Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Winning Formula: Preparation + Technology + Exhibit Floor Time = Sales

Yves Matson, Senior Account Executive at Active Conversion, knew he had a big opportunity earlier this year. The Global Petroleum Show was coming to Calgary where he is based. From his experience as an exhibitor in a previous job, he knew his lead monitoring and demand generation system could serve some of the more than 1000 exhibitors. So how did he capture this opportunity in only nine simple steps?

The Global Petroleum Show Attracts Close to 50,000 Attendees
Matson is a practical guy. He understood the futility of trying to call on all 1300 plus exhibitors at this busy show attended by almost 50,000 people. His software as a service subscriptions are relatively low cost and must be sold efficiently. But he knew that face-to-face interaction with perhaps 12 to 24 of the best prospects could be highly productive if he could figure out a way to identify those prospects.

“I wanted to talk to companies that were not too small and not too big,” Matson explained to your humble blogger recently. “And I wanted to talk to companies that are located not too far away. We sell to others but I wanted to get the most I could out of my face time.”

Step one was to buy a ticket to the show. Matson recognizes that trade shows concentrate opportunity for buyers and sellers alike.

Step two was to cross reference the exhibitor list
posted on the show web site with data on company size, revenues and location obtained from Jigsaw an intelligence service integrated into his own product. Matson noted that he had an inexpensive contractor do this on a per company basis. “If I overspent on research the whole process would have been prohibitive,” he explained.

Step three was to isolate 300 suspect companies based on size and location.

Step four was to research each of the 300 companies. He tried to obtain the name and email address of a senior marketing person in each of the 300 suspects. This effort yielded a list of roughly 400 individuals who by their title seemed likely to have some interest exhibit ROI.

Step five was to send out a pair of emails to the identified individuals, using the email package integrated with the Active Conversion product. The pitch was simple; “You should know who is visiting your website after the show.” Matson cited research that a two time visitor to a b2b web site is seven times more likely to become a customer vs. a one-timer and posited that an exhibit visit plus a web visit puts a visitor into that “buy ready” category. Three people responded directly and asked him to stop by at their booths. He got about50 – 60 click throughs, 20 of whom showed signs of engagement online. He didn’t use a special landing page but could correlate the traffic with the click throughs using his own software.

Step six was to prioritize his day on the floor by ranking the roughly 60 interested companies by degree of engagement according to the parameters of his software. “I had a hands-on walking reference,” Matson explained. “I drew a line at the top 5 and at the top 20.”

Step seven was selling by walking around. “Of course the first prospects I stopped to see were the ones that asked to see me. Then I started working down the list. At each exhibit I’d ask for an individual by name. Half the time, the person I’d targeted was actually there or at least somewhere on the floor. But even if the person wasn’t there, my research still gave me instant credibility. It’s not a difficult sale to exhibitors. I ask them to think of their website as an online trade show and online traffic as floor traffic. Having been in their shoes as an exhibitor and knowing something about energy services helped a lot. Only two of my 20 top priorities were not interested so I was ‘nine-out-of-ten’ at that point.”

Step eight was making sure the 18 interested companies followed through with a trial which is the next stage in the Active Conversion sales process. “I had 3 trials going that day at the show,” said Matson “but there were the usual delays in converting most of positive interest to trials.”

Step nine was to help the prospects with their trials and converting these prospects to customers. As of this writing five have taken the leap. Not bad for a day at the show!

Matson’s story demonstrates the power of technology-enabled personal selling. It helped that he was using the technology he was selling. Your humble blogger has written before about the application of online tracking systems and other technology to trade shows. But is also a tale of old fashioned spade work and the inherent power of face-to-face events. And it is a tale with a happy ending: five sales for Matson and I suspect, five happy customers.

Disclosure: Your humble blogger is currently using Active Conversion on a trial basis along with other tracking programs from other vendors. You can contact me for details.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Why the “Junk Web” is Getting the Action

If you are looking for action, the “junk web” is hot right now. Your humble blogger was stuck the other night, listening to Justin Levy, of New Marketing Labs (Chris Brogan et al.) at the similarities between the action-oriented online marketing practices Levy was advocating and the action-oriented direct-mail marketing practices in their heyday.
The Mail Table at Your Humble Blogger's Home

It’s not the media but human nature that shapes marketing principles. That’s why so much of the current web environment feels like  “junk mail,” a medium developed by tracking response.

“So what’s the difference between the ‘junk web’ and ‘junk mail’?” your humble blogger asked. “Junk,” in this context, your humble blogger had to explain, is a term of endearment. “Junk mail” was many a marketer’s dear friend for years and still works for quite a few products and services.

The difference according to Levy, boils down to cost, although he resisted your blogger’s use of the term “junk web.” “Nothing I ever put up on the web was junk,” he protested. Nothing your humble blogger ever mailed was junk either (some lists were junk). But once we cleared the “junk” hurdle, Levy focused on the low cost, especially of social media.

Social media is not free,” he explained, “but it is sweat equity. You're investing time, not postage and production expense.” You might argue that there is always an “opportunity cost.” And obviously when you are paying somebody for any form of marketing activity there is an out-of-pocket actual cost. But you can’t argue with the cost advantages of distributing action-stimulus electronically vs. print on paper.

The other big advantage online is on the response side – it is technically more feasible through the online medium to isolate and offer value to people most likely to react favorably. Inquiries (“inbound”) can be stimulated by the right kinds of web and social media presence. Interaction can be automatically and almost instantly simulated at low cost. Recency, frequency, interest, buying capacity and other well known response factors can be tracked at the individual level and grouped at will.

The result is a low cost-per-action. Response rates can be very low, Levy explained, and still be worth the effort, when the cost of soliciting the action is minimal. Using his own Inbound Marketing Summit promotion as an example, he described how a single registration from a particular marketing effort seemed to pay-off. As your humble blogger has reported in a prior post, event registration numbers attributed to social media have gotten to a significant level in some markets.

Low costs also allow you to push for “the close” more gently. You are less likely to turn-off potential future prospects. People are still hungry to be sold, but you can afford more action steps before a sale in an online marketing environment.

Bottom line: The “junk web” is winning marketing dollars because it is often cheaper, online, to get the actions that lead to sales. But hurry, because the best opportunities will be available for a limited time only.

Call us today at (866) 271-9450 if you want to MAKE GOOD INFORMATION INTO GOOD BUSINESS!

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