Posted by on Sep 23, 2014 in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Channels, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Corporate Social Media Initiatives: 4 Lessons Learned in the B2B Trenches

Social Media Best PracticeI work with single-employee businesses as well as multinational Fortune 500 firms. Small business owners tend to have this impression (it’s almost a complex) that large companies are in possession of secret social media knowledge and they’re killing it online.

Here’s a little secret: it’s a myth.

Lesson 1: Successful Social Media is Driven by Focused Strategy & Commitment

Yes, best-in-class companies have strong, well-aimed, well-directed programs. But most companies don’t. In fact, many larger businesses still don’t have a budget line for social media initiatives. I’ve worked with multi-million dollar firms that squeezed tweets and an occasional blog post out of their PR budget.

Many businesses haphazardly employ social media, with no clear objectives or strategy. That’s the lowdown: the one advantage huge companies have over everyone else – a larger marketing budget – is being spent only grudgingly (at best), and many times not at all.

Lesson 2: Social Media is a Viable Option for Increasing Brand Awareness & Leads

While social media is a well-established, primary marketing channel for B2C companies, adoption has been slower in the B2B space as companies struggle with measuring the effectiveness of “touching” prospects through social. The slower adoption of social media in the B2B space has allowed brands the time to establish and differentiate themselves. So there is room for you!

Lesson 3: It’s Still Newfangled & Savvy Social Media Users Can ‘Rise Above’

Social media’s relative newness is itself a leveler in the marketing playing field. Big companies tend to be slow when it comes to adapting new technologies or avenues, and this has held true of B2B social media. Companies large and small have struggled to harness social media’s potential, but savvy companies have learned the #1 lesson of social media: the whole “social” part. Engagement.

Smart social media operators know that constantly tweeting about a service you offer – with no other information sharing – isn’t useful at all. It’s about as effective as walking into a networking event and throwing a handful of business cards straight up in the air before walking out. The point is to entice your audience to engage with you. That means you need to engage with them, and not just tout your latest, greatest gizmo once a week.

Lesson 4: The Speed of Social Media – The Advantage Goes to Savvy Companies

One thing I’ve found that differentiates savvy companies from other corporations is response time. As you would expect, response times at some companies can be slow.

How slow?

Agonizingly-Long-Hundred-Years-War-kind-of-slow.

Remember, social media is all about engagement. When someone engages with you online, they are engaging right now. Social media travels worldwide at gigabit speeds. Most attempts to start an online conversation will have ended before the Marketing Manager passes the question along to the Product Manager – who just happens to be traveling and out of touch. Remember, you’re not explaining Einstein’s theories…you’re just having a conversation.

What are your questions about implementing social media in your company?

Jen Mizak heads up Brandwidth Solution’s New Media area. She has worked with both startups and Fortune 500 firms helping businesses increase their visibility and boost sales by tapping into their customers’ needs and engaging them with persuasive social media content. Jen specializes in integrating content marketing with companies’ yearly marketing calendars. 


 

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Posted by on Jul 8, 2014 in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Channels, Uncategorized | 0 comments

LinkedIn: How to Build Your B2B Presence to Improve Your Bottom Line

Linkedin Login PageDid you know that LinkedIn is the number one social media channel for life science business-to-business marketing? As we discussed in our last blog Social Media For B2B Companies there are many different social media platforms to use for B2B marketing. The Content Marketing Institute’s 2014 B2B Content Marketing Report puts LinkedIn at the top of that list, ranking in at 91%.

So why is LinkedIn the best channel for B2B markets? LinkedIn is best suited for B2B because it’s specifically designed for professionals and businesses – offering several ways to connect professionals and businesses. After all, at the heart of every B2B sale is the relationship you build with your potential client.

LinkedIn’s Tools to Connect

LinkedIn gives you ways to build relationships, “connect” with, and even become a thought leader within your industry’s community. The tools it gives you are:

  • Personal Profile
  • LinkedIn Company Pages
  • LinkedIn Showcase Pages
  • LinkedIn Groups

Personal Profile

Many people believe that they only need to use LinkedIn when looking for jobs. They simply post a copy of their resume as their profile and call it a day. Admittedly, LinkedIn is a good place to connect with people for job searches – but it is much more powerful.

