Posts filed under ‘B2B’

Email to a Prospect List–OK or Not?

Your question : We own a list of email addresses that were legally “harvested” (using telemarketing and manually going to websites, etc. No spiders were used to electronically capture email addressess).

We are thinking of doing an email blast with this NOT opt-in list.

If we follow the CAN SPAM regulations, will we be considered SPAM (by prospective clients – possibly), but more importantly, will we be considered SPAMMERS by the FCC or are we just being smart B2B marketers?

Our communique is designed to open the lines of communications, showcase our capabilities and valuable offerings. We give a free demonstration of an e-learning product worth $35.00 as information currency (we give you something in return for registering).

In your expert opinion, are we OK to send the B2B email blast?

Our Answer:  Yes, I do believe that you are OK to send this email. As you mention, you are complying with CAN-SPAM regulations. For those who are interested in a quick review, here are the seven requirements:

The Seven Requirements of the CAN-SPAM Act

  1. There must be a clear and conspicuous remove function available to the recipient for 30 days after the email was sent. This is also known as an “Opt Out” function. You want to ensure that you’ve given your client the option of receiving or choosing not to receive emails from you.
  2. You’ll need to develop and enforce an unsubscribe or opt out process. This will have to be accomplished both technically, as well as within your e-mail marketing pieces. You’ll need to check to ensure that you are technically prepared to manage and maintain customer “opt-out” suppression lists. And you’ll need to ensure that you have the ability to communicate back to the client in the required timeframes that you’ve received their requests and will place them on your suppression list so that they no longer receive correspondence with you.
  3. You must be able to implement opt-out requests within 10 business days. Opt-outs must be communicated to all customer contact points within your company, added to your suppression lists, and communicated back to the client within this 10 business day requirement.
  4. You must be able to provide a valid physical postal address of the sender so that potential clients or prospects can mail you their request for opting out. The law requires just a postal address. However, it is important to note that the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) requires a physical address, i.e. cannot be a PO Box.
  5. The CAN-SPAM Act requires that you clearly “label” your email as an advertisement. This is not required for those who have already opted in to receive information from your company. This requirement is for those non-opted-in clients and for all prospect emailing campaigns. You can use the “reasonableness” test here . . . in other words, would the average person consider this e-mail to be an advertisement? If so, you’re probably fine. There is no hard law that you have to actually use the word “advertisement” in your subject line.
  6. You must use a valid sender or header information. We’ve all received those illegal messages from Spammers and seen the creative ways that they’ve tried to combat Spam programs by using words in the sender and subject lines that have nothing to do with the “weight loss” or “body part enhancement” message that the e-mail contains. The CAN-SPAM Act requires that both of these fields are not misleading or false in any way.
  7. You must use valid subject information. As referenced in number 6, the Subject line must reflect the intent of the e-mail message and not be misleading in any way.

So, assuming that you’ve complied with the above, I see no reason why you shouldn’t send your email.  You’ve even gone a step further and made sure that there is a valid benefit to your prospects.  That should boost response, too.

Now, there are many email marketers and consumers at-large who might disagree with me and say that unless someone has expressly given you permission to email them, that you should not put them on your list.

My opinion is that if you have targeted your market correctly, and if your offer is strong and compelling to your audience, then you should be okay.  If you are providing real value, then I would move forward with the campaign.

And, let’s face it–you’ll know soon enough (by the number of unsubscribes and the people who positively respond) if this was the right thing to do.  Please come back and let us know how the campaign went. 

Best of luck to you!

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January 27, 2009 at 5:56 am 3 comments

Selling Direct Marketing Services

Your question: The company that I represent is a leading, minority-owned, digital marketing service provider of one-to-one communications which lifts response rates. We provide:

  • Four-color variable data printing
  • On-line and on-demand marketing solutions that help franchises and retailers manage, personalize, distribute and fulfill advertising and marketing materials at the local store level.
  • Personalized URLs
  • Point of Sale materials
  • Co-op marketing and advertising solutions which includes are AdBuilder technology which allows local retailers to customize and place print media. Our solution also tracks co-op spending for each retail/franchise location.

I would like to know:

  • What is the title of the person I should be contacting at advertising agencies, direct marketing companies and at national retailers?
  • What could I say in my cold calling endeavors that would make you as a potential prospect want to meet with me?

Thank you in advance for your assistance.

My answer: First of all, it sounds like you offer some excellent services, especially for retailers. Of course, the challenge always is to get in the door-get that first appointment-the opportunity to tell your story to the right person.

