Earlier we covered English-language spam rules, a diligent observation of laws regulating the mass sends of unsolicited marketing materials to prospects. The good news for marketers is that there are dozens of perfectly legal, non-spam ways to make first touch engagements happen.
Here’s a real life illustration that showed up in my Facebook feed the other day. My friend, a former colleague who now works as a marketing director at a university, posted a conversation she had with a sales rep selling billboard space who cold-called her office line:
[Company redacted] guy: I see from your twitter feed you’re an avid runner, so I thought I’d stop by on this nice afternoon with a cold drink to introduce myself and see if I can tell you a little bit more about our products.
Me: (Speechless, briefly) Obviously you know a little bit about targeting so… why don’t you tell me more about your billboards?
My friend continues in the post:
That’s one way to cut through the noise!
No sales were made, but I’ll definitely be opening the follow-up email.
Later, she snapped a photo of the smoothie the salesman brought on the sales call. Tall and green, the kind health nuts enjoy—a runner’s delight.
In the comments section of the thread, she explains a bit more:
As a general rule I cannot and do not return calls and emails from the hundreds of people who want me to buy advertising with their companies. But he found a unique way to make his pitch stand out, so I thought it was worth a shout out for sure.
A green smoothie isn’t going to make me spend budget money I don’t have or that should go somewhere else, but it definitely might get his emails opened next time around!
YES! That is how you use social media to engage a prospect you’ve never met in person or in-digital. The deal did not close, but that is a textbook conversion.
Inbound marketing, content marketing, and passive engagement
In digital marketing constructs, your web content delivers customers to your brand. Therein lies the inbound marketing paradigm you probably deploy already. Just in case you aren’t already using inbound marketing, here is a quick rundown:
Organic search: Rank your web assets for visibility in Google search. At the very least customers should find your website when someone searches the company by name. Branded search, as it is called, seems easier than it actually is, especially for start-up companies. Large e-commerce brands drill deep into SEO with strategic site structures and useful content for SERPS around the brand and its products. A big positive for organic search and SEO is, it’s free, however can be incredibly time-consuming creating valuable, SEO-optimized content and may take months to see its effects.
Paid search: Google makes money by selling premium placement for popular terms. The higher the search volume, the more Google charges. Companies pay a toll every time a sponsored ad is clicked. Paid search is one type of pay-per-click, or PPC, model. It’s a great way to target a certain demographic—like your ideal buyer persona—or geographic areas without having to create optimized content. Paid search/paid ads will also show up above the organic content in the search results. The ROI on paid search is going to be more immediate than organic search efforts as well.
Banner ads & affiliate marketing: You can scatter the company name, logo, messaging, and URL all across the web if you have deep enough pockets. Algorithms use browser cookie data for placement where your target prospects might navigate—or have navigated—in prior and future sessions.
Social media, online community participation, and active engagement
Sales and Marketing have a unique opportunity with social media for one-on-one engagement. If we know who to engage, how to engage them, and what products and services they purchase, your time spent on social media has enormous potential. It can give you a foot in the door (shown above), and an ongoing opportunity to cultivate relationships with relevant content and dialog.
An example of using Twitter and Facebook is outlined above with the ad salesman example.
There are other great places for getting in touch online that work when you start with leads in hand using ABM, or prospecting on your own.
Sales & Marketing Intelligence platforms not only identify who you should be talking to (the decision maker, budget holder, influencer) but also give you insight into what to say and when to reach out to them. Company and person profiles include org charts, technologies-in-use and who manages them, budget information, and top areas of investment, to name a few.
DiscoverOrg also provides forward-looking intelligence in the form of “scoops” which are signals of intent to purchase. Our researchers speak with business leaders every day to learn more about their pain points, budgets, upcoming projects, spending initiatives, and more. Having all this information in one place increases productivity and efficiency, effectively decreasing time spent surfacing and researching the right prospects. It also helps you to create a timely, customized message that is relevant and will resonate with your prospect. Want to make a warmer call? Sales and marketing intelligence is the ultimate tool for your tech stack.
Answering questions on Quora.com has become a viable method for getting acquainted with customer pain points. Search for questions within the vertical that you service and lend your expertise. Think about why you do content for organic search—with Quora, you can attach content to a person (well, persona) doing the querying.
Groups and discussions on LinkedIn. The best part about LinkedIn is that people use real names, real titles, and actual companies (ostensibly) right in their profile. Explore LinkedIn Groups—nicely segmented by industry and role—and engage personas on those discussion boards. LinkedIn onsite search works relatively well for finding people and groups, so all you have to do is reach out with the correct messaging. Investigate for clues in profiles and behavior. What does your prospect post in LinkedIn groups? Find a connection and work it. Combine creative thinking and basic etiquette when sending LinkedIn messages. Good advice would be to pretend you’re at a professional mixer in every correspondence. Look to the billboard guy for inspiration.
Even though email is still one of the most widely used methods of communication, it isn’t the only way to engage with prospects. Using social networks as a sounding board or sales and marketing intelligence to warm up a call can be just as effective if utilized correctly.