You should use your profile to expand on your experience. It’s also a great way to see the background of a potential client. Instead of just making a cold call, you can use LinkedIn to learn a little bit about the person you are trying to reach. Now I certainly don’t condone cyber-stalking, but it’s a great way to learn a little about your prospects and connect with them online before a cold emailing or calling.

LinkedIn Company Pages

The Company Page is crucial to establishing your brand presence on LinkedIn. You can add updates about your company, its activities and services. This allows followers of your company to comment and share these updates. You can also use these updates to promote and connect your other social media channels, your website, and your blog.

Company pages also give you access to the profiles of a company’s employees. Are you looking to connect with a certain company? Seeing your target company’s employee profiles can help steer you towards the correct decision-makers.

Company Showcase Pages

LinkedIn just recently (in early 2014) replaced the Company Product and Service Pages with “Showcase Pages.” These pages allow companies to create individual sub-pages that “showcase” a specific product or service for your company. Your customer or prospects can choose to follow the Showcase Pages they are interested in, along with your Company Page.

LinkedIn Groups

There are about 2 million groups on LinkedIn, many of which are in your industry. Each of these groups is owned by someone and has a moderator to enforce rules, which keep discussions on track. Use LinkedIn groups to become a thought leader in your industry by leading or participating in discussions. You can comment and share the posts made by other members in the group. Note that companies cannot belong to groups – only individual profiles can. So if you choose to participate in group discussions, please remember not only are you representing yourself, you’re representing your company as well.

By contributing to these group discussions, your insights and ideas will be read by people in your industry you may not be connected to. The more you contribute, the more your name and profile will be visible., Not only do your contributions to group discussions provide you with a larger potential client base, they also establish you as a thought-leader within the industry community.

If the key to success in B2B sales is networking than why aren’t more people “connecting” on LinkedIn and why aren’t they using all it has to offer? The answer to this question is usually time. You won’t really see a lot of results if you are not actively participating. Once you get your profile optimized, (for help with that click here you will have to invest time and energy into LinkedIn Groups. But once you get into the habit of participating, you’ll find it gets easier and easier to make new connections and improve your ROI.

Are you using LinkedIn to its fullest potential?

 

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Posted by on Jun 20, 2014 in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Channels, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Social Media for B2B Companies

BWS-Social Media

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Technology- and science-focused B2B firms typically have an interesting reaction to social media marketing. It usually goes something like this:

“Social media?
Oh yeah…like live-tweeting a Kardashian wedding or friending my high school daughter?
Neat stuff. But our company’s a B2B, so we don’t need to be on social media.”

Wrong.
Totally, flat-out, stifle-your-business-growth wrong.

Do Business-to-Business Companies Need Social Media?

Some clients believe that operating in the B2B world means they don’t need to use social media, that it’s only for the B2C world. Not true. Remember – every ‘B’ has a ‘C.’ Your business may market to other businesses, but there’s still a consumer (a human) making the buying decisions. And humans, if you haven’t heard, are active on social media – whether only on business channels or business and personal channels.

Social Media: The Future of Marketing or Fleeting Annoyance?
Social Media
– like other marketing techniques before it – can be frustrating for businesses and corporate marketing departments. We can just imagine what it felt like at the start of television advertising: “I’ve got radio, newspaper, trade journal and billboard ads. Now I have to make it move on a little screen, too? When will this madness end?”

Yes – social media can be annoying. Yes, social media is a starving beast that must constantly be fed fresh, original material. And yes – it requires time and resources.

The question isn’t whether or not your science or technology B2B should use social media. It has already proven itself to be a powerful tool for boosting lead generation, increasing brand awareness, exposure & reach, and developing thought leadership. Social media is here to stay, and yourcompany should be using it as part of a comprehensive marketing strategy.

