Monthly Archives: August 2010

B2B Marketing Principles 6: Brand Value Systems

Building and raising brand awareness is often a hallmark of any B2B marketing plan but do you as a B2B marketer have a carefully constructed consistent and coherent system in place to measure the value of your brand?

We sometimes assume that if a cluster of prospects have some awareness of your offering, and can identify with it, this puts you in a more favourable light to secure their business. That’s why most B2B marketing plans include some form of advertising twinned with targeted direct marketing aimed to acquire and then retain customers.

If you’re going to invest in creating and promoting a brand, consider how you will measure effectiveness and value. Becoming, and staying ‘front of mind’ can cost a small fortune as companies compete to build a brand containing some intrinsic brand value.

Take a different view. One where you don’t own your brand and it is instead defined by those who come into contact with it. Think of all your brand ‘touch points’ – a trade counter, your call centre, a representative or engineer, your mail shots, your advertising, your exhibition stands, your seminars, your website, email, social media pages. All of these can offer a great experience and provide the opportunity to ask for feedback. And therein lies the rub: The only way to create a benchmark, and then measure brand value, is to ask.

The Cooperative asks questions on their Chip & Pin machines at the checkout. Linkedin, SurveyMonkey and Zoomerang polls can be quickly created and distributed. Email and website based tools can be effectively harnessed post transaction. In-store and direct marketing response offers can be deployed. Questions can be added to omnibus surveys. And at the most expensive but perhaps most focused end of the spectrum, you can utilise focus groups and tailored market research programmes. There are a wealth of online tools to monitor chatter and buzz about your brand online (to be covered in a future blog).

What is clear is whilst you may set a vision and a value proposition for your brand, it is the market that ultimately determines how your brand is perceived. Come out from the ivory tower, never assume your view is in the line with the market and always deal quickly with a complaint.

Put in place a regular, rigorous process for measuring the effectiveness of your marketing. Focus groups and online research panels together with quick fire surveys can give you a measure of perception together with partnership surveys created with relevant associations and institutions, trade publications and exhibitions.

Image www.davidzinger.com

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Reaching out: If you’re in b2b, are you

Reaching out: If you’re in b2b, are you making best use of the trade organisations and portals? http://wp.me/pytg5-5L

Ten steps to making Linkedin work for yo

Ten steps to making Linkedin work for you http://wp.me/pytg5-eY (Marketing Assassin blog)

Can you give makeover advice to The Marketing Assassin?

The Marketing Assassin blog is going to get a makeover in September 2010 when I move it from wordpress.com to fully functional wordpress.org status. It’s daunting and exciting, not least as I attended Wordcamp in Manchester in July and most of it went right over my head!

But if this little blog is to develop and start to take on the world, I think it needs to be designed a little better, have a more intuitive navigation structure, be more accessible to readers, be optimised for search and the major blog directories, be able to handle video, audio and rich media content and be easy to share, retweet etc.

It was set up with the content solely in mind (I’m a writer not a programmer), but I’m interested in your suggestions on improvements, what you’d like to see added, changed or taken away.

Please feel free to leave comments and any recommendations of other attractive WordPress sites on this page.

Thanks.

Image Casper College

Recession marketing

In an interview with Marketing magazine, Nick Smith at Accenture talked recently about the four key things that businesses should be focusing on in order to safely navigate the recession. They are value, innovation, expectation and organisational ethos. Here’s my take.

1. Value Fundamentally are you overpriced for what you offer? What do you stand for and offer? What service, experience, add ons and extras can you or do you provide that make your offer more competitive from a total package perspective?

How does your value proposition sit when compared with the competition and the perceptions of your customers?

2. Innovation Despite recessionary economics suggesting that we ‘regress’ and seek out brands that remind us of more prosperous times, there is a data supporting the proposition that we’re attracted to innovation and the idea of the new, exciting and different. There are countless examples of companies and products (including Apple) that start up in recessions, capture the imagination of an audience and ride it out.

Where you can innovate in your product/service without losing focus? Perhaps on value?

