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Marketing/Marketing Natural Stones

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Question
Good Morning,

I am the owner of a business that supplies natural stones such as granite and marble to projects (towers, lobbies, bulk quantities etc) as well as retail (kitchen counter tops, tables etc). I operate in an asian country that has seen rapidly growing wealth and construction in the past few years.

We have a group of loyal customers who regularly place retail orders with us and a sales manager responsible for acquiring projects. Recently, project sales have been dwindling. Currently, our retail operations involve waiting for clients to come to our stores, where we offer them very competitive prices. I am trying to work a market strategy that to market my products and increase awareness in the industry for both retail and projects. I would also like to tap into new markets for my products.

Kindly suggest possible steps I can take.

Best Regards,
Bob

Answer
Business Description: xxxxx  quarries, manufactures, and distributes its own various colors and grades of marble. Its unique products are used for purpose of construction and renovation.
The company plans to consolidate the traditionally fragmented industry through developing retail stores. This will allow them to brand a portfolio of marble and natural stone products, which will be recognized and trusted throughout the world for its quality. Xxxxx   will earn in the stone industry the status
The company will acquire stone retail/fabrication businesses that have been identified and qualified by the company's acquisition team. The acquisitions will have proven track records of profitable sales and will be the dominant (or have the possibility to be the dominant) stone business in their market area.
Market Needs: The market currently has the following needs:
•   Consumers have no well-known brand name to trust when they go to buy stone. We intend to brand the totality of the stone buying experience and exploit this opportunity in the market.
•   Localized sales by a nationally trusted name.
•   Once the decision is made to have a granite counter top, the consumers want it immediately. We will satisfy this need.
Market Opportunity: Note that every new construction site or existing commercial/ residential building has a need for dimensional stone products. Floor Covering Weekly estimates that the retail floor covering market alone, being the most profitable segment of dimensional stone industry
Competitive Advantage: The company controls the supply of the product through its quarrying operations. Managing product distribution from quarry to end consumers will give the company the first of its many edges by competitive prices and providing consistent quality.
In terms of innovation, the company has developed products in the past with special backings and surfacing for use on yachts and elevators. Dynamically innovative, the company already utilizes the most advanced stone engineering techniques in its tile plant to process marble tiles from small blocks of exotic stone.
In terms of fulfillment, quality control, and service, the company has already perfected the complex logistics of fulfillment through its proprietary quality control operations. In its planned retail business, we can achieve a turn-around time of 10 days for our custom counter tops from template to installation. Finally, coating technologies to enhance durability and simplify maintenance are fully integrated into the company's products.
Market Entry: , the company' dimensional stone products are sold through  prestigious regional distributors. They have an average of more than nnnnn  active retail customers, and together they reach a retail segment of yyyyy retail stores. Xxxxx  has product leverage and an operational familiarity with these distributors
Value to Purchaser: The appearance of exotic marble creates a memorable impression of elegance that architects and interior decorators seek for their best clients. Lifestyle choices, fashion trends, and the growing cultural trend of "bringing nature inside" have caught on with Baby Boomers. The kitchen and bathroom are now areas in the home that receive the most attention, and as it happens it is where the use of natural materials like stone can make all the difference.
Strong and durable, stones in foyers, kitchens, fireplace surrounds, and bathrooms are all strong selling points for any building or home that is on the market. In our increasingly health-conscious world, polished stone surfaces is one of the purest environments for those who suffer from dust and other allergies.
As this is the fastest growing segment of the market, with natural stone increasingly taking market share from ceramic tiles and other artificial products, this means that every new construction site or existing commercial building or residence with floors, walls, bathrooms, a staircase, or a kitchen is a potential customer for natural stone products.
This is a tremendous market opportunity when one considers that residential construction happens to be the most profitable segment of the natural stone industry and favored by demographical factors. Namely, the "Baby Boomer" generation has come of age,. As consumers they have come to expect and demand the most for their money, and an investment in natural stone yields the best possible value.
We see a lot of opportunity for which we are uniquely qualified to exploit, such as:
•   Changing an old system of distribution that sometimes has to go through "10 different hands" from the time the stone leaves the ground until it is installed in the kitchen. There is a better way.
•   The current traditional closed shop in the stone business is at last opening up because of the ubiquitous Internet and the full information today's consumer now has available to them. In effect, consumers can identify marble from a small village in Ireland and tell their stone shop all about it.
•   We believe we can own the space in the consumers mind when it comes to identifying marble and granite, as there is no well-known stone brand today.
•   Strategic alliances with powerful complementary businesses is already part of this company, and we intend to continue this in our retail stores.
•   Our European ethos can be advantageous to our retail stores that have proven to be a compelling attraction for consumers of other European luxury products.
•   Since this is an industry that traditionally spends nothing on advertising, there is an enormous first-mover advantage for any stone company that advertises and more importantly, to initiate a public relations program that creates some excitement.
•   The stone industry's highly fragmented entities make it a perfect candidate for consolidation. There is a growing tension between regional distributors and their stone retailers. This has begun to change business relationships. We are seeing that as some retailers get larger, they are bypassing their regional distributor, and in turn distributors are directly bidding on retail jobs.
•   The accelerated growth generated by the acquisitions of retail fabricators will provide currency for more acquisitions, creating a snowball effect. In essence, the opportunity here is the creation of a "category-killer," the first of its kind that consolidates the dimensional stone industry. .
By owning and controlling the stone at its source and marketing these brands through company-owned retail showrooms, the company retains market initiative to ensure delivering of consistently high-quality products at truly competitive prices from source to finish.
The key to implementing our branding strategy is retail; the company's acquisition team will identify and qualify several stone retail/fabricators that will have a proven track record of profitable sales and will be the dominant (or have the possibility to be the dominant) stone business in their market area.

