Monthly Archives: May 2011

B2B content marketing trends

The search for greater clarity and return from our marketing means we have to constantly strive to predict the evolving needs of customers. Knowing what causes customers distress and what makes them happy is criticial.

To aid us in our quest, Holger Schulze has put together some interesting data from surveys of his b2b technology marketers community. With insights into the rationale, the challenges, the formats and the channels, this is worth looking at it if you are looking to generate incoming leads through inbound marketing techniques.

Look out for some surprises in relation to the most used / popular formats and how companies choose to position their content – it might inform and even re-direct some of your activity.

It’s another example of a great Slideshare in action. Quick to browse, usable free information collated by experts, if you haven’t tried it yet, check out my fledgling efforts here. Sign up as there will be more following soon.

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Are you an early adopter or easily distracted?

 

 

 

Are you a moth to the latest must-try social media flame? An early adopter always looking to push the envelope, try new things? Or actually easily distracted, trialling the latest new thing instead of focusing on the challenging things you need to do?

There have been a number of new, and not so new social media news stories in recent weeks (if you don’t believe me, sign up to Techcrunch), but the one that has filled my Twitter stream the most is Empire Avenue.

Empire Avenue is essentially on online game that works on the basis of trading stocks and shares in yourself or your brand, the value of which is based on your social media activity. Therefore, the more you do the more you are potentially worth. As people invest you, and you pass / unlock certain aspects, your stock rises as does your ability to invest. All in fictitious online currency though, not real world cash – yet.

B2B

As a b2b marketer, I’ve watched as location based services like Foursquare and Facebook Places, have slowly began to monetize their audiences with time-sensitive deals. Buying sites like Groupon have also contributed to the phenomenon of securing big savings on retail products and services. Retail and leisure b2c sectors are seeing benefits but an effect on my clients and their customers is still some way off.

Priorities

I’m watching people get utterly sucked into some of these emerging platforms and I’m left wondering if it is affecting their business. Do I think that someone who runs Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter accounts, creates blogs and other content to drive inquiry, uses Foursquare, and digests/shares and comments on lots of other content, has time to deliver in their role, letalone play online games like Empire Avenue? No.

Business impact

I accept that there is something for everyone. But will Empire Avenue get you hired? No. Will Empire Avenue differentiate your business from a competitor? Doubtful. Will you be engaging with the same people you bump into as you journey the web? Probably. Will Empire Avenue have a tangible effect on your business? Unlikely.

Save some tenuous value figure I might apply to my social media work, and an inordinate amount of additional email in my inbox, Empire Avenue isn’t helping me.

And doesn’t that defeat the object? If new digital platforms hinder and confuse rather than help, what function do they serve other than to distract?

Image: Empire Avenue masthead

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Links worth a click #1

Links worth a click we 27 May, 2011.

It was an interesting week in digital. Here is my pick of the top stories.

GOOGLE WALLET heralded a new age of cashless transaction. Here is the Guardian’s take on it  and something from Google on how it works.

Staying with GOOGLE but going retro, here is a great guide from Mashable on getting started with Google Analytics.

For CONTENT MARKETERS trying to make some money, Seth Godin’s excellent new publishing initiative Project Domino put out a blog post which discussed the paradox of the paid PDF ebook.

FACEBOOK specific retail pages, or F-commerce, are on the rise. Here is an interesting Econsultancy review of the new Lyle & Scott Facebook
clothing store
.

Brand Republic reported this week that brands have been ‘liked’ by 150m Facebook users per day.

There was a big TWITTER development this week which meant that for the first time people can see what you see. It’s going to show up all those guilty pleasures you follow and some you might not want people to know about!

Finally, Lamborghini are considering a new ‘everyday model’ so you should start saving now!

Image: Gearlive.com

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Why you should attend the biggest trade show in your sector

I recently had the opportunity to attend one of the world’s biggest packaging shows (Interpack) and see first hand why it was such an important show for so many businesses.

Taking place every three years, Interpack covers all 17 halls of the Dusseldorf Messe and runs for six days, drawing over 160,000 visitors, thousands of exhibitors and the world’s trade media.

You would expect to find major equipment manufacturers selling machinery used in the packaging process, but alongside them were companies representing the dozens of packaging sub-sectors, from films, labelling, retail, paper, card, rolled aluminium, automation, logistics, distribution, food manufacturing and more.

Each of these has its own micro market with trade shows and trade media covering all areas of the world, but rather than being scared away, they elected to invest in Interpack for a number of reasons. In thinking about your own promotional plans, put the cost and time investment to one side and consider the following benefits:

1. You raise profile by swimming with bigger, more established fish and casting your net wider.

2. Attending the major show might cost more, but the media will be in attendance and looking for new product and new application stories. Greater exposure can be achieved.

