On her blog, B2B marketing maven Ruth Stevens ranks seven channels by their power to acquire customers. In order, the channels are:
SEM. "The hottest of the hot," because buyers head to Google first to solve problems. "Marketers can hardly find more targeted media," Stevens says. The key to success, of course, is to pick keywords buyers use.
Telemarketing. The "workhorse medium of B-to-B direct marketing" and "the closest thing to a face-to-face selling environment." Beside selling, telemarketing is ideal for lead discovery, qualification and nurturing.
Letters and postcards. "The ol’ reliable," direct mail delivers. Buyers want information to help them do their jobs, so postal pieces are likely to be read.
Dimensional mailers. "Lumpy” mailers gets past gatekeepers, so are even more likely to be read.
Trade shows. Face-to-face performs spectacularly—when the audience is qualified. Big "horizontal" shows can be wasteful.
PR. "Simply the best bang for the buck," PR delivers awareness with high credibility. Contributed articles and news “manufactured” by original research work well.
Your website. "Your own website is the tool that can provide the cheapest, and the most qualified, sales leads," Stevens says. To work for you, your site must feature an offer and a call to action. That offer can be as simple as a white paper or e-newsletter.
What channels aren't gang members?
Print advertising. "Solid direct response ads can work brilliantly for lead generation," Stevens says. "The problem is that most ad budgets are controlled by marketing communicators who are unschooled in direct marketing."
Broadcast advertising. With the sole exception of some radio buys, ads run on broadcast and cable outlets are expensive and wasteful.
Email. "Despite its promise, email has failed business marketers as a prospecting medium, due entirely to the scourge of spam," Stevens says. "We are seeing better cost-per-lead results using direct mail."
PS: Ruth Stevens is a featured speaker at DARE, next June in Baltimore. Don't miss her!