STRATEGY SNAPSHOT
Action Steps:
•   Xxxxxx  acquires retail shops with a proven track record of profitability to generate strong business cash flow.
•   The retail shops allow xxxxx to connect to the end consumer and market its xxxxx and other branded products directly to the public.
•   The company will then use its raw material extraction alliances to extend and expand its portfolio of stone brands.
•   Targeted marketing at this point will enable xxxxx to become the dominant stone brand in the world, potentially having a global market share as high as 40 percent.
Ensuring correct installation and maintenance procedures will provide long-term immunity from competitors that compromise on this element of the process for short-term gain.
MARKETING STRATEGY
The company's promotional strategy relies heavily on communicating the value of its products and services to the customer. The company will market by directly interfacing with the end-users, architects, and designers through consistent advertising in selected publications. The coverage the company receives in marble trade magazines and in prestigious publications such as Hibernia Magazine enhances its public image.xxxxx will utilize both a "push" strategy and a "pull" strategy in promoting its products. It will maximize its considerable channels of distribution to push the offering to the market.
Currently, the company's dimensional stone products are sold through 20 of the most prestigious regional distributors
Xxxxx is presenting the market with two main offerings:
1.   The company will offer stone distributors a nationally promoted stone brand that is the recognized standard in the industry and also the best value. With the exclusive as the foundation, we will add granite and other marble, both exotic and neutral field-type stones, to broaden the portfolio.
2.   Xxxxx will offer consumers the ultimate stone-buying experience through our own retail showrooms and provide the most professional selection, fabrication, and installation on the market. We will brand the totality of that purchasing experience and not just our natural stone products alone.
The beauty, strength, and endurance of natural stone make it the covering of choice in both new and renovation construction. It is little wonder that currently, the natural stone industry continues to expand at rates exceeding 20 percent per year.
COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS
The company has already shown its ability to compete in its existing quarrying business. From a standing start just over three years ago, its products are now available throughout the region. No other company in this industry has achieved such market penetration so fast.
Business Plan Mechanics for Marble Tiles Businesses
Haven't created a business plan for your marble tiles business yet? You could be in big trouble.
As your company matures, you can circle back to your business plan to make revisions and adjustments.
Evaluate the Competition
Prior to launching a marble tiles business in your town, it's worthwhile to find out how you will fit in the competitive landscape. We've provided the link below to help you get a list of local competitors near you. Just enter your city, state and zip code to get a list of marble tiles businesses in your community.
•   Search for Marble Tiles Businesses Near You
Is the local market large enough to support another marble tiles business? If not, you had better be sure that you are doing things much better than the competition.
Talk to People Who Are Already in the Business
If you are seriously contemplating launching a marble tiles business, be sure to learn as much as you can from somebody who is already in the business. Local competitors are not going to give you the time of day, mind you. It'd be crazy for them to teach you the business.
On the other hand, an individual who has a marble tiles business in a different city can be a great learning resource for you, given that you don't compete with them in their area. Many business owners are happy to give advice to new entrepreneurs It can take a while to find an entrepreneur who is willing to talk, but it's well worth the effort.
How does one go about finding a marble tiles business founder who is willing to talk to you but doesn't live nearby?
Here's how we would do it. Try the useful link below and key in a random city/state or zipcode.
•   Get In Touch With Marble Tiles Business Owners
Why You Should Buy (Instead of Start) a Marble Tiles Business
It's no secret that entrepreneurs have a strong impulse to build companies from the ground up.
Yet a healthier and safer strategy may be to purchase an existing marble tiles business.
When you buy an existing company, you get a functional (and presumably profitable) company from day one. And that's not to mention the fact that a purchase let's you avoid the trial-and-errormistakes that are common in startups.
Explore Franchising Options
Your chances for doing well with your venture go up significantly if you purchase a franchise and leverage their successful brand and track record.
Before starting a marble tiles business, you ought to investigate whether there are good franchise opportunities available that might make sense for you.
The link below gives you access to our franchise directory so you can see if there's a franchise opportunity for you. You might even find something that points you in a completely different direction.

