Marketing is like the oxygen for your business, and 'leads' are like the bread and water necessary for survival. As businesses, we have to breath and we have to eat, don't we? It's true, nothing happens till somebody sells something, and nobody is going to sell anything without some good leads.
So where do you get good leads? Better yet, where do you get the worlds best leads? The answer to this question has changed so much over time, that perhaps change itself deserves a closer look.
In an effort to better understand change, let's quickly consider the evolution of a couple simple concepts that have been very instrumental in the sales process over time. The evolution of writing instruments and of postal delivery.
The Evolution of Writing Instruments, And The Velocity of Change
We'll start in the first century A.D. when the Romans created the reed-pen from the hollow tubular-stems of march grasses. Like a primitive fountain pen, with one end pointed, they would squeeze the reed forcing the ink to the tip.
The most dominant writing instrument ever was the quill pen, introduced about 700 A.D. (and used for over one thousand years). The quill pen was made from a birds outer wing feathers, typically the left wing as they curved in favor of right-handed writers. Goose feathers were the most common and swan represented a premium variety. Quill pens generally lasted for only a week before requiring replacement.
Also worth noting, the early European writing parchments were made of animal skins, requiring much preparation, scraping and cleaning. Following the actual writing of a document was the drying of the ink, often accomplished with a coal stove placed under the desk. We certainly don't want to get in a hurry here.
Now that we've been writing letters with the same pen for 1700 years, let's lick that stamp and mail it, shall we?
Postal Delivery, and the Velocity of Change
Rome had the first documented postal service, organized by Augustus Caesar. It was a relay system made up of small carriages with fast horses, and it could take weeks, sometimes many weeks to deliver a simple letter. Sound familiar? Of course it does, because 1800 years later, their was the Pony Express. This famous mail service delivered messages and mail from St. Joseph, Missouri across the Great Plains, over the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada Mountains to Sacramento, California by horseback, using a series of relay stations. During its 18 months of operation, it reduced the time for messages to travel between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to about ten days.
Fast forward to the 21st century.
Writing instruments have improved dramatically. Consider that today we write with ones and zeros, but only for about the last ten years, testament to the 'velocity of change' so apparent in our lives today. Ten years ago the velocity of change was an order of magnitude less than it is now, and ten years before that, another order of magnitude less.
Not only can we overnight a letter to Beijing with air freight logistics providers such as Fed Ex, but we can blast 140 characters instantaneously to thousands of people anywhere in the world, that they receive and read, instantaneously. Of course email allows us to send a large variety of documents and media, again to thousands worldwide, instantaneously, and all of these changes occurring only in the last few years. Ten years from now we will look back and think that 2013 was tantamount to the dark ages.
The Printing Press and the Blog
Juxtapose the dramatic effect of Johannes Gutenberg's invention of the printing press in 1436 against the now ubiquitous 21st century blog. The printing press enabled the masses to gain access to the written word for the first time and learn to read, sparking the Renaissance, which in essence represented a sharp increase in the 'velocity of change' driven by the new availability of information. Contrast that with the most powerful writing instrument the world has ever known, the blog. Now with this self-publishing platform, all people have access to a voice with which to share their ideas. Consequently they have the potential to imbue change on the world around them, and the ability to self publish content to millions at will.
The Evolution of Sales Tools and The Velocity of Change
Over the last 20 centuries there was relatively little advancement in the world of sales tools, until about a hundred years ago. At that time, the biggest advancement in the history of sales tools came with the invention of the telephone. Additionally, the typewriter, carbon paper, the fax machine, the photo-copier, the slide projector, the over-head projector, all had a profound influence on business in general and selling in particular, and all appearing on the scene within the last thirty to fifty years.
In the 1990’s came the mass availability of personal computers and printers. Letters, proposals, sales projections, and marketing materials could be created in far less time, with far greater creative flair and customization. Personal computers (PCs) were ordered for every employee who needed to create, process, and record information. Desktop PCs, however, didn’t change the world of selling much—at least until the introduction of email and the Internet in the late 90's and early 2000's.
