Relationship Marketing for Prospects

As personal selling to cold prospects becomes more difficult and expensive and as business-to-business marketers come to realize the prime prospects in their niche markets are relatively few, relationship marketing becomes the priority.

First there were the separate discipline of advertising, public relations, direct marketing, sales promotion, event management and personal selling, then integrated marketing communications brought all those separate disciplines together in one combined approach to the marketplace. Relationship marketing is integrated marketing communications to qualified individuals.

For the business-to-business marketer relationship marketing has four components:

- Developing and maintaining a list of key prospects, which means winnowing down a mailing list of 2000 to the best 200, or to the top 100, decision-makers in your specialty.

- Staying in contact with the list and requalifying it; “Still the same decision-maker? And assistant? Same address? Same general qualifications?

- Establishing credibility with key prospects over time by offering choices of content by trade media, the Internet, phone, mail or in person.

- Being on call when a need arises. On first contact perhaps 95 percent of your key prospects will have no immediate need. But over time, perhaps 100 percent will have a need.

The last bullet point is why repeated direct mail canvassing of a large database to gain a few immediate prospects is not a wise relationship marketing strategy. Instead of harassing key prospects with that kind of mail (and cheapening the perception of your company), it is better to send valuable information to a much smaller, more qualified list and create a favorable perception with them. Include qualified opinion leaders on that list. So they may digest your information and have knowledge of your products/services when asked by a decision-maker.

How do you get the attention of decision-makers, and how do you get them interested in your products or services?

Today decision-makers are scan-readers bookmarking, or rolodexing, future resources. Unless there is an immediate need, they don’t have time to thoroughly read valuable, targeted content on particular products or services, they only have time to differentiate between good content and promotional schlock. The source of the good content gets filed, put in a rolodex, or bookmarked on a Web browser for the inevitable future need. That exchange, your good content for the decision-maker’s interest and attention, is the beginning of a marketing relationship. It is no coincidence the increasing dominance of the Internet and the World Wide Web and the resulting overflow of information have made credible, targeted content important to every business-to-business sales and relationship marketing effort.

How do you stay in touch with and on the short list of the majority of your prospects who do not have an immediate need?

Canvass your select prospects regularly offering content by phone, email or mail in exchange for more information about their needs. They will respond as their needs change and develop, or if they tire of their current provider(s). Sometimes making it onto a short list of invited bidders is as far as the prospect will allow the relationship to develop. But if you make that short list, you are conducting a successful relationship marketing effort.

Establishing the credibility of your company’s special expertise in solving prospective purchasers problems paves the way for your sales consultants to provide the decision-maker with expert professional service to customize your offering and close the sale. The consultant is introduced into the relationship as a person possessing valuable information needed by the prospect to solve a problem.

How To Successfuly Use Direct Linking In PPC Campaigns

If you are interested in Pay Per Click marketing using Google AdWords, MSN Adcenter, or Yahoo’s Overture you have most-likely heard people asking about how effective it is to do direct linking to an affiliate offer from your PPC ad. The idea in general is to cut out the middle man (your own landing page / website) and to redirect the customer instantly to the merchants landing page. Many merchants prohibits you from doing this, others do not. If you found one that does allow direct linking you still face the problem that is called Google Quality Score. Since you do not have control over the target website, you cannot modify the landing page and therefore a lot of steps to improve your quality score cannot be done.

Assuming you are still interested in that topic, I can tell you that it is possible to achieve very high quality scores and click prices of $0.02 with direct linking. But this requires some good research and does not work with every affiliate program. The most important thing to look at is to see if the landing page of the merchant is mainly made out of images or if there is actual text. Don’t even bother to work on the image-based landing pages with a direct linking campaign. You’ll see $5.00 and $10.00 minimum bid prices before you can say “Goodnight, Gracie”. ;) This disqualifies many affiliate programs from being used for direct linking, but still leaves some out there that you can use. I leave it up to you to find the ones that work.

Once you have identified the right merchant and found products providing enough affiliate commission worth doing PPC, it’s all yours. Scan the web page for keywords and key phrases and match those to product related searches. You’ll achieve the best results on 100% matches. Pick small pieces of the entire product name as an example. Often the online retailer will show the entire product name which can go up into more than 10 words. Nobody will search for the long name, but you can cut it into pieces and use those to build keyword lists. If you use so-called “buy” words, make sure they are located on the landing page and are in close proximity of your other keyword. The word “coupon” at the bottom of a page will not work well with the name of a specific contact lens in the upper part of the same page. Your quality score would suffer. Instead it might be worth looking at the actual page title and use parts of that for your keyword lists. Here comes an important piece of information. Pick your main keyword once you have build the Google AdWords campaign and dump it into the keywords tool. I had several cases now where Google actually suggested some really well converting and relevant keywords to me and upon adding them I was able to get minimum bid pricing as low as $0.02 per click.

