Lead samples – To give or not to give

Anyone that has ever bought leads on a regular basis knows that when dealing with a new lead company it is always a crap shoot on whether you are going to get good leads or not which is why many who are in the market to purchase leads will ask a company for a sample, a try before you buy if you will.  Like anything else if there is a scam to be had some unethical opportunists somewhere will find a way and the leads business is not any different. Lead companies have begun to shy away from giving free leads away because there are those that will go to every lead company in business and ask for a free sample under the guise of purchasing if the sample is good but never do becasue they got all the data they needed by getting samples from a dozen or more companies.

The bigger lead houses caught on to this fairly quick and came up with a no free sample policy, if you want a sample you can certaintly get one, its just not going to be free, some of them have even created special pricing just for the samples at a cpm well below the regular cost.  You can purchase a few thousand leads for a few hundred dollars and spin the phone numbers through your dialer or send our an email blast through your server, whatever the case masy be, and if the results are promising than you can purcahse the whole shebang.  The mentality is that if you are not willing to spend a few hundred dollars on a sample than the odds of you spending a few thousand for a large quantity of leads is not too good.  Some don’t like this philosophy thinking why spend money on something only to find out it is not going to work for me.

Consider this, when is the last time you went to a restaurant and asked the waiter to bring you a sample of something you were considering ordering on the menu? The answer is probably never because if you did no doubt you would get the quzzical raised eyebrown look, if you want to see if you like something that is on the menu you are just going to have to order it, if you end up not liking it,  you know not to order it again.  Many of the lead providers are not just worried about being scammed out of a sample, they also don’t want their sales personnel wasting precious time on a prospect that is never going to buy.  They use the fee based sample as a way to filter out the buyers from the window shoppers.

Now you can still find companies that are willing to give you samples, but it is a practice that is quickly diminishing and something else that you should consider; leads are the lifeblood of many companies and is a valuable commodity so when you ask a company for a free sample you can bet your bottom dollar that they are not going to get the cream of the crop, the odds are you are getting old leads that most likely have already been used.  If you truly want to test a companies leads you are going to have to bite the bullet and buy them, because most things that are worthwhile are not free.

Welcome to the Throttle Media blog.

Welcome to the official blog of Throttle Media. While I have been writing a blog for a while for Throttle Media and I have been writing this that and the other thing for years, this particular blog at this particular location is new to me, so welcome.  You will see several articles that I have written over the last couple of months on the Throttle Network Blog that I have pasted here for those of you who have not had the joyous opportunity to read them, and shortly I will begin adding new content. I look forward to reading your comments and discussions.

HAS THE INTERNET CHANGED THE FUNDAMENTALS OF MARKETING

Has the Internet changed the Fundamentals of Marketing?

I am often asked by some of my post graduate students if the fundamentals of marketing also apply to e-marketing. Now depending on whom you ask the answer to that question varies, but they aren’t asking someone else they are asking me and in my humble opinion they do apply. The fundamentals of marketing are still taught in business and marketing classes in Universities everywhere and are a very real part of business today. Let’s start with a quick refresher of what those fundamentals are and what they mean.

·Marketing Mix – Also known as the Four P’s of marketing is the combination of product, place (distribution), promotion, and price.
Product – The features of the product (or service).
Place – Where the product is being sold. “
Distribution Channels”
Location of customers and potential customers, how to get to them.
Promotion – The actual marketing of the product/Service through advertising, publicity, promotions.
Price – The price the product/service is being sold for.
Value Proposition – What makes the product /service valuable? The reason that a company gives a customer to purchase, how they will benefit. The reason one product/service is better than a competitor’s brand.
Product Dimensions – The basic operating characteristics of a product or service.·
Positioning – The creating of an image or an identity of a product/service.·
Targeting – Who to market to, segmenting the market to a specific set of people.
Brand Value – How a product/Service is perceived by the consumer and the marketplace at large.

I have debated with other marketing professionals who claimed that the fundamentals are a set of traditional fundamentals and that while they still apply to traditional marketing, that e-marketing need and deserve its own
set of fundamentals. I disagree. To begin with traditional, e-marketing, the line is becoming blurred as the Internet and Internet technology becomes entangled into the fabric of everyday life, personal and business alike. Last summer BabyCenter, LLC, released research results of a study called “The 21st Century Mom ™ Report” that revealed that having a baby changes purchasing behavior of women. The report shows significant increases of moms’ use of Social Media, up 462 percent from 2006 and the use of cell phones up 348 percent. They use Social Media for recommendations on brands and products and 73 percent felt they find trustworthy information about products and services through online communities and to get advice from other Moms going through the
same experiences (babycenter.com, June 2009).