I’ll start off with your first question about who to target for your services. You mentioned that you are interested in reaching ad agencies, direct marketing companies and national retailers, and I believe that the target for each segment is different.

  1. Ad agencies: First off, I’d do the research to understand which ad agencies are working with top retail clients. Don’t waste your time cultivating agencies that are not a fit for your services. Once I’ve narrowed down the list to the appropriate agencies, I’d attempt to figure out who is working on the account you’re interested in. The titles I would target would be in the Client Services area, looking for people responsible for helping set marketing strategies. Specifically, I’d look for Account Supervisors, Account Directors and Account Executives. If the agency is on the small side, I would approach the head of the agency (president or owner) with your offerings.
  2. In regards to targeting direct marketing companies, I’m assuming that you’d offer your services as a complement to what they’re offering and that there is something in it for the DM firm (such as commission!). If this is the case, I would focus my sales efforts on high level officers in the company. Titles such as Owner, President, Partner, CEO, CMO, Vice President of Sales, VP of Operations, VP Planning would be appropriate. My thinking is that a high level leader might understand the benefits of partnering with your firms and see how your service might complement their product offerings and allow them to offer a broader spectrum of solutions to their clients and prospects. With that said, make sure that you are only talking to firms that offer complementary services. You definitely don’t want to approach direct competitors J
  3. In regards to targeting national retailers, I would seek to speak with the following titles: VP of Marketing, Director of retail marketing and any direct marketing title. All of these should be good prospects for you.

Now on to the hard part of your question-and that is-how to get these people to take and/or return your calls. Cold calling is never fun, is it? To make it easier on yourself, take the time to develop a script that you can follow when you actually get someone live. Make it benefit-oriented, as opposed to ‘product-speak’ Make sure you’re clear about how their lives will improve if they work with you.

Develop another script to be used for voice messages. Try to think of something unique about your solutions-something that will pique their interest just enough to get your prospect to return your call. Be human and have fun with these calls. Remember that people buy from people they like.

In the cold-calling game, I believe that the secret to success is persistence combined with a methodical approach. Set goals (such as number of people called or reached) and keep to a pre-determined sequence of activities (such as call one time/leave message, wait one week, call again/no message, call a 3rd time with a 2nd message, etc.).

Best of luck to you as you market and sell your direct marketing solutions!

November 21, 2008 at 3:29 pm Leave a comment

Setting B2B Marketing Strategies

Your question: In our freight forwarding business, we have just set up our marketing department. What would be our first step after recruiting sales executives?

My answer: What an excellent position to find yourself in! You’re starting up sales and marketing strategies from the ground up. It’s your opportunity now to set yourself up for success. Here are some of the first things I would consider:

  • Align your sales and marketing teams immediately. I’ve seen so many instances where sales and marketing are not aligned, and it really hurts both marketing and sales. Since you’re starting from scratch, this is your opportunity to build a sales/marketing team that works together; one that shares common goals and actually communicates with each other. For example, you can let both teams determine when a lead should be passed along to sales—where marketing’s activities end and sales begins. They can build a system from the ground up that determines where Marketing’s expertise should be used and where sales skills should be maximized. This alignment of sales and marketing will reap you huge benefits down the road when you see sales exceed their goals and marketing truly supporting the sales effort with solid lead generation activities.
  • Develop sound lead generation strategies: A key first step would be to develop marketing strategies focused on generating qualified leads so your new sales folks can hit the ground running.   Some tactics I would consider would be:
    a.  Generation of interesting content: White Papers, How-to documents, Case Studies—any type of information that your prospects would find interesting. And, it needs to be interesting enough that they will give you their contact info in order to receive it.
    b.  Make sure that your website is optimized so that your prospects can find you. Work with a search engine specialist and make sure that you are easy to find in your product/service category. Of course, once the prospect is visiting your website, make it easy to find your white papers and other give-aways so that you can start collecting prospect information and start programs to turn those prospects into leads for sales.
    c. Along these lines, you’ll need to reach key prospects to tell them about your services. Depending on your marketing budget, consider the various channels that make sense for your business. Consider direct mail programs, print advertising, industry online newsletter sponsorships, outbound teleprospecting etc. Develop a multi-channel strategy that allows you to cost-effectively reach your target audience. Plus it sets the stage for continuous learning so that you can refine strategies over time.

Good luck with your new marketing department!

November 19, 2008 at 8:02 pm 1 comment

Direct Marketing for the US Government

Q: I’m a marketing consultant that would really like to work with the US Government. I know that there are tons of projects and they must need my services. Do you have any ideas as to how to get in the door with any local, state or federal US agency?