Be warned – direct linking is difficult and requires a lot of work and volume. Volume in regards to ad groups and campaigns. Since you cannot modify the landing page there are only x number of words available. You can make up for that by promoting more products. Your ROI will be muss less compared to using your own landing page, but it can be a good indicator when testing stuff. If you break even by direct linking, try doing your own domain/landing page for the same product. If done right you can double or triple your profits and then expand the campaign. You probably now think about using Amazon for direct linking. Again, be warned. This can work, but there is huge competition and you will fight for the spots since only one display URL will make it onto a page showing search results. If you build up volume you could even promote book titles and then benefit from the tiered commission rate Amazon has. Build 500 campaigns for 500 different books and sell 25 books a day. Amazon is flooded by affiliates promoting Amazon products via direct linking. Most of them do not earn much money from it. Amazon’s reporting is 24 hours delayed and you do not always see when you’re outbid by someone else. It requires a lot of attention. But – there are many other affiliate program out there where you can use direct linking and easily earn a 20% or 30% ROI (again, think volume).

How Can Direct Response Marketing Deliver Education Leads & Increase Applications and Enrollments?

Innovation Ads was originally formed as an education lead generation agency to service academic institutions. As time went by, colleges and universities began demanding applications and enrollments rather than leads. We saw that most academic institutions needed help with the lead follow up process–so we built and refined a set of solutions that address not only lead generation, but lead conversion as well. The Enrollment Solutions Platform, or “ESP”, is a unique platform that combines executive analysis and evaluation, with a dynamic lead generation and lead conversion system. The first step in initiating a campaign that generates more applications and enrollments is a thorough analysis of the existing enrollment process.

Analysis and Evaluation Analysis is the firm bedrock beneath a successful enrollment marketing campaign. In order to establish a comprehensive foundation, our senior staff members work closely with you, in order to: define your current goals and market share; identify the most effective means for attracting and retaining new students; and help determine the appropriate budget for the projected enrollment goals.

Another pivotal piece of our analytic process is “Mystery Shopping”–a term that refers to an anonymous evaluation of the existing enrollment process. Members of our enrollment specialist team walk through your enrollment “funnel” from start to finish, in order determining where improvements can be made. Once analysis is complete, we begin to initiate contact with prospective students.

Initiate Student Contact through Lead Generation We generate student interest by marketing across multiple channels. The direct response nature of our marketing process allows us to reach vast numbers of potential students, in a meticulous manner. Our large economies of scale in both the online and direct TV channels–combined with the direct response marketing and our tracking technologies–ensure that we’re generating more highly qualified leads, for less money. Our direct response strategies include:

o Online Media Planning o Online Media Buying o Direct Response Television o Creative Development o Micro-Site Development o Lead Remarketing o Search Engine Optimization o Trade Name Management o Virtual Tours Lead Conversion: Increase Student Enrollment with Our Prospective Student Conversion System (PSyC) In addition to our lead generation capacities, we’ve created a unique lead conversion solution–the Prospective Student Conversion System (PSYC)–guarantees that your enrollment funnel is working as efficiently as possible. PSyC marries our lead generation capacities to our unique follow up marketing process.

Once we’ve initiated marketing campaigns, and begun to generate student interest, our enrollment specialists that work in The Academic Advising Center (TAAC) initiate outbound phone calls to interested students, and field the inbound phone calls that marketing campaigns generate. The Enrollment Specialists help the prospective student to apply.

In helping students to apply, our Enrollment Specialists gather important marketing information. They enter this critical feedback into our technological platform–Multi-channel Interactive marketing Database, or MIND–, which organizes and tracks the response that each marketing campaign generates. Once the information is in our system, our technology optimizes your campaign according to the response that each piece of marketing material generates.

Our technology informs our Client Services Team which channels and campaigns are generating interested students, and which are not. Our client services team reacts to the success/failure of each phone call by boosting media allocation to successful campaigns/channels, and decreasing allocation to the channels that are not successful.

The must exciting feature of PSYC is the Real Time Optimization that takes place. We’re able to reduce marketing costs because we immediately know which advertising campaigns work, and which don’t: we’re able to cut campaigns that don’t work, and boost campaigns that do work, in a real time manner. This removes a large portion of the “x-factor” from marketing to prospective students.

Growth Strategies: Higher Education Consultant Solutions Enrollment Growth Consultant Solutions that are based on results. Because we have been so successful at increasing student enrollment at colleges and universities, we understand the daunting task that colleges and universities face: providing an academic service to more students within an economically viable framework is very difficult. Because we understand the goals and roadblocks that higher education institutions face, and because we’re able to offer pragmatic Enrollment Management Solutions, we’ve been able to refine our consulting skills in a way no other firm has. While many other consultants do just that–consult–Innovation Ads focuses on generating leads, applications, and enrollments. It is our experience generating tangible results that makes our consultant services so valuable.

Want to learn more about Enrollment Management? Click here to sign up for the Innovation Ads Enrollment Management Whitepaper.