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5 Steps to Integrated B-to-B Marketing Success

By Vin Hoey

How do I reach new customers?


How do I create a consistent campaign across diverse channels?


How can my department better communicate with sales and creative?

 

 

If you’re a B2B marketer asking these questions, you’re in luck. The Association of National Advertisers’ (ANA) B2B Integrated Marketing Communications workshop, which I lead, will answer your questions about integrated campaigns and show you what other companies are doing right. We’ll cover these five best practices, give you the tools to use them, and answer questions you didn’t even know you had about IMC.

1. Use One Creative Brief

Successful B2B campaigns have one, integrated creative brief that is used by all players— corporate, marketing, sales, creative, and outside agencies. An integrated creative brief assures consistency in messaging and visual identity, congruence between sales and marketing, and coherence between corporate communications and marketing communications.

2. Connect with New Customers

In order to connect with potential B2B customers, you need to meet them where they are. Where are they, you ask? Online. Data shows that 94% of buyers conduct online research before purchasing, and 55% of Millenial buyers research items for their companies from their mobile devices. Effective B2B marketers have a strong web presence; websites are easy to navigate (and easy to find), mobile responsive, and able to answer new customers’ questions (what is it, why you, and how much) before they have to ask.

 3. Content is King

Savvy B2B marketers know that it isn’t just their products or services that beckon new leads to their sites. Companies like Lycra, Corning, and Deloitte drive traffic and sales by publishing innovative, informative, and shareable content on various mediums—podcasts, infographics, and videos.

4. Drive Integration

One of the benefits of having one, integrated creative brief (see #1) is that it drives integration across an entire campaign. Successful B2B campaigns are synced and consistent in their messaging and tone across multiple channels. Cross-functional teams share common objectives, know how they are positioning the product and the company, and create appeals to one target audience. Each part of a campaign can function effectively on its own and work seamlessly with other communication.

 5. Align Creative Agencies

One of the challenges in driving integration is that marketers, salespeople, and creatives too often become ‘siloed within their own specialties.’ Marketers and creatives aren’t always on the same page and are often not satisfied with one another’s work. Successful integrated B2B campaigns encourage all players to anticipate problems, ask questions, communicate openly, and create consistent content.

Sources: Visually, Summer 2015, CMO.com; Acquity Group, Sourced from www.ana.net

Is your website answering your potential customers’ questions?

By Liz Navarro

In an era where content is king and information is free, the answers to most of life’s pressing questions are usually waiting at our fingertips. (Or in our pockets—thanks, Siri!) It’s no wonder then, that potential customers browsing your website won’t linger for long when they don’t find what they’re looking for. Think about it. What did you do when you last went to a website and didn’t find the answer to your question? I bet you didn’t stick around to search before hitting the “back” button.

Your job when creating content for your website is to make sure you are answering the questions that drew the customers to it in the first place. You need to think like the person at the other end of the Googlesphere and ask yourself what they might be wanting to know. To get you started, here are four questions your potential customers are probably typing into their search bars or browsing for on your site.

1. What does ______ mean? 

If you are offering a product or service that is new, industry-specific, or abstract to the layman, you need to make sure your website is defining it in simple terms. Some websites are beautiful, well-designed, and easy to navigate, but they never answer the simple question of who they are and what they do.

What exactly do you do, and how is that helpful to the customer? Even better, if your website can provide a concise definition to a complicated new phrase or term, Google may be more likely to direct customers searching that phrase directly to your site by ranking you higher in the search results.

2. Who is the best _____ ? 

Once a customer understands what they need, they want to know who the best providers are. You already know you’re great at what you do, and you can answer this question by showcasing reviews, testimonials, awards, and examples of your work.

3. How much does _____ cost?

It’s the question a lot of websites want to avoid, but you have to think like a customer. Cost is always at the forefront of the potential buyer’s mind. If you don’t want to publish a specific number, consider providing a range, various packages, or a narrative that addresses what goes into pricing, adds value, drives cost up, or brings it down.

4. Is ______ better than ______? 

You know that even if your new lead has stuck around long enough to learn about your services, value, and price, they are still comparing you to the competition. Why not go ahead and do that for them? Discuss why you are different, provide reviews that convey exactly what your customers like about you, and be up-front in addressing potential concerns. If you’ve confronted a problem in the past, narrate how you’ve addressed and fixed it. If you’re not they one answering the question of how you compare to your competition, chances are your competition could be answering it for you.

The purpose of your website is to answer your customers’ questions, not to create more for them. A good way to check to see if your website is effectively providing answers is to ask a person outside your industry if they can define your services based on information presented on your site. If their answer is vague or doesn’t match what you were aiming for, update your content to make it more new-customer friendly.

Social Enterprise to Build Nonprofit Sustainability

 

 “A social enterprise uses the methods and disciplines of business and the power of the marketplace to advance their social, environmental, and human justice agendas to promote the common good," according to the national Social Enterprise Alliance. They can be structured as a for-profit or nonprofit. While social enterprise definitions from various proponents vary a bit, I find these two broad concepts helpful.

