There Is No Prize for Originality

Earlier today, I was reading a reddit.com post about a young man ready to graduate college this summer who was desperately looking to start his own business. He didn’t have a business idea and was looking to the readership to help him come up with one. I often suggest to clients with a desire to start a business, but who lack an credible idea, to simply find something that works in one place and considering bringing it to another.

For instance, Elliot and Ruth Handler went to Switzerland with their kids, Ken and Barbie. While there, they saw an adult doll dressed in work cloths. The doll was not a kid’s toy, but was marketed to adults. Up to that time, all dolls in the U.S. were marketed to young girls and were babies so that the girls could pretend that they were the doll’s mommy. As their daughter Barbie handled the doll, the Handlers got an idea. They replicated the doll in the U.S. and named them after their kids, Ken and Barbie. This new toy helped launch their company Mattel.

Learn more about how the Barbie doll helped launch Mattel.

In another example, I was watching a current affairs show on T.V. the other day. The story featured a bar in Tokyo that featured a show made up of robots. That bar is crazy popular in Tokyo. I asked myself why wouldn’t the same idea make sense here in the U.S.?

A number of years ago, I was opening an office to support a contract we had with HP in Stuttgart, German. As I sat in a lawyer’s office, discussing Germany’s employment laws, an automated window shade called a “Rollladen” began to come down. Fascinated by the idea of an automated shade, I asked the lawyer what that was all about. He explained that when it gets hot outside, the shades automatically close to reduce the load on the air conditioner and save energy. I asked myself why wouldn’t the same idea make sense here?

Finally, as a child in the 1960’s, I traveled to Germany for the summer to stay with my Aunt and Uncle who spoke very little English in what I call “my total German immersion vacation.” I made some friends over the summer, as all kids do, and was offered a milk box by one of my new friend’s parents one day. I had never see a drink in a box before, but it made incredible sense. Juice boxes were not introduced into the U.S. market until the 1980’s, some 20 years later, and they became an instant success. Again, why did it take so long for ideas like the juice box that was successful in one part of the world to make its debut here in the U.S.?

There is no prize for originality. Like my old boss, Debbie Sagen, once told me, “R&D stands for Ripoff and Duplicate.” So, if you are still looking for that one thing to start your next great business venture, look at what is popular somewhere else and consider bringing it to a new market.

Where will you find the next great product marketing idea?

This post was originally published March 3, 2017 at SteveBizblog.com. Follow Steve on Twitter @SteveImke

Business Planning

Business Planning Foundation – Begin With Strategy

Strategic Plan Sets the Foundation Annual Business Planning

Your company’s strategic plan creates a shared vision of what’s important to the organization and translates into a simple story about your organization’s future.

In a McKinsey Global Survey of more than 2,000 global executives, only one-third agreed that their corporate strategy approach represented “a distinct exercise that specifically addresses corporate-level strategy, portfolio composition issues.”

Increasing the time spent on strategy and involving more senior leaders in strategic dialogue makes it easier to stay ahead of emerging opportunities, respond quickly to unexpected threats and make timely decisions. An integrated PB&F framework links top-down, strategic targets to financial and operational bottom-up forecasts.

Key Questions To Answer When Preparing Your Strategic Plan
Mission –           

What is our purpose?

What do we do?

Vision –              

What is our picture of the future in three to five years?

Strategic Themes & Perspectives –        

What performance lenses should we use to evaluate results?

What are our focus areas?

What do we do better than anyone else?

What results do we need to achieve?

Objectives –     

What continuous improvement activities are needed to get results?

Strategy Map –

How do we create and improve value to customers and stakeholders?

Performance Measures and Targets –   

How will we know if we’re achieving the results we want?

Strategic Initiatives –    

What projects and programs will contribute to the desired results?

Note: this article was originally published at http://www.poewolfpartners.com. Follow Renita on Twitter: @RenitaWolf.

 

Clone Business

Are You a Clone Business?

