Learn five easy steps to creating a better presentation
Several recent discussions with clients have revealed concerns about the quality and efficacy of their sales presentations. These marketing leaders observed that the positioning, messaging, and imagery in their selling PowerPoint’s were poorly constructed, graphically challenged, and highly inconsistent from salesperson to salesperson.
It’s my observation that most speakers use PowerPoint as a crutch for visual note taking, forgetting that the audience truly is persuaded by the presenter, not the words on the screen. In the interest of reducing audience boredom, the following are five easy tips for creating a more effective selling presentation:
1. Lead with your unique value proposition: At almost every sales presentation I attend, the speaker leads with a series of “who we are, what we do” slides. Boring! Most in the audience already know what you do. In opening your presentation, try these approaches: On your very first slide, explain one or two brief thoughts on why you are different from the competition in ways that add value — and express it in terms of customer benefit. Or, begin your presentation by telling a story that plays into the main points to be made.
2. Create a professional appearance: Do your deck look like the outtakes from your child’s third grade science presentation? The brand impression made by your first few slides will be lasting. Make it a good one. Many in the audience come from major companies and organizations where brand presentation is sacrosanct. They will judge your company accordingly. (Spending a few dollars with a graphic designer can produce dramatic improvements in a presentation’s effectiveness.)
3. Tell your story in images, not just with text: Steve Jobs never used a slide with a bulleted list of text. Instead, he relied on individual graphics or images to tell his story. Using high-impact photography and visuals makes your presentation fun, different — and memorable. It drives the audience’s attention to the most important element in the presentation — you!
4. Summarize your main points at the closing: Your audience will remember only three or four things from your presentation. Make sure these points are recapped at the end of your pitch.
5. Win the audience with speaking skills and personality, not your slides: Spend as much time on practicing your delivery as you do on preparing your slides. The world’s best deck will not make up for a poor presenter. But a great speaker can inspire the audience, even with a lousy set of slides. If the video projector broke, could you still deliver your presentation?
As an added note, Guy Kawasaki, well-known blogger, author, managing director of a venture capital firm and an Apple Fellow, promotes a technique that can help sales people with their presentations, the 10-20-30 Rule:
• No more than 10 slides
• No more than 20 minutes
• No font smaller than 30 points
During 2013, B2B marketers will be confronted by new opportunities too great to be ignored. We see five trends that will offer exciting potential for those who harness their power. At Tiziani Whitmyre, we’re aggressively leveraging these new directions to support our client’s marketing programs.
1. Successful CMOs master four key areas: We believe that chief marketing officers (CMOs) will grasp four key competencies in the coming year to be effective.
First, they will fully commit to measuring marketing ROI and productivity. This means investing in tactics that can generate a measurable return on investment. It also includes incorporating metrics that measure marketing output and outcomes in financial terms; then tracking these metrics to optimize performance.
Second, they must drive innovation throughout the marketing function. CMOs should continuously explore and embrace new technologies and approaches that heighten the customer experience, optimize processes, and fuel sales growth.
Third, marketing leaders will become more adept at employing digital channels. As marketing moves almost entirely online, the effective understanding of digital tools, networks, and analytics is essential to build high-performance processes that support revenue expansion.
Finally, as budgets and resources remain static, CMOs must initiate highly efficient processes that build brands, generate leads, and internalize the voice of the customer. More productive business practices will boost marketing performance, save money, and optimize resources.
2. The revenue generation process gains traction: Marketing strategy has moved beyond lead generation to demand creation and revenue generation. These new approaches give marketing a much greater responsibility for strategies and tactics that not only acquire prospects, but qualify and nurture them to sales conversion. It recognizes that the marketing team must own “out of period” revenue while the sales team owns “in-period” revenue. And it transitions marketing leaders from building initiatives around activities to creating strategies focused on business outcomes. The revenue generation process consists of six steps:
- Content development
- Web-to-lead conversion
- Lead qualification and nurturing
- Lead scoring and sales conversion
- Analytics and measurement
Most of us have adopted some of these steps in our marketing programs. Collaborating with sales, best-practice teams will now implement the entire process to dramatically accelerate revenue growth.
3. Brands become “publishers:” Developing content (white papers, applications briefs, videos, Webinars) that is highly valuable and relevant to your prospects is a central element in the revenue generation process (see above). As B2B brands immerse themselves in this approach, they will take on the characteristics of publishers. This means marketing teams will need “editors-in-chief” who can develop editorial calendars, identify topics and subject-matter experts, oversee content creation, and manage budgets and deadlines.
4. Mobile becomes a must-do B2B marketing opportunity: Today, Smart phones and tablets have penetrated over 50% of the market. And now, we’re using their powerful capabilities on the job. Tiziani Whitmyre’s e-mail marketing analytics indicate that up to 30% of recipients are viewing their e-mail on mobile devices.
