Believe it or not, now is the perfect time to evaluate how well your 2011 programs are performing – because if the results are less than stellar there’s still plenty of time to make tweaks and achieve the ROI you need by the end of the year. To get a sense of marketing program performance you’ll want to evaluate several key items, including:
• How much did you invest in various marketing channels?
• What was the return so far, in terms of quality lead generation?
• Are your marketing programs achieving visibility among your target audience?
If your programs have metrics in place to measure results you should be able to get a sense of how well they are performing. And if you find you do need to make adjustments – here are a few points to keep in mind:
1. Maintain a persistent, comprehensive marketing presence.
It is essential that manufacturers and suppliers get found in the early research phases of the notoriously long and complex industrial buy cycle, when potential customers are looking for vendors who can meet their needs. Otherwise, you may be shut out of a number of business opportunities. In order to be found early in the buy cycle, you must maintain a persistent marketing presence where buyers begin their products and services search—online. Research shows that buyers have significantly reduced their reliance on traditional information sources such as printed catalogs, trade shows, and trade magazines, in favor of online resources. The Industrial Buy Cycle Survey reported the top three most frequently used sources for searching for products and services to purchase are search engines, supplier web sites, and online catalogs. From the beginning to the end of the buy cycle, the supplier that is eventually selected is exposed to the buyer many times. The company may have first become visible through an Internet search, or exposure to its online catalog, or a banner ad on an industrial site, or any number of other ways. Therefore, build a comprehensive and persistent online presence to reach buyers and increase opportunities to gain customers.
2. Commit to marketing programs that deliver real leads, real fast.
While branding and visibility do play an important role in marketing, lead generation is still a top priority. Your best bet is to invest in lead generation programs that deliver more than anonymous clicks to your Web site. Your sales people can’t do anything with those—and neither can you for follow-up marketing purposes.
You’ll also want to avoid marketing programs that deliver leads after they’ve already gone cold. Your prospects are on Internet time, and if they express interest in your company and products, they expect a response in 24 hours or less. If they don’t get it, they will move on to other vendors.
Seek out marketing programs that provide you with leads containing full contact information and area of prospect interest. Programs like this will allow you to contact a “real, live leads” and it gives you the ability to reach out to these potential new customers in a timely manner.
3. Discuss your marketing challenges and goals with media partners. Hopefully you’re working with a marketing partner that is open to regular evaluation and revisions to your marketing mix – if not you may want to consider shopping around for a new partner – and find one you are comfortable with and who offers the best programs to meet your needs.
As a refresher, here is a checklist of questions to ask media partners:
• Do they have the attention of your target audience?
• Can they keep your company visible to prospects and customers at all times? In other words, help you maintain marketing persistence.
• Do they offer a variety of integrated marketing solutions aligned with your goals rather than trying to fit you into cookie cutter programs?
• Do they deliver targeted, quality leads with full contact information in a timely manner?
• Do they provide reporting you can use to measure the performance of your marketing and justify your marketing investments?
And remember – there’s still time left to have a successful year – so get on with evaluating and tweaking your marketing mix!