Or, what happened when Frontline Selling started practicing what it preaches.
Frontline Selling of Oakland, New Jersey, is a consulting firm that trains clients' sales teams to generate and convert sales leads. From the company's launch in 2002, co-founders Mike Scher and Dan McCann spent little on marketing: just $30,000 last year. Still, the business built a healthy client base of 35, including one big account. Most of the company's sales growth came from generating incremental revenue from existing accounts and from picking up new clients through referrals. But this year, Scher and McCann decided to more than double their marketing budget to $75,000, in hopes of landing two new customers and bringing in another $240,000 to $300,000. The partners allocated funds to produce webinars, to retain a PR agency, and to host a series of free events at which they would demonstrate their services.
Before: Last year, the company redesigned its website to the tune of $12,000. Following the revamp, the question was how to use that site effectively.
After: This year, Frontline set aside $25,000 to produce four Web seminars, which would broadcast the company's dog-and-pony show online. The expenses for this line item included labor and marketing costs. McCann estimates that each two-hour seminar required 40 workhours to produce.
Before: Frontline's specialty is training its customers' salespeople to convert more sales prospects. The firm's advice is conveyed through seminars that feature role-playing.
After: Since live presentations are the company's specialty, Frontline budgeted $27,000 (covering room rental, catering, printed materials, and some salary costs) to host three promotional events. The first one, in an Atlanta hotel, drew 60 CEOs and marketing executives. Before the event, Frontline's team researched the preregistered attendees, studying their companies' products and prospects. Frontline also asked registrants to provide the name of a top sales lead, and called some of them at the event to show its methods in action.
Before: Last year, the company spent more than half of its total marketing budget--$18,000--on search engine optimization, shelling out hefty fees to place higher on 50 different search term scenarios.
After: Too few prospects came to the company through its website, so this year Frontline cut back the number of search terms it would pay for to about five (spending only $5,000) and reallocated funds to hire a public relations agency to pitch trade journals like Sales & Marketing Management and VARBusiness. The company's PR strategy is twofold: to generate an article in one publication per month and to raise awareness of the company through regular press releases and public-speaking engagements. This month, for example, Mike Scher will speak at a software conference in San Diego.
The bottom line
Frontline's first two events--one live, the other broadcast online--yielded three new clients (at $120,000 to $150,000 each), surpassing the company's conservative goal of adding two new clients. Given that the campaign quickly exceeded expectations, Scher and McCann considered canceling the remaining sessions and banking the budget money for 2008. But the company seemed to handle the new business well, so the partners decided to go ahead with the three live seminars but not to do any more webinars. The company used the leftover funds to hire two new salespeople. All told, sales are projected to jump by 50 percent in 2007, to $7.5 million up from $5 million last year.