This is a slightly edited version of my answer to the following question on Quora:
Most email campaigns I’ve come across provide a great answer to the question “What does your company do?”
Not surprisingly, they fail to generate leads.
Because people receiving those emails are not asking that question.
If you look at it another way, these emails respond to leads. Therefore, they can’t generate leads. (For the purpose of this post, a lead is defined as a company that has shown interest in knowing more about a vendor’s product / service).
Called “suspects”, people receiving these emails may not even know about the existence of the vendor sending them out. Even if they do, located at the “top of the funnel” (TOFU) in marketing-speak, these people don’t really care about the vendor – at least not yet. Added to that, they’re not expecting this email, so it may interrupt what they’re doing.
No wonder suspects don’t open – let alone respond to – such emails.
This is not a failure of email marketing. It’s a wake up call for marketers to rethink the content of their leadgen emails.
A leadgen email should answer a different question:
“Why should I care about your company?”
To do that, it should follow an “outside-in” approach. By which I mean its content should be oriented such that it looks at things from the prospect’s perspective. Specifically, it should first outline the pain areas and hot topics faced by the target company and then describe how the vendor’s offering can address them. In other words, it should give a few good reasons why the prospect should be interested in knowing more about the vendor’s product or service.
While “inside-out” elements used in most email campaigns – like features, benefits, case studies, capabilities, etc. – are important, they shouldn’t take the center stage in a leadgen email. The trick is to reorient these elements such that they reinforce the core message.
The same “outside-in” approach is also required in target lead list compilation, cold calling, rebutting objections, and all other activities performed at the top of the funnel.
We help B2B technology vendors generate leads by creating email flyers based on what we call “Marketable Items”, which package a vendor’s strengths and differentiators into a compelling reason to buy / adopt that resonates well with the pain areas and hot topics of the target market. Please find below a few examples of Marketable Items and a sample Email Flyer.
As you can see, Marketable Items consciously leave out more things about a vendor’s product / service / company than they include! To that extent, creating Marketable Items is an “exercise in sacrifice”, as Gartner analyst Jake Sorofman characterizes positioning in Six Reasons Why Your Positioning and Messaging Probably Isn’t Working. “Increasingly, who you are is defined by who you aren’t. What you become depends on what you’ve left behind.”
Before closing, let me hasten to add that the vendor should abandon the above approach once a lead is generated! Because, if they belabor business value beyond a certain funnel stage, they may lose the deal, as the vendor in this post learned to its dismay.