When Fishing for New Business, Information is the Best Bait!

People are always looking for information. This is the major reason Google has been so successful. With that as a given, how can we as marketers capitalize on this phenomenon? The simple answer is to give away information. It is the greatest premium item ever conceived. It usually costs less than a pen, a note pad, or a coffee mug; especially if it is repurposed from prior programs, and it’s much easier to deliver. Plus, delivery is actually the first step on the pathway to purchase.

There are several ways to find folks who are looking for the information that you have to offer.

First, to cast a wide net, there are many specialized Double Opt-In email lists available for rent, and a simple, carefully crafted message (usually a text message, no fancy photos or graphics) sent out to a thoughtfully selected group of potential clients, offering a simple report, media file, or white paper, then combined with personal follow up, will yield significant numbers of well qualified leads, and, most important, the start of a dialog. And dialogs frequently finish with sales. I cannot emphasize strongly enough using Double Opt-In lists. These are people who have agreed to get mailings because they are looking for information, and they know that they won’t get spammed from these senders. These people are also much more likely to open your email. Industry trade publications are very good sources for this type of mailing. See additional comments about this below.

Next, you can create web pages to offer your information in exchange for people’s email address. A page that is search engine friendly, targeted at people who are searching for your information will always yield people who will to give you their contact information to get your information – the start of a dialog.

Finally, of course, the people on your own lists. These are people with whom you already have an existing email relationship, so you can legitimately mail offers of additional RELEVANT information to them, and they will very likely respond positively.

In addition to electronic documents, remember also if you have valuable information in other media formats, you can also distribute them. It could be a podcast or other audio file, a video, an informational PowerPoint presentation or other media file. Repurposing works very well here. It all adds to the excitement, interest, and value that you are offering making it all the more likely that you will get high quality leads who will want do business with you.

Step by Step…

  • First, you need a choice of several white papers, reports or other information relevant to your target audience. Make absolutely certain you have all the requisite rights and clearances to distribute these pieces. Like any premium or incentive item, you will give them away.
  • Next, decide how you will reach your target audience. The simplest, most targeted, and generally least expensive way is with email lists rented from trade publications in your field. Usually the mailing will go out directly from the trade publication’s mailing service, so it can legitimately have the trade pub in the “From” field. And, because the recipient will most likely already have the publication “white listed” in his or her email system, you will increase the likelihood that the mail will end up in their inbox, not the spam bucket. It also gives the message added credibility, and increases the chances that the email will be opened and read. And the publication will be very selective about what information that it will send out under its own name.
  • The “Reply To” in the email is a person or group in your company who will respond to each email individually. Though this could very well be done with an auto responder, the personal communication puts you that much closer to an in-depth dialog with the prospect, and therefore, that much closer to a sale.
  • The Subject line should be consistent with the information being offered, and also appropriate from the publication to whose list you will be sending.
  • The message itself should be a simple text only message with no images or graphics.
  • The reply from your staff should have the information papers or media files as attachments, and an offer to immediately get involved to address the prospects’ problem.
  • Decide how much you would like to spend, and how big you want the mailing to be. Negotiate with the list owners to make sure you buy at the best CPM for your budget. You never know, by jumping to the next quantity level, you may be able to send to many more prospects for very little more, which will reduce your cost/lead. Since this is a numbers game, more is definitely better.

The critical element is follow up! The main goal of this process is to open a dialog between a prospect and someone in your company who can affect a sale as quickly as possible. If those people don’t follow up immediately, momentum is lost and must be regained before the sale can actually be made.

One of the major benefits of this type of marketing is its speed. From idea to interaction with clients, it can frequently be turned around in a week or so, and is, therefore, very cost effective.

Extending the value of this technique

There are a couple of things that you can do to easily extend the reach of a program like this.

First, publicize the effort. A well placed press release with the email address to contact (or web page) to get the white papers or media files costs very little, and will get you many additional leads. Also, when people see the information appearing in places other than their inbox, it lends more credibility to the story, and increases the response rate.

Next, using standard online list building techniques as mentioned before, add access to the white papers and media files through Search Engine Optimized pages on your web site. But don’t just put them there as downloads; use the same process as with the email send. If someone is interested, and clicks on the link to get information, get their email address, and respond in the same way as someone who responded to the email promotion. Again, minimal expense for added program reach.

The side benefit, of course, is that you will significantly grow your email list with LEGITIMATE names, ones with whom you can legally continue to correspond.

Last, but not least – Measure!

