By Cindy Zuelsdorf
Your customers are thirsting for knowledge, practically scrambling to keep up with the information they need in order to do their jobs well. This is especially true if you work in high tech or any area that’s changing fast. You can give them the info they crave. Why shouldn’t they get it from you? They will find the info they need somewhere, and you have the opportunity to help them out by providing what they need.
You can create new information for them, of course. Or maybe you already have guides, white papers, checklists, and other information languishing that can be put to work for the benefit of your customer—and for you. Read on to find out what’s working now.
“I want more leads”
Recently, I worked with a small B2B company looking for a way to get new prospects onto their list and generate more business. They relied on trade shows and personal contacts to generate leads for the past several years but they needed new ways to grow. Sound familiar?
Tell me about your sales
I asked my client about his three most recent sales. I asked about actual sales in order to get specific information, not just theory.
Some of the questions I asked were: What did you sell? Why did the customer buy it? What could they have done instead of using your product? What kind of person loves you and what you’re selling? And the key question, in my opinion, was, “What did your prospect need to understand before he made the purchase?”
In this case, and in so many cases, the prospect needed to understand a particular type of new technology. In your case, it could be new information or new trends.
So, the client and I spent the next 20 minutes or so going over the details of that new technology. I took notes, sent them back to my client, he edited the info, and we turned it into a very useful technology guide.
Next, we put an email together offering the new guide to his house list. It got a great response and lots of downloads. The client was thrilled. Then we created a follow-up sequence of emails, all with a call to action to get a data sheet. Anyone who clicked on the data sheet then got emails asking if they wanted a quote or consult.
With that campaign in place, we expanded. We offered the guide to people outside of the client’s house list. We sent an email out through a third party service, an industry magazine with about 20,000 subscribers. The email only offered the guide and didn’t pitch any product. Success! Hundreds of brand new opt-ins to the client’s list! And those new people went immediately into the follow-up sequence mentioned above.
How to choose the right topic?
This excellent method works best when starting with the end in mind. Of course, in the end, we want the prospects to buy our amazing hardware, software, or services. But we can reverse engineer the process a bit and use what we learn to put some extremely successful marketing in place.
What do your prospects do right before they buy? If you sell software, do 80 percent of prospects download a trial version and check it out? Maybe your prospects want to try a demo? OK, good to know, that’s what you’ll want to drive to later in the process. But, before that, what do your prospects need to know or understand first? If it’s a technological concept or some critical information they need to learn, that’s the topic you can use for your white paper, guide or checklist.
What’s working now?
One of our clients increased software demo downloads by an order of magnitude(!) using this tried-and-true technique. Software sales increased because more people tried the product and automated follow up augmented the efforts of the sales people.
Here are a couple of successful landing pages and opt-in pages we are using:
Create buzz and drive traffic
If you are just about to have a white paper or ebook, but it’s not quite done yet, you can “pre-sell” it by asking for advanced sign ups. One client I worked with wanted to do something to drive trade show booth traffic at an upcoming exhibition, but they didn’t have any product to announce quite yet. We decided to promote an upcoming technical paper and asked prospects to sign up in order to get an early look at the paper. This was very successful as it created buzz and provided a great way to find out who was interested in this new topic.
Four steps to success
If you want to use this method to grow your own list and business, here are four steps you can follow. This works!
1. Promote your checklist, guide or white paper through an email, on social media or on a website
Start by promoting your free guide to the people you know. Then promote it to people you don’t know through an industry magazine e-blast. When someone signs up for the guide, use an automated system to capture their info directly into your CRM and deliver the guide.
2. Send a series of follow-up emails that include excerpts from the guide and additional info that’s on-topic
Be sure to offer the person something more. They wanted your guide, right? Offer them something else that’s beneficial. Every email in this sequence should have an offer, a call to action. One client we work with offers a software demo. Another offers a product data sheet.
3. Automatically stop the follow-up email series if the prospect downloads the software demo or data sheet
Design a new email series for those that take you up on your offer. A thank you email first, and then and several more emails giving pro tips on how to set up and get the most benefit from the software trial, for example.
4. Set a task to follow up with the prospect by phone
You can also send out an automated email could go out asking if the prospect wants to click a link and purchase.
Cindy Zuelsdorf provides marketing and systems for small high-tech companies so their key people are free to go off and do what they do best. Her company, Kokoro Marketing, serves customers in six countries and many more time zones. Cindy recently helped start the local Girls Who Code Club in Grass Valley and Nevada City, California.