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The art of advertising to online business is just beginning to take hold. If you miss the train, it may run over you.

The One You Keep: Search

Being that I grew up in the advertising business, specifically television, I have always noted campaigns that I thought were particularly effective. New York Life Insurance had a clever branding message that stated, “New York Life, the company you keep.” They made the claim that if you are consolidating your insurance policies, you should hang onto New York Life.

Many companies now faced with the economic realities of the global retraction are now trying to find line-items to cut from their expenses. Advertising budgets almost always suffer due in large part to the fact it is tricky to calculate and prove a true ROI for most campaigns. In fact B2B companies, with particularly long sales cycles, find it difficult even in good times to understand what is really working. So when economic indicators go down, the marketing/advertising outlays are usually the first to be reduced.

If I could talk directly to all CEOS CFOs and Marketing VPs of high-tech, B2B companies, I would strongly urge you to keep as much of your advertising programs intact as possible. If most B2B marketing efforts are cut back, the well-known brand names who continue to advertise will only grow stronger. But if that is not an option, just like New York Life, your search effort should be the one advertising vertical you keep. In fact I can think of 4 reasons that you hold on to your search campaigns like an offer for a free ipod. (When I say search advertising, I am talking about both PPC and SEO).

Reason #1. Your search ad or organic listing is the first point of contact between your company and motivated, interested prospects. Many different B2B studies of sales have shown that as many as 92% companies start their investigation of a new technology purchase through a search on the Internet.

Reason #2. Search marketing can provide your warm inquiries with the equivalent of full page ads. The prospects who click on your ad and go to your landing page, at the very least, see an ad for your product or service.

Reason #3. B2B PPC search ads deliver lots of free advertising. Think of all the search impressions (especially the vast majority of companies who see your text ad but don’t click on it,) you get in as part of every search program. You are in effect getting free, yes let me say this again, free branding for many prospects who are there specifically to find you. Conversely, if people doing a search don’t see you, it appears as though your business has gone dark.

Reason #4. The search platform is one of the most nimble, measureable and quantifiable forms of advertising ever devised. If you take the proper approach, you can very quickly test effectiveness of your messages and refine all of your online and offline collateral. By scoring the quality of your inquiries, you can get then a true picture of the success of your program. No other marketing programs will give you that much information in such a short amount of time.

Search. Even in a difficult economic environment is the one you keep.

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