly those which didn’t ask for a purchase.

Here are three mistakes that result from badly used email marketing guidelines:

1.  Sending useful information – but it’s not mapped to the subscriber’s stage in the customer journey.

The classic purchase funnel is used to identify the various stages of the customer journey from awareness, to consideration, preference and then to the purchase decision.  To be effective, e-mail marketing must provide content that is correlated to the customer’s needs and stage in the journey towards the purchase decision.

Consider the following model that maps the customer journey to e-mail content

Customer Journey & Content Map CroppedCustomer Journey & Content Map – Camille Isaacs-Morell 2016©

2.  Having a good initial opt-in strategy – but it fails to build engagement momentum over time

The key to building a robust list of subscribers is to have an opt-in strategy that targets the right subscribers.  Astute marketers know that targeting the right subscribers starts with gathering contact details from various sources which are likely to include prospective clients e.g. industry association member lists, event attendees, direct business contacts – and launching engagement tactics to incite interest – e.g. special offers, landing pages, retargeted digital advertising, SEO… etc.

The mistake that many marketers make is to jump too quickly to make a sales pitch. 

When a subscriber opts-in, it is generally a sign that the initial e-mail has engaged their interest.  Throughout the customer’s journey, there must be on-going tactics to validate needs and purchase intentions.  In this way the engagement momentum can be sustained, increased and propelled toward the purchase decision.

Consider the following ways to build engagement momentum:

  • Ask for feedback – typically at the consideration phase – on the white paper, solution options or other resources offered to the subscriber
  • Request confirmation of the kind of information the subscriber would like to receive in the future – educational material, research results, product-specific material, etc.
  • Most importantly, segment subscribers according to the feedback received and tailor content and frequency of distribution accordingly.

 

3.  There is a call to action – not necessarily to purchase – but subscribers don’t see what’s in it for them

After opting in, subscribers want value for their response to calls to action. When calls to action solicit information prior to a purchase decision, a mutual exchange of benefits has to take place.

It’s important to understand that e-mail marketing campaigns are most vulnerable to subscriber opt-outs when a call to action appears to benefit the vendor more than the subscriber.  Some real turn-offs include –

  • Long surveys – even with an incentive and a promise to send the subscriber the results
  • Asking for too much information – what’s the motive for gathering additional information?
  • Forms are not mobile-friendly – time consuming and frustrating to complete

Is the call to action intended to get feedback? Is it to gauge interest and engagement?  Is the call to action a precursor to the ask for business?

The answers to all of these questions should drive the content of the e-mail, ensuring that the subscriber understands the vendor’s intention and has all the information required first before being asked to take action.

Let the subscriber derive value from the information provided with the option to follow through with the call to action.

 The BIG picture

E-mail marketing will continue to be an important source of business lead generation and revenues.  While there is ample evidence to prove this, it is important to remember that e-mail connects people.  Building relationships is a natural result of connecting people, who have many and varied needs.

Focus on what’s important

It’s important to gain insights into subscribers’ needs throughout the journey to the purchase decision.  Tailoring content, timing e-mail distribution and providing value throughout the campaign are important tactics that marketers should focus on to prevent well-intentioned strategies from being derailed.

@Camille21162

www.camilleisaacsmorell.com

See the BIG picture.   Focus on what’s important

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ICON001-40x40TradShowExhibitRental03-1

  • What if you knew that half the attendees at an important trade show were first timers?

Wouldn’t you consider this show as an ideal opportunity to reach out to these new attendees and add them to your new business leads list?

  • And what if over three quarters of executive decision-makers said that they asked for a price quotation from at least one supplier at the trade show?

I bet that you would definitely make the business case to invest in a high-profile sponsorship with a range of entitlements that would make your brand so visible that your booth would be a hub for potential customers.

Trade shows have traditionally served as key meeting places for buyers and sellers of all kinds.  Vendors are encouraged to invest thousands of dollars in sponsorship packages offering brand visibility, exhibit space, and various opportunities to connect with potential buyers.

