B2B Marketing Archives - Page 5 of 6 - Klaxon

It’s Time to Market your Marketing & Think Utility

I recently read an article published at the start of this year which predicted 2013 would be the year of content marketing.

content marketing becomes utility marketing

What a prediction that turned out to be. Content marketing has been one one of those tactics marketers have been adopting with great gusto all year. There are plenty of surveys from marketing journals pointing towards greater spend in this area in 2014 too.

But what has been driving this?

Primarily the case studies that show real ROI from content based initiatives, or inbound marketing as it is generally also known. These have been the first movers, those brands and marketers that adopted a content based strategy early on, before there was so much noise.

Another driver of course has been marketing agencies. Content marketing represents a good opportunity for agencies to earn fees:  we can create the overriding narrative, build the content in numerous formats (copy, image, audio and video), build the platforms to tell stories on and measure their impact through digital tracking and analysis. It’s win win for in-house and agency marketers alike.

Only it’s not so easy now.

With the growth in popularity of content marketing, the sheer volume of content (aka noise) represents a real problem for marketers.

Your stories and content might be stronger than your competition. However if they are better able to optimise for the search engines, have a greater social platform to share their content and a slightly bigger budget to market their marketing, you are back to trying to shout louder in a crowded space.

What does this mean for content marketing? 

Two things:

1. It’s time to market your marketing

If you invest in producing a good piece of content, make sure it is very good and that you take it to market well.

For example if you run a survey for a PR campaign, make sure alongside your media relations activity you also:

> create a report to summarise your findings
> host it on your website behind a data capture form
> build a summary slide deck and post on slideshare that feeds traffic to your landing page
> promote your slide deck through all of your social media channels to push traffic to slideshare
> run a PPC campaign to promote the report
> run an email campaign targeting the appropriate audiences to promote the report
> provide the report to your sales teams to share with their prospects
> setup your marketing automation platform to nurture and score any new leads too

NB don’t forget to think about the search engines with your report, landing page and social posts

You get the idea. If you invest in creating a piece of content, you really need to think through what to do once you have the finished asset.

2. It’s time to think about utility

Content marketing is evolving too. Next year’s buzzword is going to be utility marketing. I know this because the first few books on the subject have been published and it’s starting to come up in conversations with the US based marketing fraternity – a sure sign it’s coming to Europe next.

Utility marketing is all about adding some value to your target audience and not simply providing a good ebook. For example if you are a dietitian, creating a smartphone app that allows your target customers to keep a track of their daily calorie consumption might be expensive, but it will also create tremendous value to your customer.

How about the car hire company that creates an app for it’s business customers to find spaces in inner city car parks, or the telecoms company that provides a map to local wifi hot spots.

Hopefully you get the picture. It’s time to think about providing something of real value to your customers that has long term and ongoing benefit. A tool your customer uses regularly and that sits in the palm of their hand all day everyday is the next level.

So what does the future of marketing loo like? 

This is something we’ll be writing about in an article for b2b marketing to be published next year, but certainly it will include utility based applications.

If you have any perspectives on this topic you know what to do…

How Not to Run an Exhibition Stand

Exhibition stands are not cheap. In fact they are generally very expensive. This means it’s important for any b2b marketing pro to get a good return on their investment.

Exhibition Stand Tips

What’s wrong with the picture above then?

Despite this being a very busy exhibition overall, there are hardly any customers on this stand. I count six exhibitors in this picture with only two customers. Odd given the exhibition was very busy.

This photo was taken at the IP Expo exhibition at London’s Earls Court yesterday. The stand alone would have cost £60,000 (give or take). When you factor in all of the extra costs associated with this stand, I’d bet the ROI will be very poor.

What then could they do differently? Here’s a few ideas:

1. Get the right staff on the stand

I find it very frustrating to see people on exhibition stands facing inwards, talking to each other as above. Let’s get one thing straight, your stand staff are there to engage with attendees, start conversations and capture contact details for sales follow-up.

For a big stand you need two types of people:

> those who can engage with passers by, bring them onto the stand to qualify for a more detailed conversation. This is typically a marketer, or someone comfortable with making eye contact and starting conversations.

> those who can take the conversation forward and into more depth about your product, typically a pre-sales or sales manager.

For smaller stands make sure your team are trained not to loiter at the back of the stand. Checking emails and chatting amongst themselves is not the reason they are on the stand. That’s a sure fire way to turn people off from engaging with you.