Every day, entrepreneurs invest huge amounts of time and money to build what they think is a better mousetrap. However, all too often entrepreneurs struggle to articulate how their value proposition is fundamentally different. While many businesses make minor tweaks, they are fundamentally what I call clone businesses.

While there is room in the market for these businesses, clone businesses are just another participant in a red ocean where margins are frequently squeezed to the breaking point for all but the best managed businesses. Clone businesses with little differentiation from their competitors (such as janitorial companies, drywall contractors, etc.) essentially hang their success on the belief that other business owners are incompetent. They are banking on everyone around them being “worse than them” rather than being “better” in some new way. When you are a clone business, you are a commodity, and when you are a commodity, the only real point of differentiation is your price. Price is a poor value proposition as there is always someone out there willing to undercut your price and drive themselves out of business faster than you.

Even a business that entirely transforms an industry and is truly disruptive often is not radically different. For instance, look at the business and economic model of a mini mill that uses recycled steel vs. iron ore. Another example is a cell phone company that uses wireless transmission vs. a landline phone company. In both of these examples, there is only a few degrees of difference from their mainstream competitors.

Other examples include Uber and Airbnb. Uber built a disruptive taxi business with the simple idea that the driver didn’t have to be a taxi driver. Airbnb built a powerful accommodation business on the premise that the room you stayed in didn’t have to be a hotel room. They took what had gone unquestioned and questioned it.

Sakichi ToyodaToyota Motor Corporation’s Sakichi Toyoda developed a technique he called “The 5 Why’s” during the evolution of the automakers manufacturing methodologies. Successful entrepreneurs dare to apply the 5 Why’s to various aspects of their business model to uncover the substantive few degrees of difference that will take them from the red ocean to their blue ocean.

Daniel Burris, the author of “Techno Trends,” says, “The future is already invented.” What he meant by this statement is that most successful businesses simply take a practice from one industry and apply it to their own.

A good example of this principle is Airbnb. Airbnb took the existing hotel and B&B reservation system and applied it to the private home rental market. Most of the core business is the same but just has a slight tweak.

What questions can you ask that will convert your clone business to the next Uber?

Startup Growth

8 Growth Hacking Rules for Startups

Media loves covering stories of startups that utilized unique hacks to grow their users and business rapidly. It’s become part of the “Facebook” dream (as opposed to the “American” dream) that many millennials have chosen to aspire. Traditional business development rules are broken every day when sites like Uber and Airbnb take off with seemingly unexplainable success, while many online businesses flail around with misleading statistics and unrealistic growth projections in hopes of finding that magic pill that will take them to the top.

According to this article, you are ready to growth hack your business, because at least 40% of your users says that life would not be the same without your product. If you’ve yet to reach that milestone, this article is for you. The rules of growth hacking your startup start long before the startup hockey stick success curve.

Rule #1: Don’t Look For Hacks

Prepare for the long haul in building a successful business.  Many people search for growth hacks like looking for a magic diet pill – a quick fix for success without any hard work. As you’ll notice, there still aren’t any magic diet pills, and there aren’t any 100% guaranteed growth hacks. Looking for shortcuts to massive growth can take you down a path that may bring you some short-term wins, but in the end: value, service, and authentic buzz are the keys to creating a successful company.

Rule #2: Build A Great Product

If your product is really industry shaking, it will grow organically.  Many business owners and marketers try to generate press when the product’s still not quite ready for market. A common belief is early buzz or speed to market is the key to viral success, but if your product/software/service stands out as the best of it’s kind, or completely changes an industry and improves efficiency, that will be your best growth hacking strategy.

Rule #3: Don’t Purchase Social Shares

Arash AsliBlog Image 2There’re ways to pump up your stats by buying traffic, likes, video views, or application installs. This is a big no-no. These users don’t stick around, and Google and Facebook’s algorithms for finding false interactions are getting better and better. It has to be natural in the way someone finds your application and use it because they want to, not because they were paid to be there or tricked into it.