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5  TENENTS  OF  MODERN  MARKETING


1. Targeting. The first step in building any sustainable structure is to ensure a proper foundation.Think of your database as this foundation.Without the proper data management and hygiene in place, your marketing operations will suffer because it’s nearly impossible to meaningfully segment and refine your prospects.
2. Engagement.Meaningful marketing is centered on the customer.No longer can marketers or sales reps relegate communications to company centric conversations.To engage with prospects and customers in a meaningful way, you must develop tactics to address and align messaging across all digital channels.To do this effectively, you must have a content marketing strategy in place to provide educational engagements.
3. Conversion. Marketers are using technology that responds to the buyer’s actions in real time and delivers profile information that reflects their timeline and research journey.Automated campaigns have higher conversation rates and are much more resilient for maintenance.By automating your campaigns, you can improve the buyer’s experience, develop loyal relationships, and track conversion data more effectively.If you understand the nature of conversions, you can leverage that data to refine business initiatives across your organizational structure.
4. Analytics. As accountability for marketing investments increases, data analytics provide a helpful tracking resource to define and measure.By implementing systems for reporting and intelligence, organizations can better understand the impact that sales, marketing, and other efforts are having on overall business performance.This insight helps you refine strategies and develop repeatable processes for success.
5. Marketing Technology. Organizations across all sizes and industries are leveraging tools to simplify business processes.Successful marketers understand the importance of aligning marketing automation, sales force automation (SFA), and customer relationship management (CRM) platforms in the cloud.They can then extend capabilities with cloud applications by integrating other key technologies to connect the dots of internal efficiency and maximize prospect and customer interactions.
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USING  BEHAVIORAL  INSIGHTS
The seismic shift from face-to-face to online sales has hindered the ability to see and learn from body language when interacting with prospects.Today’s salespeople are engaging primarily—in many cases exclusively—online and are closely aligning their efforts with the key attributes found in online behavior.We call this Digital Body Language. By analyzing and understanding prospect online behavior—email responses, web page views, social engagement, and other core attributes—marketers have a wealth of insights to personally guide prospects through the buying process.
The notion of understanding buyers is no longer based on information that the sales team types into a sales force automation (SFA) system.It’s now based on information that’s gathered from all buyer interactions.As we learn more about buyers across all touch points such as events, webinars, social, and video, we gain a deeper understanding of their Digital Body Language and have many more predictive insights than from their SFA record.
When marketers can automate the marketing process taking into account a potential buyer’s Digital Body Language, they will be able to triumph over their biggest challenges:
Increase revenue with qualified marketing leads.
Align marketing and sales processes and systems.
Boost demand generation efficiency and effectiveness.
Demonstrate marketing value and accountability.
Establish a Modern Marketing system of record.
Social media sites are a hub for information gathering, primarily because the distribution of that information is through trusted networks and communities.As social media users, we review a constant flow of information from friends, family, and colleagues.This information passes the test because it’s trustworthy or particularly interesting.Social media has added another component to the buying process as a result.
Understanding buyer behavior on social media sites is critical.The information that buyers interact with comes with an additional layer of trust that other information does not, and thus is more likely to form a base of that buyer’s opinions about your company or services.Marketing automation provides marketers with the ability to segment based on behavioral data and attributes.
Understanding who is participating in social media conversations that concern your brand is an indicator of interest, and potentially, intent.If someone is polling your followers for information on your brand, it’s usually an indicator that they are involved in a buying decision.If sales can see when a hot prospect is sharing your content, they can get better insight into the topics and content that are important to that buyer.Social media offers visibility into key behavioral attributes, allowing marketers to leverage extended channels for lead generation and brand building.Social media enables marketing organizations to capture:
Social profile and behavioral data on leads and customers.
Common attributes, connections, or sharing behaviors to support segmentation strategy.
Relevant conversation monitoring to improve sharing tactics.
Maximize the Value of Your Data
Campaign success hinges on a variety of critical factors managed by both sales and marketing teams.A sound data management strategy is an integral component to ensure that organizations are aligning relevant and appropriate messaging with prospect expectations at every possible touch point.
The foundational element of successful marketing automation is your database.Good data quality enables relevant, real-time messaging.If you want to target based on demographic data, you need to ensure the data that you’re collecting is both accurate and up to date.Campaign effectiveness will suffer if you’re unable to target accurately as a result of bad data.Key prospect and customer data at the contact, demographic, social and company levels enables marketing organizations to provide relevant information at appropriate phases in the buy cycle.But often there is missing contact data, such as a job title, which can prevent quality leads from getting in front of sales.Even if quality leads get through, if sales reps can’t contact the prospects, then overall conversion rates will suffer.
It’s crucial to implement data management as the foundational component of any program.Marketers cannot establish systems to optimize the visibility and insight that data provides if the information is decentralized and unaligned with other business processes.By implementing the right strategies to maintain accurate data, you can enhance campaign initiatives and provide relevant prospect and customer offers.
Beyond missing attributes, marketers also are challenged by the reality of data decay rates.SiriusDecisions estimates that B2B contacts become obsolete because of people changing jobs and companies at a rate of 2-3% per month, creating a constant stream of inaccurate contact data.
The data element is the single most important area for companies to understand.Yet at the executive level, it is often the least understood.Without clean data, marketers waste precious money and time.When data is accurate, open rates increase, conversion rates improve, and revenue increases.
To optimize the value of marketing automation and improve the performance of campaigns, marketers are realizing it is imperative to integrate their marketing automation platforms with their databases.With an integrated data process in place, marketers can improve key performance indicators (KPIs) in their campaigns, such as open and click through rates, as well as conversion rates from leads to opportunities.

