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What B2B marketing skills can bring to the B2C sector

Sometimes B2B marketing is tough, it’s competitive, results driven and could be considered to be the unsexy cousin of B2C…

I read a great article this week: Unsexy, Compliant and Boring? The B2B Content Challenge. Aside from some good general tips, I felt like I was reading an article from a marketer who really understood the challenges of B2B marketing. Giving some examples of sexy B2C campaigns, Catherine says;

This is not the world in which your average B2B marketing professional operates. You try being quirky and viral when your product offering is highly specialist and complex, your sales cycle runs into years, and your prospects range from junior researchers to chief executives. Or, when you have to squeeze content out of reluctant yet verbose product managers, dodging legal and compliance bullets as you go.

So how can a B2B organisation – often with little editorial expertise in-house, limited content budgets and lots of internal resistance – respond to the constant demand for effective, measurable, marketable content?

She might just be talking about content but this could apply to many aspects of the job. However, it’s time to open up a can of Man-Up and show these B2C marketers what classic B2B skills could bring to their marketing.

man-up-Calvin

I reckon my time as a B2B marketer has really helped me to develop in these areas:

Knowing what converts a client

It’s great to know that a mass of people are engaging with your social media (#ThingsThatMakeB2CMarketersHappy) but you really need to know the nitty gritty of how they are converting, or more importantly, where they are dropping out. Generally you have a smaller pool of available clients in a B2B market and are converting a lower number of clients but for high value services so conversion rates start to really matter. Time to learn where to source the best possible leads, know and analyse your sales funnel and find out you can do to win that pitch! Review and learn again and again because every pitch matters and get competitive!

nicola adams

No-one ever won a gold medal by being scared of the competition!

Eeking the best out of your budget

Here’s £2.50 and a ball of string, now go make me a marketing campaign and you better show results to the board by next Friday. This is the world of B2B marketing budgets, especially if you work for an SME. They want sales and they want them now because that keeps the business going and if you don’t get results you get fired. It’s motivating though and teaches you to focus on the campaigns that work not just what you think would be fun.

cat and string

Finding new ways to get the best out of that ball of string…

Always learning from business people.

When your clients are all business people you learn about many different types of businesses, how they market themselves and what makes them tick. I find it inspiring to meet people who run their own companies or head up impressive departments; but more than that it teaches you about what makes some people successful and others not. Now how can you apply that knowledge to your own business? A marketer doesn’t just send out emailers – they need to guide strategic growth and product development too so good knowledge of how businesses work is useful.

What would Karren Brady do?

Best sung to the tune of “What Would Brian Boitana Do?”

Negotiating like no-one has before!

The sales process is long in the B2B market and negotiation is inevitable to seal the deal, unlike a B2C market where you may never meet the customer before they make a buying decision. Successful business people are successful because they know how to negotiate. If you try selling to that person on a regular basis you will pick up some tips. This feeds back into your marketing when it comes to persuading people through marketing copy and collateral, negotiating with external suppliers and negotiating internally to get what you want. Let’s not underestimate that last point, it’s a big deal in marketing to be able to persuade senior management to follow your strategic recommendations and to gain financial sign off on budgets and contributions from staff for content and campaign support.

Implementing a successful marketing strategy is a bit like this:


 

The value of face to face time with the client.

As a B2B marketer you usually end up spending a lot of time around your clients at conferences, exhibition, meeting them in the office; you might even be selling to them directly and be supporting the sales team in pitches. This gives you valuable insight into what client needs are and what pushes their buttons. You know it’s important and B2C marketers should spend time getting under their customers skins too, not researching cold dead statistics but meeting or speaking to real people.

tiger hug

Now that I’ve met you I see you’re not so tough…

Understanding the importance of networks.

You know that guy who you went to school with who’s sister’s husband is now the Sales Director at that client you’d like to do business with? This is a familiar story in B2B world when you’re seeking out leads. It’s handy too when you’re calling in some favours to find speaking slots, guest bloggers, suppliers and other opportunities. By the way, have you added me on LinkedIn?

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Well that’s a few points, I bet there are more. I reckon we could all learn a lot from each other so if you have any tips you want to add please do comment!