Consider that as we move into the 21st century, the telephone, the greatest sales tool invention of all time, is slowly but surely being replaced by permission marketing and conversion marketing strategies. In the initial stages of the sales process prospects are finding and digesting information on their own through the internet, with the phone only being used in the final stages of closing the sale and as a support tool.
People are bombarded with 'velocity of change' in their own lives and would rather search, find and disseminate information on their own terms. They would prefer to 'sell' themselves. The companies that provide the best information enabling them to do so are the ones getting the sale.
The endless number of online communication channels enable a prospect to get questions answered without having to be confronted by a salesman. In fact, the only time any of us want to deal with a salesman these days is when we have already sold ourselves, or when we are simply too lazy to search for the information. This dramatic change to the sales process has been slowly developing over only the last five to eight years with the increased availability of information itself.
The Velocity of Change and the Human Population
If you were to plot the velocity of change for each one these concepts, writing instruments, postal delivery and even sales tools you would find that the 'velocity of change' curve for each looks very much like the exponential curve of this planets' population.
In fact, velocity of change is a prevalent factor in every aspect of our lives. For instance, today it is not good enough to become proficient at a particular task, but rather we must also have one eye on any new technology that we may need to master next.
Change is good, demanding perhaps, but good.
Lead Quality, and the Velocity of Change
Once you're aware of it, you realize that a lot of things are following this velocity of change curve, including lead quality. Over the last six or seven years, marketing automation software has been developed by at least a dozen different companies and adopted by thousands of client companies, all leveraging this velocity of change not only in technology, but in the customer experience itself.
According to Wikipedia, marketing automation software provides the following:
- Marketing Intelligence uses tracking codes in social media, email and webpages to track the behavior of anyone interested in a product or service to gain a measure of intent. It can record which social media group or thread they followed, which link was clicked on in an email or which search term was used to access a website. Multiple link analysis can then track buyer behavior - following links and multiple threads related to product A but not B will show an interest only in A. This allows more accurately targeted response and the development of a nurturing program specifically targeted towards their interest and vertical market. Due to its interactive nature this has been described as Marketing Automation 2.0.
- Marketing Automation has a focus on moving leads from the top of the marketing funnel through to becoming sales-ready leads at the bottom of the funnel. Prospects are scored, based on their activities, and then presented drip campaign messaging via email and social channels, thus nurturing them from first interest through to sale. Commonly used in business-to-business (B2B), business-to-government (B2G), or longer sales cycle business-to-consumer (B2C) sales cycles, Marketing Automation involves multiple areas of marketing and is really the marriage of email marketing technology coupled with a structured sales process.
- Workflow Automation encompasses automation of internal marketing processes. These include the marketing calendar, internal collaboration, digital asset creation and management and essentially everything that supports the operational efficiency of the internal marketing function. They require tight integration with CRM software to set up a complex series of rules to trigger action items for internal sales and marketing professionals to manually process (designing files, sending letters, sending email campaigns). This type of system increases marketers ability to deliver relevant content to relevant individuals at relevant times. Limitations may apply, based on the human resource capacity of an organization and their level of commitment to the tasks as they are assigned.
The Worlds Best Leads
The quality of a lead generated by marketing automation software best practices is unquestionably the best lead in the world. Imagine a lead that has worked him or herself through the sales funnel already, is essentially sold on your product or service, and simply needs to have the sale formally completed through a sales call. This is the future of sales leads, and the future is here today.
As a Certified Hubspot Agency providing Inbound Marketing Services, SQmedia embraces velocity of change. We're advocates of 21st Century Marketing. If your not using some form of marketing automation software, you're still stuck marketing in the 20th century. Because of the velocity of change, effectively that might as well be hundreds of years ago.
Things have changed that fast. Things are changing even faster.
Discover the power of providing the type of marketing that people love, and the amazing ROI of generating The Worlds Best Leads. Embrace the velocity of change, and discover the power of 21st Century Marketing.
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