As an industrial marketer, you know that you must deploy lead nurturing campaigns because not all of the engagement opportunities you generate are ready to buy — or even ready for follow up by your sales team. The industrial buying cycle is often long and complex, and new opportunities need to be brought along slowly.

Yet lead nurturing initiatives can be tricky because they take time and patience, require many touches with your prospects, and must be measured and analyzed — continually making changes to optimize the campaigns.

Your prospects are heroes
Think about it: your prospect, by demonstrating an initial interest in your company, products, or services, is letting you know they are on a journey to achieve the objective of making the right purchasing decision and meeting a defined need, and in doing so they will become a “hero.”

As with any heroic story, before your prospects can achieve their objectives, they must overcome obstacles along the way. Those obstacles might be questions about the technical or functional capabilities of your product, getting budget approval for the purchase, or flirting with your competitors who want to influence your prospect.

Your role in the story is to continually stay in touch with your prospects and provide them with the nurturing and content that will help them get past obstacles. For example, offering white papers or Webinars that discuss approaches to solving the problem your prospects face. Accurate, clear, and detailed specification sheets about your product. Case studies and success stories. Perhaps an ROI calculator that will help free up budget to make a purchase.

Heroes need an ally
One way you can be your prospect’s ally is to give them the personal touch. That means paying attention to what types of offers they respond to in your lead nurturing campaign and using their responses to determine where they are in their buy cycle, what their needs are at the moment, and then providing them with relevant offers.

There are other simple and often overlooked ways to get personal with your prospects. At the bottom of e-mails you could add a photo of the account manager or marketing person assigned to the prospect. In other words, adding the human element (because people buy from people). You could also include a personalized phone call as part of your lead nurturing campaign. These small touches can add up to the difference between your prospect buying from your company or from your competitor.

The journey takes time
Unlike a two-hour feature movie, lead nurturing campaigns can play out over months.

Because the hero’s journey takes time, you must stick with your lead nurturing campaign, remain an ally, and help your prospects overcome their obstacles until they are ready for your sales team. Only then do you hand them off for the climax of the story — the final decision and closing of the sale.

To push our metaphor a bit further, you have one more task to complete: analyze how well your story played so you can go back to the editing room and make needed changes. What offers got your audience excited? Which content is ignored? What media helps accelerate a prospect’s journey? If you measure your results and optimize your campaign to be more effective, not only will your customers be heroes at their companies, you’ll be a hero at yours.

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