Written by Leigh Simpson (Founder of Contour Heating Ltd., Insynth Digital Marketing, and Project Prospecta)
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As there continues to be uncertainty in the market, marketing budgets are being cut and more is being expected of sales teams. However, when I ask sales teams “how it’s going”, these are some of the answers I get:
“I only get out-of-offices.”
“If I was in London, I used to look up projects in Barbour ABI, make a phone call, then pop into the architect’s office. Now no one’s picking up.”
It’s not an easy time to be on the phones. Especially if you’re used to being on the road.
“What if you didn’t need to call all of them? What if we qualified the leads for you?” I ask.
“That’d be ace.”
One of the responses from many companies as budgets got tighter was to pull away from marketing and lean into sales. This was perceived to be the necessary response to a drop in revenue. While understandable, this response puts a lot of pressure on sales teams in a time where they are facing challenges they may not be able to solve by themselves.
One of the silver linings of launching a new marketing business (Project Prospecta) during the middle of a pandemic is we were perfectly positioned to help at a critical time. As fewer people were in offices, email inboxes became the best way to reach them.
Sure, it wasn’t as easy as sending out a quick email and getting immediate responses, but a well-implemented lead nurturing strategy quickly helped our partners find more work.
The good news is that while uncertainty lingers, the UK Construction industry has steadily continued to recover after an initial drop last year. Discovering opportunities in the sector is just a matter of identifying where they are.
I’ve had many conversations with building product businesses who are looking to just “ride it out”. Waiting until they can shake their prospects hand again. But I’ve also talked to businesses who were undergoing major digital transformation before the pandemic began. To them, this has been an additional push in the same direction.
It’s been said countless times, but the future of business (even in the building products and construction industry) is digital. And more of what we do will move online. The number of digital CPD’s, webinars, blogs, and case studies generated in the past year points to this. We are converting the conversations we used to have in person into digital content.
And this is a good thing because more and more buyers and specifiers are doing their research online. The problem is that all of this content is just sitting there. On your website. It doesn’t go out and meet people – so to speak.
How do you get it to your audience? You can wait for them to come to you but that may take too long.
This is what email marketing can do well. And it doesn’t have to be about “who we are, why we’re different, why we’re better” (typical tired messages that fail to really engage or help prospects). It can be about providing helpful materials to relevant audiences at the right time. This way you’re being helpful. You’re using your expertise to guide prospects. You’re providing answers to questions they’re currently asking.
In August of last year, we launched Project Prospecta. It helps Barbour ABI subscribers reach their audience with these types of helpful messages. It utilizes a progressive email campaign that’s automatically initiated when a contact is added to a project that meets your criteria.
The primary purpose of each campaign is to use your digital content to provide helpful advice to relevant prospects, and establish a warm relationship with them. Then notifications are sent to your team when those prospects have shown a high level of interest. This way you are reaching a relevant audience, automatically, with helpful content, and being notified of who is ready to engage.
Also, by showcasing the expertise of your brand to the people who are currently working on construction projects in the UK, you build your brand. Leaving an impression on decision-makers in top companies throughout the construction industry means you’ll be top of mind for future jobs.
Healthy companies grow with a mix of short-term lead generation activity and long-term brand building work. This strategy of lead nurturing is designed to do both. It helps businesses grow in a sustainable future-focused way, as well as getting the boost they need now.
My advice to business product businesses is this: don’t reflexively cut your marketing budget. Explore what your marketing team can do to enable your sales teams. Project Prospecta is just one example.
I think an adaptation of an old proverb will sum it up well: If you want to grow fast, just focus on sales (and cross your fingers). If you want to grow sustainably, focus on how sales and marketing can work together.
This collaboration between sales and marketing is essential to developing a revenue engine that will keep your business growing while working from “office 2.0”.