The Internet is being used to advertise traditional products and services and traditional media is being used to advertise websites and online businesses. So does this change the fundamentals of marketing, do they stay the same, does their meanings change or are they evolving? I think in some cases they stay the same, and in some instances the definition remains the same, but how they are applied evolves. Let’s look at the fundamentals of marketing from an online perspective, let’s start with the Four P’s:

Product: The only change is the Internet has been added as a viable advertising media.

Place – traditional brick n mortar: store front, retail location. Online: ecommerce storefront website. Channels of Distribution: resellers, can be traditional, online or both.

Promotion: Two main media’s TV/Radio and Print has evolved into three media’s to include the Internet.

Price: price remains the same in some cases and in some instances price is less when ordering is done online.

Now let’s take a look at the Value Proposition, is a product or service’s value changed because it is now being marketed online? In most cases the answer would be no, unless the value proposition is because of the Internet,
like Amazon.com who has no offline presence, their value is convenience and price.

Product Dimensions do not change much based on the media used to promote, in some cases the product dimensions may be the Internet itself such as Search Engine Marketing or ITunes. In these cases the Product Dimensions were not changed, just new ones created.

Positioning isn’t really effected because of the Internet. An expensive luxury car may be positioned as an image of class and stature, the Internet does not change that positioning, it simply gives it more opportunity to promote brand awareness.

Targeting has been effected the most profoundly by the Internet because though it has not changed the definition in any way it has opened the door to a myriad of new opportune methods of targeting.

Brand Value – I have heard the argument that the Internet has changed the meaning of brand value because a product or service is exposed to more people since the advent of the Internet. I disagree it has not changed the meaning; it has simply given the product or service more exposure adding to the opinion of the brand which may or may not change the value.

All in all it is my belief that the fundamentals of marketing are sound as they have ever been and whether they are being used in a traditional setting or an online one, the principles should still be applied as they have always been.

IS TRADITIONAL MARKETING DOOMED TO DIE?

A question that keeps popping up and a topic that I have had conversations multiple times both with clients and vendors as well as with MBA students in some of the post-graduate classes that I teach; is traditional marketing doomed to die? It’s a good question because the world around us is constantly changing as better technology is introduced and the methods that we use to communicate with prospective customers has changed dramatically over the past few years. We have gone from a two media world to a three media world, it was not that long ago when there were two major media’s; TV/Radio and Print and now we have a third Major Media and that is the Internet. The Internet has changed the world around us, it has changed how consumers get information and it has changed how businesses provide that information. So before we can answer the question of whether traditional marketing is doomed to die let’s look at how some of the traditional technologies are used in conjunction with the new.

Television is still watched by the masses and is still used as an advertising media, however the Internet has changed some of the ways we watch television. Every major network has made many of their popular television shows available on the Internet, and along with this new method of people watching their favorite TV shows it is also a new method for advertising. TV and television are also being married in some ways; a good example is Direct T.V.’s movies and videos on demand; they are downloaded from the Internet using wireless Internet connected to your Direct T.V. receiver. It has been suggested that this may be how all of television is accessed in the future.

Radio is still listened to; however traditional radio being broadcast over FM and AM is quickly being overtaken by satellite radio. Satellite radio has many more channels and is not restricted by where you live and most have no commercials.

Newspapers are still in business and still deliver the daily news and while that delivery is still available in the old fashioned way, many people have opted to read the paper online instead of having it thrown on their driveway each day. According to Moody’s Investor Service newspaper ad revenue declined by more than 27% in 2009 (mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com). According to multiple sources including marketingvox.com newspaper ad revenue is at an all time low including the online version. Newspapers are facing tough competition online in just about every area of advertising that they offer.

So the question of whether traditional advertising is doomed to die stills begs to be answered and the answer in my opinion is that TV and Radio are here to stay and will not die they will simply evolve as they are already doing. The platform in which we watch TV and listen to the radio may change but TV and Radio are here to stay, at least for the moment. Newspapers both online and off is a tough one to answer and the current outlook isn’t too promising, but I am not willing to close the book on them just yet, there is still time, we will just have to wait and see.

