Category Archives: B2C

Are large B2B companies any better at digital marketing?

A blog post this week looking at how the top 500 Fortune B2B companies approach digital marketing made for interesting reading.

Featured on Clickz.com Matthew Sweezey’s research painted a detailed picture of poor execution when it comes to critical areas like data capture, conversion and follow up. Only 25% of companies were routinely using forms within their content to stimulate engagement and discussion, most used forms for general conversion but asked way too many unnecessary questions creating a barrier to conversion. And, only 55% followed up a web based enquiry within 48 hours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most of us don’t work for Fortune 500 or FTSE 100 companies. But this data is relevant because it highlights the golden opportunity for us in smaller enterprises, and how a little technical know-how and application could go a long way in improving outbound marketing, lead generation, conversion and customer service.

As most of us are not the leader in our chosen field, we have to be nimble and agile to take advantage of opportunities that come our way. It’s encouraging that larger companies, it seems, are not always so responsive and attentive to customer needs.

Perhaps you can see one or two things in this that you can use to your benefit as you market yourself, your business, your products and services over the coming months. It’s certainly given me something to ponder on.

Do you work for a large company? Is the digital marketing better/worse/easier/harder?

 

From destination social to dispersed social

A great little deck from Patricia and Steve at The Social Practice in London looking at ten trends in social media – or more acutely how social media is evolving from a destination to being everywhere.

As mainstream ubiquity gives rise to mobile commerce, sharing, liking, scoring and polling on the move, social businesses push the boundaries.

Baffled? Don’t be. The slides lay it all out. One thing is for sure. The soothsayers who predict the demise of social media as marketing return on investment folly haven’t got a clue.

 



Outbound vs Inbound marketing

On the face of it, this might appear to be an over-simplification, and it might fail to acknowledge the need for an integrated mix of marketing tools.

But this animation, which first appeared on Hubspot’s always informative blog, actually illustrates perfectly what can be achieved if you take a targeted approach to serving content to the right people looking for a partner like you.

I’m a fan of using your content to drive inbound enquiry but accept that other tools need to be used to. I also don’t agree that inbound marketing is cost-free. A huge amount of time is required to develop, create, host and promote good content.

But it is an interesting proposition nonetheless, especially for b2b marketers looking to position themselves as experts in what they do.

Is Gap an email marketing genius?

Just had to bring this to light. An email from Gap on Friday telling me I only had a couple of days to benefit from 25% off  if I bought some Gap clothing online.

Come this morning, I thought I’d let the opportunity pass me by. But no, a new email popped up this morning, with a new 50% offer!

Great for me as I didn’t take advantage of the first one, but pretty bad for anyone who did. Unless this has been specifically designed to entice me online because they can tell that I didn’t visit over the weekend?

I can’t decide if this is genius, coincidental or really poor. What do you think?

The social media advertising conundrum

You want people to raise awareness in your product and service, so you advertise. Seeking to build credibility, you look to PR to provide some perceived third part endorsement.

You create websites with information on the benefits of your products and services so visitors can self select and seek to engage with you further. And, cleverly, you optimise your websites so people can find them when they go looking on the Internet.

Once you have access to some customer data, you use direct marketing techniques to interact and take some fledgling interest further.

Its all a big investment and a real pain but it’s worth it because you know you can’t please all the people all the time so you set your stall out to talk to those who might be interested in what you do.

Then social media comes along. Big platforms. Huge audiences.  What potential. But its all so… social. If only there was a way to leverage it for my business?

Targeted advertising. Yeah, I can bash people using social sites in their downtime with messages about my brand. I’ll get massive ‘opportunity to see’ and a huge amount of click through. Right?

Wrong. A recent survey by Addvnatage Media in Marketing Week showed that 79% of consumers claim to rarely or never pay attention to adverts on social networks.

There are ways of making social media work but in my eyes intrusive targeted, behavioural advertising isn’t it. You might see a short term spike, but you’re doing a whole long-term worth of harm to your brand and reputation.

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Image: Wired.com

The future of selling

I’ve stumbled across another interesting presentation deck on Slideshare.

This one from Ogilvy explores how the sales function in most companies needs to step up and embrace new marketing, new technology and the new world of communication, collaboration and engagement. There are also some great examples of joined up integrated thinking.

