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When Is the Right Time to Implement ABM?

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If you’re reading this, you probably already know what ABM is, but just in case a refresher course is needed, ABM stands for account-based marketing, and it’s the newest strategy to successfully market to corporations and/or clients. Account-based marketing is different from normal methods of marketing. Normal methods of marketing say that you get your product out to as many views as possible, everyone is a customer and should not be forgotten.

Now, despite how it may seem, account-based marketing doesn’t ask of you to forget other customers but focus in on them. Think of every client and/or company as their own market. Research the key players inside the company and tailor your marketing to that client for an almost guaranteed higher ROI.

Now I know I wrote in a previous article that account-based marketing is the future and is the logical evolution of marketing as we know it, so right now you must be thinking to yourself, “Why should I bother with anything else?” Well, as amazing and effective as account-based marketing is, it isn’t always the right choice when it comes to specific circumstances.

The first thing that should come to mind is simply the size of the company. Account-based marketing is good because it brings your marketing and sales team together that so they can research and evaluate the clientele. In doing so, you learn if it’s worth going after a client based on the size and who the key players are. Account-based marketing requires more resources than normal marketing so if the company you are looking to sell too is underneath a certain size, it might not be worth it in the long run if you aren’t going to get a large ROI.

As a counterpoint to my first reason, it is essential that your marketing and sales teams identify the high-value accounts. If you find a high-value client that is worth pursuing, you make sure you allocate all the right resources to it and make sure that your teams are operating smoothly like machines.

Thirdly, it really matters who you are researching. While at first glance, utilizing account-based marketing seems to show that you care more about the client, the client may think that you are researching them so that you can get a better price on them. And while this is technically true, it isn’t done with negative intent. In any case, some people make take it the wrong way, so it’s important to be careful with your research.

Account-based marketing is something you should implement when your teams are working to their capacity. While it is true that account-based marketing strengthens the communication between the sales and marketing team, there has to be some connection, to begin with. To successfully implement account-based marketing, everyone has to be on top of their game. If one person slips up, say one of the teams misidentifies one of the key players in the company, that could lead to a fatal mistake that ends with that company dropping your business and all those resources that were spent were for nothing.

It seems that a lot of this boils down to plain, common sense. You have to ask yourself, “Is it worth it?” However, when you ask that, realize that you are not just asking it for yourself but also for your combined sales and marketing teams and anyone else who may be working on the client. Foresight and the eye of a seasoned leader are needed to pull the proverbial trigger.

In the end, there are a few factors that will define whether or not you should implement account-based marketing. It matters how big the client is. If they’re small enough they might not warrant the effort and resources needed to implement account-based marketing. At the same time, you should make sure that you are spotting all the high profile targets. Also at the same time be mindful of who you are putting your resources into, because some might not like the personal approach. In the end, it all comes down to common sense and decision making. Account-based marketing is a powerful tool that can bring your business great success, but you have to implement it wisely and strategically so that you can harness its true potential. Will that business be yours?

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Account Based Marketing: Pros and Cons

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Account Based Marketing (ABM) is here to change the future of the B2B marketing game.

However, ABM, like most marketing strategies, has not only pros but also some cons. In our opinion the pros of ABM are definitely far ahead of its cons. But you should definitely take a look and decide yourself, whether ABM is the right fit for your business.

Pros:

Higher ROI

ABM minimizes the possibility of buying the wrong traffic for highly targeted programs. By targeting specific accounts in a real-time you are increasing your chance of greater ROI by not wasting any resources on any accounts that aren’t a great fit.

Highly Targeted Campaigns

Since you know, who your target audience is, you can use advanced targeting technologies, like IP-based or cookie targeting to address highly specific ads even to the accounts you have never interacted before.

Better Marketing and Sales Alignment

ABM is a great way to align your sales and marketing teams. Marketers are forced to think more like sales, identifying new specific accounts and generating revenue from them.

Automation

ABM system is automated. This means, that you can set up the marketing campaign and run it for some time with the minimal management effort!

Cons:

Additional Research

To set up an effective ABM system you may need to deepen your understanding of what are the specific need of your accounts, how would they prefer to communicate with you. You would also need to create more messages addressing specific account-related challenges.