But as Forrester Research points out, in this Age of the Consumer, technology empowers customers, who now control when and where they buy, and increasingly that’s not in a store.  I would add, and maybe that’s not at a trade show.

While I am not suggesting that marketers withdraw support for trade shows, I caution against using three commonly cited reasons to justify investing in trade show sponsorships –

  1.  “We’ll be conspicuous by our absence.”

Ask yourself, “What is the real reason for sponsoring the event?”

What if, as a result of changes in the business environment or your company’s business strategy, your company has shifted its focus to another market segment or has dropped a product line, or has been presenting the same message to the same audience year after year at that show?

If any of these reasons is true, your participation may be irrelevant to the  92% of attendees who go to trade shows to see and learn about what’s new in products and services. 

By reducing or withdrawing your company’s investment in the show, you may in fact be sending the right message to the market about your positioning and business focus, which may not be a good fit for the trade show and its attendees.

  1.  “We get a chance to showcase our expertise and our products.”

Whether the opportunity involves doing a presentation, moderating a panel discussion or doing product demonstrations in a booth on the exhibition floor, chances are that you’ll only be able to reach a subset of the attendee population at the show.

In reality, when podium positions are secured, presenters are prohibited from promoting their solutions or products.  Furthermore, attendees spend very limited time on the show floor, as the time allotted is generally 15-30-minute breaks between conference sessions, possibly two times during the day.

  1.  “We’ll definitely generate sales at the show.”

I’ll be cautious here, as admittedly, there are times when sales are made at trade shows.

The Center for Exhibition Industry Research reports that 46% of executive decision-makers made purchase decisions while attending a trade show.  But that’s less than half of the attendees with purchase decision-making authority. It’s not clear what percentage of those purchase decisions leads to sales transactions.

To state that sales will be generated at the show is plausible only if it can be proven that there is a significant proportion of the attendee population comprised of decision-makers and that you know who they are, where they are at in the buying cycle and that you know how to contact them during the event.

Consider these facts

The 2015 Exhibit Survey’s Trade Show Benchmarks indicate that trade shows are still important venues for business development.

  • 38% of attendees indicate that visiting exhibits influences purchase intent
  • Over the past five years, approximately half of all trade show attendees have consistently reported that they plan to buy products, solutions and technologies they see exhibited within 12 months after the event.

These facts also tell us that new business is developed and secured over an extended period of time and not on the trade show floor.  We can conclude that trade shows do have a place in the mix of on-going marketing programmes.

The relative importance of trade shows to the business development process should be the guiding principle that determines whether or not to invest in trade show sponsorships and if so, what the appropriate investment should be. 

Here are three key questions, which, when plausibly answered, can support the business case to invest in trade shows.

  1.  Why attend?

The reason for sponsoring the show is aligned with the company’s business objectives.

This can be done by scoring the company’s agreed on and established trade show selection criteria.

Important selection criteria include the attendee population, conference theme, content, event reputation, uniqueness of the opportunity, cost and value, timing and availability of key staff and attendees.

Each criterion should be assigned a weighted score according to its relative importance to the company’s business objectives and priorities.  For example, if the priority is to enter a niche market segment, higher weights should be assigned to the attendee population and uniqueness of the trade show.

  1.  Who will attend?

The trade show provides the opportunity for direct contact with target clientele who are also in the target audience of the company’s on-going marketing programmes.

The 2015 Exhibit Survey’s Trade Show Benchmarks clearly point to the need to engage in pre-event, on-site and on-going communication and marketing programmes to drive new business.  Investing and participating in trade shows, like any other business investment, should be part of an integrated programme of marketing communications and business development tactics that consistently reach out to a defined target clientele over an extended period of time.  That’s how companies build an engaged, loyal clientele.

  1. What’s really in it for the company?

The sponsorship entitlements create new assets for the company.

To be of value, the sponsorship investment ought to provide the company with assets that can be leveraged to build contacts and relationships so as to generate new business over time.  Some examples include access to attendee lists, bonus distribution of white papers to attendees, on-site opportunities to host or attend invitation-only events.

 

www.camilleisaacsmorell.com

@Camille21162

See the BIG picture.  Focus on what’s important.

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