I do think there is still a place for traditional techniques in sales but we have to realise that customers are smarter, more discerning and invariably look to the Internet before shortlisting suppliers or making key capital purchases.

It needs a shift rather than a complete change in mindset, but a willingness to adapt nonetheless.



Has Honda just created app-vertising?

The big consumer brands continue to innovate in the digital arena. Honda this week launched its latest campaign for the Jazz called ‘This Unpredictable Life’ -  a spectacular one minute animated advert which claims to combine App interactivity.

Here’s the ad:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VnwsAr8eBQA&w=640&h=390]

Here’s how the app side of it works:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UbDYdjhnfEg&w=640&h=390]

Kind of mind-blowing. Probably not applicable or affordable to most brands, but it has viral legs, is creative and stands out from the pack.

Five ways to think more creatively about your marketing

Whether you are in the creative business, have a team to motivate or customers to provide creative solutions for, thinking creatively is essential.

But a longer than usual holiday period, coupled with short days, miserable weather and clients and customers slow to get off the mark can all contribute to quickly  stagnating creative thinking.

In the constantly switched on world, how can we create time and space for ourselves to think creatively about the challenges we face and break the cycle of thinking inside the box?

Here are five techniques that I use, maybe they will be useful to you.

1. Upset your daily / weekly routine: Once a week take a different route, look out the window. Take the train or bus rather than the car. If you can, walk. Look at the billboards, bus stops and read the local free paper. The objective is to come off ‘autopilot’ and take in the creative stimulus around you.

2. Use your time more efficiently: Take your lunch hour and use it productively. Set up a Google Reader account, sign up for some blogs and news feeds related to your sector, your speciality and your interests. Or join some Linkedin groups and join the discussions. Or scan content on YouTube or Slideshare. The point of these activities are to open yourself up to available free content and influence.

3. Read something new: Is there anything you don’t understand or want to understand in more detail? Learning stimulates the grey matter and can be powerful in equipping you with greater capacity to think more creatively in the future. Hit the Amazon bestseller list – it doesn’t have to be a business or self help book, but they might be a good start. The reason to consider this is to learn from others.

4. Handle meetings differently: Creative brainstorms can actually inhibit creative thinking. Why? Dull, uninspiring boardrooms are not generally conducive to free flowing ideas, time pressures are usually set, and the loudest or most senior people in the room usually dominate the discussion. Break these conventions be setting an agenda, dishing out the brief in advance, relocating the meeting to a coffee shop, park, museum, the client’s offices and encouraging the involvement of all not the will of the chairperson. The reason for going to these lengths is to achieve creative ‘breakthrough’.

5. Look at brands you like and learn from them: Who is to say that b2b packaging companies, food service or building product manufacturers can’t learn from high profile b2b, b2c or fmtg brands? That professional services businesses can’t learn from coffee chains? What do the brands you trust do well? How do they treat you, how do they communicate, how do they encourage you to engage further and deeper?

Which ever way you view it, creativity is a key differentiator, and the ability to quickly and decisively tackle complicated communications challenges demands creative thinking.

What do you think?

Image MessageMarketing

Ten ways to improve business efficiency and profit

Conventional wisdom suggests that in times of economic downturn we should shut up shop, limit expenditure and curtail growth and the exploration of opportunity.

Yet brands such as Hyatt, Burger King, FedEx, Microsoft, HP and GE are heralded as recession start ups that went on to be world beaters. And currently companies like Groupon, Zynga (‘Farmville’), Twitter, Asana and Ustream are securing funding and growing exponentially.

Here’s my take on ten business issues that if handled well, could stimulate greater productivity, efficiency and steer your business to greater profit.

1. Have a vision

Having strategic vision is central to all business success. Any entrepreneur will tell you that whilst there may have been some luck, they knew exactly what they wanted to do and where they wanted to arrive. Have something to work towards however small, lofty or material!

2. Share your vision

Seems obvious but do all your employees know unequivocally want you want to achieve? What about your customers, suppliers, partners? Imagine the opportunities if you shared your vision with them and made them stakeholders in your future success. It’s a controversial approach and could be taken in steps, but if you don’t commit plans to paper and them voice them, there is a great risk they won’t amount to anything.