Rule #4: Nurture Your First Customers

Preferably paying customers. Not only can they become your raving reviewers and greatest ambassadors, but they also are your most valuable product testers. Listen to them carefully, watch their interactions with your product to know exactly how their experience is going and be available right away to help them out.

Rule #5: Find Partnerships With Bigger Players

Use strategic partnerships to overcome your business challenges by teaming with larger companies that share the same vision and target market. Or, expand your own target audience by tapping the audiences of your suppliers.

Rule #6: Create An Easy-To-Use Rewarding Referral Program

You need to be dialled into understanding your audience, and where referrals are coming in from. We want to try to make the conversion as easy and seamless as can be. Choose a great incentive structure.

Rule #7: Keep Overhead Low And Value High

When it comes right down to it, cash flow is king.  The more you can keep unnecessary expenses down and invest deeply in product development, customer care, and sales hustle, the better off.

Rule #8: Find A Successful Mentor

Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Hack your startup by using the expertise and experience of a successful startup founder or investor. Their knowledge can be crucial in helping you bypass pitfalls and distractions.

Startup incubator programs have a great mentoring process in place if you already have a start-up with some traction and show you’re ready to hustle for success.  Alternatively, there is mentoring available at Clarity.fm and SoHelpful.me. Successful mentors are busy and have been successful for a reason. Don’t expect them to jump at the chance to give you their “spare” time to motivate and teach you. Read their blog posts, listen to any advice they have already shared before even initially asking for some mentoring. An excellent approach is to offer to intern or provide some value to them first.

The process of growth hacking is actually very simple and straightforward. Start by asking the traditional question “How do I get more customers for my product?”

Author Bio: Arash Asli is at the forefront of business growth. As Co-founder and CEO of Yocale, he has a unique blend of technology, business development, corporate, and finance experience. Arash is honored to have been named the Business in Vancouver’s Top Forty under 40 business executive. http://www.yocale.com

 

sales-forecast

Lessons Learned in Four Decades of Sales Forecasting

To say that forecasting is the bane of existence of most sales people, managers and leaders is a bit of an understatement. In working with sales organizations worldwide, it seems as though more time is spent in forecast meetings than actually meeting with clients and prospects! For most sales reps, the choice between working on the forecast and getting a colonoscopy would lead to a trip to the proctologist. And yet, most organizations rely heavily on the “data” that is produced in forecasts to make decisions on everything from budgets to bonuses. I used quotes around the term data, because while the term is appropriate, many forecasts are in reality “wish-casts.” That is, the data is based on too much hope and blue sky about what may happen, and not enough empirical evidence to be accurate.

In the CSO Insights 2016 Sales Performance Optimization Study, respondents reported only 45.8% of forecasted opportunities closed, 30.7% were lost, and 23.5% were “no decision.” Losses to competition is one thing – but the alarming news is that your reps are wasting huge amounts of time on opportunities that will never close! This suggests a failure of the funnel management review process. An effective funnel management review process identifies and culls opportunities where customers are not making a decision before the opportunity reaches a forecast. Also, if the funnel management process is functioning properly, CSOs can expect that the percentage of wins within a forecast would be better than the odds of a coin toss!

 

coin tossSimply providing routine inspections of the numbers reported up the chain of command and making adjustments based on gut feel is not enough. As a sales leader, if you want to produce better sales forecasts, it is incumbent upon you to take a different approach, working to move from a subjective to an objective approach. To produce consistently good forecasts, sales leaders need to pay attention to the following principles:

Good forecasting is based on the clients’ requirements, not yours.

Accurate forecasting requires an understanding of your buyer’s behavior. If you want to learn how sellers ought to sell, learn how buyers buy, and if you want to have an accurate forecast, the same holds true. Too many forecasts are tied to the vendors’ time period requirements and do not taking into consideration what is compelling the buyer to execute the agreement. To assess where the client is in the buying process, you should develop a series of questions based on the following criteria:

Opportunity Assessment Checklist

  • What is the prospects’ business issue we are addressing? What is negatively affecting their business and proving detrimental to their success? How long have they had this problem?
  • What is their desired outcome or future state?
  • How will the prospect define success – what is their measure for a successful implementation?

