If it’s not THE most important piece of paper, it is very near the top for most B2B companies. What is it, you ask? The business card.
Not yours, your prospects! I often hear from clients, “we would love to do more marketing, but we don’t know where to buy the data, or how accurate it is.” I tremble at these words. Sitting in the drawers and closets of most of the sales force will be stacks of business cards banded together with strands of rubber. Or what I call, stacks of cash just sitting there waiting to be used. How, you ask?
Well, first and foremost, most business cards include an email address. These email addresses are gold to your email marketing program. You don’t have a regular monthly email marketing program you say? Read what we have to say, and give us a call. Because if you’re not using email marketing to make regular contact with your prospects and customers, you’re relying on your sales force to do all the work, and they simply can’t create the type of awareness you need to keep your brand on the top of your prospect’s mind. We even have a video that calculates for you how much more cost-effective it really is to use email marketing to produce awareness than it is to rely solely on your sales force.
Second, there’s an address, right? Then as you append and add criteria to your contact information you can develop targeted direct mail programs to bolster awareness and reach those that do not open your emails. Segmenting by customer and prospect is the first step. Then I usually suggest breaking down the prospects and customers into potential with A’s being your best fit and going down from there. You can break it down by size if you like, or product used etc… How you break them down is up to you. But those are the two most popular. Remember, the more data you segment out, the harder it is to keep it all accurate. so keep your desire for segmented and targeted data balanced with your real ability to keep it all accurate. In the real world most of the time, the more data I see people trying to collect and keep accurate, the more it turns into rubbish. Now, back to the cards.
Oh sure, the sales people are using these business cards. They’ve logged the information into Outlook, their Franklin Planner (yes people still use them) or individual CRM. But this is no good to your organization if you’re not harvesting that data in a central location, adding and appending the information with notes the sales person has taken (what they use, when, how etc…) and developing a plan to market to them.
And for those who have a centralized CRM I usually ask “what’s your system of ensuring each and every sales call that results in a business card ends up in your CRM?” The answer is, sadly, that there usually isn’t one. If you lack a system, pull your sales force together with someone responsible for your CRM. If you don’t have a centralize CRM, I recommend a few cost-effective centralized systems like Salesforce, Zoho or Base. If you don’t want to go the online route, then set up a central spreadsheet (.xlsx) on a server or on one person’s PC and have all the data entered by one person. I’ve found the more chefs in the soup, the worse it starts to taste. Have your reps drop off the cards at the beginning of each day, and have the person return them in short order once the data is harvested. That’s just one recommendation. Like I said, pull your team together and work out a system that’s best for your business. But do something, and put someone in charge of it. No accountability = no results in my experience.
Remember business cards are 3.5″ x 2″ blocks of gold to your business. Don’t let them end up buried in piles in someones desk. You’re paying for this data! Demand it, then use it…create awareness and watch your market share improve.