3. Key account vs. any account

Is your business model to work hard with a small number of market leading bigger spenders, or a large pool of smaller customers. There are merits of both approaches but it might be time to rethink this now.

4. Inhouse vs. outsourced

In a bid to keep control of costs, you may be keeping everything inhouse but in so doing you are lacking the clarity and expertise that could be brought to bear by third parties. It might be in your interests to outsource some aspects of your business – accounts, debt chasing, marketing, IT, human resources to dedicated specialists so you can concentrate on production, quality and providing superior customer service. Think about where your people are deployed and where the bottlenecks are.

Tim Ferris penned an interesting book, The Four Hour Week on the power and freedom that can be created by extreme outsourcing. Ultimately it comes down understanding and appreciating the value of time and what your time is best spent doing?

5. Actual vs. virtual

In the new converged global economy, the ability to create a business and to work more nimbly and flexibly than slow lumbering competitors with huge overheads that are passed onto customers has never been easier.

Do you need a physical location to drive your business, and can it be delivered virtually. Sure there will be a need for key back-office functions, but the pride of having leafy, fully furnished offices, a car park full of expensed cars and the latest computer technology are simply folly. And you’ll have to work harder to pay for it all.

6. Software vs. the cloud

Software and licenses are a massive cost to business, depending on what sort of activities your company is engaged in you will be spending many thousands on Microsoft, Adobe and other packages.

An increasing number of companies are moving to the cloud and utilizing platforms like Google Docs which work with traditional branded products. And companies are migrating databases, email design and campaign management, dispatch and analytics online too, with Salesforce, DotMailer, and Campaign Monitor amongst the most popular.

7. Development vs. recruitment

A new recruit can cost salary + 25% or more in the first year alone if sourced using a recruitment agent. And there are no guarantees that there will be a good cultural fit or that they will perform in the role. So that 3-6 months looking, and 3-12 months of learning curve just cost you 18 months. Better to develop passionate individuals, like at BDB, where most recruits are language graduates who are put through the Chartered Institute of Marketing and grounded in marketing and PR on international client accounts.

8. Traditional vs digital marketing

The obvious answer is both, but integrated and linked to measurable objectives so you can be sure you are doing the right things to move the business in the right direction and towards your vision. Advertise selectively to drive awareness and interest, use PR to build reputation, attend trade shows and virtual events to showcase yourself, develop social media profiles to support search engine optimisation and audience engagement and launch a relationship management program to tie in customers and warm prospects.

9. Outbound vs inbound

Outbound, though still relevant, is declining as cold calling is being replaced by warm social media generated lead generation. Investment in inbound content driven marketing initiatives like blogs, white papers, video, webinars to drive engagement all take time but separate innovative, leading companies from the aspirational, the restricted and the lazy.

10.  Multiple agencies vs. single agency

If you are outsourcing, are you getting best value. Agencies are naturally inquisitive, challenging and competitive. If you run a pool of agencies are the responsibilities clearly delineated and understood by all? Do you provide clear transparent briefs that are understood? Perhaps your business doesn’t warrant several suppliers and would benefit from one supplier developing a deeper relationship with you? It will certainly save you time and money.

Much of this post is about focus. Doing the same in 2011 isn’t going to be enough. Equally though, deviating from what you do well isn’t a smart approach either. The businesses that will thrive are those that make the best use of their people, their contacts, their creative thinking and emerging technology. But isn’t that how its always been?

Top image  Smart Garment People

How to develop influential presentations

I stumbled across some interesting presentations on Slideshare this weekend and thought I’d share. I really feel that if you give presentations of any kind to any audience, regardless of your experience, there is something here for everyone.

This first takes on the ‘keep it simple’ approach and after some strategic preamble, gets really interesting at the slide 43 where it melds content with design. As I’m preparing for a number of conference presentations and lectures in 2011, slides 43-71 are consequently invaluable.



Then I stumbled across PresentationZen, a very simple but very effective presentation summary.



Finally, I happened upon Peter Walker’s ‘The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs’. Quite simply awesome. So much interesting stuff in here, but for me, it’s the central messages about planning and practice that really resonate.