Short list marketing is simply marketing to your prospects to ensure you get on to their long and ultimately short list for when they have a project.
For many B2B organisations, getting on to their prospects short list is absolutely critical in order to win any new business.
I’ve always said I don’t mind losing business as long as I’ve given it my best shot. What I cannot tolerate is not being included in the selection process. Reading in a trade magazine or online that one of my prospects has bought from a competitor and we weren’t considered is a failure of our marketing effort.
Marketing to get on the short list is a balancing act of communication, content and awareness, but how do you ensure that your prospects will consider you?
B2B lead generation in a short list environment has a few unique challenges.
Contracts can be a godsend and a curse, knowing when a contract is up for renewal is fantastic for your marketing. You know your prospect will evaluate the market at a set time so you know when your sales activity needs to take place. It also means that there is no way of selling to this company for the duration of the contract, but you cannot ignore them as you will be forgotten.
Long purchase cycles
For many organisations that operate in short list markets, there can be a long time between a prospect replacing their goods. As an example, if a company invests £250k in a new ERP system you know that they are not going to replace this for at least 5-6 years and could still be using it for 10 years. So what do you do? You still need to raise awareness and enhance relationships, but you don’t want to be too sales-y when you can’t sell to them for 5 more years. And what happens if they have a change of circumstance after 4 years and decide to go to market? If you aren’t communicating to them and talking to them, you may well miss the boat.
For many organisations creating a short list will involve the top few players in that market and then evaluating a number of other suppliers that they feel will meet their requirements. Some prospects create a requirements document and send it out to all those that they are aware of or talking to. Others go with marketing literature and conversations. Ensuring that you’re one of the companies considered in the long list is critical as if you miss this the chance of winning any business from them for a long time is virtually zero.
Your marketing activity needs to reflect where your prospect is in the purchasing cycle. If somebody has 3 years to run on their contract you don’t want to bombard them with sales messages, but they may appreciate an update phone call once every 6 – 12 months to keep the relationship going.
The key to successfully get on to the short list is to understand your market. Talk to them, communicate to them and give them what they are looking for. Many decision makers use search engines, receive emails, look at websites, attend exhibitions and seminars, read newsletters, talk to good telemarketers, use social media, network etc.etc.
It’s vital that you understand which mediums suit your target and you need to understand exactly where they are in the purchase process. Unless you are completely dominant in a market you can’t just expect your prospects to come to you, you also need to be engaging with them in the right manner at the right time.