Technology Limitation

Our experience shows, that ABM technology is still in its early development stage. There are some limitations, especially when it comes to identifying accounts, using IP addresses and Cookie Files. It may require a couple hours of manual work to set up an efficient ABM system.

Resource investment

While it is true, that ABM saves your resources and increases your ROI, this technology requires a new platform that you need to invest in first. It also requires some marketing skills to set up an effective ABM system.

So, for today these were the main pros and cons of ABM, that we wanted to share with you.

In Social2B we strongly believe, that ABM can benefit any B2B company. Therefore, in our next blog posts, we will continue to share with you our hands-on experience on this topic. Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter to remain up to date with the latest trends and developments in the field.

Embracing the Elephant in the Room: A Look at the Size of the Webinar Industry

By | Social | One Comment

I’m often asked questions about the size of the webinar industry – it’s undoubtedly the elephant in the B2B conference. How many webinars are hosted every year? How many professionals watch webinars and how many do they watch per month? To date, I have not come across definitive statistics, or really anything close to them. In fact, the more research I do, the more I am convinced that it is not even possible to accurately size the market. And interestingly, that is why I am so confident the market is huge. Let me explain.

First, there is no standard definition for the pseudo-word, ‘webinar.’ What you call a webinar, others might call a webcast, online seminar, web series, web conference, or online meeting. This fact in of itself makes it futile to attempt to piece together the webinar’s slice of the content marketing pie, as it’s impossible to discern between internal meetings and thought leadership presentations when reviewing industry data.

Second, most webinar software companies don’t release their data. For the few that do, it is unclear what percent of the market they have and thus nearly impossible to extrapolate a number for the entire industry size without dangerous assumptions.

So how can I confidently assert that the webinar phenomenon is huge and growing? Because I don’t think it takes rocket science.  Take a look at any established business in a B2B industry and see if they are hosting webinars (hint: they are). Then check out a small organization in a niche industry, and you’ll notice the majority of them are also hosting webinars somewhat consistently.  If both large and small players in the B2B space are hosting webinars, then odds are everyone in between is as well (for the most part anyway). More precisely more than 60% of B2B organizations are currently hosting webinars according to the Content Marketing Institute. I understand that my research isn’t scientific and won’t satisfy those who aren’t happy until there’s a Bureau of Labor report on the industry.  But that report hasn’t been possible for the aforementioned reasons (i.e. market fragmentation). So instead, let me chalk up a few more numbers to satisfy the scientific method community.

I recently came across some data provided by two webinar software providers, ON24 and ClickMeeting, that not only show that the webinar market is huge but also just how futile an exercise it is to try to size it.

Based upon pricing, known customers, and limited market data, I presume ClickMeeting caters to SMBs and has a small-to-medium slice of the webinar software market. Their report said that the average webinar hosted using ClickMeeting has 28 participants. I think it’s fair to assume that small companies have fewer webinar attendants than multi-national organizations, so for simplicity’s sake, let’s just use ClickMeeting’s data as the lower end of the spectrum.

For comparison, take a look at some numbers that ON24 released about their users. They claim that the average webinar hosted via their service has 433 registrations with approximately 180 attendants. That is about six and a half times the attendance that ClickMeeting reports!  What could account for this disparity?

To begin, ON24 does not provide a pricing plan on their website at all. A potential customer needs to speak to a sales representative in order to put together a unique enterprise plan. A quick glance at their current customers, which include IBM, Deloitte, Oracle, and SAP, leads me to believe – among other obvious reasons – that ON24 caters to the blue chip customer.

According to its reports ON24 services over 20,000 webinars yearly. These are some solid numbers, but keep in mind they are just one of many players in the webinar industry and their market segment is highly specific.

If you still don’t think it’s ridiculous to try to size this market given the absurd disparity and limitations in data and definitions then let’s carry on embracing this taunting elephant.

We’re going to do some napkin math to create some “what if scenarios.”

Webinar Software Companies

While we don’t necessarily know how many total players there are in the space, or what share of the market any of them have, we do know that there are a lot of them!

See TopTenReviews, the Hublished blog, bestwebinar.com, and Online Meeting Tools Review for some partial lists.

