Posts tagged lead nurturing

8 Ways to Improvise Your Way to Success

meeting 250x166 8 Ways to Improvise Your Way to Success

Guest post by Michael J. Pallerino, taken from the April/May issue of our bi-monthly magazine, Connect.

So, how do the worlds of improvisation and business compare? Tom Yorton, CEO of Second City Communications (SCC), shows you eight improvisation techniques that can help your business.

No. 1: Seek Those “Yes, and …’ Moments

Improvisation is about affirmation, creation and mutual support. Its training is built on the concept of what it calls “yes, and” moments. That’s when other members of the group put an idea or proposition forward, the group affirms the proposition, and then additional information is added. This allows the team to reach its full potential before objections derail an idea.

No. 2: Follow Your Fears

Fear usually is an indication that something important is at stake.

People feel fear because they care about an outcome. In improv, actors are taught to “lean into” conflict, not walk away from it. This practice likely reveals something new.

No. 3: Plan Less and Discover More

The less you plan, the more you’ll discover; the more you plan, the less you’ll discover. Every organization wants to be known as innovative and creative. Yet,

most conditions that allow for innovation and creativity seldom are present. Standard routines and processes govern most daily work experiences. In improvisation, the absence of a plan allows room for discovery.

No. 4: Start in the Middle

Improv actors know that a linear, orderly progression makes for a boring scene. In business, people take great pains to lay things out in logical progressions. There is comfort in following the flow. But when there’s a crisis or need to innovate, success sometimes comes from taking leaps and making creative connections in the absence of perfect information and thoughtful preparation.

No. 5: ‘Bring a Brick, Not a Cathedral’

Employees don’t like to feel small and insignificant. This causes them to hold back ideas and feedback. In improvisation, seemingly small contributions are important to the whole. If each ensemble member brings something, the collective energy is greater than one person carrying the load. When your contribution matters, you’re obligated to bring something to the game.

No. 6: If One Idea Doesn’t Work, Try Another

In improvisation people move quickly. There’s little time to analyze or assess only time to listen and react. Consequently, ideas and inspiration come and go fluidly. Improv actors know that right and wrong usually is a false dichotomy; there are only possibilities and choices. Performers are rewarded by their willingness to support the ensemble and adapt on the fly to new ideas.

No. 7: Try Not to Top Someone …

…at least until you’ve equaled him. Because business usually is a competitive endeavor, people always are trying to one-up each other. This comes out of a fear of looking bad and falling behind in an internal competition. Someone else’s gain means your loss, which creates a stifling environment. In improvisation, the best way to “get fed” is to do some feeding of your own.

No. 8: Make Accidents Work

The world has a tendency to throw curveballs. The key is how you respond to it. In improvisation, the axiom “make accidents work” describes much of its existence. Unlike in variable data printing where every outcome is tightly planned, there is no such thing as a preordained outcome in improvisation. It’s about living in the moment. Learn to embrace the possibilities that “accidents” offer.

 

 

Creating Meaningful Relationships with Small Business

This post, originally entitled B2-SmallB : A Perspective, was written by Judy Rudolph Begehr, Senior Vice President of Account Planning for Gyro, and was featured in our June/July 2012 issue of Connect Magazine.

 

B2-SmallB : A Perspective

small business, insight, business to consumer, b2cAs a member of the Enterprise Council on Small Business (ECSB) for the last three years, Gyro has access to a wealth of proprietary research and has developed substantial institutional knowledge on the art and science of creating meaningful engagement with the SMB (small and medium sized businesses). In general terms, the following insights reflect common attitudes and behaviors of the SMB decision maker.

The entrepreneur’s go-to location for information on products and services is the seller’s website, followed closely by word-of-mouth from other business owners. To deliver a positive online media experience, marketers should focus on the elements of experience that matter – not only to drive purchases but also positive word-of-mouth. According to recent research by ECSB, two tiers of elements in the online experience matter most.

The “tier 1” elements that matter include: being efficient (responds quickly, anticipates my needs, provides backup communication options), and being customer oriented (understanding my business and respecting my time). The “tier 2” elements provide greater specificity around building a good online experience.

In general, the SMB is a loyal group that identifies most with other owners in their industry, suggesting that vertical segmentation is an ideal approach to targeting small businesses. But market shifts can reverse the small business owner’s predisposition to loyalty, causing him to re-evaluate established vendor relationships, often in favor of local suppliers.