Remember, “If you didn’t measure it, you didn’t do it!” (See related three part article here.) You must track how many leads and sales were developed and how much they cost. This works on two levels. First, you must know if this effort was worth the dollars spent. Most likely it will be. Next, if you use several lists from different sources, you’ll want to know which performed better. If the program works well only from one publication, it may be worth repeating, but drop the underperforming pub, or select another one. But you won’t know unless you measure. You can also see what media draws best, static (PDF or other files to be printed) or dynamic (files to view or listen to). And, you will know how much those names added to your list cost.

And though simple text emails have proven very effective for programs such as this, you may want to test an HTML version with images and graphics to see which draws better in your situation with your audience.

This is a simple program, easy to implement, has many side benefits, and will yield good results – quickly.

Guide to Upgrading Your Business Information Systems

Upgrading your business information system is a necessary process that every successful organization should implement. This process could exist in a formal or an informal way wherever a business uses information technology. Since this will require you to become a customer to a number of different vendors, the process of upgrading your information systems becomes a lot about management skills, and requires that one is knowledgeable about the subject before taking it on.

Information systems in your business involve more than just hardware and include operating systems, telecommunication service providers, equipment and applications procured from outside providers.

Given the technical knowledge and managerial skill sets that are required to successfully upgrade your business information systems constantly, many businesses often end up spending more than they should while performing this operation because of insufficient planning. In this age when the economy is recovering from a financial crisis, it is important to optimize the upgrading process and save money by planning well. Managers of large corporations in charge of the upgrading process concern themselves with making the process more efficient, and with this aim in mind will use tools like procurement cards and EDI. In addition to this, they work to reduce the cycle time of their contracts and use various tracking systems to manage business assets.

In smaller businesses, these measures may be unnecessary; however if an organization is considering upgrading their business information system, it might be a good idea to have one or more dedicated staff members oversee the process. This person, or team, will be required to maintain an inventory of all the assets owned by the business, and perform routine checks on the equipment. In addition to this, they will need to identify the equipment that needs upgrading, and the level of urgency. They will also need to interact with vendors to ensure that you get the best value for your new procurements, and that the new equipment meets all the requirement of your business.

Since business information systems need constant upgrading, it is important to develop a working relationship with certain vendors, and maintain this relationship to ensure better service and more efficient processes. It is also important to ensure that there is a strict benchmark maintained in performance standards, and all equipment and assets in the company. This will affect all further procurements and discards. You will also need to constantly update your plan for upgrading with an eye on your current business model and goals.

Data Science, Business Information on Steroids

Data Science and Business Information gathering are sometimes, erroneously, used as interchangeable terms. Both Data Science and Business Information gathering provide a great deal of added capabilities and benefits to your company, even though they are different.

A few years ago Business Information, also known as BI, was the king of information used to differentiate your company from your competitors. BI was gathered by sophisticated software that investigated a company’s databases and pulled out relevant information and KPIs that were used to make management and director level decisions.

However Big Data came knocking on the door with its myriad of unstructured information coming from everywhere, and BI began to struggle as it needed more structured data to work from.

Data analysts that had until more recently were the luxury hiring of larger companies, began to be more sought after. Using appropriate software, they could integrate the mass of Big Data and find not only KPI an decision making reports but also predictive information with high levels of accuracy. The ability of data analysts to not only gain past information, but also future predictions meant companies with data analysts had far more useable information with which to manage and expand their companies. Truly information that was BI on steroids.

BI will ask “what has happened in the past?” Data analysts will ask “what has happened in the past and will this happen in the future?” and both will get accurate, provable supporting information. BI works on only past information whereas Data Science looks at trends, predictions and potential activities to make their reports. BI needs structured, often static, information whereas Data Science can also work on fast moving, hard to find, unstructured information. Even though both use software, companies are moving from BI to Data Analysis.

Of course, this now meant that data analysts became a scarce commodity and this role is now known as one of the best paid jobs on the IT market, so hopefully well trained data analysts will begin to be available. Data Science software is also rapidly improving, but also changing as information gathering matures. The models that underpin data analysts are far more complex than those used by BI and these are evolving as both Data Science and Big Data gathering matures.

So what is the challenge of working with Big Data? It is those V’s – Velocity of data entering the company, Volume of data is often vast, especially if social media data is used and lastly Variety of data, much of which is not the structured data that BI software seeks out.

When companies move from BI to Data Science they can interrogate the unstructured information as well and this means that they need not pay or have the problem of forcing unstructured Big Data into a structured warehouse. Saving on costs, data problems and ensuring that the information is viable.

Utilising Data Science also means that the company has an advantage over its competitors that merely use BI. They are able to make predictions on a far wider set of data and these predictions are based on viable information. A vast advantage and a real reason to use Data Science – BI on steroids.