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eMarketing: Web 2.0 and the New Sales Cycle

Web 2.0, a term coined by O'Reilly Media in 2004 (, references the new wave of web chat and online information handling tools that are now becoming mainstream. These include RSS News feeds, blogs, search engine marketing, social networks, and their adjuncts. Add the increasing transparency between computer and cell phones and the range of possibilities for multi-channel campaigns becomes provocative.

Marketing is a relationship building endeavor. With Web 2.0+, event-triggered mechanisms to automate message handling, word-of-month viral marketing, visitor traffic analysis, eMail open rates, text-based phone messages – all these facilitate prospect locating, informing, and connecting.

In the May 8, 2006 issue of BtoB, vertical marketing was highlighted with a story about Woodway, a fitness manufacturer who sought to sell more deeply into the government sector. Woodway had identified a strong prospect base with initial fitness product sales and the company's marketers sensed greater potential.

To test the hypothesis, they first developed a highly targeted list of prospects, sending out 1000 direct mail pieces that referred back to a landing page on a micro-website created for this purpose. There, visitors could download a product brochure and request a demo unit. Full-page ads were placed in key government fitness journals.

The first converted lead paid for the entire campaign, with the website continuing to draw long after the campaign was completed.

Effective brand building will condition the buying cycle with presence-building brand awareness campaigns. When the time is ripe for conversion, a strong brand plan will extend messaging into a fully integrated sales cycle, guiding prospects through needs assessment, decision making, and purchasing.

If the prospect is not ready to buy, brand presence will have impact, but will not create immediate sale. Knowing what the potential buyer is thinking about at each stage of the decision process will help you know what messages to send and when.

Become aware of your prospects' problems and needs, and understand what the prospect is concerned with when they are analyzing needs, researching options, and making the purchase decision.

Within the sales cycle itself, you educate the prospect, informing about what the solution will mean for their business and operations.

In summary, effective marketing and sales cycles accomplish these objectives:

1) build brand presence, gaining and maintaining top-of-mind presence with the target community;

2) communicate relevant messages during the buying cycle, helping the buyer make an informed decision;

3) deliver timely information when the prospect needs to make a decision that will move them closer to buying;

4) make buying easy.

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