These upper three are “why the prospect buys”. It shows that your team truly understands their business and business obstacles to success.

  • What is our solution and how does our solution solve their problem?
  • How is our company / team / t’s and c’s / solution uniquely positioned to satisfy their business inhibitors?
  • What is the reward (ROI) for the deployment of our solution and how will their business outcomes be positively impacted?
  • What is the risk of NO DECISION? If the prospect does nothing, what are the potential risks to their business. If there is no risk, they will likely make no decision.

Good forecasting requires continual improvement. A forecast is a snapshot not a movie. At any given time you need to remember that, done well, forecasting represents a moment in time, and since the landscape is constantly changing, forecasts need to be continually refined. You may experience changes in your business or in the marketplace that indicate that an additional milestone should be added to your process. Or perhaps you find that over time, the values you placed on each of the stages in the pipeline need revision because you have more predictive data about closing rates.

Use these principles to help your sales organization to forecast more effectively and you will have created great value for your company and made your job much easier in the process.

To help you better identify closeable opportunities and produce more accurate forecasts, please download a complimentary copy of the Opportunity Assessment Checklist.

About the Author

James HaleJames Hale Founder and CEO, Mprove Sales

Jim Hale is a recognized sales leader with broad success in Entrepreneurial and Corporate environments. He has developed and led worldwide sales and operations and has extensive experience with selling and managing teams in the Americas, EMEA and Pacific Rim. Jim has led both channel and direct sales organizations consistently improving revenue and margins while implementing profitable cost controls. Jim has hired and developed sales organizations at IBM, Oracle, Ernst & Young and Vantive as well as a number of startup companies.

Note: this blog post first appeared at www.GreatB2BMarketing.com

Lean Business Planning

Lean Business Planning vs. Traditional Approach

The Center for Business Modeling is based on one simple premise – to help entrepreneurs launch their ventures in the fastest and most successful manner possible. And in the vast majority of cases, this means launching a venture in the “lean business mode” from both a planning and operations standpoint.

Many new entrepreneurs are still taught – by well-meaning professors or industry groups – to follow the traditional route to business planning and launch. So what are the problems with this type of approach to business planning that cause us to recommend the lean business strategy? Here are five of the major issues:

  1. Almost every business plan is inaccurate as written. A recent Harvard Business Review article stated that 90 percent of successful businesses had to pivot from their original plan.
  2. The traditional business plan takes too much time to complete – time better spent elsewhere. When you are in a startup situation, the only resource more valuable than money is your time.
  3. Much of the information is unknowable at the time the plan is written. Almost all entrepreneurs are surprised when the reality differs from the expectation. Sometimes this is a pleasant surprise and sometimes a not-so-pleasant surprise, but it will definitely impact your venture.
  4. Plans that project financials five years out are somewhere between speculation and fiction. It is amusing to watch entrepreneurs plot how much they are going to spend on office supplies 60 months from now, but in reality, almost no one gets it right.
  5. Too many small business plans are based on big company data. Much of the entrepreneurial data taught at the college level is about rocket ship companies like Facebook or Uber, which do not apply to the SMB marketplace.

All of these challenges can be overcome by adopting the lean business planning model. Here are a few of the benefits received when you adopt the lean business game plan:

  • Much faster than writing a traditional plan. The time investment paradigm in the lean model shifts from planning to execution.
  • More intuitive. Tools like the Business Model Canvas, Lean Canvas, and the Center for Business Modeling Business Planning Framework, are much easier to understand and complete, and much easier to evolve over time.
  • Quicker for investors and partners to digest. Investors tend to have short attention spans in the beginning phases and very long attention spans as they get closer to funding a particular venture. You need to get your key points across in the shortest time possible or the potential investor will move to the next deal. Using any of the lean planning tools mentioned above, the essential elements of your strategy are contained on one page.
  • Helps you get to cash much faster. The game of business gets a lot more interesting once you get on the playing field. The lean model is designed to help you launch quickly, expose your products and/or services to prospects, learn from these initial tests, and re-launch based on the knowledge gained in the early test period.