I’m going to be incredibly generous, and assume 5% of webinars are hosted using ON24.  I would bet a ton of money it’s less than 2.5%, but just to prove my point let’s work with 5%.  So:

20,000 webinars = 5% of market

400,000 webinars = entire market

Conversion rates

ON24 claims its users convert 42% of registrants of an upcoming webinar into participants.  ClickMeeting reported about an equal conversion rate.

I find those numbers a bit high, but let’s roll with them for the time being.  So:

Average conversion rate = 42%

Average registrations

Let’s work backward to find that ClickMeeting customers have, on average, about 67 registrants to their webinars (28 is 42% of 67).  Remember that ON24 users generate on average about 433 registrants for each webinar.

Carrying on with the assumption that ClickMeeting is on the lowest end of the spectrum and ON24 is on the high end of the spectrum, we can calculate their average.  So:

Average number of registrants to a webinar: 250 professionals

Industry size

If you are still following me here, then hang on, because I am about to blow your mind! Using all of our assumptions (and feel free to toggle them, because you’re going to get ridiculous numbers no matter what), there are approximately 100,000,000 webinar registrations annually (400,000 webinars X 250 registrants).

Are you still with me? I sure hope so, because I am just heating up. Let’s keep rolling with these assumptions for just another moment. If there are 100,000,000 webinar registrations every year (all numbers are in 2012), that means webinars are receiving 42,000,000 live viewers and 58,000,000 registrants who then miss the live versions.

As long as my assumptions are in the ballpark (which they have to be, unless the software providers are grossly misrepresenting data, or ON24 has an unexpectedly high percentage of the market share), then a few things are true:

 

    1. We know the elephant in the room is hefty.  The webinar industry is huge no matter how you toggle the numbers.

 

    1. It’s ridiculous to rely on these numbers as anything more than indicative.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the webinar industry is a lot more or a lot less than the numbers I concocted above.  I’m comfortable just knowing the industry is huge without having to know how huge.

 

    1. There exists a massive opportunity to serve this market to improve upon the webinar lifecycle, especially with respect to the registration process. Remember, 58% of registrants miss the live version of the webinar.  I think we can improve on that number, and certainly enhance the delivery of recorded webinars to registrants.

 

There you go.  Thoughts?

By Ben Borodach, Co-Founder of Hublished

Crowdsourcing: A Social Business Solution

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“No matter who you are, most of the smartest people work for someone else.”

–    Bill Joy, Cofounder, Sun Microsystems

The word Crowdsourcing was coined by Jeff Howe in 2006, a portmanteau of the words ‘crowd’ and ‘outsourcing.’ It is used to describe the phenomenon using group intelligence to solve problems and complete projects.  A darling of Web 2.0, more and more companies have jumped on the crowdsourcing bandwagon over the past few years, even federal government agencies with the Federal Communications Commission crowdsourcing ideas on how to improve America’s broadband infrastructure (Tellus Venture Associates).

The benefits of crowdsourcing are immense – not only does the crowdsourcing model has the potential to significantly reduce expenditure in the long term by not having to maintain permanent staff ‘on the bench,’ it also allows companies to engage staff on a per-project basis, thus benefiting from having the people with the exact skills and expertise to fit each particular project.

However, it can be a double-edged sword. The skills and expertise that are so easy (relatively) to capture by assembling a temporary, specialized workforce are also easily lost, and cooperation is often short term.  ‘Crowdsourced’ projects also need to be managed carefully – when working with unknown entities, it is vital that they are managed properly to ensure the most positive outcome is reached.

There is also a lack of stability.  When job security is still a large concern in today’s economy, and even the most indispensable employee is worried, we are naturally led to ask:  is there such as thing as stability anymore? Employees are fast becoming a liability for some corporations. As well as take-home salary, there are taxes, training, insurance costs, and so on, and companies are being forced to consider entirely new ways of working in order to survive, including open source and crowdsourcing models.

 

Practical Applications and Examples

Crowdsourcing has many benefits in the business world, and not just for companies lacking in resources.  It can be used for collective intelligence, voting, creation, and funding (Business Insider).  There are a number of examples where large brands and small Startups are using ‘crowdsourced’ models to feature new products, solicit opinions on new features and improvements, and form groups of affinity, or professional social networks.