A: Well, you’re right — they totally need your services. It’s just figuring out how to get in. While we haven’t cracked the code on getting a consulting gig with any branch of the government YET, we’re still trying ourselves. Here are a few tactics that we’re using:

1) Get certified: There are a few key things to keep in mind here. In order to get work with the government, it helps to be certified as one of the following: Small Business, Minority, Women or Disabled-Veteran Owned Business. Depending upon what you qualify for, this is a foot in the door. Each agency has a certain percentage of budgetary dollars that they must spend with these certified companies in order to meet their goals. The only way you can be considered, however, is if you are certified through a recognized certification agency. For Women-Owned businesses, we recommend WBENC.

2) Check out the agency website: Each agency has their upcoming opportunities posted on their website. Most also hold networking and informational sessions on how to do business with them (they want to reach those budgetary goals — so they are motivated to help you get work with them). Check out the website, attend an event and get to know the folks that you are trying to get in with. The more familiar they are with your face and what you offer, the better are your chances. It’s like anything else, you have to build the relationship.

3) Check out the Small Business Administration website: The SBA has a plethora of information — and they sponsor a whole other set of events and networking sessions where they bring both large corporations and government agencies together with small business owners. The SBA has offices in all major US cities. Here is their website, so take a look at what they have to offer. They sponsor many matchmaking sessions through their Business Matchmaking sessions. Take a look at the site to see if there will be an event in your local area any time soon.

In addition, the key is to follow-up. There are literally a bazillion of us trying to get gigs with these large agencies. Let’s face it — if you get in, it’ll most likely be quite lucrative. If you do a good job, you’ll probably get awarded — or at least get a crack at– other opportunities. While being annoying isn’t an option, try to build your relationships respectfully, and contact them as often as they tell you that it’s OK to do so. If they don’t get back to you right away, it’s because they’re busy. However, that just means that you have to continually contact them. It’s a numbers game, and sooner or later it’ll work. Find the balance between being persistent and annoying. : )

Good luck in getting in . . . and if you find something that works outside of what I’ve outlined, please share it! We can all use the help !

May 9, 2008 at 10:32 pm Leave a comment

Business E-mail Lists

Q: Where do I get a list of business owner e-mail addresses?

A: There are many firms that offer e-mail addresses. The specific data company you choose will depend on your specific targeting requirements (i.e.: type and size of business). The tool that we use to research mailing lists is NextMark. They have a searchable database that contains over 50,000 mailing lists–always with an indicator of whether or not e-mail addresses are available.

Another idea is to go to InfoUSA, one of the large compilers of business data. They offer e-mail addresses for a portion of their 16 million universe.

One thing to know–rarely will the list owner release their e-mail addresses to you. The way the process works is that you’ll supply your e-mail HTML (the e-mail creative) and the list owner will blast your e-mail to their list. You’ll be supplied with reports that show you where people clicked, etc.

February 7, 2008 at 5:34 pm 1 comment

Increasing the Quality and Quantity of Your B2B Leads

Q:  I currently buy data from D&B.  However, my sales force keeps telling me that we’re missing out on leads or complains that the leads are not very good.  Can you give me any ideas on how to increase both the quantity and the quality of our leads?

A:  Great question — and one that many companies struggle in answering.  Here are our thoughts on this dilemma.  D&B is an excellent source of B2B data.  However, it is not the ONLY source.  In consulting with our clients, we’ve found that by zeroing in on what your target customers look like, you can buy additional data to supplement a large-compiled source (like D&B) that is specific to your target market.  For example, if you sell telecommunications products, you can supplement your data with telecom-specific data.  You can append this to your existing D&B data or you can look at other compiled data sources in the market, then append this specialty data to all of it.  The point is, find out those areas where D&B may not have the coverage (or lack information on important fields), find a source that does cover those areas, then hone in on your target market with specialty data that will give your sales force the information that they need to more effectively sell to their clients.  It takes some thought and investment, however, if you figure out the perfect combination, the closed sales that your sales force achieves will more than make up for the time and money spent.

January 24, 2008 at 2:57 pm Leave a comment

E-mail for B2B

Q: Is e-mail effective in Business-to-Business lead generation campaigns?
A: We believe that email can be a highly effective channel in both B-B and B-C marketing campaigns. The key is to determine those customers who desire to be communicated with via email, then send your messaging through email. With B-B, you actually can expect a higher response rate (than B-C) and you don’t have the CAN-SPAM worries that you’ll face in the consumer world. As always, we recommend that you test the offer, the creative and the channel to see if e-mail will work for your specific product/service.

January 19, 2008 at 4:12 pm Leave a comment


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