THE ROLE OF TRIGGER-BASED MARKETING
Offer Timely & Relevant Communication
Every marketer knows the importance of providing the right message at the appropriate time.Trigger-based marketing enables critical response to behavioral attributes and actions, such as an email click through or continually demonstrable interest in a particular asset or offering.
The key to executing trigger-based marketing is timing and relevance.By aligning the content and timing of email messages with behavior, marketers can optimize their points of engagement and encourage feedback via calls to action.Trigger-based email programs enable marketers to transform existing customer data into measurable rules that help execute on business objectives.
Marketing automation supports content delivery based on interest, inquiry, and engagement.By providing tailored information specific to prospect or customer actions, you can more definitively provide value to assist and empower potential buyers.This dramatically helps reduce cycle times.
For instance, when an email recipient clicks on a link or call to action to learn more, predefined rules can be set to ensure that this particular prospect, who expressed topical interest, should receive a specific asset or information based on their behavior.
THE ROLE OF EMAIL MARKETING
Centralize Multi-Touch Engagement
While many marketing communication channels have emerged along with the evolution of automation tools, email is still perhaps the most critical point of engagement that supports marketing communication.Marketers are equipped with an arsenal of prospect information, garnered through web forms, third-party lists, social media, conference registrations, and a variety of other channels.Email helps support overall multi-touch communications strategies, enabling marketers to deliver these targeted messages based on customer preference across different points in the buyer’s purchase process.
Email provides a platform for right time, relevant communication when used with behavioral triggers.It also provides the opportunity to serve up relevant content at the time when a buyer is engaged and likely to respond.
List management is critical to having visibility into inactivity so marketers can accurately measure and understand the effectiveness of email communication.Keep in mind, however, that your email sender reputation is a core component of your potential reach, and maintaining your deliverability score is key to ensuring continual reach and communication with contacts.Too many blocks, spam trap hits, and/or complaints from targets are just a few ways to get blacklisted, but it’s also important to maintain strategies for list management, frequency of sends, engagement metrics, and policy/security compliance.
To provide positive brand impressions, avoid complaints, bounce backs, and unsubscribes, marketers must develop and maintain a comprehensive privacy policy that shows how you’re collecting, using, and protecting data.
As privacy protection and compliance becomes an increasingly critical consideration for marketers, email suppression has become a primary technique for high-volume email delivery.Additionally, it’s vital that marketers ensure the prevention of unwanted solicitations and senders to avoid landing on blacklists and irreparably damaging their brand’s online reputation.
MARKETING AUTOMATION SIMPLIFIED
The standard opens and clicks are one way to measure the impact of email marketing effectiveness, but marketing automation provides visual click through reporting so you can see which links within an email get the best response.This helps optimize the overall effectiveness of email communications.By knowing which email messages and offers are the most engaging, you can fine tune your trigger-based marketing campaigns and serve the right message.
THE ROLE OF SOCIAL MEDIA AND CONTENT
Influence Inbound Marketing
Social media is a driving communication force where buyers, sellers, and thought leaders are connecting to exchange ideas and information.The influx of content, information, and education available across these digital channels has tasked marketing teams with a variety of new roles to manage across web, brand, and content.
Prospective buyers initiate their own research and discovery processes to identify solutions to their business challenges and ask peers how they are addressing industry trends.Once they’ve figured out there’s a solution to their problem, they narrow the list of companies that likely can solve their problem.
Buyers do this by leveraging a number of channels and content offerings, including: searching Google, attending a webinar, downloading an eBook, attending an event, asking their network for recommendations, visiting your corporate website, reading your blog, listening to a podcast, attending a virtual trade show, watching a product demo, seeing a video customer testimonial, reading shared content on social media, and the list goes on.
This new world of buying is transforming the role of marketing and sales.To help support the buyer’s discovery process and ultimately progress to becoming a loyal, satisfied customer, it’s imperative to rethink the selling model.To the earlier point, buyers don’t want cold calls, generic emails, or case studies of companies they can’t relate to.They want value-driven insights, information, and engagement.
Marketers have realized the value in providing compelling content and are increasingly thinking like publishers to engage with their community of influencers by storytelling and education.
Effective content marketing supports the buyer’s independent researching and brand engagement, and is specifically tailored to address evolving needs.Realizing this shift, marketers are increasingly focused on measuring the impact of different types of content on various stages of the sales and marketing processes.
MARKETING AUTOMATION SIMPLIFIED
In the information exchange-driven marketplace, content is a critical component to connecting with prospects and customers.Marketing automation enables you to circulate and track content based on buyer profiles and segment your prospects and customers according to their roles, interests, and other attributes that make sense for your business.Automation also helps you trigger relevant content based on consumption and channel delivery preferences.
THE ROLE OF LEAD MANAGEMENT
Maximize Prospect Interest & Engagement
Lead management is the lynchpin of demand and revenue generation strategy.Marketing automation technology enables marketers to implement a framework that outlines the process between marketing and sales for handling leads.Without a proper system in place to manage all your potential buyers across a high volume of channels (email, social, direct, etc.), it’s impossible to capitalize on their interest.