 

    • The CMO Club, a social professional network of leading top marketers worldwide, is an example of a well-integrated model for collective intelligence, with ideas, research content, and online and off-line conversation leading to the improvement of the quality of the marketing discipline. “I was really tired of low-quality marketing conferences and ‘vendor-centric’ presentations and decided that leading marketing executives could do better”, stated Pete Krainik, Founder of The CMO Club. “The crowdsourcing of ideas and conversations, leading to action and improvement is what we are all about.”

 

    • Many companies have used voting over the years to determine their next branding direction – whether it’s having consumers vote on a flavor of Mountain Dew or the next Doritos Super Bowl commercial.  By involving the masses and tapping into a “group think” consumer mentality, companies build brand engagement, loyalty, and a stronger knowledge of what the consumer actually wants.

 

    • Kickstartera crowdsourcing platform, has shown an extremely high success rate through the creation and funding aspects of crowdsourcing.  It helps projects mainly within the arts industry (music, gaming, film, etc.) grow, with “more than 3.8 million people” that have pledged “over $568 million, funding more than 39,000 creative projects” since their launch in 2009.  Kickstarter funded 10% of the films at Sundance in 2012, and projects all over the world. Since then they have been showing big success because of their crowdsourcing option.

 

    • The “Mommy Bloggers” trend has exploded over the past few years as an ideal product promotion platform.  These moms blog about their life experiences, usually with other moms as their target audience.  They review products, plays, restaurants….basically anything that applies to their everyday life.  There are niche mom blogs covering everything from travel and social networking for parents to baby basics and dealing with teenagers. Because of the multitude of mom bloggers, brands can crowdsource from a large community and use this resource to blast product promotions, press, etc. and reach a large audience.

 

    • Our marketing expertise group, Social2B, is an example of the crowdsourcing model on an international scale – with associates and experts based around the world, including the US, UK, as well as Russia and Eastern Europe, we leverage a bank of multilingual, multicultural experts to call upon when needed.  This new way of doing business allows even the smallest of companies to harness the power of a large group of specialized talent.

 

    • Another example of a site using crowdsourcing is LinkedIn, which provides fertile ground for thought leadership, member exchange, aggregation of expertise and ideas, and distribution of content, thus ‘crowdsourcing’ content and user feedback.

 

Crowdsourcing and Communication

Large corporations have always used occasional freelancers; crowdsourcing is merely an extension of this. If properly coordinated and planned with legal and human resources, the crowdsourced environment is a tremendous vehicle for communication  – a way to massively increase knowledge, and by extension, the ability innovate and increase production. Yochai Benkler, of Yale University, in his book The Wealth of Networks, sums it up extremely well:  “The world is becoming too fast, too complex and too networked for any company to have all the answers inside.”

Social Media and Crowdsourcing are also becoming synonymous. Many ideas, case studies, and even human resources are gathered and distributed using Social Media – from Facebook polls to Twitter contests, Social Media is the perfect platform for crowdsourcing to take place.  While crowdsourcing is often used to collect data, it can also be used to accomplish actual work that needs to be done.  Twitter is taking advantage of its immense influence by running a crowdsourcing program to translate Twitter into several languages, having users do this work themselves (Prescient Digital Media).  Wikipedia is another quintessential example of crowdsourcing, as the users are the ones to post their research, albeit not always accurate, so one must keep in mind that the data may not always be correct when crowdsourcing.  Choose which projects to use crowdsourcing for wisely, as some may lend themselves more readily to this method without as much margin for error (i.e. voting campaigns).  Ultimately, as long as a project is being monitored and managed correctly, there can be many benefits to crowdsourcing, with a growing community for your company, and the advantage of a distributed workload.

