Have you ever put in a proposal, or answered an enquiry about your products or services, and then waited patiently for their answer about the next step? While images of pulling petals off a daisy might come to mind (“He loves me, he loves me not”) the words that ultimate come back are either yes we want you, or no we don’t. But are these words really what is being transmitted to you? If they found you via referral, or through your content, then they likely value your expertise, but perhaps the timing may not be right: when they say no, they may really mean not yet.
They may answer in the negative because they are at the early stages of their expert search. Or because they need to align internal decision-makers. Or because they need to put a budget together for the next fiscal year. Or because they are thinking about their vacation and are not ready to make a decision. Or for hundreds of other reasons. Here is the key: when they ultimately are ready to move forward – whether in 3 months, 12 months, or many years later – they will reach out to whoever last made an impression on them. And you want this to be you. The question is how to do this.
In the olden days, this was accomplished with newsletters and the telephone. We would add them to the newsletter subscriber list, and then “eblast” them each month. The only problem with this is the bulk, unpersonalized nature of the communication didn’t take into account the nature of your relationship. And it was impersonal.
Following up by telephone every two weeks was another strategy. Unfortunately, this can be perceived as a hard sell; it can turn the prospect off. Another problem: as the number of prospects increases, the strategy doesn’t scale.
Today, however, there are two new ingredients: content, and marketing automation. Consider marketing automation, or nurture-marketing. This is a souped-up sequence of touchpoints, each reaching out with high-value content – maybe every 2-3-4 months – to people who have said not yet. The touchpoints can be via email, traditional mail, or telephone.
While this can be done manually, it is impossible to scale a nurture-marketing system beyond 10-15 not-yets; Marketing Automation Software is designed to help, but it is only half of the solution. The heavy lifting is in the development of high-value content – not the mechanics of the tool.
Here is how to start the development of a nurture-marketing process:
1) Define the audience, and the “journey” that they are on. For example, the audience might be prospects interested in XYZ; the journey starts after the initial meeting. It would be designed to educate the prospect about XYZ, credential you as an authority in the area, and when they are ready, result in them calling you to put in a proposal.
2) Develop content that adds value to this audience: whitepapers, videos, assessments, blog posts, etc.
3) Outline a series of touchpoints that will occur (say) every 60 days. For example:
- +60 days: Send a link to a blog post about content
- +120 days: Send a viral marketing white paper
- +180 days: Phone to learn about any changes, and if they want to connect in person again.
- +240 days: Send a link to a relevant video.
- +300 days: … and so on
4) Write each touchpoint: either email, or speaking notes; each email must be written in an approachable, “non-bulk” way, but be applicable to any particular reader who is attached to the nurture-marketing sequence. An example “+60” email:
Hope all is well. Several clients recently asked me about content marketing, and in light of our conversation a few months ago, I thought of you. I had compiled a list of some of my favorite articles on the topic, and thought you might also be interested in seeing it. Here’s the link:
Let me know what you think,
5) Encode the links within each of the touchpoint sequence emails, so that the recipient’s interest in the topic is tracked.
This week’s action plan: Does your marketing take into account not yet, or does it stop when it hears no. This week, identify the process with the most to gain from “not yet”. What journeys in your organization can benefit from this concept? Here are a few ideas: prospecting meetings, event follow-ups, contact forms on your website, welcome processes, task completion processes.
Marketing Insight: With an investment in marketing consuming a large portion of many budgets, too often the focus is on increasing conversion rates from (say) 5% to 6%. This represents a 20% increase, a huge increase. Unfortunately, this convention wisdom thinking does not take into account what I call “the other 95%”). If we incorporate concepts like not yet (and nurture-marketing) into our strategy, the ROI for any existing marketing investment will skyrocket.
More on the concept, including an example: http://www.randallcraig.com/generating-roi-the-other-95/