Industry benchmarks indicate that organizations leveraging a lead management system to maximize their marketing automation see a 416% increase in closed deals, according to SiriusDecisions.Moreover, IDC estimates that companies that implement lead management systems are enjoying a 10% increase in overall revenue.
While close collaboration between sales and marketing is necessary across all areas of the organization, it’s especially critical during the lead management phase, so that both teams are in sync regarding the criteria, attributes, and characteristics of different types of leads.
Although the general practice of lead management focuses primarily on the organization of data distributed across the various sales cycle stages, marketing automation technology enables marketers to streamline an otherwise manual and time-consuming task.
3 Steps to Establish a Qualification Process
3. CREATE a lead scoring model (for instance, start with the buyer’s role, function, or vertical).
MARKETING AUTOMATION SIMPLIFIED
Marketing automation provides an efficient way to manage lead qualification, or the process of reviewing the criteria of each prospect/customer with the goal of moving that buyer to the next phase of the buying cycle.Most buyers initially will need to be nurtured, which means that they are not quite ready to buy.Marketing automation provides tools to assess buyer fit and behavior, which then allows you to easily determine the attributes of a likely lead.
Centralize Multi-Touch Engagement
While many marketing communication channels have emerged along with the evolution of automation tools, email is still perhaps the most critical point of engagement that supports marketing communication.Marketers are equipped with an arsenal of prospect information, garnered through web forms, third-party lists, social media, conference registrations, and a variety of other channels.Email helps support overall multi-touch communications strategies, enabling marketers to deliver these targeted messages based on customer preference across different points in the buyer’s purchase process.
Email provides a platform for right time, relevant communication when used with behavioral triggers.It also provides the opportunity to serve up relevant content at the time when a buyer is engaged and likely to respond.
List management is critical to having visibility into inactivity so marketers can accurately measure and understand the effectiveness of email communication.Keep in mind, however, that your email sender reputation is a core component of your potential reach, and maintaining your deliverability score is key to ensuring continual reach and communication with contacts.Too many blocks, spam trap hits, and/or complaints from targets are just a few ways to get blacklisted, but it’s also important to maintain strategies for list management, frequency of sends, engagement metrics, and policy/security compliance.
To provide positive e brand impressions, avoid complaints, bounce backs, and unsubscribes, marketers must develop and maintain a comprehensive privacy policy that shows how you’re collecting, using, and protecting data.
As privacy protection and compliance becomes an increasingly critical consideration for marketers, email suppression has become a primary technique for high-volume email delivery.Additionally, it’s vital that marketers ensure the prevention of unwanted solicitations and senders to avoid landing on blacklists and irreparably damaging their brand’s online reputation.
MARKETING AUTOMATION SIMPLIFIED
The standard opens and clicks are one way to measure the impact of email marketing effectiveness, but marketing automation provides visual click through reporting so you can see which links within an email get the best response.This helps optimize the overall effectiveness of email communications.By knowing which email messages and offers are the most engaging, you can fine tune your trigger-based marketing campaigns and serve the right message.
THE ROLE OF SOCIAL MEDIA AND CONTENT
Influence Inbound Marketing
Social media is a driving communication force where buyers, sellers, and thought leaders are connecting to exchange ideas and information.The influx of content, information, and education available across these digital channels has tasked marketing teams with a variety of new roles to manage across web, brand, and content.
Prospective buyers initiate their own research and discovery processes to identify solutions to their business challenges and ask peers how they are addressing industry trends.Once they’ve figured out there’s a solution to their problem, they narrow the list of companies that likely can solve their problem.
Buyers do this by leveraging a number of channels and content offerings, including: searching Google, attending a webinar, downloading an eBook, attending an event, asking their network for recommendations, visiting your corporate website, reading your blog, listening to a podcast, attending a virtual trade show, watching a product demo, seeing a video customer testimonial, reading shared content on social media, and the list goes on.
This new world of buying is transforming the role of marketing and sales.To help support the buyer’s discovery process and ultimately progress to becoming a loyal, satisfied customer, it’s imperative to rethink the selling model.To the earlier point, buyers don’t want cold calls, generic emails, or case studies of companies they can’t relate to.They want value-driven insights, information, and engagement.
Marketers have realized the value in providing compelling content and are increasingly thinking like publishers to engage with their community of influencers by storytelling and education.
Effective content marketing supports the buyer’s independent researching and brand engagement, and is specifically tailored to address evolving needs.Realizing this shift, marketers are increasingly focused on measuring the impact of different types of content on various stages of the sales and marketing processes.
MARKETING AUTOMATION SIMPLIFIED
In the information exchange-driven marketplace, content is a critical component to connecting with prospects and customers.Marketing automation enables you to circulate and track content based on buyer profiles and segment your prospects and customers according to their roles, interests, and other attributes that make sense for your business.Automation also helps you trigger relevant content based on consumption and channel delivery preferences.

