Month: February 2012

Talkin’ Bout My Generation

By Scott Levine

Whose job is it to generate leads? Back in the day, the Fuller Brush man (door-to-door salesman for you younger folks) had to generate his own leads. He had a fool-proof method for generating leads. He just rapped his knuckles on the door or rang the bell, and more often than not, voila, a lead was generated. It might not have been a great lead. It certainly was not what we, as automated marketers of present day, would consider a lead; but it was indeed a lead, and could often “lead” to a sale.

Lead generation or lead gen as it is now known, has come a long way. Traditionally, it has been, and still is, the marketing department’s function to obtain leads and the sales department’s function to sell those leads. This has led to what some of us called the longest-running debate in business: The marketing department is always wondering why the sales department doesn’t work the leads that the marketing department has worked so hard to accumulate. The sales department always complains about the low quality of leads that the marketing department has given them to work with. So, is it bad leads or bad salespeople? The debate rages on. Often, it is a mix of both: subpar leads and the sales department’s lack of faith in which the leads usually cause the loser in this debate to be the business.

How then, can we generate good leads from marketing, and place those leads in the sales funnel for nurturing until they are good and ready for sales to attack them? How can we make sure that the sales department receives those leads when they are most likely to be sold? How can marketing work hand in hand with sales to achieve the same goal, which is to convert those leads into customers?

Let us never lose focus of what the goal of lead generation is. It is always customer acquisition. There have been many advances in the discipline of lead generation—and the subsequent discipline of lead nurturing. The magic trick that marketers strive for is to place the nurtured lead in the sales funnel at precisely the correct time. If this is accomplished, the chances for sales success get bumped up to the high percentages.

Leads can be generated through a client’s database, through specific data mining, through list purchases, through marketing and advertising efforts, through landing page Web sites, through the utilization of PURL’s (Personal URL’s with pre-loaded data for the prospect), and through many other innovative and current technologies.

However, generating the leads without a comprehensive, coherent, strategic, concise plan to nurture those leads and to process them for cultivation and dissemination to the sales department at the correct moment is a bad plan.

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Implicitly Explicit

By Scott Levine

Try saying that ten times fast. It wasn’t meant to be a tongue twister—although it is. Rather, it’s a play on words to introduce the difference between Implicit and Explicit Strategic Marketing.

First of all, we need to understand the terms as they apply to this strategic marketing. Explicit, which includes statements like “The temperature today is 83 degrees,” leaves no room for interpretation. While implicit statements, such as “It’s kind of hot today,” are less specific. A “hot” day can be anywhere from 80 to 100 degrees, depending upon your perspective.

Marketing strategies work the same way. A quarterback who tells his wide receiver to run 15 yards and then turn around is providing explicit strategic direction. If he tells his receiver to break loose and watch for a pass, his direction is implicit. When a good salesperson calls on a prospect, he can read the prospect’s visual cues—or body language—to determine whether he or she is ready to buy or not. What the prospect says is explicit data; what his body language tells the salesperson is implicit data.

Marketing automation leader Eloqua creates a customer’s Digital Body Language by capturing data from online interactions. By looking at which things Website visitors clicked on, ignored, downloaded or lingered over, Eloqua can “read” not only explicit data like whether they purchased or not, but also implicit data like the kinds of items about which they sought more information. �
Strategic marketers today can use this kind of online tracking and reporting to score leads using both explicit and implicit data. And skilled practitioners can coax meaningful implicit data from the explicit data.

Here’s an example: Sally and Susan decide to meet at Sears to shop for new clothes on their lunch hour. That’s an explicit statement. But there’s plenty of implicit data that can be extracted from it. For instance, it’s safe to assume that Sally and Susan both have jobs, that they’re friends and that they probably work near a Sears. What’s more, if they’re shopping at Sears, they’re probably not affluent or fashion forward.

In strategic marketing, using both explicit and implicit data to score leads provides a clearer picture than using one alone. Armed with a potential customer’s explicit data, such as his or her name, company name, address, email address, company size, industry and job title, a marketer can make some assumptions that help provide a deeper understanding. Someone with a job title of Director or higher will probably either be able to make a decision or influence one. Someone who works for a manufacturer will probably be more interested in software for manufacturing companies than someone who works in government.

By establishing very specific criteria for lead scoring and nurturing that leverages both explicit and implicit data, smart marketers can increase their conversion rates and more.

The Customer is Always Equitable

By Scott Levine

A Look at Customer Equity, Brand Equity, Retention Equity and Value Equity.

Customer equity is the sum of the lifetime value of a company’s customers. It’s an advanced business concept that was created when the theory of brand equity failed to address certain consumer buying patterns.

Brand equity is the unknown value that is attached to a brand through longevity, marketing efforts, customer satisfaction, current popularity or any other factor that causes the brand to be both well known and trusted. Brand equity can be measured at the firm level, product level, and consumer level.

The firm level attaches a monetary value to the brand by subtracting, let’s say, Hunt’s Ketchup from Heinz Ketchup. The difference in value is Heinz’s firm level brand equity. The premium that consumers are willing to pay for the brand—the difference in price between a Sony 42” TV and Magnavox 42” TV—is its product level equity. And the amount of name recognition a product enjoys is its consumer level equity. Big winners in this category are Kleenex tissues and Scotch tape.

Unlike brand equity, which tries to attach a value to the brand, customer equity quantifies the value of a company’s biggest asset: its customers. Both are important. But sometimes, customer equity turns out to be more valuable.

When Costco introduced their Kirkland line of private-label products, the name had no brand equity—especially when compared to the major national brands it would compete against. But Costco had enough customer equity to convince consumers to try Kirkland products. And before long, Kirkland toilet paper was outselling Charmin and Scott. Ibuprofen, men’s shirts and vitamins soon followed. And today, almost all of Costco’s Kirkland products outsell their name-brand competitors. What’s remarkable is that Kirkland now has brand equity in its own right—built exclusively on customer equity.

The same thing happens when major grocery store chains sell private-label products for less than their brand-name counterparts—which proves that savings sometimes trumps brand equity.

Given its importance, what drives customer equity? A combination of things—including value, brand, and retention equity. In the case of Costco’s Kirkland brand, it took a strong perception of value to get customers to try the products in the first place. And the quality had to be comparable to the name brand products for them to keep buying.

In some cases, retention equity may be worth more than value equity. After all, it’s often easier to acquire new customers than it is to retain existing ones—especially if the product or service is inferior.

But sometimes, devotion to a brand is so great that nothing else matters. Apple fans won’t buy an HP computer regardless of how much less it costs. Brand equity alone drives their purchase behavior.

Advanced marketing can help you regardless of what kind of equity you’re trying to build—or leverage. But keeping a keen eye on customer wants, needs and values should be part of any initiative.