1. Key elements for a social enterprise are it directly addresses a social need, commercial activity drives revenue, and the primary purpose is the common  good.

 2. Three types of organizations are shown in the figure below:

Characteristics of a Social Enterprise

  • Products and/or Services -- Purposefully deliver a product and/or service with social or environmental benefits to customers.
  • Operations -- Make a social or environmental impact through operations (e.g., by hiring or purchasing from those from low economic circumstances or with disabilities).
  • Profit Use -- Earn profits for the primary purpose of funding the social and/or environmental impact of other organizations (e.g., by supplying a portion of earned income to support the work of a nonprofit).

Example

My favorite example of a social enterprise is Girl Scout cookies, because:

  • Products -- For me, cookies are a social good! Even if you feel it's a reach to meet this social enterprise test, cookie sales meet the other two.
  • Operations -- Through this program young women learn selling, self-confidence, public speaking, budgeting, philanthropy, and business. It's an important part of the character, courage, and career-building that the Girl Scouts provide.
  • Profit Use -- 85% of the families of Girl Scouts are from middle and lower economic circumstances, and the cookie program funds local troop uniforms and personal development programs.

Social Enterprise Alliance North Texas  — For more information CLICK HERE for a 1-minute video.

How to write a tasty blog post — try a Croque Monsieur!

The first time I ordered a ham and cheese sandwich in French, I received one ham sandwich and one cheese sandwich! Then I discovered the Croque Monsieur, the French take on a toasted ham and cheese sandwich. It makes a tasty lunch – and can be a great nonprofit marketing recipe for writing blog posts that attract attention.

Here’s the recipe for an effective blog post, Croque Monsieur-style:

1. Cheese on top – title of article
• Hook searchers quickly – keep it short with a maximum of 70 characters
• Make it interesting with a question, surprise, provocative statement or creative idea

2. Toast – first paragraph
• Short – three sentences or less and add an interesting picture or icon
• Include a search term to further your SEO

3. Meat and more cheese in the middle
• Tell a story
• Use questions, bullet points, photos, graphics, videos, relevant links, numbers, because people scan rather than reading in detail

4. Bottom toast layer – closing paragraph
• Include a call to action – for a nonprofit this could be a request to donate, volunteer, participate, share the post with friends and family

That’s it. Naturally, if you’re Julia Child, you’d brush the bread with butter, so think of ways to tell your story in an entertaining way. Hope this helps you write your next blog post and, if you get hungry, here’s a link to Julia Child’s original recipe for this French favorite: CLICK HERE .

Social Media: Can Nonprofit Best Practices Help Companies?

The Bottom Line – “Using social media to capture people’s attention is different from traditional advertising, and companies that measure the effectiveness of these new channels by simply counting Facebook fans should rethink their approach,” according to Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith, authors of The Dragonfly Effect in a recent McKinsey Quarterly interview.

The authors cite an example of charity:water, a nonprofit launched three years ago on the founder’s 31st birthday with $31 friend contributions totaling $15,000. The nonprofit has now supplied clean water to more than 1.4 million people.

Best practices – here are the authors’ four nonprofit social media best practices:
"Tell a Story" that exemplifies your mission and tells it in a very personal way. A key is to create “a point of tension” about what's going to happen in the middle of your story that draws in the viewer.
"Empathize with your audience" – charity:water captured the hearts of viewers through photos and videos that begged the question: what would it be like to go without clean water?
"Emphasize authenticity" – as part of this hearts and minds campaign passion is contagious and should be buttressed by explaining the results of the donors’, volunteers' (or customers’) engagement.
"Match the media with the message" – create specialized messages for Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. This nonprofit got a well-known director to produce a spot that lucked out on American Idol.

What stories are worth telling?
• Who am I – your start-up story.
• Vision – your future direction.
• Apology and recovery – a screw-up example and how you responded.
• Personal – stories from your clients and employees.

How to measure success? – Counting hits or fans provides activity measures that don’t add up to much. The authors recommend setting brand goals and measuring against them. Since an estimated 95 % of people delete requests from causes (and skip through ads), the challenge remains -- how can you break through the clutter? The above suggestions provide useful clues (see mckinseyquarterly.com for the full interview; membership is free).

Success lies in building relationships with your audience. So, don’t get too wrapped up in the social media technology, focus on truly and emotionally engaging your audience.

Is It Sunny or Cloudy at Your Workplace?

What are employee workplace concerns, how broadly held are they and how strongly are they felt? One way to gain a better, more comprehensive grasp is to conduct an Employee Climate Survey. Such a survey can assess employee perceptions and concerns, identify positive changes and lead to higher job satisfaction and increased productivity. Better productivity can drop benefits directly to your bottom line or further your cause.

Key Model - FedEx’s people-first corporate philosophy is an integral part of their People-Service-Profit goals. A key part of managing this effort is annual use of an Employee Satisfaction Survey built around a Survey-Feedback-Action approach. Any employee survey is only effective if feedback on the major results is shared with employees and management identifies areas for action.