What To Think About When Your Company Is Exhibiting

Having recently exhibited, I wondered what makes an event run smoothly for your company…

I’ve had a bit of a gap since posting, time flys when you’re busy! Part of this busy-ness is due to having recently exhibited at the Publishing Expo in London where I stayed at EasyHotel. AKA EasyHell.

EasyHotel, aka EasyHell

Needs more orange, right?

The experience did make me think how I do things a certain way during events organisation and maybe laying out some tips will be useful for others. So here are my top tips for managing your event.

1, Plan, plan, then plan some more.

In the ideal world you would book an event way beforehand and have 6 months to plan and campaign. This isn’t always possible, we all know that cashflows can fluctuate. This might mean that you have a short period of time between sign off and actual attendance of an event.

It will help if you have a process and update this process as your experience with events grows. You need a tick list of “To Dos” before the event itself, including who is responsible for what task. This should include putting together a pack for your attendees (see Tip #2) and a list of items you need to take.

Is the car hired? Who is picking it up? What is the agenda for this 3 day event? Not the event agenda – your agenda. When will you all meet and where on day 1? Who leaves at what time? When will one attendee be at a seminar so other attendees know to be on the stand?

Also, you need to plan your budget and how this breaks down. Overspending isn’t going to do you any favours.

Here’s a short list of things that can be easily forgotten:

  • Batteries.
  • Connection leads.
  • Packaging/Electrical tape.
  • Scissors.
  • Pens!
  • Splitter plug.
  • Chargers for devices.
  • Cleaning product and cloth (set up makes things dusty).
  • Food and water (it’s really expensive in exhibition venues).

2, Make a pack for attendees.

This should contain things like tickets/badges, how to get to the venue, your plan of action, seminar agenda, car park passes, car hire details, travel times, day budgets for travel and sustenance, etc.

I put together a front page brief that includes the event date and details and a map of the local area. Attendees can see details for local transport or nearby roads and landmarks if driving. Importantly, I also include details of the nearest coffee shops, supermarkets and Nandos (nom), especially if an overnight stay is involved. Sales people especially really need to have access to a constant supply of coffee!

Also, you will need to include details of my next point…

3, Set targets.

Some companies go to events just to be seen but most will want to get actual results. As an events organiser I need to justify the spend on these events, exhibiting is expensive! Even to get sign off I need to show that ROI is feasible. Firstly, I will try to show that the right kind of people are in attendance – those that match our known target audience. Getting a list of attendees off the organiser helps here, or last years attendees. Then I need to work out, based on budget and what I know a lead is “worth” to our company, what we need to generate in terms of leads and sales to consider the event a success.

For me, setting lead generation targets includes a target for hot/warm leads that have the potential to become a sale, as well as contacts collected. These are important to me because:

  1. Lead generation is my number one priority.
  2. I need more data to market to.

Your targets may be different as it will depend on what you are trying to achieve strategically as a company. If your average deal is £100k and the event costs a few grand then just 1 sale could justify repeating the event next year. But if you sell smaller value items you will need to make more sales so your target would be higher.

Maybe you can offer a prize for who generates the most business from the event? Targets can be really motivating for some people. Which brings me onto my next point…

4, Take the right people to your event!

Some people like talking to other people and some people don’t. If you take the person that sits at the back of the stand with their head down, looking miserable this will have a detrimental effect as it makes your stand look sloppy and unapproachable.

Take the person who is confident and approachable. The majority of visitors are just going to be footfall past your stand – unless you stop them! You can do this by grabbing their attention (see Tip #5) or by getting out there and talking to them. They can be initially unfriendly so confidence helps here. It also helps if they have the constitution of a mountain goat, standing up all day is tough!

mountain goat

I wore my brightest jacket, a big smile, set myself in front of the stand and talked to passers by. If I didn’t have this proactive approach we would have got zilch from this event!

5, OMG! Get people’s attention!! 