2. Make your stand interesting

Yes I know this seems obvious. But it’s easy for a busy marketer to book a stand and assume that just turning up with a bowl of chocolates and a prize draw is enough to get people on to your stand. Guess what. It isn’t.

At IP Expo yesterday I saw fruit smoothie and coffee bars, a dancing robot, small presentation theatres, all manner of games and a lot more. These extras made those stands attract attention and get busy.

And no, that attractive young lady with a big smile and a badge scanner is not good enough. You might collect a bunch of contact details from unsuspecting passers-by, but they will not be at all qualified for follow-up.

Don’t make the same mistake as the exhibitor above. Next time you book a stand get in touch and we’ll help you to make your stand much more engaging and ultimately increase your ROI. 

Oh and before I forget, although the picture above is of Riverbed Technology’s stand, there were at least half a dozen or so more stands just like this.

The Importance of Owning your Digital Marketing Outposts

With the abundance of social platforms and cloud based digital marketing software at your fingertips, it’s important for b2b marketing pros to build the right digital footprint for their businesses.

digital marketing technologies

There’s an awful lot of content available on the web to help you make an informed choice. But a factor you might not think about so much is control. If you’re using any cloud based tools or social platforms, how much control do you really have?

Remember these are important digital marketing outposts for your business. 

You could spend a lot of resources building your presence on a social platform, or learning how to use a digital marketing tool, only to find it’s not there in three, or six months time.

I’ve heard the phenomenal Avinash Kaushik talking about this before. Every business needs a website because it’s the one place on the web you have complete control over. It’s the place where you get to decide exactly how it looks, works, tracks, adds value and most importantly, whether or not it remains open for business.

You can’t say that with facebook, or Linkedin with their ever changing rules of marketing, or new formats of ads for example. Each time they make a change, you have to learn it all over again.

But it’s the same with your software as a service / cloud based partners too. Is that marketing automation platform, landing page provider, analytics tool open for the long term? If not you might be wasting valuable resources using them. Do your homework and select your partners carefully.

Whether social media platforms, or digital marketing services. Ultimately you may find you don’t have the control you need for them to be a good investment of time and money.

7 Core Steps to Inbound Marketing

Ever wondered what exactly inbound marketing is or how to do it?

It’s a much used term these days and b2b marketers all over the planet have been switching on to inbound vs outbound marketing.

The basic principle is straightforward: create compelling content that attracts your target customers to your business when they are ready to buy.

Contrast that to the more traditional outbound marketing strategies where you broadcast your marketing messaging at your target audiences, often with no intelligence as to where they are in the buying cycle. This is batch and blast, numbers based b2b marketing.

The principles may be simple, but in practice inbound marketing requires some smart thinking to be effective. The last thing you want is to waste your resources churning out content that’s missed by 99% of your audience.

To help you think about building inbound marketing into  your b2b marketing mix, take a look at our 7 core steps to b2b inbound marketing:

1.  Build your Buyer Personas

Sounds easy right? Frankly it should be.

Start off by developing an understanding of your customers buyer personas: who are they, where they work, what age brackets and experience they typically have, what industries are they in, which journals they read, what are the typical challenges they are faced with, do they have purchasing authority… the list could go on.

All these great tit bits of information that will help you to understand who your customer is. You can see a really great example of this in practice from email marketing company mailchimp here.

Just in case you’re thinking what I’m thinking, the answer is yes. This actually applies to all marketing and not just inbound.

2. Create Great Content

Now that you have a clear picture of who your customers are,  you will need to create content that meets their needs and answers their questions.

How?

Start off with an editorial plan and calendar that aligns your content to your buyer personas. If your customers are seeking easier ways to manage their enterprise information, create content that answers questions such as:

> how can I best manage my business information, or

> what ECM solutions are best suited to banks (assuming you are targeting banks)

Create content in formats your customers are likely to respond to. For example, should you be targeting IT buyers working in banks, a blog or a Linkedin Group is more likely to reach your audience than a YouTube video or a facebook page.

You should get the idea by now, but get in touch if you want to talk about creating an editorial or content plan for your business.

Be careful to create content that answers you target customers questions, in a format that are likely to engage with and will share where they hang out online.

3. Optimise for Search Engines 

Now that you have defined your buyers and created compelling content, you need to make sure it can be found and ranked well by the search engines.