THE ROLE OF LEAD MANAGEMENT
Maximize Prospect Interest & Engagement

Lead management is the lynchpin of demand and revenue generation strategy.Marketing automation technology enables marketers to implement a framework that outlines the process between marketing and sales for handling leads.Without a proper system in place to manage all your potential buyers across a high volume of channels (email, social, direct, etc.), it’s impossible to capitalize on their interest.
Industry benchmarks indicate that organizations leveraging a lead management system to maximize their marketing automation see a 416% increase in closed deals, according to SiriusDecisions.Moreover, IDC estimates that companies that implement lead management systems are enjoying a 10% increase in overall revenue.
While close collaboration between sales and marketing is necessary across all areas of the organization, it’s especially critical during the lead management phase, so that both teams are in sync regarding the criteria, attributes, and characteristics of different types of leads.
Although the general practice of lead management focuses primarily on the organization of data distributed across the various sales cycle stages, marketing automation technology enables marketers to streamline an otherwise manual and time-consuming task.
3 Steps to Establish a Qualification Process

1. DEFINE each stage of the buying cycle (inquiry, marketing qualified lead, sales qualified lead, etc.).
2. DETERMINE what criteria will be used to arrive at those definitions.
3. CREATE a lead scoring model (for instance, start with the buyer’s role, function, or vertical).
MARKETING AUTOMATION SIMPLIFIED
Marketing automation provides an efficient way to manage lead qualification, or the process of reviewing the criteria of each prospect/customer with the goal of moving that buyer to the next phase of the buying cycle.Most buyers initially will need to be nurtured, which means that they are not quite ready to buy.Marketing automation provides tools to assess buyer fit and behavior, which then allows you to easily determine the attributes of a likely lead.
THE ROLE OF LEAD ROUTING
Manage & Optimize Demand Generation
The immediate challenge of data collection is that there are so many sources of information, feeding into multiple data stores, that it gets really difficult to maintain a consistent process of data collection.With a thoughtful lead management system in place, you can optimize the effectiveness of their activities that ultimately decide the most appropriate course of action for each lead, or group of leads.
Lead routing is a critical step in this process because it helps categorize and prioritize leads based on a company’s criteria, and get leads where they need to go to keep marketing and sales initiatives going.
Marketing automation helps automatically route marketing-qualified leads based on a score or rank, so sales can focus time and energy on leads that are ready to buy.This is key for eliminating the lead-distribution bottleneck that occurs with manual processing.
Having a lead routing strategy in place is vital to the success of other core marketing automation components, which will be addressed in the following sections.Without a fundamental understanding of the avenue to sales success, it’s virtually impossible to provide value to leads and progress them through the buying cycle.