If you’ve attended an exhibition you’ll know that they can be massive, busy and a lot of the stands look the same. So it’s competitive to get the attention of passing footfall. Things that help are…

  • Bright colours on your stand – eg. banners, wall hangings, etc.
  • Take a big screen – stick a video or demo on it. Moving things grab people’s attention.
  • Hold a competition – we gave away footy and rugby tickets. This was a great conversation opener too.
  • Give freebies away – some stands go the whole hog with candy floss machines and remote control helicopters, however, if you have a lower budget simple branded pens are handy. People tend to need them for note taking in seminars.
  • Costumes and themes – Dressing stand attendees up in something eye catching and bright helps. One of the stands had a library theme with staff dressed as nerdy librarians. It was really engaging and seemed fun so they were busy.
  • Reach out to all the senses – As well as having a good looking stand  you can turn the sound up on videos, give away tasty cakes, have a fluffy sofa, smell like strawberries! Sounds weird but some people prefer to experience via differ senses. Plus they are more likely to remember if you touched a variation of senses.
  • Interactivity is fun – Playing a physical game, controlling a robot, playing on a gameboy, entering a literary quiz or playing with a demo. Visitors will spend more time on the stand and engage more deeply with you.
  • Hold a timed PR event – This could be simply announcing your competition winner at a certain time, having a person of importance visit the stand, holding a mini seminar or unveiling your super new product! But make sure you promote this event (see next tip)

6, Campaign during the run up to the event and afterwards.

This event is a great opportunity to get in touch with contacts in the industry and let them know you are exhibiting. Send mailers to announce your attendance, let them know about competitions and remind them what time your seminar is. Make sure it’s out over social media networks and plan to update them throughout using the correct event hashtag – if this is going to be difficult you can schedule updates with a tool such as Social Oomph.

What relevant content could you produce and post in the LinkedIn group? Who can you phone to arrange a meeting with at the event? Even just letting people know you are attending this important industry event will put in their mind that you are on the ball, understanding their industry and needs. The call might just act to remind them that your service exists in case they have a need.

Afterwards, send updates on competition winners, seminar recordings or a “nice to have met you” email. Keep an eye on who’s interacted with your social media, they might have said something nice you’d like to share!

Twitter reaction

7, Get a speaker slot.

Most of the time buying stand space entitles you to a speaker slot. This will really help to boost your exposure. You need to ensure the presentation you give adds value to attendees and event organisers, no-one wants to hear a big fat sales pitch. However, you still need to sell it into the organisers so ask them what other people are presenting and what are the hot topics; then try to fit your proposed subject into that.

This will also give you some nifty content to share after the event for those who attended and want to review what they learnt, as well as for those who missed out.

Seminar Session

…and here’s a photo of us on the beach…

8, Time for some competitor research!

Go look at their stands, get some collateral, see how they sell. You might even want to talk partnerships with them! Either way, this is a perfect opportunity to see how your competition is selling.

9, Research all networking opportunities (or hold your own).

It helps to allocate certain attendees to go to networking opportunities. Bear in mind that these might be within the event, held by the organisers, but that there could also be other networking events held externally by associations and the like that aren’t connected to the event. For example, we went to PPA events on both nights of the exhibition. They knew industry people would be in town and took advantage of this opportunity. You should too. If your research doesn’t throw up much maybe you could even hold your own networking event at a nearby venue?

10, Negotiation is always possible.

Whatever organisers tell you about fixed prices negotiation is always possible. Know what you want to spend and what price point you will not go past beforehand. Think about what benefits you are giving them in return – filling an empty space last minute? Booking super early? First time client? Use those points in your negotiations. You will be helping out your finance department if you can break payments down over a period of time.

Remember, this isn’t an argument and both sides need to emerge happy with the result. Hopefully, the event will be successful and this will be the start of a beautiful friendship!

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There are some great seminars online for marketers from the Technology for Marketing and Advertising event that ran alongside Publishing Expo. You can register to view them at http://www.connectwisdom.com/tfma

People of interest to follow:

@publishingexpo

@tfma_event

Please do follow me at @lauraofbrighton

Video Tools

Creating basic video content for your brand gives your audience something different to interact with, helps to explain your offering + is good news for your SEO. So here are a few tools I’ve found to be handy recently…

I’ve been dealing with a few videos lately; basic product info or presentations that we can send out to potential clients or upload online as interesting content. There were a few bits n bobs that came in handy so I wanted to post them on here, caring and sharing and all that!

