In My Own Words: Darlene Campagna Featured

10:36am EDT January 4, 2008

It isn’t a new idea, but I didn’t think it would work for us at Direct Opinions.

But my business partner kept pushing for it. 

“We’re going to get business from the Internet,” he insisted.

I just couldn’t imagine that the clients of Direct Opinions — which provides market research consulting, surveys and telemarketing services to large, business-to-business companies — would look for a partner like us by trolling online. Instead, they would rely on contacts and referrals, I reasoned.

“Let’s get the Web site updated,” my partner kept pushing. “We just won’t know what’s out there until we try, and I have a feeling that we’re missing opportunities.”

So we began working on the site and focusing on how we should be positioned. I didn’t want people to think of us as a telemarketing company; we had worked very hard the past few years to shed that old image and rebrand ourselves as an experienced and savvy marketing research resource for clients.

We optimized the site so that the company would rank highly on search engines and began buying ads on Google. And the concept worked; we generated tremendous leads. It wasn’t that we were deluged, but the leads that came in were very high-quality.

Certainly, we’ve gotten some leads that didn’t fit our profile. But we’ve had more than our share of large companies knock on our doors as a result of our Internet marketing efforts.

Our savvy target accounts were indeed exploring the Internet for vendors like us. Even better, the leads we generated online had sales cycles that were much shorter than those of our typical prospect. These leads had projects ready for us to start now, and several of these clients have been true profile-changers for our company.

And by advertising on Google, we landed Google itself as a client. The company was looking for an organization to help it reach out to radio stations across the country to prequalify them for a new service it was selling, and we were a perfect fit.

I never thought search-engine marketing would work for us. Our services are not off-the-shelf simple concepts and instead involve complex programs and long sales cycles, but our opportunities are not all like that, which is something we never would have known had we not invested a small amount of money on search-engine marketing.

DARLENE CAMPAGNA is president of Direct Opinions (www.directopinions.com), a Beachwood-based provider of business-to-business market research intelligence. She shares this entrepreneur experience as a member of the Cleveland Chapter of Entrepreneurs Organization (www.eonetwork.org), an international organization of business owners dedicated to helping each other learn and grow.