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September, 2009 | motarme

Using photos to boost press coverage

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Good photographic images boost press coverage.  If you’re preparing news releases for online distribution you can use images that aren’t too highly polished, and they’re fine for your blog and social network pages (check out our free guide to PR and online PR  to learn more about online news releases).  However, when you’re submitting PR to traditional media you need to use professional, well composed images.  Here’s  a great post by Adrian Weckler of the Sunday Business Post on what constitutes a good photograph from a features journalist point of view.

Photography can have a huge impact on the amount of coverage you get. Our advice would be to aim to have good photographs for at least half of your news releases.  It may not always be possible to organize a high-quality photograph for some releases (e.g. where you need to obtain a photograph at short notice of a customer who is unavailable), but you should commit to generating good images on a regular basis.   And make sure you have up-to-date photos of your senior staff and your company’s offices on hand, taking note of Adrian Weckler’s advice on avoiding the most clichéd poses.

B2B Marketing use of Pay-per-click

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A great post on B2B marketing and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, called “Don’t sabotage your own PPC Campaign“ at the Emagine blog.  The post, by Matt Roche, highlights an interview with CPC search’s Terry Whalen carried out by Jep Capelstein at the LeadSloth blog.  In the original interview, Terry Whalen discusses how B2B use of pay-per-click differs from B2C.  He makes some good points e.g. the search volumes are usually lower for B2B so it can take a little time to draw good conclusions on things like overall lead quality and Return on Investment. The Emagine post summarises the interview and then adds a few comments, one of which in particular I think is worth quoting, as it refers to the underfunding of B2B campaigns, which I think is likely to be an issue for a lot of tech marketers.  Here’s the quote:

“Too often we see good B2B clients struggling under mandated PPC budgets in the $1,000/month range …which gets them maybe 3-5 leads a month, for some big-ticket, highly-considered products or services.  But to get the one or two solid sales leads per month that the CMO probably wants, something more in the range of 100 raw leads/month is needed.  To see how that budget constraint is in fact hindering growth:  if even one of those two solid leads closes, at a modest high-ticket price of $100K and profit margin of 15% (which included the budgeted $1,000), clearly the extra $9K spent to obtain those 2 solid leads (@$100/click) is covered …with room to spare.  If your situation is this good or better (and being sure about it is why the ROI numbers are so vital), then clearly you should be throwing as much money as possible into PPC …until/unless you can come up with a demonstrably higher-leverage marketing tool.”

I’m not focused on the precise  figures quoted by Matt Roche here for the monthly B2B Pay-per-click budgets ($1k per month seems very low), but I am interested in the general principle – when and how do you decide you’re spending enough on PPC?  To make a good decision, you’ll have to know how many sales you’ve made out of PPC generated leads over some period – which means you have to track this accurately.  (This probably seems easy but it may not be – do you record the original lead source against every sale you make? Is there more than one source for that sale? – If so which one(s) gets the credit for the sale?).  You should also be able to compare the cost of the PPC generated leads with those from other sources e.g. organic web-traffic leads or email leads.  So it could all get a bit complicated.

But as a first cut, and here’s where I’m in strong agreement with Matt Roche, you can probably make some simple decisions.  If you knew that a third of your sales, say $10x dollars, came from PPC, which costs you $1x dollars, then it’s worth checking whether investing $2x dollars in PPC will generate $20x sales.  If so, and your margins are sufficient, the decision on investing more in PPC should be fairly easy.  It would then seem sensible to keep increasing the PPC spend until you stop getting a corresponding increase leads and sales.  (If there’s a big flaw in this logic, please post a comment, I’m interested to hear what others think about the issue of setting PPC budgets in B2B Marketing).

This subject also leads to a larger question of budgeting for lead generation/marketing and the relative allocation of budget across various marketing and lead generation activities, which I hope to tackle in a future post.

Lead generation for Professional Services

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One vital question for anyone establishing or trying to grow a consultancy  is ‘how do we generate a regular stream of new business?’ – you can’t simply rely on good luck and a sunny disposition.  One of the best guides I’ve read on this topic is “Making Lead Generation Work for Professional Services” (registration required for download), by Mike Schultz of the Wellesley Hills Group.  He makes a lot of good points – for example, define what your objectives are; provide value to prospective clients before they become your clients; use a range of integrated marketing tactics.  The message is that if you adopt a systematic and repeatable approach to generating new business,  and execute it correctly, you’ll benefit from the results.

Mike Schultz also has his own blog, and I found a recent post thought-provoking.  He has been asked to prepare the curriculum for a possible new MBA course on marketing professional services.  He has begun developing a reading list and has asked readers to contribute their own suggestions.    Showing admirable business acumen, the first recommended title is his own, but he goes on to list a range of further reading that I find very interesting.  For example, he recommends the Harvard Business Review case study “McKinsey and Company (A): 1956″.  This made me think – how many recently established consultancies or professional services firms are thinking in terms of becoming the new McKinsey?  What’s required to create that kind of organization, to enable it to grow while transmitting a recognisable corporate ethos to all new employees? I think I’ll start working my way through the reading list to see if I can find out.

Business blogging tips

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A good post at Self Publishing Helper on  Business Blogging Tips.  It provides great advice on setting out a schedule for writing posts, identifying potential topics and generating content.  The post also provides some tips on how to set up your blog on WordPress to increase your visibility.  We’ll have more on this later, but I think that in the near future company blogs will replace corporate web-sites as the main online presence for most organizations.  The reason is that blogs facilitate more immediate interaction with your prospective customers and you can maintain this conversation without needing technical skills or special systems.  You don’t have to wait for a web-master or an IT department to take your content and publish it, you can now do that yourself in realtime.  It’s also easy to copy and paste rich content from across the web into your blog, to accept and respond to comments, to register new blog subscribers.  What business benefit does this provide?  Well, it lets your prospective customers get a sense of what you’re like and what you know before they decide to do business with you.  And that can play a big part in having them choose you over someone they’re not so familiar with.  But to develop an audience of potential clients you have to provide interesting, valuable content on your blog on a regular basis to keep them coming back.

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