By Allan Maurer
ATLANTA – Three major problems affect the ability of companies to generate new sales leads, says Greg Foster, co-founder of BrightWhistle. The new firm is intended to be “The sharp end of the stick in automated marketing,” Foster says.
This is Foster’s latest company. Foster is entrepreneur in residence at Chyrsalis Ventures. His experience includes founding or being part of the management team for three successful start-ups, and running corporate development for two public companies, including Turner Broadcasting.
He is on the board of the popular Internet satire site, The Onion, and Research Triangle-based StatSheet, which Foster says helped inspire founding of BrightWhistle because of its innovations in automation, and was a partner at Atlanta-based Noro-Moseley Partners.
BrightWhistle is one of 50 companies presenting to the more than 1,000 people expected at the fifth annual Southeast Venture Conference in Atlanta March 2-3. Foster tells us the company is in the process of raising a small round now that may close even before the event.
Generating really gualified leads
Founded in July last year, BrightWhistle started out when Foster and co-founder Chad Mallory started looking at ways to generate “Really well qualified leads” in a cost-effective way. “That’s the overarching question marketers deal with on a daily basis,” he says.
He sees three major problems with the way many marketers generate leads now. “Third-party lead generators are often pretty promiscuous,” he says. “They’ll sell a lead to you, to me and to three guys down the street. They’re also disloyal.”
By that he means that even if a company lands a prospect, the third-party lead generator might keep calling them to see if they’ll switch. Also, Foster adds, “There is not a lot of transparency on how their leads are created.”
The bolts come loose
The other approach: broad pay per click strategies with ads on Google and Facebook, has its own set of problems. “They may be able to build you a targeted ad, but they can’t put you somewhere with really compelling content once you click on the ad.”
Also, some digital marketers pay a lot of money to SEO consultants to push their corporate site up the ladder in natural rankings in Google, Bing and so on for certain key words or terms. Unfortunately, Foster notes, “No matter how hard you tighten the bolts down, they eventually come loose.”
He adds, “You may be getting good traffic and good conversions, but over time, they go down and you have to get the SEO consultant back in and pay him $500 an hour to get them back up.”
If money were no object…
So, Foster and his co-founder started asking people, “If money were no object, what kind of system would they create to help with all those issues?”
Foster says “We talked to a lot of different people and companies. They began with healthcare companies – which is BrightWhistle’s initial focus. “They have the greatest need for lead generation to find new patients.”
Then, he says, “It dawned on us that if they had their druthers, they would want a system where they could create blogs that rank highly for natural search but would allow them to keep the leads generated exclusively for themselves.”
They would want the system flexible enough to take the same blog content and create customized landing pages for ads in Google or on Facebook. The increased relevancy of the pages they land on then produces increased conversion rates.
Already cashflow positive
They asked themselves, Foster says, “What if you could create multiple blogs, get them professionally written and published, manage all the SEO issues, and have the flexibility to create as many landing pages as desired, targeted at a very specific level – and all automated?
That’s the system BrightWhistle developed. “Essentially,” says Foster, “We’re taking something a digital marketer wouldn’t have time to do on their own and automating it.”
BrightWhistle doesn’t sell leads. It sells a software as a service platform, which users pay for based on the number of blogs or landing pages in the system at any given time.
“It’s time to insource lead generation,” he says.
BrightWhistle must be doing something right. The firm landed seven clients since November, but is taking a breather to raise money. “We’re already cashflow positive,” Foster says.
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