Last week Senior Manager Jenny Zink and I wrapped up a three-part webinar series for the Institute of Management Consultants Academy.  Our focus was on the use of social media and social business (aka "social biz") tools and how to define your voice, promote your point of view, and track your effectiveness through the use of social media.

Briding the gap between social media and marketing and traditional marketing is a tricky business.  Clearly if you subscribe to the concept of "touch point marketing" you understand that often various points of contact independently can together generate sales.  They are ways to prepare a prospective buyer to believe you can offer them something of value and grow comfortable to the idea of buying it.  It's a bit like dating, you don't normally propose marriage until after you have been around the person for a while.

Before we go any further, let's get one thing straight.  Yo DO need a product or service that is of value to a target market that will ascribe to that value.  Doing that is an entirely different conversation that I won't cover here, but suffice it to say that product and service strategy is muy importante. Get that wrong and no amount of traditional or social biz marketing will get you to Point B.  You will be lost in the dessert like Moses for a long time.

Assuming you DO have something of value that you want to broadcast to a target audience, social media and social biz tools can certainly help accelerate that process.  While you can measure Likes and Follows on Facebook and Twitter, respectively, I still find it's best to use those vehicles to get people to a more traditional form of social media, the infamous email marketing list.  Why? Because prospects can hide behind Likes and Follows.  They don't really know you, they are just watching and listening to you.  But if you want to move beyond that stage and create a contact list you can work from, getting a business brand or a prospective buyer to give you their whereabouts means they are open to a conversation.  We call these people contacts.  You know a contact, and they know you.

Now we can begin to employ the Rule of 10.  The Rule of 10 is a simple marketing and sales tactic that allow you to play the numbers game.  The Rule of 10 says that out of 1,000 contacts, likely 100 of those will want to learn more about your company and what you can offer of value.  These become leads.  Leads are interested parties, who you know and they know you, who may (at some point) want to learn more about what you do and begin a commercial discussion.  

Tips for qualifying leads are everywhere on the internet and since so much of qualifying leads is dependent upon what you sell and how you sell it I won't pretend to group everything into one or a few methods and approaches.  In my work with professional services firms and software companies over the years, it is clear that value proposition, point of view, market conditions and unique selling proposition (USP) all play into that dynamic.  However the Rule of 10 is very clear, of the 100 leads you have generated, you will at some point entertain a commercial conversation with 10 of those leads.  We then call these opportunities.  Opportunities are interested parties, who you know and they know you, with the ability and interest to buy what you have to offer.

Through selling approaches you can further narrow opportunities through the sales process and yield on average one sale from those opportunities.  Good sales and marketing tactics, along with time-tested relationships, will make these numbers perform at a higher level of efficiency.  The opposite is true: to consider a baseline beyond the Rule of 10 is dangerous and a bit like dry-labbing your chemistry homework to get the right answer you needed in high school. You can make the numbers look like what you want them to look like but it won't reflect reality or the proper way to get there.

Let's have a look at how this works in practice.  Our client, a software company, was promoting a cloud-based version of its software for a specific industry requirement.  The industry is a major segment in the manufacturing space with literally 000,000s of participants through its supply chain globally. The near-term goal of the sales team was to onboard 30 new customers who could then be out-sold into other and more expanded products and services.  The key was to get those new customers to try the software for a free 30-day evaluation period and then convert those initial sales into more, complex enterprise accounts which could have a revenue potential into the $000,000s each.

We conducted a market survey and found several media companies, all with deep positions in online and social media, to promote a webinar and white paper thought leadership series.  We confirmed the total circulation and market reach should be between 30,000 and 50,000 and this was part of our decision criteria based in large part on the Rule of 10.  After a 120-day integrated marketing program, we had already received 6 new customers - 20% of the initial target - before formal sales activities had even begun.  With a lead database of over 500 based on the interest (and continued interest to watch those webinars on-demand and complete contact forms to receive the articles and white papers) we had achieved our initial target marketing work based on using the Rule of 10 with the initial 6 new customers.

As I mentioned earlier, you can throw out all of these numbers if you haven't gone through the exercise to understand your target audience and to craft products and service offerings around that market segment.  However if you do your homework and remember the Rule of 10, you can begin to see conversions from social biz activities into traditional sales and revenue.