Unlocking the power of these tools will be a critical opportunity for B2B marketers. In the year ahead, consider developing a mobile strategy for your business. Identify tactics in your marketing process where you can reach prospects and customers through their mobile devices. These might include tailored content, app development, mobile advertising, social media, and e-mail marketing.
5. Lead nurturing and scoring come of age: While most B2B marketers have dabbled in lead nurturing and scoring, these strategies will become ingrained at many companies during 2013 (see above). As content libraries expand, B2B marketers will have the resources to mount sustained campaigns that engage prospects with relevant, high-value information. Lead nurturing offers the opportunity to engage with buyers in the early, formative stages of their buying cycles. It helps develop a personal relationship that will shape the purchasing process and accelerate sales outcomes. Lead scoring technology enables marketers to track and assign values to a prospect’s digital behavior, role in the buying process, and stage of the purchasing process. The score is calculated in real time and can signal when the prospect is ready for sales closure. Our clients who have implemented successful lead nurturing and scoring programs have experienced shorter sales cycles, higher closing ratios, less discounting, and more revenue per transaction.
Read our management brief on these B2B marketing trends.
If you are using Web landing pages with registration forms, there is a quick way to boost your conversion rates: reduce the number of form fields.
A study by Marketo showed that the Web conversion rate increased by 34% when the registration form was cut from nine fields to five fields. In addition, the cost per lead dropped by over 25%.1
While the urge to collect prospect information is irresistible, there will be many opportunities to gather additional data once you have an e-mail address. This strategy of “progressive profiling” enables you to request additional information as you offer higher-value content. Over time, you can fill in the gaps in the prospect’s profile to enhance lead nurturing and sales conversion.
So think lean when you develop your Web landing page forms — typically first and last names, title, company name, and e-mail address — and watch your conversion rates improve.
A new study reports that B2B companies are devoting more of their budgets to develop marketing content (white papers, application briefs, blogs, Webinars, videos, etc.). The survey, conducted by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, said that B2B organizations allocated 33% of their 2012 budgets to content development, up from 26% in the previous year.
But while content spending is up, the report indicated that companies are less confident about its efficacy. In 2012, only 36% believed their content was “effective” or “very effective,” down from 42% in 2011. The answer to this anomaly lies in the differences between the most-effective and least-effective marketers. The most-effective companies spent 46% of their budgets on content, while the least-effective group allocated only 16%. In addition, the number of social platforms used for content is twice as high among the most effective group versus the least effective. And 71% of the most effective marketers target their content to decision makers compared to only 41% among the least effective.
These results confirm Tiziani Whitmyre’s experience with our own clients. We see greater content expenditures and more effective targeting in their marketing campaigns as they move beyond lead generation to demand creation strategies. And those that offer their content through inbound marketing channels such as social media, public relations, and search are achieving far greater results.
Internet advertising revenue climbed to an all-time high of $17 billion during the first half of 2012, according to an IAB Internet Advertising Bureau report. Some important highlights included:
• Mobile advertising experienced explosive growth, almost doubling to $1.2 billion during the period.
• Search engine advertising continued its growth – up 18% over the previous year’s first six months.
• Performance-based online advertising accounted for two-thirds of the total Internet ad spend.
These results are impressive, considering the slow growth of the economy and lackluster consumer and business spending. The strong uptick in mobile advertising underscores the important adoption of smart phones and tablets as daily business productivity devices. B2B marketers should be developing a mobile strategy as part of their demand generation and brand building programs.
Almost all of Tiziani Whitmyre’s (TW) clients are employing content marketing for their demand generation programs. Effective B2B content provides answers to customer problems and offers insight into key market trends and issues. It is typically packaged as white papers, applications briefs, case studies, videos, and Webinars.
A recent E-consultancy report validates how critical content has become for B2B marketers:
- Over 90% of respondents believe that content marketing will become more important over the next 12 months.
- Nearly three quarters (73%) of digital marketers agree that “brands are becoming publishers.”
- Less than half of companies have dedicated budgets (34%) or individuals dedicated (46%) to content marketing.
- Increased engagement is the most commonly cited objective for content marketers, with 52% of in-house marketers and 58% of agency marketers listing this as one of their top three business objectives.
TW recommends that marketers budget for content development as part of their revenue generation strategy. Not only does it build thought leadership, but content has become the single most important element in a best-practice lead acquisition and nurturing process.
When B2B buyers visit your Web site’s landing pages, will they provide their contact information? Our clients frequently ask this question, because many believe registration forms discourage customer engagement. A study of more than 3,000 IT buyers by TechTarget sheds some light on the issue.
The survey identified the top reasons why buyers share their contact information with vendors:
- 85% said they are either very or somewhat willing to provide their contact data when ready to make a purchase
- 82% will share their information if they are familiar with the company
- 72% will provide their contacts in return for expert content.
All of the IT buyers said they used the Internet for researching products and solutions. More than 90% of them admitted they frequently visit a vendor’s Web site after seeing an advertisement of interest. Buyers also said they are equally receptive to offers in branding ads or e-mail, and many indicated a willingness to save the offers for later response.