Social Referrals: The Value of Digital Friendship

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Last weekhere at Social2B, we discussed the functionality of social media marketing especially the idea of social referrals. We gave the example of a list of 10,000 consumers that could potentially be contacted through e-mail or social media with discounts to be offered. While direct e-mail was limited to the 10,000 consumers, and the potential for a few to forward the discount e-mail to their friends, the social media campaign was combined with a sharing element where if the consumer posted the product on their social media page or liked/followed the company’s social media presence, they would be rewarded with the discount. Now, what we argued is that with the average user having 130 friends on Facebookthe potential sharing element would multiply the total reach to 1.3 million (and that’s just for one platform)! And while actually converting all 1.3 million users may seem far fetch, it’s interesting to think that even if only 1% of the initial 10,000 shared the link for the business, the end result would be a Facebook reach of 13,000 users…still more than double the outreach of the e-mail campaign!

 

Even if you’re not a fan of math, playing around with these numbers just shows how appealing social referrals can be from a digital marketing standpoint. The appeal grows especially when considering that 92% of consumers trust earned media(word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family) above all other forms of advertising. The may mean that the campaigns of social referral might be one of the most effective forms of digital marketing out there! But with all this excitement surrounding the analytic potential social referrals offers, businesses must be asking: how do we properly develop a successful social referral campaign? Do you just post a few statuses on Facebook? Do you integrate the whole process with e-mail marketing to direct your referrals at targeted consumers? Do you contact influencers to persuade them to share your brand? There are many ways to go about executing a winning social referral campaign and today we’ll delve deep into the various methods.

Back to Basics

 

 

As a quick definition for anyone who is not aware of what social referral programs are, they are end-to-end marketing programs that allow brands to reach out to company advocates and turn them into social advocates to their cause. Like the domino effect, the expected result is for each advocate to spread their message virally and convert fellow peers into sales through social media. This sharing process would hopefully result in a large web of consumer-to-consumer marketing that would not only boost lead generation and sales conversion but also increase search engine ranking and consumer loyalty. Knowing this, it’s easy to see what so many brands would be interested in developing a marketing campaign that literally pays for itself in so many different facets of the digital world.

Take for example Dropbox, the digital file-sharing brand. In just five years, Dropbox has gone from zero to 100 million usersthrough the usage of their viral referral campaign among other marketing tools. What Dropbox did is that they encouraged users to share the service via social media or e-mail, and if they did they received extra space for free on their own account for every new person who signed up from one of their invites. Simple right? Maybe, but from the start Dropbox was always a great service that was very much valued by many users especially in the digital age. Those users who valued Dropbox became sort of brand evangelists who spread the word about the company through Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, and more. In the first 30-day period after the viral referral launch, Dropbox initiated a total of 2.8 million invitationssent out through brand advocates!

 

Now while your company may never achieve the marketing-god like status of Dropbox’s viral referral campaign, it can still foster a large number of both leads and sales from a campaign even a fraction of the size. And here’s how:

 

The Social Referral Play-by-Play

 

Target Valued Advocates:A huge part of what made the Dropbox viral campaign so successful is that they targeted customers they knew were satisfied with their brand and would be more than happy to share it with their friends in return for a free product. In a similar fashion businesses need to target clients or consumers they know are pleased with the company’s ability to produce. While in the retail world it may be difficult to get so specific with customers, with small-to-medium sized businesses the referral process should be relatively easy. Most companies have a testimonial page where they list quotes from other clients solidifying their ability. If a client feels comfortable enough to be listed in the testimonial section, they should have no problem accepting free services for making that testimonial public on social media. Also, analyzing your past sales should allow your business to have some conception of who your top clients are. If those top clients keep coming back to your business, reward them with a discounted or free service in return for a shared social media post. This will thus get the ball rolling on your referral program and also build a better relationship with said clientele.

 

Craft an Appealing Deal that’s Cost Effective:As basic economics tells us, people make decisions based upon a sort of work vs. happiness scale. Naturally humans attempt to maximize pleasure through any work they do, and therefore you must make it so your potential social advocates see the benefit of spreading your brand from the get-go. While I’m not saying you should give away free products or offer over-the-top discounts, I am saying that unless you’re offering some worthwhile, this social advocacy could be a waste of time. I would say a discount somewhere in the ballpark of 15-30% would suffice to get people interested. However when crafting your discount it should all be relative to what your products typically cost. At first Dropbox started out using Google Adwords as a way to reach customers but soon found it wasn’t cost-effective and so they dropped it. In a similar fashion, as a business you must make sure that your marketing campaign is overall profitable (I know, I know it’s business 101 but you never know with people today!)

