"Hot Potato" is a popular children's party game requiring the players to gather in a circle and pass along a small beanbag or baseball until the music ceases to play. As the music stops, whoever is holding the "hot potato" is out and the game continues until one player is left. Although widely amusing and adrenaline-inducing at parties, the same excitement turns to disappointment when B2B companies similarly fail to guide a potential lead into the next stage of the buyers journey and the hot potato lands in the hands of the wrong person when the music stops playing.
This hot potato phenomenon can occur when companies are inefficiently trying to generate leads. With the growth of the internet and the immediate availability of information, an SMB buyer now has the power to research, discover, and arrive directly in the palm of your hand. Your job now is to do something with this hot potato.
When a fresh-new lead first enters the top of the marketing funnel, the buyer may not be ready to make a purchasing decision. If you leave the new lead at the point at which they discovered your service or product, the music will stop and your once-potential customer will take you out of the game. In order to properly deliver a ready-hot lead to the sales team, or get the hot potato in the hand of winning player if you will, make sure to engage these leads at the right time and with the right content by following these tips:
Don't Stop at Social
MarketProbe International found that 7 out of 10 SMB purchasers already followed the brand they were researching on Twitter. This means that buyers have already done their investigative work and are now looking for communication and engagement on your part. Make sure you're listening to your social and blog followers, immediately responding to their requests, concerns, and inquiries. According to a recent study by Millward Brown Digital, 53% of Twitter users expect a quick response from a brand in less than an hour. Make sure you're monitoring all social channels to avoid losing an interested buyer to a competitor with a faster response rate.
Don't Stop at Engagement and Education
Through search results and your display campaigns, you've reached qualified, active decision makers and they are now in the discovery phase. It's time to pass the hot potato through the middle-of-the-funnel techniques, and engage them with the information they're seeking. The key to this lead-nurturing phase is developing an educative relationship with the researcher through content creation. According to the MarketingSherpa Lead Generation benchmark report, companies who pass along a lead into the hands of the email managers and content marketers, effectively engaging in lead nurturing tactics, saw a 45% increase in their lead generation efforts (Tweet This Now!).
Keep your blog and site content pertinent to potential customers. Educate budding buyers on the benefits, trends, and necessities of your product or services by maintaining a constantly updated blog and website. Don't let the hot potato fall on stagnant and sedentary content however. Make sure you utilize content distribution outlets like social, email, and direct mail by sending relevant white papers, infographics, and further counsel about your product. Through the successful use of content creation and distribution, potential buyers will move from the role of an active researcher to a participant in an active discussion in which you supply the needed materials.
Don't Stop at the Salesman
Now that the hot potato lead has passed from the hands of the SEM manager, to the SEO manager, to the display advertiser, to the social marketing manager, to the content manager, to the email marketing manager, and so forth, now the ready-hot lead is in the hands of the sales team. After being engaged and informed, the decision maker is ready to connect with sellers to discuss features, pricing, and the purchase itself. It's time to let your sales team work their magic. However, don't let the hot potato fall here either. Continue to nurture and maintain the relationship you established with these customers. There are future opportunities for scheduled contracts, renewals, and product or service upgrades.
Don't let the music stop with a lead in your hands. Pass the buyer through the marketing funnel and meet them where they're at in the purchasing cycle.