MARKETING AUTOMATION SIMPLIFIED
Marketing automation helps marketing and sales teams avoid letting leads slip through the cracks and into the black hole of lost opportunities.By feeding leads into marketing automation, lead information is automatically captured and routed to your sales team based on geography, industry, product interest, or other assigned business rules to alleviate the lead management process.Whether you have a direct sales force, named account model, or a distributed channel and sales organization that requires sophisticated routing capabilities, marketing automation helps ensure that leads are efficiently and correctly delivered to sales
THE ROLE OF LEAD NURTURING
Stay in Touch and Top of Mind
Nurture programs offer a unique opportunity to engage with prospects over time, on their terms and in a way that is manageable, understandable, and meaningful.Nurture programs are often great opportunities to develop relationships based on value and ongoing communication.Lead nurturing also enables marketers to cultivate leads that are not yet ready to buy.
The more information you have, the more success you’ll achieve creating buyer personas and defining need-based objectives.You’ll also gain a better understanding of the behavioral and consumption patterns of your target buyers.All of this knowledge can then be utilized to refine and optimize your ongoing nurturing processes.
Effective nurtures should take into account both buyer role and lead stage.By looking at these two elements, marketers can ensure they are having a relevant dialogue.You want to tailor your communications based on the audience you are talking to (role/persona) and where they are in the sales cycle (lead stage).
Nurtures also should consider buyer engagement.Successful lead nurturing keeps prospects engaged by providing relevant content, such as infographics or white papers, conducive to prospect needs, industry, role or other characteristics, as well as their phase in their discovery and purchase processes.Meaningful nurture offers are based on relevance and value, so it’s critical to think about the attributes most important to your prospective buyers and their surrounding business trends.You’re not nurturing if you keep blasting emails regardless of actual response (or lack thereof).
Nurturing can help establish loyalty and brand affinity long before a prospect is in the purchase phase, but by cultivating latent demand, companies can increase the conversion of unqualified leads to opportunities and drive more revenue.
MARKETING AUTOMATION SIMPLIFIED
Nurturing helps accelerate active opportunities by empowering prospective buyers with content that supports their research and discovery process.Therefore, it can be effective as part of a trigger alert program to help marketers track and correspond to prospect actions.Nurturing offers an innovative approach to managing different types of leads, based on interest or other profile attributes.

