It’s surprising how so many digital marketing agencies promise to help their customers move away from using word of mouth referrals or a traditional sales force, yet are using these exact same tactics to grow their own business
At palladous we practice what we preach and in 2015 we will present to hundreds of businesses at live seminars, filled entirely through powerful online marketing strategies. Let’s see how it works.
Business to Business Lead Generation: Your Customers Might Not Be Searching For Your Product
Like many B2B providers, our customers do not necessarily know they need our product. In fact, when many people talk to us for the first time they think they need an ‘SEO agency’ or a ‘Pay Per Click Advertising’ agency to get them on the front page of Google and start driving sales. In our sector people looking for SEO, for example, are often looking for cheap services and cheats to trick Google – not the kind of service we’re offering at all as a full stack marketing business looking to help people grow using all the tools available.
In many sectors, including ours, the competition is so high that those two options are either very expensive (PPC) or so competitive that whilst success is possible, the time and financial investment don’t make sense. Ranking number one for ‘SEO Company UK’ might be a good talking point at meetings but it wouldn’t necessarily be worthwhile from a business perspective when compared to other more profitable ways of marketing.
Seminars Let You Give First
The beauty of running seminars around the US and UK is that we do not need to try to pack an explanation about ‘why we’re different’ into a quick presentation meeting or lunch with a sceptical business owner who’s meeting with us only because his friend suggested doing something about his or her outdated website.
Instead you get the undivided attention of a dozen or more business owners who are serious about growing their businesses (in our case) or improving their performance in the area of their business that is impacted by your product. Imagine a pensions adviser who runs free seminars for business owners about how to select, set up and monitor their pension schemes (for themselves and their staff) in a way that minimizes tax and maximizes returns for everyone. How many people who love his or her seminar do you think will look elsewhere when they get stuck and need some advice?
The key here is that you must give great value. People must walk out of your seminar ready to action some of the information you’ve given and it must be possible for them to use the information in the seminar in a useful way to impact their business. Even doing that some people won’t be able to handle all the work in house – you will start getting calls about work from many attendees within weeks. Personally I keep the ‘sales’ element of the seminar down to a short five minute slide about why some businesses choose to hire us instead of undertake all the work I’m explaining to them in-house. The business owners that resonates with will give me a call, the ones who want to do it in house get a great seminar and all the tools they need to get started.
Promoting Your Seminar
If you’re lucky enough to have a list of e-mail contacts who are all realistic prospects for attending you can target that list with the free seminar. Naturally people will be very receptive to the opportunity to take advantage of your knowledge for free compared to how receptive they would be to a straight pitch for you to come out and arrange their company pension scheme. They might not even fully understand why they need to take those steps and the seminar is a good way for them to start to understand.
We have a powerful e-mail platform (we’ll be making it available to business owners soon so drop me an e-mail if you’re interested) which allows us to identify a handful of very interested prospects using a proprietary scoring system based on their behavior on our site and with the e-mail. This makes following up easy even if we’re e-mailing thousands of prospects. (Traditional e-mail data would just tell us 300 out of 1000 clicked through to the landing page, for example. It would be impossible for our team to realistically follow that up. 20 hot prospects – much easier to work with).
For those with a sales and/or customer services team, there’s nothing better than offering your seminars during sales calls or routine interactions with customers. I worked in the accounts team at a financial services firm where a good proportion of our events were filled by people who’d called us up with another service question – after satisfying their needs, you have a great opportunity to bring them along (to learn about some of your services they aren’t using yet, for example).
Strategic paid advertising is the third, and most powerful, way we use to reach prospects for our seminars. The reason we find it to be the most powerful is that it lets us reach business owners who’ve never heard of us, and in many cases who don’t know they need our service at all – they just want to grow their business somehow. Deciding which network to place your ads on will depend greatly on your product but with the advanced targeting available on Twitter, Facebook and even LinkedIn you can start to build market segments that align very closely with your needs. For example, on Facebook, you could set up and promote a golf seminar only to people very likely to be interested in attending and in the right area for your event. Testing is important here – both the ads you use on each platform and the platforms themselves. Increasing your spend where the returns are the highest will help you run more seminars for your money, and in turn get more sales for your business.
I hope this has helped you see how powerful seminars are in business to business sales and how you can step beyond just promoting to your immediate audience and start to sue strategic targeting on advertising and social platforms to fill your seminars. Focus on giving great value, keep the sales pitch short or non-existent and the customers who see value in what you do will be in touch (there’s no harm in following up, of course).