Thursday, September 27, 2012

Telemarketing – Another Tool For Transparency

Telemarketing and transparency actually go far better together than some might think. With the entire business world shifting to digital, people are losing sight of the simple fact that there's still more to what's you see on your computer screen.

The advantage of B2B telemarketing actually draws from not being a very digitized process. Instead, the process is always best with a real human voice. And as cliché this may sound, something digital will still pale in comparison to the real thing. But because of digital business trends like cloud-computing, some people are forgetting this same fact. No matter how much information you store on an online database, it has to be stored somewhere on this planet. And by stored, this in reference to physical storage, not purely digital. Two articles actually draw attention to this fact and why service providers need more transparency in their marketing as well as everything else.

The first comes from the New York Times and it reports on the software giant's famous 'data farms' (large buildings used solely for the purpose of storing data):

The technology giant created a stir here in 2006 when it bought about 75 acres of bean fields to build a giant data center, a digital warehouse to support various Internet services.”

Farther along this article however, this one passage should get your attention:

While the term 'cloud' is often used loosely to refer to remote memory or other computing services accessed by the Internet, it is hardly some vaporous formation.

'Quite simply, data centers are the cloud,' Eric S. Laschever, a Microsoft lawyer, said during the legal challenge to its backup generators. 'You’ve seen it on TV. The heart of the cloud are these data centers, and the data centers are really at the heart of Microsoft’s business.'”

These could also be the heart of your business and even the businesses of your customers and prospects. While your qualifying cloud computing leads, make sure that your prospects are not too enchanted by the digital advantage that they forget their information is still being stored somewhere in an actual, physical, space. This means that you shouldn't just be transparent about who you are and where your business is located but also where your actual hardware is located.

The second article is from Wired and is in fact just one of the many reactions to the NYT article. However, this one speaks of Google's take on the topic of data centers:

We know that companies like Google are pretty secretive about some of the tricks they use to make their data centers more efficient — that’s a competitive advantage. But they are considerably more open, however, when it comes to talking about the things they’re doing to make the actual sources of their electricity more environmentally friendly.”

Whether or not you agree with the NYT, one thing remains clear: You need to be transparent with the physical side of your cloud-service. It's not just limited to environmental concerns but also adhering to your customer's right to knowing where their data is actually at.

Telemarketing is just one tool to that end because it emulates that simple reality of using a real representative, not a digitized one. You can hardly get any more open than an actual phone call. You can even just outsource a telemarketing company to help you enact your transparency. The fact is that no matter how impressive you make yourself on the virtual world, it's important to still show how your business operates in the physical world.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

How Lead Generation Can Create Or Clear Up Misunderstanding

Lead generation falls under marketing and like any marketing effort, it deploys a message that could either create or clear up misunderstanding. In B2B software, it's easy for people to read a marketing message that could result with false expectations.

This is something your business obviously has to avoid. Nobody likes a dishonest marketer any more than they like a dishonest salesperson. Be it B2B or B2C, you need to immediately react if prospects approach you with an impression of your product that is far different from the one your lead generation team intended.

On the other hand, sometimes this misunderstanding is the result of people seeing one message through one channel and a different message in another. In other words, your marketers are scattered and need to rein in some consistency.

For example, if you're offering or announcing some form of mobile support for business intelligence, the core message shouldn't end up fragmented and scattered during B2B lead generation. In each channel, always pose the same set of questions to yourself. Why are you including mobile? What benefit is it supposed to serve your clients? If you're still developing it, then make sure people have a complete understanding of your progress.

If you want a rough example of what kind of damage control you'd have to do, look at Mark Zuckerberg. AllThingsD just reported that the Facebook CEO clearly stated that its mobile strategy is misunderstood and is now giving readers a clearer picture of what's been going on inside:

'Mobile is a lot closer to TV than it is to desktop,' Zuckerberg said, when comparing the ability to make money. There just isn’t room to have ads on the side, but that means they are more integrated and immersive.' We know we are going to do well on that,' he said, but added, 'We’ve had a bunch of missteps.'

Elaborating, Zuckerberg said that 'the biggest mistake we made as a company was betting too much on HTML5 as opposed to native,' he said. It just wasn’t ready.'”

Unfortunately, the damage may already be done if you've reached that point. This is why it's important to keep the message whole from the very beginning. In fact, information from your software leads is supposed to have the same consistency so it's highly ironic that you're demanding it while not being clear enough with your prospects.

So to summarize, here are a few basic steps to follow so that your marketing message avoids misunderstanding and stays in one piece:

  • Transparency – Like Zuckerberg, be open to sharing information that your customers and prospects deserve to know. If you want to surprise them with your announcements, fine. However, you should at least have some form of representative from your market to stand in for how they might react (e.g. closely collaborate with veteran buyers in your industry). 
  • Consistency – Make sure that your emails don't say one thing and your telemarketers say something else. If you can, try to have both forms in the same office space so that marketers using either tool can keep each other in check. 
  • Flexibility – There's a fine line between a static, repetitive message, and a message that is consistent. Adjust the message only according to the medium through which is being transmitted. Do not ever change the content of the core message. For example, if you're telemarketing, shorten your message accordingly to what a prospect would like to know more specifically but don't give answers that the message doesn't have.