THE ROLE OF LEAD SCORING
Identify Target Attributes
Lead scoring starts with sales and marketing aligned to define and establish agreed upon systems to identify where prospects are in the buying cycle.It’s crucial that this system is established in concert, as the two teams can exchange feedback on the quality of leads being passed to sales.
Scoring mechanisms enable marketers to identify ready-to-buy prospects, so that teams can allocate appropriate follow up initiatives.Quality data provides the foundation for a successful lead scoring process and for refining that process over time.Perhaps most importantly, lead scoring helps ensure the best leads are followed up on immediately by prioritizing leads according to revenue potential and buyer readiness.
Lead scoring uses common lead quality definitions, such as BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeline), as well as key qualification data including lead response, activity, and behavior.
By implementing a scoring system, marketers can effectively assess and qualify leads and better prioritize those with higher scores, as they are considered more likely to convert to closed revenue.They can be passed off to sales while other lead scores can be determined according to the timing of activity or inactivity.Unqualified or cold leads can be routed to lead nurturing programs until they become active again.
MARKETING AUTOMATION SIMPLIFIED
Marketing automation platforms have automated lead scoring in place so that, for example, if a prospect is actively opening all communications sent by marketing, his or her lead score has the ability to rise.This person scores higher based on behavioral attributes and Digital Body Language.A higher lead score will be passed to the sales team much quicker to enhance the odds of closing the deal
To understand prospects in a more holistic view, marketers typically leverage firmographic analysis and the market segmentation insights it yields to identify likely buyers.This traditional approach based on attributes like industry type, revenue, employee counts, and geography is still useful, yet it is no longer enough to give B2B marketers a thorough understanding of their target buyers.
Whether a company sources its prospects internally or purchases a marketing list based on this data, it still ends up with too many targets, making it virtually impossible to sort the suspects from the true prospects.Marketing automation enables marketers to summarize this wealth of behavioral data—your prospect’s Digital Body Language—in different ways.For example, marketers can glean an understanding of a contact’s campaign history, program membership, and activity information.Marketing automation provides an at-a-glance, visual summary of prospect activity for salespeople embedded within their CRM system.
By asking for less information up front, marketers can increase conversion rates and accelerate the funnel.However, you will then need a way to evaluate buyer fit if you are not collecting all the data they need up front and progressive profiling allows you to do that.
THE ROLE OF MARKETING IN SALES ENABLEMENT
Address the Independent Buying Cycle
While many marketing initiatives are driven by buyer-centric strategies, it’s important to remember that smart Modern Marketing strategies are focused on sales enablement in addition to providing value to prospects and customers.Sales enablement—or sales readiness—is about helping your sales reps deliver the right content to the right person at the right time to cultivate a more active role in the mostly independent buying process.
Today’s buyers are engaging with sales later in the cycle than ever.They are self-educating by employing a variety of independent channels to garner peer feedback, relevant research, and case study examples of how to optimize their business.Prospective buyers are in many ways reinventing the sales cycle.SiriusDecisions estimates that the buyer’s journey is 70% complete by the time they contact a sales person.
This shift—which places buyers in control of the sales cycle—makes sales enablement that much more important for companies.Empowering sales requires a number of different tactical measurements and strategic insight.
Sales teams must be prepared to have strategic, problem solving, value-creating, and differentiated conversations rather than traditional product, feature, or company-focused pitches.Taking cues from Digital Body Language, it’s become critical for sales professionals to understand the nature of online selling.This puts a premium on content and creates new requirements for both sales and marketing organizations that must align in a seamless, joint selling effort.
Winning sales reps aren’t simply focused on closing deals.They know the value in providing the benefits of a true consultant, and helping simplify the decision-making process based on a clear understanding of buyer interest, needs, and behavior.When a prospect finally reaches out, sales reps are equipped with every a vailable attribute about the buyer and can then be prepared to deliver value.
MARKETING AUTOMATION SIMPLIFIED
Sales needs to ensure they are providing the necessary tools and content to help buyers make a purchase decision.Marketing automation provides the sales team with a library of tested content for every scenario.Sales reps can choose from marketing crafted emails for various scenarios and buyer stages—which lets them focus on selling rather than customizing email communications— and ensures the messages they are sending are optimized.It also allows them to track how buyers are responding to those messages because they are tracked by the system.
THE ROLE OF BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE
Drive Smart Marketing
Marketing and sales efforts are often only as effective as the data and intelligence feeding them.Because there is such an extensive network of information and details available about prospective buyers, marketers and sales teams must have systems in place to collect and analyze this data, and to act on it efficiently.
Equipped with rich reporting and intelligence about prospective buyers, marketers can refine their engagement strategy and provide content aligned to specific stages of the buying process that helps build trust and rapport with the buyer.
Business intelligence helps marketing organizations to:
Inform Strategy: Optimized customer profiles enable marketing analysts to make better and faster strategic decisions.A sound segmentation analysis helps marketing analysts understand new market opportunities, identify common attributes, and create marketing strategies that maximize your reach and positioning as a thought leader.
Streamline Sales: Richer profiles feed sales intelligence, such as prospect scoring, to help salespeople identify likely buyers.This provides a better understanding of what products customers are most likely to buy, and their time frame for making purchases.These become easy sales qualifiers, and they also can help sales teams develop product bundles or identify cross-sell and upsell opportunities.
Accountability across the organization has pressured marketers to implement systems for measurement to help demonstrate the impact initiatives have on generating qualified sales leads and revenue.It’s essential to have dashboards in place to understand data elements of each phase of the marketing and sales funnel from multiple systems.
Using insights from your shared marketing dashboards, you can drill down into the details to analyze behavior, actions, and effective tactics.You also can develop custom reports and charts based on your information needs and objectives.Marketing automation provides visibility into key data including:
Closed-loop campaign reporting to understand how marketing activities and campaigns are driving pipeline, revenue, and ROI.
Campaign engagement reporting to analyze which channels and offers generate the most interest, engagement, and conversion.
Website analytics reporting for insight into website demand generation performance, including who is on the site and how they convert.
Database health reporting to help diagnose the health of the marketing database, including growth or shrinkage rates, activity rate of various segments, and record completion.
MARKETING AUTOMATION SIMPLIFIED
Marketing automation integrates data from social media, email, websites, and sales pipeline from your CRM to close the loop and help you make more informed decisions that drive lead generation and engagement tactics.This also helps prevent the need to constantly re-create frequently used personalized emails throughout the sales process.This ensures that sales reps are using marketing-approved messaging, branding, and content.It’s critical to use metrics across all channels, so you can stay plugged into real-time insights, even on the go.
THE ROLE OF MARKETING AUTOMATION
Eliminate Silos and Engage Your Community
Bringing together the efforts of sales and marketing is an ongoing challenge, and marketing automation offers a platform to garner measurable and visible results to track the success of their campaigns, while improving the quality and flow of leads.Meanwhile sales executives can monitor prospect interest levels and—with higher quality leads from marketing—can close more deals.
Marketing automation technology helps teams refine their strategies by connecting the efforts across both the art and science of marketing.Marketers are streamlining campaign execution with the ability to better target, engage, convert, and analyze business in more meaningful ways, both qualitatively and quantitatively.
Marketing automation functionalities help marketers improve campaign execution, testing, measurement, prospect profiling, and lead nurturing.Marketing automation also provides visibility into critical analytics, so marketers are effectively acquiring new customers, driving revenue performance, and enhancing their most significant strengths to develop strong brands, build creative campaigns, and deliver compelling content.  

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