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
If you have something interesting to say, or are an interesting, engaging speaker, it’s worth considering public speaking as an element of your marketing strategy. Speaking at conferences can be a powerful way of building a profile and raising the awareness of your skill set and expertise to your target audience.
Whether you opt to start small by acting as a guest speaker at a local networking or business group, running your own industry specific seminars or headline a major industry conference with a keynote presentation or panel place, one thing is certain. Everyone remembers a great speaker and a great presentation, and often business can be won off the back of one.
Speaker opportunities have long been highly prized within the PR fraternity as a way of pushing clients up the scale of influence. How do you think those experts who always seem to be the ones talking at the major conferences and being quoted in the trade or consumer press get there? By hard work and through building strong relationships with the media who run publications and organize conferences.
As the scale of opportunities afforded by technology and the Internet broaden, it is ever more important to specialise and avoid being seen as a generalist. There is a niche in every line of business and aligning your speaking engagements to 1/ your target audience and 2/ your specialist subject areas are fast tracks to expert status.
The ability to host webinars and webcast live on the Internet using sites like Bright Talk and Event Brite, to create podcasts for uploading to sites like iTunes and create and share presentations and video using sites like You Tube, Vimeo and SlideShare have revolutionised the concept of the expert and brought it to the masses.
But how do you measure the return from time spent?
It’s surprisingly easy. In most offline and online cases, the delegate list will be captured, especially if the carrot of exclusive post event material is dangled. An opportunity to join an exclusive group or register for exclusive content is always enticing. And remember this means all these contacts are themselves opting in.
Superficial statistics like the number of delegates, requests for and downloads of information are to a degree useful, but ultimately you should be forging a measurable link between the time and cost of preparing and giving the presentation and any tangible business outcomes, like opportunities to meet, opportunities to provide a proposal or quote and the landing of business.
Using speaking opportunities at seminars, conferences and exhibitions is a long term strategy designed to build profile and elevate you as an expert in your field. It is a tool that naturally sits on the fluffier side of the return on investment equation (unless you are able to charge for attendance in which case it is a revenue spinner all on its own).
Posted in General, Marketing Metrics, Marketing tips
Tagged BrightTalk, conference, EventBrite, General, keynote, marketing, marketing assassin, Marketing Metrics, permission, PR, presentation, seminar, Slideshare, speaker, speaking, Vimeo, YouTube
Apple iPhone OS 4 upgrade with the antennae covering, hand grip design flaw. Messi, Ronaldo, Torres and Rooney, the world’s top footballers failing to ignite the World Cup in South Africa. The Sunday Times going down the paid content route.
What do they have in common? Hype.
Hype generates interest. Hype gets you headlines. Hype sell dreams. Hype is immediate, short lived, quickly forgotten. Hype though, built around most products and services (if we remove all emotional bias) frequently disappoints.
Substance, on the other hand, engages. Substance attracts, informs, educates. Substance excites customers, lands business, delivers respect. Substance is standing for something and devoting yourself to being the best, fastest, quickest, pioneering, easiest or most widespread. Substance is the route to building durable, sustainable business relationships and life long customers,
So, building marketing campaigns with substance must be the only credible approach in this, the era of choice.