3. As a smaller player, you will be able to access hitherto unaccessible customers i.e. buyers and specifiers from very large companies. allowing you to develop relationships with people that no amount of direct marketing and cold calling could hope to create.

4. You can create and develop relationships with the media, increasing the likelihood of greater exposure further down the line.

5. The real draw of the exhibition environment is in the live trial and live demonstration of product. This should not be undermined. Build this into pre-event activity and promotion.

6. Use the opportunity of a sector being under one roof to check out your competition.

7. Target major contractors you want to introduce yourself to before the show (especially useful if you are a parts supplier).

Rather than attending lots of small shows, as might be your strategy, why not consider going large and heading for where the majority of the people go, staying true to the objectives of your business, targeting the right people with the right message at the right time in the right place.

Image: Courtesy of Dusseldorf Messe via Packaging News

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Does execution eat strategy for breakfast?

Peter Thomson thinks so with this thought provoking slide set looking at the importance of delivery above all else. Some areas of potential disagreement but the tenants are sound. Happy customers often become repeat customers. Take charge of ensuring you can get your product into their hand when they need it (the Coke approach).

It all looks great for consumer marketers, but what about b2b where the procurement process is more involved, more considered and more decentralised, influenced by many different individuals with different needs?

Business pitch learnings (from Eurovision)

This year’s BBC bankrolled Eurovision song contest came and went with a whimper for Britain’s entry, reformed chart toppers Blue.  I think if the people behind this attempt to win the competition had done their homework (like most of the watching UK population), they would have known that it was doomed to failure. Eurovision is a exercise in bad taste and geographical political voting. Allegedly.

The perils of pitching

It raised some interesting thoughts in my mind about the conventional pitch process whilst travelling. As many companies now have to present their thoughts, approach and some creative ideas about a given project before they are paid to undertake it, there are important things to consider to ensure time and resource are not wasted.

Pre qualification

I’ve written posts about pitching and winning pitches before. The overwhelming thing to me is knowing and understanding what is involved in the pitch process, and if you win the contract.

1. Can your prospect clarify what they want from you and how they will assess your response?

2. Can you deliver what they need profitably and sustainably?

3. Can you build a long term relationship along the way?

4. Is this a company, and a client team you can work with and want to work with?

Blue, and everyone behind the UK entry, went into Eurovision with their eyes closed. The Eurozone, as we all know won’t vote for a UK act. Huge time, money and resource have been wasted… and the reputation of the recently reformed Blue has been damaged.

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Starting all over again

As much as I try to fight it, I’m only human. Because I work hard and have a family, the wheels occasionally come off and things like this blog unfortunately go quiet for a few days. This time there hasn’t been any new content for nearly a fortnight. Sorry about that.

The greatest challenge with social media and the web is that the premise of today’s news being tomorrow’s chip paper is even more poignant. The traffic to this blog has totally (naturally) fallen off because of the lack of continued new content and promotion.

Building a content asset

I knew this would happen because I recognise the importance of building a content asset and working hard to maintain it. This means if you are going to commit to producing a blog, a series of white papers, webinars, podcasts, email newsletters – whatever it is – set yourself a manageable schedule and stick to it. People over time come to expect it without knowing it – you’ve gained their permission thus it isn’t an interruption any more. Unsubscription or worse, ambivalence is a disaster. And doing all this gives you the content to push your profile on Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook meaning you are never short of something worthwhile to say.

Gaining permission again

I get frustrated because I have worked hard to build a profile and a credibility which has created an appetite for my content. This means well over 100 email subscribers, countless RSS subscribers, close on 2,000 Twitter followers, 350 Linkedin connections and 20 groups are primed for my latest musings – not to mention the traffic that comes from Linkedin, Stumble Upon, Digg, increasingly Facebook (soon to be YouTube) or any other aggregation site I use.

WordPress tells me 98,010 pages have been viewed since June 2009. I estimate the same again on syndication, so it know the content is relevant and engaging.

Learnings from ‘taking a break’

Before the automators suggest I could have scheduled content throughout this period, I personally prefer to keep that to a minimum. Keeps things personal. What this unplanned experiment has illustrated to me though is that sometimes you do have to take time out, take stock but then come back harder and more focused. Tell your friends, colleagues, family this blog is starting out all over again. Expect some interesting things over the coming weeks and months.

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So, other than Microsoft paying over the odds for Skype, footballers taking on Twitter in court, Linkedin being valued at $9billion despite only making $15million profit in 2010, the IMF looking for a new head, Manchester dominating English football, and Empire Avenue filling the minds of early adopters (and my Twitter stream) with nonsense, what’s new?

Image: Visualise.us

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