Category Archives: B2B Marketing Campaigns

Is It Really Possible To Measure Marketing ROI

In an increasingly competitive B2B marketplace every department must prove its contribution. Manufacturing output is relatively easy to measure as is the contribution of the sales department but what about the marketing department? Is it possible to measure marketing ROI?

There have never been so many tools available to measure the results of marketing activity. But do those tools really deliver reliable data on which to base decisions. Is spending time and resources on collecting a mass of data the best way forward or is there a better way.

The basic ROI calculation is (Return – Investment) / Investment over a specific period of time. The return could be sales, gross profit or some other variable.

Marketing ROI could, therefore, be measured using the formula (Sales – Marking investment) / marketing investment over a period. However, some of the sales growth may be organic. That is it would have come in regardless of marketing effort. For example simple repeat business.

A more accurate calculation may be (Sales – Organic sales – Marketing investment) / Marketing investment over a period. At a top level, this will deliver a number that should show in broad terms if marketing is delivering (or not).

The aim of the marketing department is simple. They need to maximise the sales number while minimising the marketing expenditure. They, therefore, need to know which of the multiple activities they undertake has the maximum impact and which are not worth the investment.

If marketing costs are to be controlled it is reasonable to assume some measurement data will be required. It’s logical to collect measurement data and make decisions based on that data but is that really possible. Investing in the wrong areas or minimising the wrong costs will reduce the contribution of marketing.

It may be activity X appears to deliver excellent results but how do you know that is not impacted by activity Y. What if some external factor (Z) that may be nothing whatsoever to do with marketing is having an impact. Can you actually isolate Y and Z and thus measure X more accurately. In essence, can you really make an accurate measure of X, Y or Z?

The Marketing ROI Measurement Issue – An Example

Every year for as long as I can remember I have had at least three severe colds or flu during the winter months. That changed a couple of years ago when I changed my diet after a health scare. Since then no more winter colds – not one.

So it would seem diet and lack of infection are related but something could have changed over the same period. I have worked from home more and am around people less and (to be blunt) therefore less exposed to sources of infection. Could that be the reason?

Let’s assume a change of diet was the reason I then have two options. I could give thanks and not worry about which specific change (or changes) to my diet made the difference. Alternatively, I could spend time and effort trying to establish which items made the difference so I may eat more of them.

If I don’t worry about what caused the change I run the risk I could inadvertently drop a critical item from my diet and the colds may return. If I try to identify specific items that caused the change isolating those items is a far from simple task.

To reduce the complexity involved in identifying specific causes I could try to make some assumptions. However, that may introduce estimates and errors that make any conclusions I reach useless.

I could, for example, assume the change was down to the increase in fruit I eat. There is a widely accepted view that increasing vitamin C intake helps prevents colds. Is that assumption based on strong research data or is the basis for the theory (if any) lost in the mists of time?

I could stop eating fruit and see what happens but how long do I wait before I measure results? What may happen to my health in the meantime? What about Vitamin C I could pick up from a host of other foods. How do I build a valid test with suitable controls?

A vast amount of time and effort may not actually deliver a definitive result. Vitamin C may indeed have an impact but what if that impact is only delivered if factors X and Y that I am not measuring (or may not even have thought of) are also present.

The Problems With Data

There are many third party tools available for measuring the impact of various elements of the marketing mix. How can you be sure that a positive change in whatever is measured is not the result of some transient event you are unaware of (or have chosen to ignore). What about the long term fuzzy objectives like brand awareness how do you measure that?

Most measurement tools make various assumptions in their calculations. How do you know what those assumptions are? Without accounting for assumptions the data could be way off. There may be a widely held belief in a business that ‘X’ is an undisputed fact. The problem is assumptions can become recognised as facts over time (almost as part of the folklore) when they have no scientific basis.

There is no such thing as perfect information so where do you stop. Data can be used as a crutch or worse still an excuse. That shouldn’t have happened! The data said otherwise. With too much data, too much analysis a business can be slow to react to what is happening in the real world.

What’s The Alternative

At the other extreme a who cares about the specific cause if it is working approach may be employed. The business may run on something that is difficult to quantify – feel. There may be some very broad measurements of performance in place but that is all.

The risks of this approach are obvious. There is a lack of control. Costs could spiral with no checks and balances. If results hit a downward trend is it possible to establish what needs to be fixed?

