Educating the Masses

Again, another post by Brian has me thinking. Today, he links to Michael Stelzner who has a video about how he generated 60,000 qualified leads through free education. He did this against the advice of his business partners and decided to give away his trade secrets in a whitepaper in the hopes of establishing himself as a thought leader.

We do similar things here. We run a Web Seminar Series that is free and we book expert speakers on a variety of business topics. We even run seminars on how to conduct a successful webinar even though we have a events team that does just that – runs successful webinars.

As you can tell, I am in full agreement with Michael and his methods. Establishing yourself as a thought leader helps shorten the sales cycle and cuts down on truly cold leads. In a B2B world, most people want to hire someone that can do the job more efficiently and with better results. The majority of B2B purchasers, do not want to reverse engineer a solution. They simply want to choose the best solution for their business and let the experts take care of the rest.

It is not a surprise to me that Michael was so successful. However, what interests me the most is where Michael promoted this whitepaper to receive such an overwhelming response. Unfortunately, he does not share that secret with us. Was it paid advertising? Was it organic search? PPC? Forums? Blogs? I would be very interested in knowing.

[tags]whitepapers, Michael Stelzner, lead generation [/tags]

Web Analytics, Oh My!

I am a frequent reader of Brian Carroll's B2B lead generation blog. As an employee at a small business looking to make the leap to medium business, I have been focused mainly on our lead generation activities over the past couple of months.

This is what I have learned. B2B lead generation and marketing automation are hot topics these days. With the coming of age of social media and several other web based services and tracking software, the iron is hot for marketing automation. I cannot tell you how many calls I get a week from someone working for some type of metrics/automation company trying to sell me their services. Being that our lead generation program is still in its infancy, I listen to all of their pitches but am reluctant to jump in.

Brian's post today is great because it briefly outlines most of the things a B2B marketer needs to think about when beginning a lead generation program. Further, he links to Manoj Jasra, who lists several software vendors in his post that help with analytics. The question for me remains: With so many companies, how do I know which one is best suited for ReadyTalk?

For us, the most critical stage is the beginning stages. I think the most important thing to do is to outline the objectives of your lead generation program and the process. Once the process is formulated, it would be appropriate to source software vendors to see where software can add value and automate the process.

The one worry I have is to get a year down the road and realize that a chosen vendor is not a great fit. Or, even worse, discover that the process you outlined is not scalable. I would love to hear from some of you who have started lead generation programs. How did you get the process started?

[tags] B2B, lead generation, Brian Carroll, marketing automation [/tags]

Closing Deals with Webinars

I love these types of posts. Eran Livneh, over at the MarketCapture Blog, tells about how a webinar they conducted for one of their clients helped close some deals as well as bring new leads into the pipeline.

This is the power of the webinar in action. It is a great tool for any part of the sale process. As a lead generator, the webinar worked well for their client; over 30% of their attendees were new and qualified prospects. In the case of the salesperson who closed a deal as a result of the webinar, it was used as a nurturing piece that resulted in a sale.

Obviously, at ReadyTalk, we believe in webinars as critical sales and marketing tools. They are a cost efficient way to produce persistent content that your sales team will be able to use at any point in the sales process.

Check out all the ways our web conferencing service can help.

[tags]webinars, web seminars, web conferencing [/tags]

Slogging and Blogging through “Wikinomics”

I’m reading “Wikinomics ” by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams. My sister-in-law recommended it to me when I first started contributing to the ReadyTalk blog, because I admitted to my family that I didn’t really have a clue about all this Web 2.0 stuff. I think she wants to make sure I don’t get left behind.

“Wikinomics” is the type of book that’s hard for me to get though because it’s crammed full of things to think about. I find myself constantly having to go back and reread a paragraph because some sentence sent me off on a thought tangent. At this rate, I’ll still be reading “Wikinomics” when Web 3.0 comes along.

The thesis of wikinomics is that mass collaboration “is changing how companies and societies harness knowledge and capability to innovate and create value.” (That’s one of those sentences I’m talking about.) The four principles of wikinomics are:

1. Openness (access, transparency, engagement),
2. Peering (egalitarianism – not staring intently at something),
3. Sharing (knowledge and resources), and
4. Acting globally (to maximize productivity and opportunity).

The idea is that these four principles are reshaping the business world, and companies that embrace them will succeed; those that don’t will be left behind. How the principles translate to a particular business or organization will vary greatly. Have you applied any of these principles? If so, how have you applied them and what results have you seen?

I’m going to work my way through “Wikinomics” over the next few weeks/months/years. I’ll let you know if I come up with anything interesting.

On to Chapter 2.

[tags]Collaboration, Social Media, Professional Development[/tags]