Seth Godin wrote that marketing is like dating. It's a sensible analogy: First, each individual has to make a good impression and build trust, with each side giving and taking. I'm not sure how I feel about extending the metaphor to closing the deal -- you can use your imagination there.
If marketing is like dating, then advertising would be the first time you say hello: Everything from what you're wearing, to what you say, to how your breath smells matters during these initial moments. A first impression is a lasting one.
We know CRM helps convert prospects into customers and maintain that relationship for the long run, but the question is, can it be love at first sight? If you're synchronizing your advertising to your CRM process, the answer is yes. Just keep these four requirements in mind:
- Market an advertising asset;
- Distribute that asset in the appropriate channels;
- Collect customer data; and
- Follow up.
Cover Your Assets
Godin also wrote that if you want to build trust, you should give away something of value. This free offer can be a product or service but it can also be a bit of knowledge. Since we've moved from the information age into the information-overload age, I like my freebies to be concise, yet entertaining, documents that cover a specific area of business.
To develop a new advertising asset, the first thing I do is talk to the people who engage with our prospects and customers every day. From these conversations, I find out what kind of information our prospects are asking for, what they've learned about our industry through their own research, and how they found us. From there, I collect and organize more information on these topics and condense it into a consumable document.
The advertising asset needs to achieve specific goals:
- Entice the prospect into an initial engagement;
- Make the prospect want more information; and
- Deliver an honest representation of the company and offerings.
Even if consumers aren't buying today, companies that establish and maintain a strong reputation for delivering quality products and services are certain to get lots of dates.
Looking for Love in All the Right Places
I maintain a close relationship to the business development and sales groups. After all, I'm filling the top of their sales funnel and I don't want to give them garbage -- I'm kind of a matchmaker. I want to ensure that both our prospects and our salespeople are happy with the union.
Nobody wants to go trolling the bars just before closing time. That kind of hasty and impersonal behavior is why I never rent or buy mailing lists. I look for where the highest-quality prospects are likely to be, which is usually in communities where industry experts and the media are engaging in conversations about our industry. Buying and selling requires a commitment and investment from both parties, so odds of success are increased when the focus is on attracting quality. Go where the odds are good, not where the goods are odd.
Can I Call You Sometime?
The lights are low, the music is right. The perfect assets are in the right locations -- now what?
Prospects who do research online understand that there may be a form to fill out before they can download a quality asset. The length of your form should be based on the minimum amount of information you need from that prospect that can't be automatically collected. You'll need a name and contact information, of course, and maybe the size of the business. Depending on your business, other questions can be included, but I wouldn't make them mandatory.
When prospects hit "submit," send them the asset immediately. This is where the right CRM tools and processes come into play. The lead should be routed to the appropriate person -- depending on rules such as geography or subject matter -- within the business development team.
Besides obtaining basic contact information, it's nice to know which advertising asset the prospect downloaded and from where. This will help the business development team start the follow-up conversation. Setting up a campaign URL can help the CRM system determine which asset and media the campaign is coming from, in addition to the date the advertisement was launched.
Timing the follow-up call is critical. There should be a mechanism for the business development team to prioritize in-bound leads accordingly. Similar to how people act after getting a phone number at a party, companies don't want to call as soon as they "get home," nor do they want to wait a week later.
We've known for a while that the right CRM application is critical to converting prospects into customers, and customers into repeat business and company advocates. However, it's also imperative that the CRM system is coordinated with company advertising initiatives, which are feeding the top of the sales funnel.
Turn a click into a connection and enjoy customer chemistry.
About the Author
Jeff Scurlock (email@example.com) is the author of the blog DMLounge, which is focused on demand management, where this Viewpoint first appeared. He manages advertising for RightNow Technologies.
Please note that the Viewpoints listed in CRM magazine and appearing on destinationCRM.com represent the perspective of the authors, and not necessarily those of the magazine or its editors. You may leave a public comment regarding this article by clicking on "Comments" at the top.
To contact the editors, please email editor@destinationCRM.com.
To subscribe to CRM magazine, please visit http://www.destinationCRM.com/subscribe/.
If you would like to submit a Viewpoint for consideration on a topic related to customer relationship management, please email viewpoints@destinationCRM.com.
For the rest of the September 2009 issue of CRM magazine please click here.