A lack of data can lead to an increase in company politics. Did sales contribute the most to bringing in the order, or was it operations. Maybe the opportunity would not have existed in the first place if it was not for marketing. Did the design/engineering department come up with such an elegant, cost effective solution to a problem that it sold itself? Those best at playing the political game usually win the argument.

On the plus side, a business run on feel tends to be more able to react to the market. They tend to be far less bogged down in data and closer to what is happening in the real world. However, businesses that succeed with this approach tend to have a specific organisational structure and culture. It tends to only work in smaller organisations or in larger organisations that are able to isolate specific groups or teams.

Both the data and the ‘feel routes have their pluses and minuses. A mix of the two measuring a trend rather than an absolute measure of marketing ROI may be a more appropriate goal.

The rough measures (or no measure) approach tends to lead to a business that is faster on its feet and more tuned in to its market but it has obvious risks. The business with perfect data (if such a thing exists) and the courage to act on that data given the external forces and internal politics that may swirl around should make excellent decisions. The trouble is those decisions may be too late.

An Integrated B2B Marketing Campaign Vs The Ad Hoc Approach

It may come as a surprise but spending money on ad hoc marketing in a short term push to make the year-end sales figures is unlikely to succeed. Following the latest and greatest marketing trend just because everyone seems to be doing it is often not the best idea.  It may take longer, it may take more effort but in the end a integrated B2B marketing campaign is all that can be relied on to deliver medium to long term, consistent, results.

A structured approach requires a solid understanding of where the business is going, a plan and (crucially) the courage to abandon the short term view and allow the plan the time to produce. An integrated marketing process delivers:

  • Structure and measurement
  • Improved results
  • At lower cost

Structure And Measurement

Reactive marketing tends to focus on the number of prospects hit rather than considering if those prospects fit the target customer profile. A more sensible approach is to build a yearly promotional plan focussed on the marketing techniques with the best chance of engaging the target prospects

Using historic data, carefully considered assumptions or reputable industry data it is then possible to relate the promotional plan to expected (quantified) results. Assuming the plan is based primarily on marketing techniques with a measurable outcome it is then possible to measure results against the plan and make solid decisions on spend based on what is working well (and what is not).

Reduced Costs And Improved Results

It has been shown many times in B2B markets that a drip, drip consistent flow of marketing messages to customers and prospects is far more effective than one off, or short term bursts, of activity. It therefore follows that the ROI on marketing spend on a consistent plan must exceed that of the Ad hoc approach.

Activities that are reactive and short term naturally tend to cost more than activities that are planned in advance allowing time to consider the best suppliers, offering most value. Following latest marketing trend simply because everyone else appears to be doing it without thinking through the outcomes has been shown time and again to be a waste of time and money.

An Integrated B2B Marketing Campaign – The Process

The first crucial step is to establish (top level) what it is the business delivers to its customers, why that product or service is needed and who needs it and why. It is also important to understand who else satisfies the same need (competition) and how they go to market.

Only with the above step in place is it possible to establish the best way to reach the target customer base. What are the best marketing techniques to deliver information to the point prospects may find it and engage with it? Once a prospect is engaged what are the best marketing tools and techniques to convert interest to enquiries and ultimately orders?

While the old outbound techniques such as telemarketing, direct mail and advertising all still have a place there is increased prospect resistance to these techniques and an ongoing shift to inbound marketing as a result.

Inbound marketing is all above producing useful information (content) and delivering it to the customer / prospect base by the appropriate medium at the right time. Inbound marketing dovetails with a variety of online marketing techniques that are often measurable and relatively cheap to implement.

An integrated B2B marketing campaign that integrates the best inbound and outbound marketing techniques to fit a given situation is far more effective than an ad hoc, inconsistent approach. However, it must be accepted that it does take time and considerable effort.

4 routes to increased B2B sales

It is all too easy for any B2B business looking for increased sales to opt for the short term fix of hiring new (or replacing underperforming) sales resource. Sales people with an existing potential customer contact base or from competitors are often seen as a low risk route to more B2B sales.

To be fair simply recruiting a sales person can sometimes work in the short term but to really achieve long term sales growth requires vision and the courage to see through that vision in the face of considerable risks. In this post we cover the four most common routes to increased B2B sales and consider the value and level of risk of each.

There are four main routes to increased sales over the medium to long term, they are:

  • Market penetration.
  • Market development.
  • Product development (upgrade/variant).
  • True new product development.

However, before setting out on any journey it is important to note your starting point, your destination (gap analysis) and a return route should you need it so it is important to have a solid strategy in place. Know your customer and have firm plans (and processes) in place to retain those customers.