Caring and sharing like a Care Bear! Also, burn all the onsies...

Caring and sharing like a Care Bear!
Also, burn all the onsies…

Making a basic video

Firstly, I needed to create the content itself. You can make a very basic video in a couple of ways. Of course, you can just record on your web cam but did you know that you can also…

If you are making screenshots for your presentation I recommend Screenshot Pimp, a nice, flexible Firefox add-on.

Converting Video

I had a .mov file and when I tried uploading to Youtube the timing of the audio went out of sync. Apparently, .mov files are a bit temperamental so converting to another file type helped here.

Following the advice in this post on having problems with audio and video out of sync, I popped my file into the basic editor on my computer and exported it as another file type. Problem solved.

If you don’t have an editing program on your computer you could download a tool, such as Miro Video Converter which is a free, open source tool, woop!

SEO your video

There’s heaps of tips for SEO for video in this section of Reel SEO. For general basic SEO tips I’d refer you back to my previous article on the subject.

This free online video grader tool from Pixability is useful for looking at your Youtube account and seeing where some improvements can be made. They aren’t all strictly implementable but it gives an idea of the right track to be on.

So…

…that’s just a few tips but maybe it will be helpful when it comes to getting some video content online for your company. On the other hand, you could just get someone else to do it! (see links below)

In the meantime, if you need some inspiration for why video content can be a good thing check out this AWESOME ad for One Dollar Shave, one of my favourite viral ads. The video cost $4,500 to make and circa 12,000 conversions were made within 48 hours of the videos release – talk about ROI!


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People to follow from this article:

Tips, news, etc for online video and marketing from @ReelSEO

Video agency with the best fish tank in Hoxton – @Screencult

Brighton based video agency – @FatSand

You can follow me at @LauraofBrighton

Where do you start with your SEO?

If you don’t usually deal with your company’s marketing the whole SEO thing can be a bit confusing. Where do you even start?

Basically, it comes down to how do I get people to find my website? SEO, meaning Search Engine Optimisation, being the art of getting your website to the top of search engine listings so when a possible client searches for a term that relates to your business (for example, “cleaning services in Brighton” in Google, although I hear there are others… 😉 ), they see you, they visit you and hopefully they buy from you!

Sure, you could sit on the second or third page of the listings but with over 50% of users clicking a link on page 1 you will be missing out on potential business (heaps of stats in this useful click through rate study by Slingshot).

The nice people at SiteVisibility are sharing this nifty infographic that will help with understanding how to implement SEO for your website. Definitely worth a play around with!

How to basic SEO

Click to play

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A couple of accounts to follow:

@SiteVisibility

Great and free SEO conference: #BrightonSEO

Useful resources @SEOMoz

Moi at @LauraofBrighton

5 top tips to avoid being a marketing zombie (and survive the zombie apocalypse)

I recently read an article that warned against becoming a marketing zombie. Sometimes being a zombie is awesome, however, in the workplace it is not such a productive state!

So here are my top 5 tips to avoid being a marketing, or just general business, zombie – along with some practical tips for how to deal with the impending doom of the undead rising once again to walk the earth…

1, Business decisions should be supported by sound market research.

Like the graves from which they rose, zombies are often pretty shallow, lacking the ability to have an in depth conversation about recent politics or new trends.

Rather than stumbling blindly into an important business decision, such as entering a new market, this decision should be supported by market research. What is the size of the market? What do these potential clients spend annually on the type of solution you offer? What are the costs of this venture and what is the potential pot available to you? Who could you partner with to sell more effectively? Is this profitable?

And don’t go stumbling into dark buildings with few exits, this could end badly.

2, Draw up personas to help you to understand your audience.

Zombies tend to all have one thing on their mind, which is to consume the brains of the living.

People on the other hand tend to have differing priorities. Don’t assume that your client base thinks just like you! Researching will help to understand how they behave and what really motivates them. Effective marketing campaigns can then be based on this knowledge.

Drawing up client personas can help (good guide to personas here). Don’t be afraid to approach a client and ask them about their behaviors. What magazines do you read? What websites do you visit? What keywords would you search in Google if you were looking for this product? What are your targets? What are the top 3 challenges in your industry at present?