Case Example - We helped an organization tailor an Employee Climate Survey to meet their needs. To gain employee participation and help employees feel comfortable providing candid answers, it can help to have an external firm design, conduct and communicate overall survey findings.

In this case, highlights were presented to headquarters employees along with the top three actions senior management committed to take in order to address areas of greatest concern. Reporting back to employees periodically during the year charted progress and helped communicate that senior management had listened. While maintaining anonymity in survey responses, gathering demographic data helped identify any particular issue patterns in parts of the organization or among groups of employees, such as new hires. Sample survey areas:Organization future/vision
Customer service
Growth & development
Rewards & recognition
Innovation
Teamwork/morale
Trust
Employee communications

Work Groups - It can also be helpful for departments or natural work groups to assess their survey results compared to those of the organization as a whole. In addition to supporting organization-wide actions, is there an area or two that deserves attention within the smaller group?

When to Test Your Climate? - It can be helpful to assess employee climate when major changes are being made in strategies or organization or when new processes, products or services are being introduced. Even better, annually assessing the climate makes sense to help effectively manage an organization and to give voice to employees on changes they think could improve attainment of organization goals or their own job satisfaction. When combined with an assessment of customer survey feedback, any disconnects between the views of stakeholders can be identified.

Critical success factors are to commit to survey anonymity, share feedback of summary results with employees, act on key findings and then periodically communicate progress. It can be sunnier where you work. Most of us spend too much of our lives there for it not to be.

What Do Donor Companies Think of Your Campaign — Just Ask!

I bet you’ve heard the age old expression, “What you don’t know won’t hurt you!” In today’s business climate, “not knowing” will slow you down in the short-run and in the long-run it could limit success. Understanding the customers and stakeholders that make your organization successful is a critical component to your communication and marketing efforts.

One major city United Way conducted research to get crystal clear on the attitudes, perceptions, and expectations of their donors before starting their annual campaign. The study targeted top donor companies and included seven focus groups of about eight employees each. The research was done in phases so the results from the first phase could enhance the development of the second phase. The following highlights give you a snapshot of what these top donor company employee focus groups said.

Do They Hear You?

Most professionals are multi-tasking at work and have very little time or focus for campaign materials. While glossy photographs are nice, the majority want concise information and images of local recipients, not stock photos.

Do They Care?

Most business professionals were emotionally involved with the United Way and the issues they represented. And, almost all were pleased with the campaign staff assigned to their companies.

Do They Champion Your Org.?

A significant number were committed to meeting fund raising goals and to advocating for United Way inside their corporations. Many were willing to be champions because of personal stories from co-workers or family members about how the United Way had assisted them in their time of need. Volunteer experience was also a giving motivator and almost all who volunteered were interested in having the United Way assist them in identifying volunteer opportunities.

What Else Do They Want?

While many charities lead with warm fuzzy stories and pictures of smiling children, today’s professionals want statistics and hard data about the effectiveness of their donor dollars. Across the board, people voiced a desire for more outcome-oriented and results-based information shared in formats that made it easy to receive, read and react.

Whether you are a local nonprofit, small business, or corporate giant, tapping into your target audience’s needs before you communicate can pay huge dividends. By conducting research customized to your organization’s needs and your customers’ wants, you can create communications that propel your success!

Want to Target Potential New Customers – Go Fish!

If you’ve done the strategic work to position your business and to identify potential industry segments on which to focus, how can you identify prospective companies that meet your business criteria?

I recently met a Telecom New Business Development professional, who’s an expert on fishing through business and government data to catch new business development prospects. Thomas Jackson is an ardent researcher who freely shares his approach and the underlying data.

Target Industries – The first step, says Tom, is to target industries of interest. You can do that by identifying a company of interest in that industry and then determining its NAICS (North American Industrial Classification System) code, which in 2004 replaced the old SIC (Standard Industrial Classification) code and provides greater detail. Then you can identify other companies which share the industry code of interest. Tom shows how to do this for 1,400 companies in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, but his approach can be used anywhere in the U.S. (see www.thomasjackson.info ).

Lead to Target Companies - Dun & Bradstreet data for the companies in both your industry of interest and geographic area of interest can show you company contact info, the names of some senior executives, the numbers of employees (both total and in your area), sales total, year established, public/private ownership and line of business.

Lead to More Details on These Companies – Once you’ve identified companies of potential interest, you can find additional details about them in www.manta.com especially for small and mid-sized companies; via your local city business journal in 40 American cities (see www.bizjournals.com) and through the specific company Web sites.

Then Fish for Contacts in These Companies – The key outcome of the above research is to identify contacts in the companies of interest to you as potential customers, so that you can reach them and begin to develop a business relationship. In addition to the above major city business journals and a company’s own Web site, try LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com/search) and do an advanced search for contacts. Through the LinkedIn system, you can then determine if any of your own LinkedIn contacts have those in whom you’re interested as contacts and make a connection.

Abundant Fish – There is more data available than can be imagined to help you identify potential customers and contacts that meet your strategic criteria for potential customers. So do a little homework and go fish!