The backbone of traditional marketing has long been the 4Ps: product, pricing, placement, and promotion. While these fundamentals still hold true, the Internet has changed both marketing and the fundamentals we apply to it.
New and innovative online marketing tactics help business-to-business companies build their brand and generate leads online. Some of the leads are hot and ready to buy, while others are long term and need nurturing. To turn these leads into customers, marketing and sales teams must have dedicated and collaborative lead-management practices.
This environment has brought forth the need to complement the classic 4Ps of marketing with a variation called the 4Ts: target, tactics, transact, and track.
The 4Ts are simple concepts. They can be integrated into every company’s sales and marketing organization without requiring dramatic changes to business processes, investments in expensive software systems, or wholesale organizational changes. What they do require, however, is a commitment from sales and marketing to work together.
Target is all about keeping a steady focus on your audience and knowing exactly who you are going to reach with your marketing. It’s believing 100% that your target prospects’ behavior, needs, and goals should drive your decisions on how to market, communicate, and work with them. Remember: With the Internet, your prospects are in the driver’s seat.
Tactics are the mix of programs and media you use to reach your target audience. Through online lead-capture mechanisms such as registration landing pages, you can ask site visitors questions and collect data that allow you to segment your leads into two groups: those who are immediately ready to buy, and those who require more information and nurturing. This will help you more appropriately communicate with them when the time comes.
This is the bridge you create between prospects and your organization and how to begin building the relationship that will result in a sale. Transact refers to opening a two-way line of communication with customers and prospects based on the nature of the inquiry. A combination of smart direct marketing and the involvement of your salespeople to follow up is the key. A good working relationship between marketing and sales is critical to successfully manage leads from the point where they are identified through the entire sales cycle.
With businesses demanding more accountability from marketing, few cmpanies can justify a program whose effectiveness is difficult to measure. The adage that you can only manage what you measure is true. This does not require sophisticated CRM systems to get started. A simple spreadsheet will do, as long as you take the time to track.
The whys behind the Ts
The 4Ts have emerged as new marketing fundamentals for two primary reasons:
1. To help you get the most out of the Internet in your sales and marketing efforts. Search engines and online communities are replacing printed directories and trade magazines as top information resources among b-to-b customers and prospects. Today widespread use of the Internet by your prospects determines to a large extent what tactics are effective for reaching your target audience. The Internet also provides a timely communication channel to interact with your prospects and customers.
2. To help improve the alignment between sales and marketing within an organization. When it comes to harvesting business prospects, only 20% of respondents to a 2005 survey conducted by Waterhouse Group and McSweeney & Antman said that their sales and marketing departments worked together very effectively. Lead management is one critical area where sales and marketing can work better together to grow the business.
The fact is salespeople do not want to be buried by unqualified “leads” who are not really sales opportunities. Good salespeople will take quality over quantity any day, which leaves quantity for marketing to nurture and further qualify. According to authoritative research, long-term leads (future opportunities) often ignored by salespeople because they require more nurturing represent 77% of potential sales.
Additionally, tracking a lead through the sales cycle is an integrated function. It requires resources and commitment from both sales and marketing.
Following the guidelines of the 4Ts can help you gain a competitive advantage and make the most of your marketing investments. The 4Ts complement and extend classic marketing fundamentals in the Internet era in the way that online marketing complements and extends traditional marketing strategies. By keeping them in mind, you can improve your efforts in converting leads into customers.
While some companies may be stronger at lead generation and others at lead management, the 4Ts present an integrated approach to both.
Guy Maser is senior vice president, marketing, for GlobalSpec, a vertical search, information services, and e-publishing company serving the engineering, technical, and industrial communities.