REMEMBER: Your client is not YOU.

But do be afraid of a buddy who may have been bitten by a zombie, they will turn into a flesh eating monster eventually.

3, Measure the effectiveness of your marketing.

The zombie (un)life is an easy one. Stagger, groan, eat brains, repeat.

When it comes to marketing, you should be constantly reviewing how effective your campaigns are. Beforehand it is helpful to set SMART targets and to measure results, test alternatives and then amend messaging/campaigns/activity to improve future results. Not all businesses are looking for pure financial results – some campaigns will be instigated to target increased brand awareness, widening networks through social media, re-educating audiences, achieving a specialist status or award, etc.

Remember, your zombie kill is not effective unless you have killed the brain. Aim for the head. 

4, Choose the right tools for the job.

The zombie lifestyle harks back to a simpler time, before complex technologies and pervasive, even invasive, devices. This makes the zombie audience a difficult one to market to. 

Is the tool you are planning to use really the best one for the job based on your business’ needs? If your research shows that your target audience are UK based, technically unsavvy, older males who prefer to read their newsletters in printed form, then why would you set up a Pinterest channel? (Seeing as Pinterest users are 80% female, mostly from the US and aged 25-44). Facebook is great for some brands but if your audience isn’t there it doesn’t matter how many people are using the platform, there will just be more people to ignore your irrelevant offering. Use your research and industry knowledge to choose your marketing tools, not what you think is the latest new thing.

Many household items can be used to defend from the undead. Go for long, heavy weapons that can be swung at arms length; such as sporting equipment, pokers and most things that can be found in the shed.

5, Work closely with other departments.

If there’s one thing zombies have got right it’s that they tend to attack in large groups.

When attacking your marketing strategy this should be approached as a whole, where you are working closely with other departments. This will mean working with the sales department if your targets are financial and based on converting clients. Also, PR, SEO and customer service departments – these need to work together in a connected way rather than act as silos.

Never split up in zombie-infested territory, you need someone to watch your back. Structured society has probably broken down at this point so you have plenty of time to look for things together – it’s not like you need to be in work on Monday! 

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Interesting people to follow from this article:

Dan Derry @Ask_Dan

Totally awesome annual Brighton zombie walk @Beachofthedead

UX Designer who knows a lot about personas – good BRAINSSSSSSS! @patrick_sansom

Top tips to take away from Brighton Digital Festival

I initially wrote this blog on Makemedia’s website. Recreating content is a bit of a no-no but it got good feedback and hopefully it will prove useful for readers.

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Make Marketing Noble

Allister Frost implores us to “Make Marketing Noble!”

In case you couldn’t make it to these events, here are my top marketing tips from the Brighton Digital Marketing Festival (BDMF) and BrightonSEO, both part of the fantastic Brighton Digital Festival.

Firstly, a big thank you to the organisers of both events; I feel very lucky to live in a town that holds a month long digital festival. It’s particularly useful to hear from and meet other marketeers, especially if, like me, you work in a small or one-person marketing team. It’s a chance to bang heads and discover some new tips and vantage points that will benefit your own marketing strategy. I would recommend BDMF for all round marketeers looking to build up knowledge across new areas. BrightonSEO is more specialist, although they do invite speakers from other areas of expertise such as UX and even linguistics (e.g. Lynne Murphy, who was particularly amusing). It didn’t seem quite as controversial as previous years (reference: angry blog 2011) but there was a whopping turnout of attendees (circa 1500).

If you want to listen to all the talks you can expect to see them up on the websites soon. In the meantime, here are my top takeaways from the events.

 

1, Don’t waste your speaking opportunity by turning it into a full fat sales pitch.

It takes guts to get up in front of a room full of people and present your ideas and the speakers are brave to do so. However, spending 40 minutes slapping your listeners in the face with how great your company is instead of speaking about something that will inform and benefit them will bore and annoy your audience. Instead, focus on providing information that is of value to listeners, whilst reflecting your expertise. It will be obvious from this that you would be a knowledgeable supplier.

 

2, Useful tools for links and referrals

Thanks to Berian Reed (Berian Reed’s presentation slides) for these tips. Copy and paste is still the top way data is shared. You can use TYNT for automatic link attribution when users copy and paste from your site.

