When Fishing for New Business, Information is the Best Bait

When Fishing for New Business, Information is the Best Bait!

By Dan Davenport

People are always looking for information. This is the major reason Google has been so successful. With that as a given, how can we as marketers capitalize on this phenomenon? The simple answer is to give away information. It is the greatest premium item ever conceived. It usually costs less than a pen, a note pad, or a coffee mug; especially if it is repurposed from prior programs, and it’s much easier to deliver. Plus, delivery is actually the first step on the pathway to purchase.

There are several ways to find folks who are looking for the information that you have to offer.

First, to cast a wide net, there are many specialized Double Opt-In email lists available for rent, and a simple, carefully crafted message (usually a text message, no fancy photos or graphics) sent out to a thoughtfully selected group of potential clients, offering a simple report, media file, or white paper, then combined with personal follow up, will yield significant numbers of well qualified leads, and, most important, the start of a dialog. And dialogs frequently finish with sales. I cannot emphasize strongly enough using Double Opt-In lists. These are people who have agreed to get mailings because they are looking for information, and they know that they won’t get spammed from these senders. These people are also much more likely to open your email. Industry trade publications are very good sources for this type of mailing. See additional comments about this below.

Next, you can create web pages to offer your information in exchange for people’s email address. A page that is search engine friendly, targeted at people who are searching for your information will always yield people who will to give you their contact information to get your information – the start of a dialog.

Finally, of course, the people on your own lists. These are people with whom you already have an existing email relationship, so you can legitimately mail offers of additional RELEVANT information to them, and they will very likely respond positively.

In addition to electronic documents, remember also if you have valuable information in other media formats, you can also distribute them. It could be a podcast or other audio file, a video, an informational PowerPoint presentation or other media file. Repurposing works very well here. It all adds to the excitement, interest, and value that you are offering making it all the more likely that you will get high quality leads who will want do business with you.

Step by Step…

  • First, you need a choice of several white papers, reports or other information relevant to your target audience. Make absolutely certain you have all the requisite rights and clearances to distribute these pieces. Like any premium or incentive item, you will give them away.
  • Next, decide how you will reach your target audience. The simplest, most targeted, and generally least expensive way is with email lists rented from trade publications in your field. Usually the mailing will go out directly from the trade publication’s mailing service, so it can legitimately have the trade pub in the “From” field. And, because the recipient will most likely already have the publication “white listed” in his or her email system, you will increase the likelihood that the mail will end up in their inbox, not the spam bucket. It also gives the message added credibility, and increases the chances that the email will be opened and read. And the publication will be very selective about what information that it will send out under its own name.
  • The “Reply To” in the email is a person or group in your company who will respond to each email individually. Though this could very well be done with an auto responder, the personal communication puts you that much closer to an in-depth dialog with the prospect, and therefore, that much closer to a sale.
  • The Subject line should be consistent with the information being offered, and also appropriate from the publication to whose list you will be sending.
  • The message itself should be a simple text only message with no images or graphics.
  • The reply from your staff should have the information papers or media files as attachments, and an offer to immediately get involved to address the prospects’ problem.
  • Decide how much you would like to spend, and how big you want the mailing to be. Negotiate with the list owners to make sure you buy at the best CPM for your budget. You never know, by jumping to the next quantity level, you may be able to send to many more prospects for very little more, which will reduce your cost/lead. Since this is a numbers game, more is definitely better.

The critical element is follow up! The main goal of this process is to open a dialog between a prospect and someone in your company who can affect a sale as quickly as possible. If those people don’t follow up immediately, momentum is lost and must be regained before the sale can actually be made.

One of the major benefits of this type of marketing is its speed. From idea to interaction with clients, it can frequently be turned around in a week or so, and is, therefore, very cost effective.

Extending the value of this technique

There are a couple of things that you can do to easily extend the reach of a program like this.

First, publicize the effort. A well placed press release with the email address to contact (or web page) to get the white papers or media files costs very little, and will get you many additional leads. Also, when people see the information appearing in places other than their inbox, it lends more credibility to the story, and increases the response rate.

Next, using standard online list building techniques as mentioned before, add access to the white papers and media files through Search Engine Optimized pages on your web site. But don’t just put them there as downloads; use the same process as with the email send. If someone is interested, and clicks on the link to get information, get their email address, and respond in the same way as someone who responded to the email promotion. Again, minimal expense for added program reach.

The side benefit, of course, is that you will significantly grow your email list with LEGITIMATE names, ones with whom you can legally continue to correspond.

Last, but not least – Measure!

Remember, “If you didn’t measure it, you didn’t do it!” (See related article here.) You must track how many leads and sales were developed and how much they cost. This works on two levels. First, you must know if this effort was worth the dollars spent. Most likely it will be. Next, if you use several lists from different sources, you’ll want to know which performed better. If the program works well only from one publication, it may be worth repeating, but drop the underperforming pub, or select another one. But you won’t know unless you measure. You can also see what media draws best, static (PDF or other files to be printed) or dynamic (files to view or listen to). And, you will know how much those names added to your list cost.

And though simple text emails have proven very effective for programs such as this, you may want to test an HTML version with images and graphics to see which draws better in your situation with your audience.

This is a simple program, easy to implement, has many side benefits, and will yield good results – quickly.

Copyright 2008 Dan Davenport

Dan Davenport is an award-winning business communications producer: Multimedia, video, print.

Goal: Bring excitement to business communications.

Look to [http://blog.smallofficecommunicator.net] to blog with us about small office communication ideas and answers – share your own experience with others and get answers to your questions.

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