Market Penetration

Market penetration strategies are based on delivering existing products to existing market segments. They are therefore primarily based on taking competitor market share and/or increasing the quantity, mix or value of product taken by existing customers

This approach is by far the most common and explains the ‘new salesman’ approach outlined above. The dynamics are well understood and customers and their preferred products well documented. There is also usually an intimate understanding of the competition, their strengths and weaknesses and their key accounts.

There are limits to this approach. For existing customers to take more their business will need to be going well and that is not something that can be controlled. Opportunities may arise if a competitor drops the ball in a key account but in general they are not going to give ground without a significant fight. Concentrating on market penetration leads to a ‘me too’ approach that can only impact on price and margin in the medium to long term.

Market Development

Market development takes existing products to new market segments or converts current non users of the product or service to customers. A strategic approach is required to identify the best segments to attack but once in place market development usually delivers higher sales growth than the market penetration approach.

The challenge is to gain a foothold in new market segments probably against entrenched competition. Hiring those with specific expertise of the segment may be a short term (but expensive) solution but in general an awareness and credibility building campaign will be required before any real results materialise.

Product Development

Product development can be a route to sales growth. It may be a new market segment will require a variation of an existing product. Market niches may be identified that need particular products or variants. A classic example in the electronic component marketplace is taking a standard product and protecting it, screening it and qualifying it for use in extreme environments like the oil and gas industry.

The product development route, if implemented correctly, can reduce competition, increase sales and increase margins but a robust approach to market analysis and planning is required. Investment in product development will be required with that comes an element of risk. Combined with the market penetration and market development approaches outlined above it may be sufficient to deliver the required growth but if a step change is required then only a true new product development process can deliver.

True New Product Development

A true new product development is not simply a development of an existing product – it is something entirely new to the marketplace. However, it is not that easy, look around in any marketplace and there are not many products that are actually disruptive and really new and innovative.

Finding these new products is far from easy. A logical approach may seem to be ask existing customers but as Henry Ford said ‘If I had asked people what they wanted they would have said a faster horse‘. The product idea therefore often needs to come from within and those with the appropriate vision are few and far between.

If a new product concept can be identified the problems do not end there. Bringing a true new product to market carries significant financial risk but, if successful, the rewards can be substantially higher than those available from the other three strategies combined.

Should you wish to discuss growth plans for your business and how they may be achieved please call on 01670 513378. We cover the North East of England including Tyne and Wear, Durham and Northumberland.

Current Best B2B Marketing Practice

Best B2B marketing and business development practice has changed dramatically in recent years driven, primarily, by increasing resistance to aggressive push marketing techniques and prospects access to all the information they could ever need via the internet

The Decline In B2B Outbound Marketing

When I started in B2B marketing over 20 years ago it was entirely push based. It was based on telemarketing, advertising, press releases, exhibitions and print / direct mail. More recently aggressive Email marketing was introduced to the mix to push the sales message.

With the growth of the internet, social media and all sorts of comparison and review sites the population in general have become conditioned to search out the information they need online before making a purchasing decision. Bad telemarketing and EMail practice in the B2C world have built a resistance to these techniques that spills over into the business world.

The Alternative – B2B Inbound Marketing

Current best practice in B2B marketing is pull rather than push based. It is based on deliveringbest practice B2B inbound marketing information to the point decision makers may find it. The information must be valuable, engaging, build credibility and gently guide the decision maker along a path towards the offering of a particular business.

The information (content) may be white papers, technical notes, how to guides, industry comment / trends, comparisons, regulatory issues of interest and much more. Some content may be created from scratch but as many businesses sit on a large amount of information that could be updated / amended to benefit customers and prospects this can simplify the task.

Inbound Marketing Is Resource Intensive

The problem with inbound Marketing are the resources required to deliver it successfully. With outbound marketing skills in a small number of disciplines may suffice but the same is not true of inbound. Today, a department (or person) implementing best inbound practice requires a wide range of skills in content creation, website design and build, blogging, social media and other delivery channels and SEO.

The time taken to build new content and/or re-build existing content should not be underestimated. The content creation process never stops and is a constant drain on resources.

A Inbound Marketing Plan Is Essential

If resources are not to be wasted a plan is essential. It is vitally important to analyze the market, carefully select market segments, build personas and create content specific to those segments.

With the basics in place it is then important to build a content delivery plan and to stick to that plan moving forward. Results should not be expected overnight, in fact to expect any meaningful results within 3 months of starting the process is wishful thinking.