You can also use this Google Analytics filter to see full links in your list of referral sites. Perhaps these sites will be more open to partnerships as they are already linking to you?

 

3, Considerations for your mobile strategy.

Mobile mobile mobile! Yes, it’s the “year of the mobile” (again).

Alex Meisl wisely advises to consider you mobile audience not the mobile device, therefore avoiding jumping on the App bandwagon. Aleyda Solis advises a mobile first design, which has the added benefit that what you end up with on your screen is cut down to the most essential information.

The Makemedia mobile website is in the making presently so keep your eyes peeled for a future launch.

 

4, The future for mobile (according to Alex Meisl)

Mobile specialist Alex had some interesting points to consider regarding what aspects of mobile marketing are more substantial.

  • NFC (although the new iPhone does not have NFC capability so perhaps this is still some time away from becoming ubiquitous)
  • Location – in a saturated market locative marketing can give you the edge.
  • Vouchering.
  • SMS – although we were discussing at BDMF how unwelcome SMS marketing can be intrusive, annoying and possibly damaging to the brand.
  • Image recognition – I’m excited to see how both image recognition and the semantic web will develop as surely this will change how we use the web forever!

 

5, Images of people in your marketing are important.

Allister Frost talked about how product reviews with photos are considered more trustworthy – and even more so if a description of the person is included. Research tends to show that  reviews and personal recommendations enjoy a high level of trust from consumers.

Marc Munier advised that when you use images of people in your marketing they should be looking at the thing you want your audience to look at – your great offer, call to action, etc.

 

6, A few tips for your PPC campaigns…

Nikki Rae reminds us to ensure you have the correct time zone selected in both your Google Analytics and Adwords accounts for accurate reporting (edit profile settings to do so).

Setting up a group on LinkedIn is effective but a lot of hard work so instead you can target PPC campaigns on the site to those groups – James Faulkner has seen returns here.

James also reminded us to include links in PPC ads that will allow users to call directly from mobile phones and tablets.

 

7, Making an impact with your marketing is the most important step!

Dave Trott gave us all something to think about with his talk on “Predatory Thinking.” In a saturated market 90% of ads fail (probably more). Using the example of asking Mrs Trott for a cup of tea, effort is being exerted like this:

Dave-Trott-Triangle-1

Dave Trott’s triangle illustration of where energy is often allocated by advertisers.

Often, the majority of effort goes into persuading. However, if you make no impact then no-one will notice the ad anyway. Communication is still important because if you don’t start the conversation there will be no opportunity to persuade. Therefore, we need to turn the triangle on it’s head as getting noticed is the most important step.

Dave-Trott-Triangle-2

Dave Trott’s triangle illustration of where energy SHOULD be allocated by advertisers.

There’s a good blog on Dave Trott’s talk in the Silicon Beach Training blog.

 

8, Use contrast to your advantage.

Dave also told us that the brain picks out what is different so you need to make your ad stand out← to be remembered.

On the other hand, Allister showed us how you can use this theory to trick the brain. Product listings are often similarly designed to look the same (see below). The consumer will generally go for the mid-price option thinking this is the best option.

Decoy-Design

Deja vu design

Simon Penson explained that when scheduling content strategy you should utilise peaks and troughs. So you can use regular items – serialised content, top 5s, quick tips, etc. – and then less often you will have your “big bang” content – such as your press and TV campaigns.

 

9, The secret of good UK

Stephanie Troth asked us to focus on one question:

“Do you want to evoke an emotional reaction or a rational act?”

You will be designing your marketing differently depending on this.  Your product or the essence of your brand will define which one you’re going for.

 

10, Delight comes in small doses.

Small surprises can really lift our mood! Small gifts, things we didn’t expect, even working out a puzzle in an advertisement or logo – it’s the little things that matter. Allister used the arrow in the FedEx logo as an example:

fed-ex-logo

The Fed Ex logo is an example of a hidden visual puzzle and also a visual signal of what they do – getting something from somewhere to somewhere else.

So that’s my top tips. Please do add to the comments if there are any particular tips that you would like to add and if this article was useful to you please share.