Searching for information online is now fraught with problems and frustration. Try it. Run a search for ‘b2b marketing’ on Google, Twitter, anywhere you like and see what pops up. Do you locate the best, most desirable suppliers and sources of information? Or the best promoters?
If we turn the notion of search engine optimisation on its head, it’s actually easy with a little understanding for businesses to rank well on search. How? By carefully manipulating certain keywords and running it through their meta structure, copy, content, sitemaps and tags and positioning themselves vaguely on those keywords even if it is only part of what they do and where they want to be.
There are lots of charlatans who understand how to do this, who jump aboard the bandwagon when it’s convenient to do so. It’s a shame that only now when b2b marketing is developing some cache are we seeing more experts, more specialists, more gurus and more agencies trying to cash in.
But then isn’t it like that in all walks of life?
Launching a brand externally before you’ve prepared the company for the reaction…
Spending money on branding but letting regional managers do what they want with it…
Advertising your product but without a compelling call to action…
Crafting the most enticing copy imaginable but using tired old stock images in your brochure ware…
Building a database but not using it effectively for relationship and business building purposes…
Sending direct mail but not following up by phone…
Building a beautiful website but not investing a little more in ensuring the world can find it…
Writing a blog but not using RSS, Twitter and your website to distribute it…
Taking space at a major trade show but failing to build an integrated communication campaign around it in advance to drive interest…
Everyone of these (and more) are a crime against marketing but are committed on a daily basis by businesses the world over. Is yours one of them? Isn’t it better to market well or not at all?
Posted in B2B, B2C, business, General
Tagged advertising, blog, brand, branding, call to action, copy, crime, database, direct mail, marketing crime, relationship, website
The BBC recently reported that over 39 million people in the UK now regularly use the Internet. That equates to around 60% of the population. Of the additional 2 million users added in the last twelve months, half are over 50 years old.
Think about that for a minute. It’s spectacular. Most of these people use the Internet to search. To find information. Wouldn’t it be amazing if there was some way of communicating with them, engaging with them, harnessing their opinion and input into design and being in the front of their mind when they need what we provide?
There is. It’s called marketing. For years, marketing has been treated contemptuously as a cost rather than an investment in business. Companies that have splashed the cash and media titles that have ridden the wave have up till now convinced most businesses not to market. Sales Directors have been revered whilst Marketing Directors have been reviled.
But there has been a sea change. Marketing is getting a better name. Sure, there is still an element of spin and seduction involved. But to be seduced, a prospect needs to play along. They need to be interested. They need to have a problem or a headache that needs to be solved. They looking to be engaged with rather than being sold to.
What does this tell us? If you are solving problems, treating headaches and fulfilling needs, 39 million UK users are telling you that the Internet is the place to be. So, are you here?
Image credit Surfing Computers
A recent Linkedin group discussion asked for member’s favourite quotes. My answer to this question is always the same:
“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” Henry Ford
The reason? It eloquently illustrates the great human paradox: needing to change but not fundamentally wanting to or being able to.
We see on a daily basis closed-minded business leaders and workforces unable to embrace change, despite change and the need to be nimble, creative and innovative actually being inevitable.
Do you agree? What is your favourite quote and why?
When you are a business which makes half a billion in profit a year, surely continuity of supply shouldn’t really be an issue that risks serious damage to your brand reputation.
United Utilities, a business providing water to 2.5m customers in the North West of England (and which counts the English Lake District in its region) last week imposed a hosepipe ban and fines of up to £1000 on customers who are found continuing to use them.
The media and consumer rights groups have been vocal in their criticism of the company. There has been little significant investment in developing supply from the Lake District over a twenty-five year period, in infrastructure upkeep or in leak management.
They appear to be more interested in furthering their FTSE and global business aspirations and are more proud about the fact their business supports 25m people – thats 22.5m away from their core North West business.
As a United Utilities customer (no actual choice in that) it’s telling that the only communications I receive are either statements, letters to say my bill is increasing, or collateral designed to upsell other products like pipe maintenance and leak protection. I’m viewed solely as a revenue stream (pardon the pun).
United Utliities, like other major utility operators, has a contract of such colossal scale that it probably doesn’t have to worry too much about its reputation, as the barriers to entry for anyone hoping to succeed them are virtually unscalable. That it is a listed company at least provides some hope, but then again, as long customers can’t vote with their feet, will the share price be affected enough to drive change.
What can we take from this?
1/ If you’re not in a line of business where you’d benefit from privatisation and protectionism, you’d do well to find one.
2/ Be the best you can be within your core business before considering diversification or brand extension. Tesco didn’t risk their grocery business when moving into insurance, mobile phones, credit cards and banking.
3/ Communicate with, and keep customers happy. Lifetime customers who become advocates take a long time to create, but can be lost in seconds.
Search is the dominant tool information hungry consumers and professional buyers use to seek out suppliers, solutions and assess costs. And within search there is a growing preference for organic listing rather than pay-per-click advertising. We’re all just a bit more sceptical of ads than we used to be. Think about it, when did you last click an advert?
Search should be a critical part of your marketing strategy. Put simply it means your website continues to sweat while your office is closed. And what a waste of money a beautiful but poorly optimised site would be.
It is getting harder not to get sucked in by the ‘we can get you on page one of Google brigade if you spend £xxxx a month’ brigade. There is a way of actually saving yourself time, effort and money in the long term. And that involves getting your website optimisation right in one single swoop.
What is true is that the Google algorithm is getting ever more sophisticated as it seeks to protect the integrity of search. But by structuring your website right and with the search engines in mind, you can improve your organic ranking fairly quickly by considering these six steps:
1. Meta data, titles and tags – this is in the coding and text based structure that search engines read to index your site. Use the same keywords, provide a meta description, use the best possible keyword rich page naming structure and assign tags to all images and headings on each and every page.
2. URL indexing – add the home page URL to all major search engine indexes, eg by going to www.google.com/addurl.
3. Incoming links – target the most important high traffic sites and post incoming links. This could be social networking and filesharing sites like Linkedin, Facebook and YouTube, but equally relevant media sites, trade association sites, supplier and customer sites.
4. Sitemap – a sitemap is critical as it acts like a directory. Ensure it sits on the home page, if not every page.
5. Regular home page content – updating content ensures that the site is viewed as current and relevant. For this reason feature the latest news and/or blog activity on the home page. This plays a massive part in achieving higher organic search listing.
6. Use of Google location tools – whether you love or hate Google, you can’t deny how powerful many of its free to use applications are in promoting your business. Go to www.google.co.uk and click Business Solutions.
Posted in B2B, B2C, Digital, Tactical
Tagged advertising, B2B, b2c, Facebook, Google, keywords, Linkedin, links, marketing, marketing assassin, pay per click, search, search engine optimisation, seo, sitemap, YouTube