3. Experience/expectation Nick says high performing companies understand the customer experience. What is undeniable is the power of the Internet, broadband, the mobile revolution and the viral nature of communications now means that businesses have to think much more strategically about their marketing communications. Brands like Vodafone map brand touch points well to ensure consistency and clarity.

Have you mapped your brand touch points? How do customers find you, engage with you, convert and keep coming back for more?

4. Organisational ethos With the Internet at the heart of everything, non responsible behaviour, or poor or non-response when a brand is under the spotlight, is amplified. Strategy, speed, impact and a feel for emerging technology are all key if today’s marketers are to make the most of opportunities and to head off potential crises.

Is your organisation ahead of the curve or behind the times? Surviving the recession depends on it.

Image watblog.com

Improving marketing perception in your boardroom

Helen Edwards wrote a fantastic piece in Marketing recently (28th July) musing on how Peter Fincham took the top marketing role at ITV despite having no marketing qualifications or discernible experience from his time in broadcasting.

The fact he will now be responsible for all marketing and research budgets at ITV demonstrates the continued lack of regard given to marketing in Britain’s boardrooms. Helen pointedly argues that the same would not be the case if they were looking to recruit senior commissioners, finance directors or operations directors.

As a qualified CIM member with fifteen years experience from both sides of the client and agency divide, and a recently invested Chartered Marketer, I am frustrated when these situations arise, but they don’t surprise me.

In the real world, I come into contact daily with businesses where the owner, managing director or sales director hold the marketing reins. Sadly, this is often to the detriment of creativity, high impact (even daring) campaigns and frequently without the experience to properly brief and plan integrated marketing campaigns effectively.

This jeopardises the success of the client-agency relationships because at the core is a fundamental lack of regard for effective marketing.

So what has caused this and how can we fix it on the ground?

The CIM has a role to play but Chartered Marketer status will take a generation or longer. But will the Institutes’s CPD program ever truly achieve a similar status to those operating in the fields of medicine, accountancy or engineering?

Companies have a role. Any in-house marketing roles should demand experience and CIM related qualifications. Companies miss out in the long term when they promote the unqualified from other departments. In b2b companies, there is often a career path that starts in the field and progresses internally marketing management. The problem with this lies in the fundamental differences in the salesperson – living in the moment, securing the sale, where as marketers arguably build longer term relationships and see the bigger picture from a customer, product, market and competitor viewpoint. Controversial but, I think, accurate.

Individuals have a role, especially the graduates and students of this generation. How we manage our brand management teams and agencies, the type of consultancy we outsource, and the manner in which we plan, implement and evaluate our marketing campaigns, will determine how seriously marketing is taken in the short and long term.

In her article, Helen poses a number of questions that might come up in an interview for a top marketing job and encourages the long list of editors, salespeople, IT consultants, HR and accountancy professionals who might fancy a go in marketing not to.

Few companies have marketing representation in the boardroom, it is our responsibility to work to higher standards and secure our seat.

Image www.cogentis.com/au

Clicks that convert

Fast access to relevant to information is critical if you want to entice visitors when they visit your site and encourage them to engage. Think about your own online habits and preferences. Visitors to your site haven’t got time to sit and wait for the site to load, work out where to go or schedule time for an unstructured browse.

Your site needs to follow the mythical but effective three click rule. Ensure nothing is more than three clicks away (forwards to new content or back previous pages) by developing a site built on a four tier navigation structure as a maximum. In-built signposting to get people back to a category, specific page, search or back to the home page are now the norm rather than a nice to have.

Visitors browse in different ways. Some like menus and drop downs, other like action buttons. Cater for both by positioning all your  ‘call to action’ buttons (such as LiveTalk, Register, Contact, Sign up, Download, Buy now) prominently in left hand or right hand navigation bars and ensure they remain on every page. Duplication of content is an issue, but duplication in navigation is not.

Websites cost money to design, build and maintain. Looking nice is one part of it. Providing a useful experience is another. Ensuring it can be found on the search engines is another. Above all, your website needs to sweat 24:7 for your business. The Internet is always on – give your site the best to make clicks convert.

So road test your website today. Parking the need to redesign, what you could streamline now, quickly and inexpensively, to make it easier for visitors to access important information?

Image http://www.cashtactics.net