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Don’t Let Focusing on Lead Generation Torpedo Your Branding, Part 2

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By Chris Chariton

(eM+C)—While the tough global economy has served to torpedo branding efforts at many organizations, the sometimes sticky relationship between sales teams and marketers can also torpedo a company’s lead generation efforts. If you still need more ammo to achieve your organization’s goals—aside from the tips mentioned in part one of this article—here are some additional ideas on how sales and marketing can work together to achieve revenue and client wins.

Hoist your colors through branding
Just as ships once used flags in battle to differentiate their fleets, it’s important for your business to distinguish its offerings from competitors’ products or services that appear similar on the surface. Branding becomes important as a differentiator, especially in tough economic times. You want to be considered a safe choice—branding can help you do that.

Consider investing in marketing programs that offer lead generation and branding at the same time, such as a visible presence in online directories or sponsorship opportunities for eNewsletters or online events. The more you spread your marketing mix, the more familiar your brand will become to prospects.

Build your content armada
The Internet is a vast ocean. Becoming and remaining visible within it requires a constant influx of content in the form of fresh insight and information. That can work in your favor since most b-to-b products and services require an education process. Help prospects learn about your industry and product category as a whole by producing a regular stream of quality content. Doing so will help you generate leads while building the brand.

You want to make some content available for free with no strings attached as a taste of what you have to offer. Then offer the rest to prospects who are willing to complete a short form with basic lead-qualifying questions. For example, start an industry blog that’s open to anyone, but also offer webinars, whitepapers, application notes and other information to those who fill out your form. Promise to treat their information with care and respect. Resist the urge to treat what should be a quick questionnaire like an in-depth survey.

Stay on the radar
Once your pipeline of prospects has found you and sampled what you have to offer, it’s important to remain on their radar. Research shows that up to 70 percent of b-to-b transactions come from long-cycle sales leads. Since you don’t know much about them yet, it’s best to use a mix of outreach methods until you can narrow down their preferences.

The most efficient way to make prospect lists aware of your offerings is to send links to your content via email. You can also post information to your website, as well as contact reporters and bloggers who cover your space. But keep the human touch in mind, too. A well-timed phone call as a courtesy to let your best prospects know when new, relevant content is available can lead to more significant opportunities.

Regardless of the methods you choose, put the word out. Be sure that every contact includes a call to action. While you may not want to use a “buy now” message, making your email address and phone number handy to prospects that want more information is an easy way to keep dialog moving.

Following several or all of these ideas will ensure your sales and marketing teams are successfully working together to avoid torpedoes and generate high-quality leads.

Chris Chariton is senior vice president of product management and supplier marketing for GlobalSpec, a provider of online marketing solutions for companies within the industrial sector.

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