B2B Social Media Overview

The real challenge is knowing how and where to use social media to engage with clients and prospects. So what do you need to do to use social media in the B2B space?

Obviously there is far more involved in analyzing and implementing a marketing tool such as social media, but for the purpose of this short article you must:

  • Research and decide what channels to use
  • Create a content calendar
  • Develop & post content, and Engage, Engage, Engage!
  • Track your results & adjust strategy
http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/B2B_Research_2014_CMI.pdf

Click to Zoom

What Social Media Channels Are Right For You?

When it comes to implementing a brand new social media strategy you can’t just post information haphazardly. You also don’t have to be on every channel. Many Brandwidth Solutions clients get excited and think they have to be on every channel available.

But just like everything else in your marketing toolkit, you need a strategy. There are too many social media channels to count so you need to research your target audience. According to the Content Marketing Institute, the most used social

media channels for B2B marketing were (in order): LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook .

Social media research, analysis and planning involves more than just picking which social media channels to use. A comprehensive social media plan should be developed based on where, what and how your clients, competitors and prospects are using social media.

Content Is King

Once you’ve chosen where to engage with your clients, it’s time for the “how” and “when.” You need to develop and implement a content strategy which includes the type of information to post, and when to post it.

It is important to create a content calendar for the year so you’re not writing last-minute posts. A content calendar not only helps your marketing department organize thoughts and marketing initiatives, but also lets you create a library of content to maintain consistency throughout the year. Events such as tradeshows, conferences, publications, special press conferences and breaking news should be used to add “live, breaking” content to your social media stream.

If your business already has a blog, an easy way to get started with content on social media is to share your blog across your corporate social media channels.

Don’t forget this key point: SEO matters! (Read our earlier post about writing for SEO). Your blog post should be written to comply with the latest search algorithms. And don’t just copy and paste a line from your blog into each one of your social channels. The goal is to get people to want to read your post, and engage with you.

Analyze Your Efforts

Social media – like any digital marketing technique – can be tracked. Basic data can include:

  • Growth in Company followers/fans
  • Click-throughs
  • Growth in visitors to Company website from social channels
  • Shares and likes of Company content

Measuring the true impact of social media marketing on a B2B’s business operations, however, requires close monitoring of the sales process as well as how and where sales or leads arrive.

Social media is here to stay and it’s time to get onboard – or should I say online. For more, check out this article over at Inc. on social media for B2Bs.

Are you ready to get social?

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Posted by on Jun 2, 2014 in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Channels, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Does Print Advertising Have A Place In This Digital World?

Print-vs-digital

Yes!  Print advertising is still very much alive and well, especially in B2B markets.  In our last blog, Advertising is Much More than What Meets the Eye!, we discussed the differences between B2B and B2C markets, and also the process of creating a print ad.  At this point you are probably wondering why advertising still exists in print and why e-marketing hasn’t wiped it out.

Yes, online marketing is important and you need to use it; however you need to be everywhere your clients go.  And the reasons why print marketing is still a viable source of advertising:

  • Trade journals are read by your clients
  • Oversaturated digital market
  • Print can be used to integrate and enhance your electronic and social marketing programs

Traditional Advertising in Trade Publications

According to The Association of Business Information & Media Companies, in the B2B world 96% of your clients read print magazines.  Do we really have to go further than that?  That is a very large customer base to miss out on by substituting your print media with just using internet marketing.  Cutting out print advertising isn’t an option.

Stand Out with Print

Yes, there can be too much of a good thing.  We have now entered an “e-world” and are experiencing an e-marketing overload.  We are now inundated with banner ads, pop-up ads, and even ads on social media.  So there is no reason to try to come up with new ways to electronically reach your clients.  Your customers are constantly using technology – laptops, smartphones and tablets so when they get to “un-plug” and read a magazine or trade journal it is a welcome change of pace.

Marketing Integration

There’s that term again. We’ve discussed the importance of integrated marketing in Marketing Integration: Several Channels—One Wheel.  It’s important to integrate your print advertising campaign with your e-marketing and social media efforts. And there are new ways to connect your “old and new” marketing media.  One great thing about digital marketing is that it can be tracked.