I encourage budding entrepreneurs to adopt the mantra of Test, Fail, Succeed, Scale (in that order please). The lean business planning approach is just what you need to accomplish this. For a great book on the subject read Business Model Generation.

Lean and Young – Business Planning for Millennials

businessmen planning meetingAccording to a brand new post from entrepreneur.com, if you’re twenty-something, there are seven things that you should know about business planning before you end up climbing the corporate ladder for 40 years.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I like this article. It focuses on the new business models that have sprung up in response to what Gartner calls, The Nexus of Forces:

“The Nexus of Forces — the convergence of mobile, social, cloud and information — has become the platform for digital business. Digital business is the creation of new business designs by blurring the digital and physical worlds.”

It can be argued that today, every business is a digital business and that, based on the rules of bimodal and agile business planning; your old-school business plan may be totally irrelevant. So, before I spin off into a number of fascinating rants, let me get back to the article and clarify where CBM can help you remain agile, but still rooted in good business modeling practices.

Take One Ibuprofen and Call Me in the Morning

The first thing the writer or the article, Cameron Benson, did was to grab a meme from Big Pharma:  “Go for the ‘minimum effective dose.’” By this he means just get to market, already.

”As long as your product offers value to your customers, it’s ready to launch. Everything else will come in due time. This doesn’t mean you should start a business around a subpar or incomplete product, but you shouldn’t wait until it’s perfect, either.”

I agree. But I also believe that if you haven’t thought through your delivery methods, how you can reach your customer and who your competitors are, you’re destined to have jumped too soon. Use tools like the business planning framework. It’s lean enough to not gum up the works but smart enough to help you avoid the most common pratfalls before you launch.

Our friend Cam also asserts that “People are your businessAs an entrepreneur, you need to nurture your ability to develop and cultivate relationships with others because that skill is essential to the growth and success of your business. How can you build more relationships to help your business grow?”

About twelve  years ago, I read Tim Sanders book, Love is the Killer App. I was deep into my corporate phase (meaning I had stopped being an agency person and had gone in-house to try to effect awesome marketing/PR change from within) and there were some long-time political lifers invested in stopping every idea that wasn’t their own. I nearly lost my mojo—until Tim Sanders and his statistics about nice people finishing first saved me from developing premature meanness and the frown lines that go with them.

This Yahoo executive laid it out in a way that I could definitely work with: “Here, then, is my definition of love business: the act of intelligently and sensibly sharing your intangibles with your bizpartners. What are your intangibles? They are our knowledge, our network, and our compassion. These are the keys to true bizlove.”

Sanders is basically saying that “smart, nice people can succeed.” If your personal brand is mean and narcissistic, you can have the best product in the world but your brand will tank because in this age of social media transparency and comment sections, you’re toast if you offend too many people too much of the time. Trust me—you do NOT have the budget to kill every rumor—especially if they’re true. Suffice it to say, newer business models have to include some semblance of kindness in their plan. It’s just common sense.

Cameron also counsels: “Let go of the business plan myth. The world has changed a lot since the time of traditional 160-page business plans. There are millions of successful businesses that started from a simple idea…while the “traditional” business plan may not be necessary, there are key things to consider before you launch. First, start with the end in mind by considering how you want your business to function. Next, consider the branding aspect of your business, domains, social media profiles, etc. and own your name! Finally, put it all together by handling the legal aspects of your business.”

At CBM, we love this attitude. Creating a Lean Business plan will often take care of the functional blueprints you’ll need for day-to-day operations. But don’t forget—one of the main reasons businesses fail is because they can’t get a handle on logistics. Once again, our Framework can help.  If I could tell any young entrepreneur one thing, it would be this—“lean in” on your logistics. It’ll pay off in the end.

