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October 20, 2006

Branded Landing Zones - Demand Creation Monsters!

Branded Landing Zones [BLZs] are Demand Creation Monsters and can be designed to meet the most complex demand generation objectives – especially where product marketing is best served by encouraging buyer engagements with multiple educational assets that build a business case to accelerate the selling process. The BLZ helps to structure the seller’s online sales pitch and the IT buyer’s research process. The BLZ program is designed to engage IT buyers at all stages of the buying process and move them to the next logical step to accelerate the sales process and move prospects closer to a purchase.

In addition to targeted showcasing of your most compelling content assets, a Branded Landing Zone provides additional unique features that accelerate the sales process:

[1] Structure to the online sales pitch through the development of a dedicated microsite.
[2] Online Lead Nurturing to encourage additional buyer engagements through link maps and triggered e-mail follow-ups.
[3] Collection of additional Behavioral Data - critical intelligence to support any Lead Scoring Model.

If your solution-sell benefits from multiple engagements to prepare your prospects for sale - consider a BLZ program vs. any standard lead generation initiative. Below is graphical representation, but simply e-mail me at Barry_Harrigan@ziffdavis.com and I'll outline the strategy for you in detail.


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October 18, 2006

Critical Purchase Influence: Seek Triple Filtered Sales Leads

The secret to quality online lead generation with any media company as your partner is to focus on leveraging your partner's resources with technology buyers who have already verified their critical purchase influence.

The lead generation process used at the Ziff Davis Web Buyer's Guide is essentially triple-filtered - like a fine vodka. And, the critical purchase influence is double verified. Using this methodology the lead impurities are naturally eliminated through the process and the end result won't give you a hangover.

Filter one: The primary campaigning source for the Web Buyer's Guide is against the Ziff Davis Enterprise database [3.1MM records] that has already subscribed to and qualified for one or more of the top enterprise technology magazines in the world, including eWeek, Baseline Magazine or CIOInsight. Each magazine provides an incredible filter system via their controlled circulation process as each subscriber must verify their critical purchase influence.

Filter two: Each lead generation campaign targets that ZDE database to drive clicks to a gated set of marketing assets [white papers, case studies, webcasts, etc.] and the Web Buyer's Guide registration process must be completed, which includes an update of all contact data, demographics and a definition of their individual role in the technology buying process. By this point, critical purchase influence is being double-checked - and regardless of title, that involvement in the purchase process, is above all, the most critical.

Filter three: Only after passing through these first two filters is a contact permitted to access the sponsored content assets and a download of those assets must next be completed to qualify them for the lead generation program.

Are their ways to take short cuts? Yes, other media firms are mastering all kinds of strategies to short circuit this approach to get results, but the quality and commitment of the sales leads generated will suffer accordingly. For example, the triple-filtered method provides considerable advantages over approaches that rely exclusively on database sources without verified purchase influence, Web traffic networks or search marketing techniques. All these techniques will produce some results, but they aren't triple-filtered, critical purchase influence is not double checked and lead scrubbing is essential.

Hint: If you lead generation partner makes 'lead scrubbing' a key service, you may be dealing with a low-quality supplier. If you want to spoil your sales force - convert them to sales lead programs that use the Ziff Davis Web Buyer's Guide.


October 16, 2006

Categories vs. Keyword Search For IT Buyers

Organizing more than 100,000 content assets in the WBG is very challenging. For many years, we debated internally whether our search engine would be driven by keyword algorithms or by guided categories. The results are in – we need both types of search.

Keywords have demonstrated that they serve an undeniable search function. Entering any word that crosses your mind has proven to offer incredible precision searching in some situations -- and to be an enormous waste of time in others. We now power search on the WBG with the Google Search Appliance and find it to be incredibly useful as a starting point for search. Users are familiar with the interface [the little box] and satisfied with the results. It provides them with a great window into our content resources.

But many need the guidance of our editors, and that is why Directory Categories are so critical. Users who are less familiar with a type of technology, who are looking for some guidance about exactly what product they need to solve their problem, or who want to build a "short list" of products to consider for purchase can use directory categories to guide their search. The WBG directory categories were built by the leading IT minds in the field - the editorial staff of the Ziff Davis enterprise group (some of them are pictured here) -- and are another useful tool on the WBG site.