You can now track engagements with print by using QR codes and landing pages.  If you think QR codes are dead you might want to read this.  Ad specific landing pages are a wonderful way to continue the conversation with your clients or prospects that started with the ad you placed in a trade journal .  Instead of using your general website URL in the ad, create a landing page and use a unique URL.  By doing this you now have a way to track the performance of the ad. You have also engaged your client to go to a website where you can:

  • Provide your client with more information about your product/service
  • Give links for your client to download white papers, application notes, and/or technical notes.
  • Create a lead capture tool for your client since they need to sign up with their email.  (What?! You mean I can get leads from a print ad?)

You can also use a print ad to start engaging with your client on social media.  Just like using a landing page for lead capture, you can drive them to your social media outlets by asking them to “follow” you for more information on a given topic, share ideas, give them a reason to engage with you.

No advertising campaign is a guarantee to bring in leads/sales, but if you put a solid integrated advertising strategy together you have a much better chance to increase your return on investment (ROI).  After all, isn’t the point of advertising and marketing to:

increased awareness + lead generation + solid sales team = ROI.

If you still think print is dead, check out more reasons why it will thrive in 2014 and beyond.  It’s time to stop ignoring print and add it back into your marketing mix.

What does your print media plan look like this year?

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Posted by on May 20, 2014 in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Channels, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Advertising is Much More Than What Meets the Eye!

Advertising imageAdvertising: it’s around us everyday.  Don Draper, from the popular show Mad Men, tells us “Advertising is based on one thing, happiness. And you know what happiness is?  Happiness is the smell of a new car.  It’s freedom from fear. It’s a billboard on the side of the road that screams reassurance that whatever you are doing is okay.  You are okay.”

There are two different forms of advertising out there: Business to Consumer (B2C) and Business to Business (B2B).  We work in the B2B world of advertising where a client needs to market and sell their product to another business.  Conversely in the B2C world the company is marketing and selling their product directly to you, the end user.  Why is it important to know the difference between B2B and B2C advertising?  The difference is in the strategy and approach of an advertising plan or media plan.  Your target audience is different so why would you use the same strategy with both?  Find more insight on the differences of B2B and B2C here.

If we look back at our MarCom Wheel,  under the advertising category we include:

  • Print Advertising
  • Banner Ads
  • Google Adwords

In our previous blog E-Marketing is E-Volving we reviewed Banner Ads, and Google Adwords.  So for the purposes of this blog we’re going to focus on print advertising.

What is the process of placing an ad?

It’s easy to think that someone picks a pretty picture, adds a few words and sends it into a magazine or trade journal, and then they are done.  I don’t want to burst your bubble, but there is a lot more that goes into creating a print ad (or any type of advertisement), such as:

  • Research
  • Conceptualization
  • Copywriting
  • Graphic Layout
  • Revisions
  • Upload to Publication

Publication Research

This step is the most important when building an advertising calendar.  Ads are not (or at least should not be) placed willy-nilly.  Every advertisement should be strategically placed in publications, based on your target audience and editorial contentEditorial calendars are available from every publication.  You can optimize your ad insertion by looking at the topics scheduled to be published in each issue. In the B2B industry, trade publications are a wonderful outlet for advertising, especially in the life science, pharmaceutical, and energy industries.

Ad Conceptualization

Time to get creative!  For corporate marketing departments, the conceptualization process starts with listening to and gathering information from your clients. Once you have a firm understanding of what your target audience is looking for then it’s time to develop a design concept.  Important things to consider are: tone, audience, and your company’s brand standards!  Once you’ve developed the ad concept, you move onto copywriting and graphic layout  (and both of these happen simultaneously).

Copywriting

Developing ad copy is an art all on it’s own.  It takes a very skilled writer to be informative and persuasive at the same time.  A tone of voice needs to be taken into consideration as well.  How does your target audience want to be addressed?  Copywriters have to get the message across in the space that is allocated to copy from the graphic designer (which is usually quite small).  It’s important for copywriters and graphic designers to work together.