Conclusion

Content marketing does not deliver results as fast as traditional push techniques and it does require significant resource to implement successfully but the resulting quantity and quality of sales leads tends to exceed that of push marketing.

The impact of push marketing then is decreasing with pull marketing the new focus. However, although pull marketing delivers more consistent and higher quality sales leads, it takes longer to deliver results and is resource intensive. Therefore push marketing techniques still have a place and can be selectively combined with pull techniques to deliver the best overall result.

B2B Market Penetration Strategies

In B2B markets growth tends to be based on either new product introduction or attacking new markets. In this post we cover how to execute a new market penetration strategy with the aid of a case study.

Successful new market penetration depends primarily on the nature of the market and the existing competition. It is notoriously difficult to obtain any foothold in static markets but a growing market does offer some opportunities. Entrenched competition will often be at the top of the experience curve having learned from their mistakes over many years, whereas any new entrant must accept that it will take time to generate any meaningful results and gain traction.
Potential Marketing Strategies to Employ
Two potential, relatively low risk strategies, to employ are to only attack a small market niche and once established grow out from there and/or to collaborate (to the benefit of both parties) in some way with an intermediary with an existing foothold in the target market.

Perhaps the greatest opportunity exists if the target market has an entrenched competitor that is either complacent or in a weak (financial, mismanagement, loss of key people) position. If a solid strategy can be put in place to deliver the highest levels of service at competitive pricing then a market presence may be established in a relatively short timescale by stealing market share
New market analysis
If attacking a new market is to succeed detailed market research is vital. An experienced and flexible sales and marketing team is also required and in many organisations this can be a real issue. The best sales teams tend to be focussed on the immediate future and marketing teams are often competent in their own market but stretched when it comes to addressing something new.

New Market Penetration – A Case Study

What follows is based on a two real businesses operating in a high technology B2B market. The market exhibited slow growth but did offer high margins. To preserve confidentiality the company names and details of the precise market have been excluded.

A U.K based business had built a strong presence in the marketplace growing from a small start up to a business with turnover exceeding £20m. The business owner was a technologist focussed on longer term market and product development who, after the first few years of growth, had employed a managing director to run the business on a day to day basis.

The business was the dominant player in its market niche but was starting to lose focus for a wide variety of reasons. Top level management was not exceptional and this was starting to be reflected in a slow decline in levels of customer service. The new product development process tended to be based on small revisions to existing concepts rather than any real product innovation.

The new entrant was USA based but already had some exposure to the market as they were a minor supplier to the target customer base with a different product range. They chose a niche distributor to take on the UK based business, offering them excellent support and training and higher margins on each sale than they could expect from their other lines. The chosen distributor had excellent relationships with the target customer base.

The new entrant copied and manufactured a limited range of the most successful product lines of the UK business without customer orders at a considerable cost and focussed their efforts on specific projects. With a higher level of quality, excellent delivery, good customer service and investment in low pricing (in the short term) they were able to take initial orders on a limited range of contracts.

The U.K business due to a mixture of complacency and poor management failed to identify the long term threat of the new entrant dismissing the initial level of their orders as insignificant. They failed to recognise the importance of the foothold secured by the new entrant and their ability to capitalise and build upon initial relationships.

Five years later with its business destroyed by a combination of mismanagement (and resulting financial pressures), bad luck and a loss of a major part of its business to the new entrant what remained of the U.K. business was sold to a competitor for a minimal sum. The new entrant built on their initial success by leveraging the relationships established to introduce a number of new product ranges.

Although blessed with excellent support from senior management and the backup of operations the drive behind the new entrant entry into the marketplace and their market penetration strategy was effectively one individual who spotted the opportunity and drove it through.

The new entrant executed a market penetration strategy perfectly. They identified a weak competitor and an excellent intermediary. They started with a niche, gained a foothold and built from there and they had a marketing and sales team (actually just one person initially) able to spot an opportunity and to build and execute a plan.

The amount of research carried out by the new entrant is unknown but it is not thought to have been extensive. This was a major risk given the amount of financial and other resources allocated to the project but in this case the strategy did pay off.

Addressing The Complexity Of B2B Marketing

There are many issues that add to the complexity of B2B marketing including the project driven nature of many B2B markets and servicing the needs of a large decision making team. This post offers some guidance on how these challenges may be addressed.

There are a number of reasons why B2B marketing is much more complex and challenging than B2C including.