Applying the Blue Ocean Strategy to the Business Model Canvas

To apply the Blue Ocean Strategy, you start with a Business Model Canvas that describes your industry and then look at your the business model canvas from three different perspectives: the cost prospective, value proposition, and the customer segment.

From the cost prospective, identify the highest cost infrastructure elements and see what would happen to the model if you eliminated or reduced them. Then consider the infrastructure investments you could make or improve upon and see what would happen to the model. When Blue Ocean Strategyit comes to looking at your model from the cost prospective, ask yourself the following questions:

– What activities, resources, and partnerships have the highest cost?
– What happens if you reduce or eliminate some of these cost factors?
– How could you replace useless or costly elements by reducing expensive resources, activities, or partnerships?
– What value would be created by planning new investments?
– How will changes made from a cost prospective affect your value proposition and customer side of the model?

Next, look at your business model from the value proposition prospective and see what new value you can create or increase. Then see what value you can eliminate or reduce. When it comes to looking at your model from a value proposition prospective, ask yourself the following questions:

– What less valuable features or services could be eliminated or reduced?
– What features or services could be enhanced or created to produce a valuable new customer experience?
– What are the cost implications of your changes to your value proposition?
– How will changes to the value proposition affect the customer side of the model?

Finally, look at your business model from the customer prospective and see what new customer segments you could focus on. Then see what customer segments you can eliminate or reduce. When it comes to looking at your model from the customer prospective, ask yourself the following questions:

– Which new customer segments could you focus on and which segments could you possibly reduce or eliminate?
– What jobs do new customer segments really want to have done?
– How do the customers prefer to be reached and what kind of relationship do they expect?
– What are the cost implications of serving new customer segments?
– What effects does adding or eliminating customer segments have on your value proposition?

How would you start to apply the blue ocean strategy to your business?

Note: this article was originally posted November 11, 2015 at www.stevebizblog.com.

 

Process Optimization

The Importance of Processes in Effective Lead-to-Revenue

Process OptimizationComponent 3 in our recent eBook The Essential Guide to Building Your Lead-to-Revenue Machine is optimized marketing and sales processes. You can read lots of articles and white papers about the various technology options – CRM, marketing automation, sales enablement etc., but in my experience, unless you get the processes right,  even the best people and technology will just help you fail faster and more expensively.

This is why we always recommend that our clients start with processes as the first component of a well-oiled, end-to-end marketing and sales infrastructure – and only then make sure they have the appropriate technology and people to run the lead-to-revenue (L2R) machine.

Here are some important keys to creating and optimizing your marketing and sales processes:

  1. Concentrate your efforts on finding the companies and individuals that have a genuine need for what you offer. This a much easier and less stressful way of doing things—for both you and your prospects? Response rates will be higher, close rates will be higher, and you will not have to manipulate anyone.
  2. Keep things simple and focused on as few priorities as possible. A good way to kill the productivity of a sales force is to throw too much at them. Too many products, too many offers, and too many messages equate to too many chances for the sales team to lose sales.
  3. Treat sales leads with care and respect. It really offends me when sales departments mishandle the leads/inquiries given to them by the marketing department. I have seen sales reps ignore leads, denigrate leads, and follow them up in a half-hearted manner. Often this occurs because the VP of Sales speaks poorly about what marketing is doing, creating a culture where reps feel it is okay not to work the leads they are given. Leads cost money, and few of us have extra money to waste. If the lead quality is not where it needs to be, please review my post about creating a service level agreement (SLA) between marketing and sales.
  4. Build effective sales lead management into the process. One of the best ways to follow the advice from the previous point is to carefully qualify the inbound inquiries and then create an ongoing drip-marketing program to nurture these leads until they are ready to engage in the buying process. Quality sales lead management can boost sales performance by 100 percent or more.
  5. Allow for a highly flexible sales process. While “flexible process” may sound like an oxymoron, sales is both an art and a science. If you over-engineer the process, you can end up with a group of sales reps that will do anything you tell them, except the most important thing — close business. Sales is a game of technique, but also one of instinct and intuition. Thinking and acting outside the box is okay as long as it falls within reasonable limits.
  6. Create a culture of accountability and support. Many sales managers are good at telling their people what to do, but not so good at supporting them. However, the more you try to direct someone’s actions, the more the ownership is retained by you, instead of by the rep, where it belongs. The sales rep’s job is to produce his or her revenue targets. Your job is not to tell your staff how to make their numbers; it is to support them in every way in achieving their goals.
  7. Remain consistent. One of my clients had great technology, but also had a very bad habit of changing their product offerings and value proposition every six months or so. The sales team was encouraged to spend their time on the newest offerings instead of what had worked for them in the past. This required extensive retraining of the team, and they never found their rhythm. In a tough selling world, consistency can be the attribute that keeps your team on top.

