Tag Archives: Sales Promotion

6 Trade Show Marketing Do’s & Don’ts

11 Feb

Building Products Marketers, Take Note.

IBS 2016 Showroom Floor

In the world of building products marketing, trade shows are a big deal. (Don’t believe me? My business partner and I have only been blogging about it here, here, here, here, and oh yeah, here.)

There is perhaps no more important trade show for building products marketers than the International Builders’ Show (IBS). This annual event is where the biggest and best in the industry present their biggest and best products, services, and offerings. It sets the tone for the year to come, establishes future trends, and in short, it’s just kind of a big deal.

While I was at IBS this year with several members of my team, I saw some amazing showings, and some not so amazing showings. Things to emulate as a marketer, and things to never do in a million years. I’ve compiled a list of some of my top do’s and don’ts seen at the show that can apply to any B2B marketing at any trade show in any industry:

Do:

  • Stay somewhere close to the convention center. Avoid distance and distraction. It will save you time, help you avoid waiting on busses or transportation, and prevent you from having to lug around all your gear. More time spent at the show, whether as an attendee or exhibitor, is good for you and your business.
  • Institute a “30-minute rule.” It doesn’t matter if you’re an attendee or exhibitor, you should probably have several meetings, presentations, or activities lined up ahead of time. But you need to make sure to keep a 30-minute gap between each. Consider your physical location and how long it will take you to get where you need to go—some event centers, like at IBS, are unbelievably huge.
  • Know the flow of the convention center. While at IBS, I noticed more than a few booths struggle by assuming there would be traffic just because they were close to an entryway. But if the doors by your booth are located far from the main entrance people actually use, your “prime location” might prove to be anything but.

Don’t:

  • Put any text below eye-level. I’ve discussed before how important it is to carefully consider the experience of your booth (for specific instructions on text/design height and spacing, download my whitepaper), but the basic gist is: just because you have space on a wall or pop-up banner doesn’t mean you need to fill it with text or design. By the time your visitor has backed up enough to read that text, they’re already out of your booth. Just sayin’.
  • Staff your booth with uninvolved or uninformed people. You’d be amazed how many booths I saw where people acted like they didn’t care when visitors came by, had uncharismatic staff, or put their junior-most employee in charge of manning the booth. And then there were the people eating at their booth or spending all their time talking to their coworkers…don’t even get me started on that one.
  • Offer giveaways just to offer giveaways. We’ve all fallen guilty to it here and there, but don’t offer a random, trending item just to do it (ex. an Apple Watch just because it’s the hot new thing). If it has no tie to your company, the marketing approach at the event, etc., then it comes across as random at best, desperate at worst. Plus, it creates no link to your company in the minds of your prospects. Instead, look for more natural connections for giveaways, even if they’re less “sexy” than the trending stuff. (Ex. a kitchen company making cookies at KBIS.)

My team learned a lot at IBS this year. This show has a ripple effect throughout the entire industry, whether you know it or not. For more insights from this year’s show, read more here, here, and here.

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Building Products Marketers Need Sales to Survive

15 Sep

Sales and Strategy Go Hand In Hand

Business people meeting

What if I told you that all the effort you put into marketing your building products was absolutely useless? What if I told you that no matter how great the creative, how brilliant the strategy, and how alluring the incentive, your approach was doomed to fail?

Because they are—if you fail to incorporate your sales team into your efforts. I’ve written before about how no building products promotion can be effective without buy-in from the sales team. But this applies to more than promotions—it’s your entire marketing strategy and beyond.

A recent article in the Harvard Business Review takes that idea to the next level, making an argument I agree with: that sales should be part of every conversation about strategy. All too often, marching orders come down from on high with no real understanding of what is happening to those on the ground pushing the product or services. And the further away the “powers that be” get from customer contact, the more obsolete their strategies can often become.

Here are a few of my favorite takeaways from the article:

  • Communication is key: “People can’t implement what they don’t understand.”
  • It doesn’t matter how many emails you send if you don’t engage your sales team as partners: “The process for introducing and reviewing plans often exacerbates the separation of the strategists from the doers. It typically involves a kickoff sales meeting followed by a string of emails from headquarters and periodic reports back on results. There are too few communications, and most are one-way.”
  • If you don’t explain the big picture, they won’t be able to create it: “Even when sales teams are trained in negotiation and selling tactics, the larger strategic context—especially the implications for target priorities—is often left out.”
  • Whose job it is to partner with sales: “Clarifying strategy is a leadership responsibility.”

Click here to read the full article—it’s full of important information that building products marketers should really take into consideration, especially as many of us start to work out the final details of our 2016 planning.

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B2B Marketing: What’s Easy Isn’t Necessarily What’s Right

6 Aug

Is Your Marketing Making Life Easier for You or Your Prospects?

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There’s a saying that doing the easy thing is not the same as doing the right thing. It’s definitely true for B2B marketers—what’s easy for us to produce might not be what is right for our audience to consume.

But we like easy; as children, we were taught that practice makes perfect. We were taught to do the same thing over and over and become an expert at it. We were taught that the more you do something, the more successful you’ll be—and the easier it will get.

All of this is ingrained into our very being from a young age. And yet as B2B marketers, everything we know goes against this way of thinking.

Case in point: for many years, B2B marketers (especially in the building products industry) knew what their audience wanted—simple, sales-focused materials like brochures—and we gave it to them…in excess. We practiced it until we perfected it. And we did the same thing over and over until we were experts at it. The more we did it, the more successful we were. The easier it got.

We were practically crapping brochures. After all, what better way to showcase the features and benefits of your product than a document that does so in exhaustive detail?