USING EMAIL MARKETING TO BOOST SALES

Anyone engaged in sending an email marketing message knows that it is not as simple as clicking on the to button and select whom you are going to send the email to, quickly type out a subject and then get down to business of writing your email, push the send button in your Gmail or Yahoo account and abracadabra your message is ripping through the Internet at speeds that would have left superman gasping for breath and looking for his Albuterol Inhaler. So you send emails like this all day long at work, at home and one day while in the men’s room sitting in the back stall reading the daily edition of the Wall Street Journal that you diligently pick up off the drive way each morning you have an epiphany, BAZINGA the light bulb went off, you scramble to be as Hygienically responsible as you can be in your state of excitement run out of the bathroom and into your office and you tell your partner that you just came up with a spectacular idea that will solve the issues with business being down 20% in the last two quarters. He looks at you trying not to notice the three-foot long piece of toilet paper that followed you through the door. “Listen”, you tell him, “forget all this money we are spending on banners and SEM we need to start conducting our own email marketing campaigns. We have a fairly large database and I have a contact over at BS Marketing that will sell us a data base of one million consumers, all permission based, opted in, and so all we have to do is follow the simple rules listed on the FTC website for the CAN SPAM ACT and we are golden. We can send a million emails out and even if we only get 1% to respond well that’s 10,000 people, and if only 5% of them buy our least expensive product for $29 we make $2900 , we do that two or three times a week and we are making $60,000 a month in sales”.

I know you are thinking that this is an exaggeration, and it may be, but I talk to small business owners all the time and this is what their mentality is. Email is the magic solution. How can you go wrong with thousands and thousands of emails going right into the inbox of potential customers?

Email is one of the greatest marketing platforms ever created in the history of marketing. It has capabilities and measurable metrics that no other platform can offer. You can track how many people opened the email, and of those you can track how many clicked on a link and went to the website in the ad and more. All of this is true.

The problem with email is that people have unrealistic expectations. They think if they sent out a 100,000 email campaign that they will get 10,000 visitors to their website. It doesn’t quite work that way. Email like any other media requires planning, research, and targeting, and segmentation. Like any media email requires what we call consistency marketing, meaning that people need to see your ad several times. It is a common marketing fact that people often need to see your ad between 3 and 7 times before they make the move to purchase or even contact you. Have you ever watched a television show for an hour and saw just one Verizon commercial during the breaks in that hour? No of course not, you saw the commercial four or five times. Last week my family and I hooked up my laptop to our big screen and watched the first four episodes of the new show ‘V” because we missed the first four weeks. Each show was only about 45 minutes long due to limited commercials. Each 45 minutes show had about 5 commercials, only 1 commercial per break for only 60 seconds. We watched all four shows and out of the 20 commercials we saw, 17 of them were the same commercial over and over. It was for Hellman’s mayonnaise. Do you think they made the decision to bombard us with the same mayonnaise commercials without a good reason? No they know that this is what sells. Consistency marketing. Email is not any different.

Okay so you are going to run your email 10 or 12 times over a four or five-week period. Now you need to create an ad. Your ad can be an html ad or a text ad, depending on what you are selling and who your target is will depend on the type of ad you want to use. In either case, you want to use what is called a spam score. This is a system that grades your ad based on filter criteria that all major ISP’s use. The lower the score the better. Things that raise the score are red, bold lettering, all capital letters, words like “Free”, “No cost”, “No obligation” and much more. The maximum your score should be is about 2.5, but I recommend that our client’s goal should be under 1. You can check your spam score for free at http://spamcheck.sitesell.com

The last thing which many think is the least important is the subject. The subject is quite important for a number of reasons. First off, this is the first thing that the recipients are going to see. The subject is what is going to determine if they open the email or move it to trash. So you want your subject to be effective but at the same time, not too corny or too commercial. Your goal is to have a professional commercial email with a hint of personality to it. Putting the recipient’s name in the subject is a great way to let them know that you know them and research has indicated that emails with the person’s name in the subject have a higher open rate than those that do not.

The last but not the least of your concerns is going to be getting your mail through. How are you going to email? Are you using your personal email account? BZZZZ! If you said yes, you answered incorrectly. Most ISP’s like Yahoo, MSN, AOL and Gmail all have a limit to how much mail that you are allowed to send per day. Yahoo will only allow you to send 25 per day. So if you have 4000 days to spare, than you can get your 100,000 emails sent, no problem. So you are thinking that you will just go lease a server, you can get one for about $150 bucks a month. The problem is you purchased data and even though it was opt in data; they did not opt in to you. So when they complain and they will complain you cannot how proof that they opted in to your domain. Most servers and as well as email services like Constant Contact state in their Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) that opt in mail must have originated from your domain and not be a purchased list that was generated from Co-registration data.

So what is one to do? You need to hire an email marketing company that does this for a living. This is what they are good at. Just be very careful when you are selecting an email marketing company that you are very careful and that you have done your homework. There is a lot of scam artists out there calling themselves email marketing companies. Be careful. Check them out, something as simple as doing a Google search on the company name and the name of the principles in the company can go a long way in making sure you are using a real company. If you need some help with email marketing or just want some advice, feel free to shoot me an email at joem@throttle-media.com or leave your questions in the comments section below.