This takes a bit more work and you may want to consult an SEO expert to help you setup your website optimally. A good starting point is to think about the keywords your target customers are likely to use and worthwhile focussing on with your inbound marketing. Google’s keyword tool is great for this.

By the way, if you’re website is based on WordPress you might find this simple WordPress SEO Checklist we created useful too.

4. Capture Leads

Inbound marketing is not a cheap tactic but it should be more efficient than outbound. However it will only work if you create enough points to capture your target audience’s information.

What do I mean by that?

Essentially you create compelling, high value content that your audience is willing to exchange their contact details for in order to receive. You will be no stranger to calls to action like ‘complete the form to download your report’ I’m sure.

Not all of your content should be hidden behind a lead capture forms. Blog posts for example should be freely accessible, as should demo videos or podcasts.

But if all roads eventually point to a lead capture form, you will start to see web visitors convert into sales leads.

5. Nurture 

It’s all too easy for marketers to think there job is done once the lead form is filled. But it’s not. You need to nurture your leads at every stage in the buying cycle until they are suitable qualified to pass onto your sales team.

We do this with lead scoring based on how visitors interact with our site (and for our clients too). You can read more about this here.

Yes this is likely to mean creating content that aligns to stages in your buying cycle.

6. Seal the Deal

As soon as your sales team close the deal with a client, it’s time to get your inbound marketing hat on again. Ask yourself ‘how can I nurture them for cross-sell / up-sell opportunities, or can I create a compelling case study or a testimonial with this customer?’

All these traditional marketing tactics and assets make great materials to pour back into your inbound marketing machine. This is nothing new for any marketer, just the delivery mechanic has shifted to online.

7. Monitor, Evaluate & Adjust

The classic feedback loop. It’s no different with inbound versus outbound, just you will have a lot more data to review and from which to make informed decisions. Your website analytics package is likely to be the starting point, but if you have a marketing automation system setup you can drill down a lot more into individual decision makers or key accounts.

Analyse what content is working and either create new assets or re-purpose the existing to stretch your budget, for example:

> turn that blog post on business intelligence into a slide deck

> repackage that slide deck into a short animated video, or recording of your VP delivering the talk

Also look at what channels are working for getting traffic and importantly conversions. Spending all your time pouring content out via twitter or Linkedin but not seeing any website traffic, or ultimately conversions, suggests your message is wrong or your audience isn’t on twitter.

And that’s it, 7 Core Steps to Inbound Marketing for b2b marketers. Let us know how you have been getting on with inbound marketing for your business in the comments below. 

How to Evaluate Speaking Opportunties

Speaking opportunities

There’s no doubt that well-placed speaking opportunities can offer excellent platforms to reach the business community. Not only do you have the chance to deliver your message to a captive audience, there is also the opportunity to be seen in the thousands of mailed brochures as well as the potential media coverage.

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A Cardinal Sin of B2B Marketing

I have to hold up my hands today. I am guilty of committing one of the cardinal sins of b2b marketing. Not just once but twice in the same day. In both instances I was able to overcome the issue, but only because I had been communicating on a one to one basis.

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Are Relationships Important in B2B Marketing?

B2B relationship marketing

The short answer is yes, of course, relationships are very important in b2b marketing.

People buy from people, whether they are buying a new dishwasher, or a new database for their business.

But relationships can also exist between an organisation and its customers too. Think about how you feel towards Apple and Microsoft. You are likely to have different feelings and emotions and therefore a different relationship with each.

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3 Ideas for Improving your B2B Email Marketing Campaigns

Email remains one of the key tools in any b2b marketing mix.

It is likely to be for some time to come too, certainly for b2b marketers who have spent lots of time and money building permission based customer databases. It’s also ingrained in the mindset of most b2b marketers too, where numbers are important: size of database, open rates, click rates, sales leads, marketing qualified leads etc.

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Are Blogs Valuable in B2B Marketing?

Are blogs valuable in b2b marketing?

I was asked this today. The first time in a while actually. It surprised me as I was under the impression most people now know the value of blogging. We certainly do.**

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What B2B Marketers Can Learn from the Horse Meat Scandal

Trust, Colorful words hang on rope by wooden pegWe don’t care much for horses here in the UK.

Actually that’s not at all true. As a nation I’m sure we have a pretty good record on equine fancy. What I mean is we don’t care much for eating horses.

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