Get your processes right to boost your lead-to-revenue success.

What is Lead Nurturing? And Why Are You Not Doing it?

Lead Nurturing on Red Road Sign.
Buyers are smarter than ever. They have more options, more leeway, and more leverage than any other time in human history. But maybe most disturbing is their ability to simply say “No”. And once they do, good luck getting them back.

How can any sales team hope to be effective in this kind of environment? Well, having a great product is a start, but to truly inspire people to buy-in your company needs to get with the times. It’s time to change from the hard sell to the soft touch of lead nurturing.

So, what is lead nurturing?

Lead nurturing is the process of engaging your potential customers authentically along every step of the buying cycle. It takes into account specific actions taken by each prospect to ensure they are receiving high-quality content that helps them make an educated decision about their upcoming purchase.

Notice in that definition that outright selling is not included. That is because the hard sell has a very limited role in the lead nurturing model. Nurturing a lead requires a more subtle form of selling. It is about persuading a customer to buy by displaying your company’s unique selling proposition and benefits over the competition in a genuine way, not just in a sales pitch.

How does it work?

To create a successful lead nurturing system you need to have a thorough understanding of your customer and their decision making process. Where do they search for product choices? What social platforms do they use, and how do they use them to communicate with brands? What kind of offers (ebooks, whitepapers, infographics) do they consume before they feel educated enough to make a purchase decision?

These questions, and many more, have to be scrutinized and addressed in order to create an effective lead nurturing model. Once you have that information you need to have a system in place to analyze incoming leads and follow them along the sales cycle. That way you can track each lead as it develops and use what you know about your customers to send relevant content to the platforms they use.

It is important to note that lead nurturing is not drip marketing. Sending mass emails or generic promotional content out at predetermined intervals will not achieve the same result as following each unique lead through to the end. To effectively nurture a lead you have to understand the prospect’s unique needs and publish content that is right for them, not what you think is right for everyone.

Why do I need Lead Nurturing?

The beautiful thing about lead nurturing is that it does more than just sell your product. It generates highly educated customers who understand the worth you provide to them. That lends itself particularly well to the conversion from customer to brand advocate. But if having a legion of dedicated fans is not enough to persuade you, check out these 3 facts about lead nurturing:

  • Lead nurturing companies sell 50% more product for 33% less than competitors (Marketo Research)
  • Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases (Annuitas Group)
  • On average, lead nurturing companies see a 45% lift in lead generation ROI – (MarketingSherpa)

Who Can Use Lead Nurturing?

Any company can implement lead nurturing techniques to great effect, but it lends itself heavily to the Business-to-Business space. That is because most B2B transactions include large sums of money and personal responsibility on the part of the purchaser to make the right call.

That is why it so important to bring these people into your circle. Instruct them on what to look for in a good product, how your company compares with competitors, and how you can help them in the long term. By being a friend, instead of a salesperson, you will have more than customers. You will have life-long supporters of your business.