An important insight into the small business owner psyche was uncovered by ECSB around the desire to buy local. Seems it’s less about an affinity for local providers, and more about an aversion for national providers. Behind this predisposition are two critical drivers: convenience and relationship. Messaging to the small business owner will have greater impact if it’s crafted to directly address these drivers. It should clearly demonstrate how your offering provides positive business impact, while providing assurance of prompt, readily available service by an organization that not only knows their industry but also understands their business.

Most small business owners are worried about holding on to their own customers and keeping their businesses afloat. Business-to-business purchase decisions often are propelled on an emotional level by risk avoidance. It’s important to gather insights on your audiences’ specific pain points and, particularly, their fears. It’s emotional selling 101.

According to ECSB, solving the small business owner’s fears drives trust. Trust can lead to a sense of control. The greatest source of power in building trust is reliably delivering on your brand promise and providing an experience that makes the small business owner feel certain that you understand what they need and that you’ll deliver what they need fast.

Because budgets are smaller, there’s greater scrutiny over every expense. The SMB owner makes purchase decisions through the goggles of an internal “success filter” – if they see the product or service will help them succeed, they’re more likely to make the purchase. Audience insights should be used to communicate with SMB audiences in ways that clearly, and, if possible, tangibly demonstrate the value of your offering based on their business needs.

According to ECSB research, at the highest level, many small business owners measure their success based on mastery of their trade. Beneath this level, small business owners cluster by their success driver, each with unique profiles and messaging hot buttons.

ECSB research suggests that additional things can be done through messaging to enhance the perception of value and to expand relationships with local small business customers. These include: personalize your communications, highlight length of relationships (example: American Express’s “Member Since”) and your historical quality, and tailor your messaging to resonate not only with the persona, but also the geographic region.

It is critical to nurture and protect all existing relationships to leverage the small business owner’s tendency to stick with those they trust. Shore up your loyal local customers, reinforce their decision to work with your brand and, as ECSB says, “make your customers your local presence by mobilizing your local advocates.”

Don’t Be a Drip, Nurture Your Leads

Marketers want to talk to prospects and salespeople want to talk to buyers. The courting process of moving a person from the prospect to buyer stage is called lead nurturing. Unfortunately most B2B marketers aren’t very good at it. In fact, among marketing automation adopters, only about 1 in 3 believe they have an effective lead nurturing process, according to research from Bulldog Solutions/Frost & Sullivan.

Like in a courtship, nurturing involves two-way communication. To have an effective dialogue with your customers you must watch their digital body language and listen to where they are in the purchasing process.

Too often marketers make nurturing synonymous with email drip campaigns. While this tactical effort is easy to put in place, it’s not effective in converting leads because it overly simplifies communications by making it one-way and one-size-fits-all.

“Simply delivering the same message to a broad audience (mass marketing), doesn’t allow for the 1-to-1 engagement that yields the best results,” says Carlos Hidalgo with Annuitas Group.

The graph below from Left Brain Marketing shows how good marketing communications involves listening to the prospect, then sending a message, and then waiting for a customer response before tailoring the next message.

Screenshot 21 Don’t Be a Drip, Nurture Your Leads

Does a lead-nurturing program seem too methodical, time consuming, or too customized to implement or manage? The increased customer appeal and response of proper nurturing brings financial gains that make the process all worthwhile. A recent study by the Aberdeen Group showed that companies who implemented a nurture-marketing program had:

  • 46% increase in annual revenue
  • 26% increase in lead conversions to sales
  • 25% decrease in cost per lead

IBM lead nurtures its customers by dividing them into one of three categories depending on where they are in the buying cycle. Leads are categorized as ‘Learn’ (potential client at the initial stages of a project), ‘Scope’ (interested in case studies white papers, conducting research) or ‘Select’ (interested in comparing and engaging with vendor).

IBM maintains a dialogue with those in the Learn and Scope stages as they progress through the sales cycle, using targeted collateral and promoting IBM’s solutions. Once prospects reach the Select stage, they are handed over to the IBM sales team for direct engagement.

The graph below shows how marketing and sales can work in tangent nurturing prospects during the inbound and outbound marketing process.

Screenshot 23 Don’t Be a Drip, Nurture Your Leads

Your dialogue with your customers sets the tone for the relationship. Customers know that how you sell them is how you will serve them in the future. So set the tone by nurturing their needs and nurturing their trust.

If you provide valuable education and information to prospects up front and as they need it, you’ll become their trusted advisor. Then you’ll be first in line for their business when they move from the data collection phase into the purchasing mode.

With patience, ongoing dialogue, and a good lead-nurturing program, you can ensure you’re not leaving 8 out of 10 prospects on the table for your competitors.