  • Purchasing decisions made by a group rather than a single person.
  • Long buying cycles requiring ongoing delivery of appropriate information.
  • Project driven – changes and delays in the final project causing design changes, delays, objections and more competition.
  • Lower number of prospects increases the importance of each lead.
  • Relationships, at many different levels within a potential customer, are key. The more people in the decision making team the more chance of a poor relationship with one or more of those decision makers.
  • Product complexity leads to more objections and more information requests.

The traditional methods of dealing with this complexity were to have sales people able to identify the key decision makers and develop strong ongoing relationships with each of them. The sales process involved understanding needs, delivering information and dealing with objections on an ongoing basis until an opportunity arose to close the sale.

In many B2B organisations the same set of sales people were responsible for generating leads (with or without a marketing department) as were responsible for developing the sales process as discussed above. A more effective operation was based on splitting sales responsibilities between those responsible for generating leads, qualifying leads and establishing initial relationships (with the help of marketing) and those responsible for developing a sale to close.

Push marketing was used to promote a business and its products or services. Generally this involved delivering promotional messages on what a business offered, what made it different and why customers should buy via channels such as advertising, direct mail and telemarketing. Today, various studies show that push channels are less and less effective leading to a rise in the popularity of inbound marketing.

Inbound marketing is based on pull rather than push and, when delivered correctly, is a perfect process to address customer information requirements at various points in the sales process (see list of B2B marketing challenges above). Content marketing represents a large part of the inbound marketing process and is based on delivering useful, engaging, information to prospects via the most appropriate channel and at the correct point in the sales process.

Unlike push marketing the information delivered is not promotional in any way but simply services the information requirements of various members of the decision making team at appropriate points in the sales process. How this non promotional information material may be converted to sales opportunities will be the subject for a future post.

Content marketing then services the information needs of a diverse group of decision makers; it raises the credibility of the potential supplier and keeps them front of mind. Content may be delivered over an extended sales process and address objections and product complexity issues before they arise. Ongoing delivery of appropriate information also maintains relationships over the long term, reduces the cost and improves the effectiveness of the sales process. Today, Personal relationships are still of importance but are most effective when combined with an inbound marketing process.

The project driven nature of many B2B markets adds further complexity. It is all too easy to be well placed with one customer only to find that another potential customer wins the contract and all the hard work is wasted. Often many sub contractors (each a potential customer) bid for a single major project. It is important to cover each of these potential customers (sub contractors) and their decision making teams to avoid missed opportunities and wasted resources. A project tracking system, linked into the content marketing and sales process is one solution. How these may be constructed will be covered in a future post.

To be successful in B2B markets requires a well structured sales organisation and effective marketing. A specific type of marketer is required with industry knowledge, long term experience of the traditional B2B marketing process and knowledge of how to integrate what is best from the traditional approach with the latest best practice inbound marketing techniques.

Should you want to know more about the project tracking process then please get in touch.

 

How To Grow Sales In A Niche Market

Any business with a target to grow sales in a niche market faces a unique set of challenges. Unfortunately, most marketing advice and literature focuses on mass markets and little information is available on marketing to a niche.

A niche market is defined by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as ‘marketing of a product to a small and well defined segment of the marketplace’. Breaking that definition down product may be replaced with service. Small means there are relatively few prospects in the niche and well defined means that a niche does not exist at all unless it can be clearly defined with no ambiguity.

A niche must be quantifiable and measurable, accessible and, both of sufficient size to be viable and growing at a fast enough rate to sustain sales growth.

Niche marketing has many advantages including less direct competition and lower sales and marketing costs but there are also major challenges including:

  • A small number of customers/prospects.
  • Ensuring the message is heard.
  • Relatively small number of opportunities.

The Problem With Niche Marketing

The blunt truth is most marketing is shotgun based. That is aim to hit as many targets as possible in the hope a percentage (often a single figure percentage close rate is deemed a success) will respond.

There may be lots of talk about segments, targetting, opt in, pull marketing and focused content. The reality for B2B businesses with a large potential customer base is often somewhat different.

In any market niche, there are simply insufficient prospects to employ the shotgun approach. In some cases, there may be less than 200 customers in a niche which means mass marketing techniques simply will not work.

A small number of customers usually results in a low level of opportunities. It is therefore essential all potential opportunities are identified and tracked. Any business attempting to grow sales in a niche market must try to obtain a request to quote on a high proportion of the available opportunities.