Advertising Layout

Designing what the ad is going to look like isn’t as easy as you may think.  Like the copywriter, the graphic designer usually has to work within strict parameters.  The ad layout must adhere to any brand guidelines or standards that your company has.  This can include color, spacing, outlines, images, and logo placement – just to name a few standards.

Revisions

Naturally when we create something we like to think that it is good and ready to go, but unfortunately life and business don’t work that way.  After the first version of an ad is created it needs to be reviewed by management.  Product managers should review the ads for their products (or area of responsibility) to make sure the messaging and creative are delivering the message they envisioned.

Upload to Publication

This is the easy part.  You simply upload or email the ad to the publication by the due date.  Each publication has specific ways they want to receive ads; so you must adhere to those format requirements.  Also ad insertion dates are preplanned well in advance before the roll out and actual printing of the publication to ensure that publications have everything they need at print time.  These dates are not negotiable.  You can find these dates in the publication’s media kit.

As you can see, the process of developing an ad is not easy, and takes months of planning and strategizing.  Find out more information on developing your developing your advertising strategy here.

What part of the advertising process do you think is the most difficult?

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Posted by on Apr 29, 2014 in Marketing Channels, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Writing for SEO, What You Should Consider

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a crucial part of your e-marketing strategy.  Why is SEO important?  In our overview of online marketing: E-Marketing is Evolving we explained that SEO affects your ranking with search engines like Google.  The higher your ranking, the more prominent you’ll  be on search engine result pages (SERP).  This helps people find you, and the  closer to the top of the search results you  appear, the more significance you have.  The perception is that links or companies that appear higher in the results are more relevant to the searcher’s needs.  Not to mention that “75% of users never scroll passed the first page of search results!”  If you think that’s bad, check out more SEO statistics here.

Although there are  many factors that go into your SEO ranking, today we are going to focus on what to consider when writing for SEO.  Google is currently using an algorithm entitled Hummingbird to  search the web and “read” your content.  But what is Google looking for when it “reads” your content?

Well-written body content contains:

  • Keywords, key terms, and key phrases
  • Heading titles
  • Questions asked and answered
  • Targeted writing for your audience

Keywords, Key Terms, and Key Phrases

It is important to saturate your content in keywords because of keyword searches.  However, the incorporation of key terms into your writing has to be done with finesse.   No one wants to read something that is obviously littered with key phrases and seems to only be written for search engines.  The challenge is learning how to write inside a box, but make it seem as if you’re outside the box.

Heading Titles

Make your title interesting, but also try to incorporate one or more keywords.  Your title should also be  a part of the URL of that page.  This gives you two places for natural keyword placement.  Also break your content up by using titles.  Not only does this point out sections for search engine spiders crawling across your page, it is easier for your reader (the human one).  Unfortunately we now live in a world of scanners instead of readers.   Headlines and titles help the reader hone in on what they really want to read.

Ask and Answer Questions

Why would you bother asking questions in your content?  Like it or not, we are starting to move away from keyword-only searches.  Do you find yourself typing in full questions to Google?  This is a new feature of the Hummingbird algorithm.  If your content has the same question being asked in the search – and it includes an answer – Google will pick it up faster.  Currently for Chrome users, Google has a “new information card feature — which displays answers to questions posed directly in the sidebar of the results page — to steal away traffic that would otherwise arrive from search clickthroughs.”

Write for Your Audience

Considering your audience should be a no brainer.  If you conceptualize how your target market is searching in your industry then you’ll be able to write based on what terms or questions they are using.  If you have already included their search within your content, the higher the chance you’ll show up sooner in the results.

By incorporating SEO into your internet marketing strategy not only will you start to see more traffic (which will help with ROI), but it’s also a great way to save on expenses.  Optimized content will help raise you up on results pages without spending any money on Adwords.  Oh – and by the way – if you haven’t already checked out the SEO statistics page, paid ads are ignored by 70-80% of users.

So, at the risk of being cliché: don’t you want to get more bang for your buck?

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