An analogy – sometimes you travel to familiar destinations and you need nothing more than a toothbrush and a good memory as your guide. Other times, it is important to bring a good tour book – that can direct you to specific attractions and help you organize your time around best practices for your trip. You choose – WBG has both.


October 13, 2006

Title is no factor - work your Beachhead contacts

Enterprise IT solutions are sold to companies not to individuals. You'll need to win over many decision makers in the buying process. If you don't, your competition will find the key influencers early in the process and then stack the deck against you. Never get hung up on titles, when you are generating leads - focus on critical purchase influence.

Once you’ve generated a sales lead, consider your strategy to work with your new beachhead contact to navigate the prospect company's buying process. Find the right beachhead—and they will educate key decision makers on the virtues of your product and encourage them to take a close look at your business case. You want to make your beachhead contact into your champion.

Key purchase influence at the early stage will come from information gatherers and researchers with a wide range of titles and responsibilities – their role is to help you get your messages and critical content to key decision makers that help you build your business case. Engage with every contact [regardless of title] online and via e-mail to move them through the buying process.

Your beachhead is not the only person involved in making this technology purchase. IT decisions will germinate from mid-level tech personal to the CIO. And, key business decision makers may have already built a business case with their technical counterparts long before the CEO ever considers the purchase. Every company today will involve multiple people in an IT purchase and hundreds of titles are now critical to the process [you can thank the Internet from this changing landscape]. For example, the COO isn't technical - so he needs to consult his tech management to move on any purchase. A developer doesn't always have buying authority - so needs to get approval from his manager or VP-level staff. The buying chain is very complex and you'll need to make multiple contacts within that process to move your prospects quickly to action.

Early in your new relationship, ask your Beachhead contact where he fits into his company’s buying process and who else he can introduce you to - to help you make the sale. In the past, you may have thought that your product is only purchased by CIOs, but that may now be wrong thinking - when you discover that the sale is already lost if the decision reaches the CIO without any advocacy for your solution from the lower level technical managers.

Don't assume that you know how every company launches their research phase. Expect to be surprised [hint: it rarely is initiated by the CIO [or even VP level] and if you focus on the most senior level technology titles, you will be late to every decision process]. Mid-level technology professionals and senior business executives often make the best beachheads. Key technology staffers often drive the 'short list' and their recommendations are trusted by busy senior technical managers. And, business stakeholders may help you develop an ROI analysis that closes the sale before you competition is even considered. Both technical and business influencers can help you make your business case. So, use both effectively as beachheads into your prospect company's buying process. And, never get hung up on their titles...


October 11, 2006

Online Lead Generation at $1.3 Billion and growing fast

Online lead generation is now on everyone's radar screen. The market is now growing at many times the rate of Paid Search. Price Waterhouse now pegs the market size at a $1.3 Billion run rate for 2006 - 8% of the total online media spend.


October 05, 2006

Branded Landing Zones are White Hot!

Just came back from three weeks of client meetings throughout the U.S. [I'm counting three days at Pebble Beach which was a total boondoggle with a dozen special clients], and the Branded Landing Zones with Lead Nurturing is among the hottest programs in the online Demand Creation market. Here's why.

We are building on our Ziff Davis success by developing thematic microsites and powering them with our Web Buyer's Guide registration system that allows us to gate key content elements and direct navigation that encourages multiple content engagements - throughout the IT buying process. [We use link maps and 1-to-1 event-triggered e-mail efforts to encourage prospects to move from content engagements to the next logical step in the buying process]. The net result is a more engaged set of buyers who are being accelerated through the buying process. For our sponsors, they get all the critical data [firmagraphics, demographics and behavioral] to help them score the sales leads and prepare them for further nurturing or direct follow up by their sales teams.

Left to right: Me; Bob from Xerox; John from Adaptec; and Dan from DLink after a hard day of meetings [solving all the industry's marketing challenges] at the Spanish Bay course. I'm not including their last names since their colleagues may not be aware of how much fun we were having [but you know who you are!].