In 2015, the answer to that question is: content that helps, not sells. Sure, your sales team might still need a brochure, but a brochure is little more than a “kiss ‘em goodnight” add-on to leave a prospect with—it’s not a way to start a conversation, and it’s certainly not going to generate leads by itself.

Interesting, then, that a recent study by the NetlLine Corporation and the CMO Council discovered that brochures are still the most commonly produced materials by B2B marketers, yet whitepapers deliver the best leads when it comes to B2B content marketing strategies. So where’s the disconnect?

Simple. B2B marketers are doing what is easy—what they know. And in doing so, they’re ignoring the very clear numbers that prove this is not the content their audience (or sales team) needs when making a buying decision. They need materials that help—not sell: whitepapers, calculators, apps, quizzes, etc. Unfortunately, these tools are more complex, time-consuming, and expensive to produce, so some B2B marketers opt for brochures.

For B2B marketers, making sales-oriented materials that focus on features and benefits of what we want to talk about (like brochures) is easy. We’ve practiced it, perfected it, become experts in it, and even had success with it. But what is right is giving your sales team the content they need to generate leads and giving your audience the content they need to feel comfortable making a purchase—content that educates and helps.

Be the B2B marketer who does what is right—not easy.

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Is Your Sales Promotion Failing? Or Are You Just Failing Your Sales Team?

31 Jul

Drive Sales Promotion Results by Marketing to Your Sales Team

Sales Team

Here’s something you might not expect a veteran B2B marketer to say: The success of a B2B sales promotion does not hinge on the prizes, nor does it hinge on the theme. It’s not only about the bells and whistles. It’s not even only about the messaging.

A promotion is, however, dependent on buy-in from your sales team. So what would make a long-time B2B marketer and veteran of countless sales promotions say such a thing? Simple: experience. I’ve seen some of the best promotions with the biggest prizes falter—even the longest-running, most historically successful of promotions—without support from internal sales teams.

As a marketer, the ultimate goal is that your work drives sales, and often, a sales promotion might be one of the biggest projects of your year. Consider these tips to ensure your success with the support of your sales team:

  1. Tap Your Sales Team
    Sales teams are important in almost any B2B marketing effort, but they’re especially important in promotions that push a specific product (whether it’s more educated or sales-focused). The first step is to recognize the value your sales team brings to the table, and to make them feel valued. Your internal sales team should receive their own communications throughout the promotion—a “promotion within a promotion,” that will ultimately encourage them to drive a lot of its success. Send them results and updates throughout the promotion, not only to encourage their competitive spirit, but also to remind them what sales goals they’re working towards.
  2. Enable Your Sales Team
    We’ve discussed the importance of sales enablement in the past. With that in mind, just as you might send out weekly or bi-weekly emails to remind dealers to participate in the promotion, you should also send out weekly or bi-weekly emails to remind your internal sales team to encourage sign-ups and participation from the people they talk to every day. But don’t stop there—give them tips and tricks like scripts to use at the end of every sales call. Create unique product flyers and hotsheets that help them sell the product and push it that much harder during the promotion. You might even consider how a concurrent customer rebate could drive sales down the channel.
  3. Incent Your Sales Team
    Okay, I take back what I said earlier—prizes do matter. But they don’t matter to only the participants of the promotion. They also matter to your sales team, who must use hard-earned political capital with their customers to push a new promotion on top of their normal, day-to-day sales. Asking for the help of your sales team is great, but be ready to put your money where your mouth is and offer them the incentives they need to push that much harder. Consider that being able to offer huge prizes for participants of the promotion is only as useful as the participation it garners, the leads it generates, and the sales it closes.

Despite the changes in technology, B2B is still about personal interactions and relationship-building. If you’re not engaging the people on the ground to leverage their relationship, your promotion isn’t failing you—you are failing your promotion. Create a “promotion within a promotion” to encourage your sales team to get in on the action.

One guess what’ll happen…

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Content Your Audience Wants But Isn’t Getting

23 Jul

Is Your Content Passive or Interactive?

myf021 (hi res)

It’s no longer enough for content to be good. (Heck, maybe it never was.) It’s not even enough for content to be timely, personalized, well-distributed, or repurposed. What’s also important is that your content is interactive—or at least, some of your content is interactive. In fact, a Customer Think article argues that the #1 type of content that is most impactful to today’s buyers is also the same type of content that they get the least of: interactive content.

While whitepapers, webinars, and case studies are still widely consumed in the B2B space, there is plenty of room for new and innovative content. B2B marketers shouldn’t feel constrained by these more traditional types of content, described in the article as “passive.” Interactive content such as interactive presentations, ROI calculators, and assessment tools is highly valued by B2B buyers. Not only will it break through some of the clutter by simply breaking through established norms, but according to the survey, it also outperforms passive content in:

  • Producing prospect conversions
  • Educating the buyer
  • Creating differentiation from competitors

Most importantly, this is the type of content B2B buyers want. And the proof is in the numbers:

  • 45% of respondents rated the value of interactive presentations as a 4/5 or 5/5, but only 31% of them had been able to access any in the past year
  • 23% of respondents rated the value of ROI calculators as a 4/5 or 5/5, but only 31% of them had been able to access any in the past year

One of our clients features a piece of interactive content on the homepage of their site, which allows their prospects to calculate estimated savings based on the typical ROI from utilizing their services. This is a prime example of simple, interactive content that educates and produces more conversions because it offers a simple number that a B2B buyer can walk away with and have some idea of what the services can do for them.

Interactive content is the content your audience wants but isn’t getting, so take advantage of this opportunity to set your content apart. For more interactive content marketing revelations from the survey, click here to read the full article.

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