Thursday February 7, 2013

Invest in Marketing BEFORE You Have a Revenue Problem

Money Closeup

I know, I know – coming from a guy who works for a marketing company, that headline sounds like a poor attempt to drum up demand for sales. But the truth is that the inspiration for this post has come from our clients, not from our leads.

Think about this: which marketing channels can you simply “turn on” and expect immediate results? Now, which of those will produce leads that close quickly in the sales process? Well, let’s go through some broad categories:

Organic SEO/PPC Search: The more opportunity that exists, the longer this channel takes. Typical SEO projects can take 3-12 months to get to page one, and just as long to get from rank ten to rank one. Results vary with market and how much you’re willing to spend, of course, but don’t forget about the website itself. If you’ve never done any kind of SEO, odds are you’ll want to redesign the site first, both to be a good platform for search optimization and to be a good platform for conversion – and that can be a 3-6 month project on its own. Search ads can bring quicker results than SEO, but at a much higher upfront cost. However, you still need to create and optimize your website, you still need to split test ad copy and landing pages to get your quality score up, and you still need to hire, train, or outsource to cover daily management.

Cold Calling/Telemarketing: While it’s been dead in B2C for years, cold calling remains among the most effective and scalable B2B lead generation channels. The downside is that it requires a large amount of momentum in order to be successful. It is very difficult for even seasoned telemarketers to land business appointments on the first contacts they make with their prospects; the overwhelming majority of appointments are landed after several strategic contacts following the initial interest. A mature telemarketing is pipeline is a reliable and projectable source of leads, but the pipeline must first be built and the message to build it must be tested and honed. Even in the unlikely event that you nail the message and script on the first try, you should expect several months before your efforts approach their maximum potential.

Display Advertising: The penultimate medium for mass brand-building, display advertising is notorious as a cost with difficult-to-measurable results. One of the big mistakes that smaller companies can make is trying to play on this stage without really having the budget – the cost for a cycle or two in a big-time publication or network can be reasonable, but the cost adds up very quickly when you consider the frequency and run that are necessary to see forward progress. If you’re going to do print, you must be ready to commit to it for a long time. Most of the value in this medium comes from keeping your brand “top of mind,” because the vast majority of your viewers will not be ready to buy when they see your ad.

There are lots of other channels to consider, of course, but I think you get the idea – like nearly everything else in business, marketing requires infrastructure and a lot of attention to keep it running efficiently. Don’t get so caught up in the present that you forget to plan for the future. Don’t get so wrapped up in Plan A that you forget to consider contingency. You wouldn’t want to suddenly find yourself short on supply to sell, but being short on people to buy it is just as big a problem.

Michael Holley
Simple Machines Marketing

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