New and innovative online marketing tactics help companies build their brand and generate leads online. Some of the leads are “hot” and ready to buy while others are long-term and need nurturing. To turn these leads into customers, marketing and sales teams must have dedicated and collaborative lead management practices.
This environment has brought about a need to complement the classic 4Ps of marketing with a variation called the 4Ts: target, tactics, transact and track. Implementing the 4Ts can help you get the most out of the Internet in your b-to-b sales and marketing efforts, and can help improve the alignment between sales and marketing within an organization.
The 4Ts are simple concepts. They can be integrated into every company’s sales and marketing organization without requiring dramatic changes to business processes, investments in expensive software systems or wholesale organizational changes. However, what they do require is a commitment from sales and marketing to work together. They are:
- Target:Target is all about keeping a steady focus on your audience and knowing exactly who you are going to reach with your marketing. It’s believing 100% that your target prospects’ behavior, needs and goals should drive your decisions on how to market, communicate and work with them. Remember: with the Internet, your prospects are in the driver’s seat.
- Tactics: Tactics are your mix of various programs and media used to reach your target audience. While a blend of programs is essential to penetrate broadly and deeply into your target market, online marketing is the most important strategy for companies in the industrial sector today. Through online lead capture mechanisms (e.g., registration landing pages), companies can ask questions and collect data that allows them to segment their audience into different lead types: those that are immediately ready to buy and those that require more information and nurturing. This will help you more appropriately communicate with your target audience when the time comes.
- Transact: This key fundamental is the bridge you create between prospects and your organization and how to begin building the relationship that will result in a sale. Transact refers to opening a two-way communication with customers and prospects based on the nature of an inquiry. A combination of smart direct marketing and the involvement of your salespeople to follow up is the key. A good working relationship between marketing and sales is critical to successfully manage leads from the point where they are identified through the entire sales cycle.
- Track: With businesses demanding more accountability from marketing, few marketers can justify a program whose effectiveness is difficult to measure. The adage that “you can only manage what you measure” is true. This does not require sophisticated CRM systems to get started. A simple spreadsheet will do, as long as you take the time to track.
Getting started While some companies are stronger at lead generation and others at lead management, the 4Ts present an integrated approach to lead generation and management, allowing you to excel at both. It should be easy to get started with the 4Ts approach. It doesn’t require dramatic changes to your business operations, but does require philosophical agreement and commitment from your sales and marketing organizations, as well as the development of practical processes within both departments.
The important thing to keep in mind is how the Internet now shapes lead generation and management, as well as how the user is expecting you to respond. Don’t delay—put a plan in place to take advantage of the opportunities and programs available to you.
Guy Maser is senior VP-marketing at GlobalSpec (www.globalspec.com), a specialized vertical search, information services and e-publishing company serving the engineering, technical and industrial communities. He can be reached at [email protected]