When landing page visitors perceive that the content offer is of high enough value, our experience confirms they will readily provide their contact information. We’ve seen landing page conversion rates of 30% to 50% with good content and landing page design.
Our e-mail campaign analytics also show that many prospects will save their e-mails up to several weeks after receipt — and then use them to return to the vendor’s Web site.
Finally, the buyer’s receptiveness to sharing contact information with a familiar company demonstrates the importance of brand in the demand generation process. Web landing pages should have a consistent brand promise and presentation and to enhance recognition and engagement.
Outbound E-mail has become a core marketing element in most lead generation and nurturing efforts. After conducting hundreds of e-mail campaigns over the last few years, we’ve learned a bit about what makes them successful. Here’s our list of 10 things to consider when creating your next campaign.
1. Group your target prospects and customers. Make sure you segment your recipients by interest area, geography, or other demographic information important to the buying process.
2. Customize content for your unique buyer personas. Develop e-mails with content and messaging for each of the above groups. This ensures that each e-mail delivers relevant information that will engage your prospect and significantly improve effectiveness.
3. Standardize your send information and brand presentation. Increase the likelihood that recipients recognize your e-mail by using a consistent “from” name and corresponding e-mail address. Also, standardize your e-mail templates’ graphics for greater brand recognition and familiarity.
4. Deliver a straightforward call to action. Each e-mail should communicate only one clear call to action. Repeat it in several places. Don’t confuse or overwhelm the recipient with superfluous links, offers, or messaging.
5. Send at the best time. Research shows that Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are the best days to send your e-mail campaigns. Early morning and mid-day are the best times. Keep time zones in mind.
6. Ensure deliverability. Make sure your e-mail subject lines do not have spam filter-unfriendly words such as “free,” “credit,” “revenue,” or “prizes.” Proof campaign content in an open-source spam filter such as www.emailspamtest.com or in an e-mail reader to determine if there are deliverability or formatting problems.
7. Consider mobile devices. Mobile devices represent the fastest growing class of e-mail reading software. A recent campaign sent to a client’s list of over 8,000 contacts had a higher percentage of iPhone/iPad users (17.6%) than Outlook 2010 users (14.7%).
8. Subject lines are still important. Be economical with your subject lines. Try to work your brand name organically into the subject and not necessarily at the beginning. Try to include a short and sweet call to action. Some terms such as “Reminder” or “Please confirm” tend to adversely affect open rates. While other terms such as “Thank you” or “Important” tend to be considered power words that increase open rates. Think in terms of headlines and shoot for an overall character length of 30 to 60 characters.
9. Schedule maintenance. Set aside time for keeping your lead management database up to date and clean with de-duplication. Review and adjust lead segmentation schemes.
10. Use the analytics. Most e-mail campaign solutions come with analytics that report on open rates, click rates, bounces, visited links, and un-subscribes. Use these analytics to develop metrics that measure your campaign’s success. Compare the results to industry benchmarks. (See our Oct. 16 blog post.) Also, look for an e-mail marketing solution that provides statistics on e-mail software so you can understand what your audience is using to read your e-mails.
Adopting these best practices will provide a greater return on your e-mail marketing ROI by achieving higher open rates, more downloads, and greater lead conversion.
Our clients frequently ask us how the performance of their e-mail campaigns compares against industry standards. A recent study by Marketo of more than 1,000 marketers sheds light on this critical question.
Read on to see how your e-mail campaign goals and metrics stack up against industry norms:
1. The top goals for e-mail marketing were identified as lead generation, online sales, and offline sales.
2. Custom Web landing pages are almost always being used by top performing companies as landing and conversion points for their campaigns. The pages generate a moderate ROI boost. In addition, 80% of those surveyed are using registration forms on their landing pages.
3. Most companies surveyed do not engage in lead nurturing. However, top performing companies often do it and see a significant increase in ROI.
4. E-mailing frequency was reported as follows:
a. Product and service promotions: 1 to 2 times per month
b. E-newsletters: monthly to quarterly
c. Lead nurturing e-mails: Quarterly, when used
d. Event announcements: quarterly to occasionally
5. More than half of the respondents named SalesForce.com as their customer relationship management (CRM) solution.
E-mail campaign execution metrics
The following metrics provide a good benchmark for e-mail campaign execution:
1. The average e-mail open rate was reported at 16% to 20%.
2. The average e-mail click-through rate was 2% to 5%. Top performers reported up to 10%. (The click-through rate is the fraction of all delivered emails that get clicked on.)
3. The average unsubscribe rate ranged from 0.1% to 0.2% of the total e-mailing.
4. The bounce rate averaged 2% to 5%.
Compare your e-mail campaign results against these metrics to measure your success. Most Tiziani Whitmyre clients are performing at or above these levels. If you are not, stay tuned for our next blog that will review the best practices for e-mail marketing.
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