Which leads to another problem, that of being heard. In B2B markets a specialist product or service may need to compete for attention in a space dominated by larger suppliers. Those major suppliers will most likely not be direct competitors but delivering other parts (perhaps several parts) on a project.

Larger suppliers may deliver significant parts of the total package required by the customer. With their brand presence and resources, they may dominate the conversations with the project decision making team.

A Potential Solution

Mass marketing does bring economies of scale. Niche marketing tends to be more focused and the cost of each conversion can be relatively high. It is therefore important to establish if the returns per customer justify that investment. That often means each customer must have a high potential value.

A well thought out strategy is of prime importance. Delivering a general message is not a viable way forward. Instead, it is important to precisely define the niche, the specific offer the business provides and why (exactly) it satisfies customer needs.

Armed with this information on the benefits the business can offer and a precise profile of target customers it should be possible to identify all potential customers in the niche. The next step is to define key functions and personnel within those customers that may influence the purchasing decision.

The challenge then is to deliver the message on what benefits the business may offer to as many potential customers (and the key departments within those customers) as practical. What are the key information requirements of each of function and what is required to remove any roadblocks that may be thrown in the way of a sale.

It is important to identify and track key projects that each key customer may be bidding on. If the customer wins a contract it is important to be ready and in a position to make a specific offer that addresses the challenges the customer may face.

To achieve the above it is important to accept the customer is in control. All the business can do is ensure they deliver the support the customer needs to understand how the solution on offer can solve whatever their problem may be.

Sales should have the direct customer relationships and therefore have to lead the process. Working hand in hand with marketing to provide the market intelligence and information needed to progress the sale. The objective should be to supply the required information, build credibility and start an ongoing communication process.

Of course, that assumes sales have made some inroads into a customer. For customers where sales have a weak presence or worse no presence at all, there is the problem of growing awareness in a crowded market.

Every effort should be made to secure press coverage in the form of press releases and feature stories in relevant publications to push the message to the target market In one respect it can be difficult to obtain coverage in a market dominated by major brands but on the other a story about something outside the mainstream is often of interest to journalists.

It is highly likely prospects in the niche will be searching for information on the product or service offered by the business. For a niche product, it is probable those searches will be specific and either carried out online (in most cases) or by reviewing specialist publications. A web presence focussed on delivering information to any prospect typing in a specific search term is essential.

There is no doubt growing sales in a niche B2B market is difficult. Buyers and those that influence the buying process tend to perform early supplier evaluations before engaging with sales tends to put them in control rather than the supplier. However, with a well thought out strategy in place a sales and marketing team working in harmony and a solid communications strategy those difficulties can be overcome.

Current Best B2B Marketing Practice

Best B2B marketing and business development practice has changed dramatically in recent years driven, primarily, by the rise in internet marketing and increasing resistance to aggressive marketing techniques.

For many years marketing in B2B markets was entirely push based. It was based on proactive sales work, telemarketing, advertising, print / direct mail and (although it could also be classed as a pull technique) press release. More recently Email marketing pushing a sales message was introduced to the mix.

A fact often missed (or ignored) is business people also have a personal life. With the growth of the internet, social media and all sorts of comparison and review sites people have become conditioned to search out the information they need (and make comparisons) online before making a purchasing decision. Bad practice Email and telemarketing practice, particularly in the B2C world, have built a resistance to these techniques that spills over into the business world.

Marketers have recently switched on to this change and current best practice in B2B marketing is pull rather than push based. It is based on delivering information to the point decision makers may access it to inform their decisions. The trick is to ensure the information is valuable, engaging, builds credibility and gently guides the decision maker along a path towards the offering of a particular business.

The pull process has become known as content marketing and is based on delivering content using a wide variety of tactics – many of which are listed here. The content itself may be white papers, technical notes, how to guides, industry comment / trends, comparisons, regulatory issues of interest and much more. Many businesses sit on a large amount of information that could be updated / amended to benefit customers and prospects.

Content marketing does not deliver results as fast as traditional push techniques and it does require significant resource to implement successfully but the resulting quantity and quality of sales leads tends to exceed that of push marketing. There are many challenges to overcome including finding and / or writing sufficient engaging content and finding the most appropriate channel to deliver that content.

The impact of push marketing then is decreasing with pull marketing the new focus. However, although pull marketing delivers more consistent and higher quality sales leads, it takes longer to deliver results and is resource intensive. Therefore push marketing techniques still have a place and can be selectively combined with pull techniques to deliver the best overall result.