 

Carefully Select your Social Media Platform of Choice:At the start of this blog, we used an example in which we showcased the potential outreach of Facebook with the average user having 130 friends. While the outreach might be impressive, you must look deeper into the analytic performance of each networking beast. As we’ve seen over and over again, the best social media marketing channel for B2B marketingis LinkedIn, hands down. So a B2B company offering consumers discounts for shares on Facebook may not have the best results. Twitter looks to be the strongest channelfor driving leads so your best bet of attracting upper management of businesses could be through a simply tweet. Overall, your choice of social media platform should depend on who your consumer is, what your product is, and the metrics behind each platform.

 

Lather, Rinse, Repeat:While the execution of the former three steps is clearly a vital part of your social referral program, a good system doesn’t stop after the round. With so many users available through social media, it is unlikely you will hit 100% on your first referral round. New clients also bring new potential audiences so in reality you so should be doing multiple referral programs every so often.

Conclusion

Looking at social referral marketing campaigns as a whole, there really aren’t many drawbacks. If you’re successful, you’ve built a network of marketing connections where your consumers are literally doing your work for you. If you fail, you’ve still strengthened connections with top clientele that might end up increasing the loyalty to your brand. Through and through, social referrals hold the potential to help aid your company’s marketing efforts tenfold!

By Connor Lawrence

 

Build it and They Will Come: Construct an Engaged Social Network for your Business

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The word networking can, for many, conjure up images of awkward conversations at conferences, forced laughs and the collecting of business cards. It shouldn’t. In today’s world social networks have made it easier than ever before for you to build an engaged network for your business. Creating and expanding your online network is an incredibly important function as we continue to increase the amount of our waking hours online (In the US the average American spends 23 hours of their weekonline).

Through effecting networking you and/or your business can become the known and recommended expert in your field. Get your networking right and others will do the marketing for you, the social referralis a powerful tool. So how can you create an engaged following around your business on social media?

Follow The Leaders

Check out the competition. If your competitors seem to have a much greater social media following then find out why. Take a look at who competitors interact with and interact with them too; if you can get responses from larger organizations this will also push more users your way. The important thing is to make sure that you are getting involved in appropriate social media conversations. Throw out your net and collect more followers/friends by sharing information that interests you and has a relevance to your business this will attract like-minded people. It is crucial to remember you are the voice of your brand so keep it classy

Create Your Own Content

If you are constantly retweeting other people’s content you’re not providing something that users cannot find for themselves. Make sure you keep your network up to date with developments surrounding your business. Consider writing a blog suitable to your business in order to give you some content to publish that is your own and that will encourage followers to visit your site.

Share any content with other people in your field and invite comment. Likewise make sure that you are commentating and engaging with other professionals. It’s important to build and be part of an online community.

Social Toolbox

Social media analytics will allow your business to track its social media activities and to glean some insight into the success of your marketing strategies form the results. Analytics can effectively “improve your social media engagement, make marketing decisions and tie social media to your bottom line

For small business starting out and dipping their toe into social networking, advanced social analytic tools may not something they are ready for. There are easy to use features on any social platform that you can use to increase engagement such as using hastags when tweeting on Twitter to get involved in a trending topic or the endorsement function on LinkedIn which will allow you to endorse other professionals you have worked with in the past or be endorsed yourself.

Right Place, Right Time,

“ If context is king, context is god” . You could have great content but if you are putting it in the wrong place it won’t make the impact you desired. Context relates to the way you adapt content specifically for the target audience. Are your customers the type of people who use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Tumblr? Sometimes what you post on Facebook may not be suitable for another network like LinkedIn. Are your audience likely to understand insider jargon or will you have to keep posts in laymans terms?

There are context rules that are important not to break. Avoid in-your-face sales pitches. Nobody likes a hard sell and it is a sure fire way to make people disengage with your business. Try to find a suitable tone and style for your brand that your think your audience is expecting.

Building an engaging network for your business can be done immediately, you only require internet access. If social media is utilized skilfully your network of social media connections can yield results far greater than any other marketing activity.

By Sam Shedden