How to develop B2B social media marketing brand guidelines

Join me for a special B2B marketing focused online event on 31st January at 15.00 GMT, when I give a 90-minute webinar for B2B Marketing Magazine, the UK’s premier business marketing publication on getting the most from social media for business.

I’ll be running a session designed to help attending delegates

  • Improve their understanding of the benefits and risks associated with social media
  • Appreciate the importance and differing roles of individuals within a business and how all can and should play a part in company social engagement
  • Develop guidelines to maximise opportunities and mitigate risks
  • Present the core elements of a social media engagement plan
  • Place valuable content at the heart of a social media plan
  • Measure and evaluate social media success
  • Effectively use social media channels to build community and grow their business

If you’re smart, you might register one user, set up in a conference room and get your whole team around the screen.

And, if you operate in industrial and trade B2B marketing, look out for a number of examples from a range of engineering and manufacturing sectors that might give you some creative stimulus.

I hope you can join us as it is unlikely this content will be made available post-event.

B2B marketing and Seth Godin’s concept of art

Seth Godin’s current concern lies in encouraging more people to break free from the shackles of self-doubt and to create work that matters. Work that can be considered as art. Art is a state of mind and good, valuable, productive work will, he argues, always find an audience.  Andy Warhol had it right some years ago too.

I’m para-phrasing slightly of course but the concept resonates (as so many of Seth’s do) with me because I’m attempting to sit in the 1%  of people who are trying to create art and do something a little different in my field of speciality.

Celebrating B2B Art

There isn’t a huge amount of art in the broad world of B2B marketing – this despite attempts to celebrate great B2B art like the B2B Marketing magazine B2B Awards showcase event, this March.

The simple truth is that money still, in large part, matters. What ties all the brands together in the B2B Marketing showcase is the scale of available resource. I don’t see any heavy industry players, manufacturers, small professional services businesses – only the likes of Google, British Gas and BT – themselves all well known hybrid B2B/B2C businesses.

My attempt at Art

It’s bold, exciting and uncomfortable in equal measure opening yourself and your business up. This Marketing Assassin blog (reinvigorated for 2013), my conference and webinar presentations, my Twitter feed and my new b2b digital marketing ebook are all examples of my own trying to do something different and give back. I’ve crammed a lot into nearly 20 years promoting business products and services and this is just the beginning of approaching things in a different way.

Art doesn’t have to be complicated, creative, innovative, dynamic, and/or provocative. It simply has to mean something to the people that come into contact with it.  Even better if it can add value in some way, help, resolve, inspire or galvanise a particular onward journey or course of action.

Q: How are you attempting to inject art into your B2B marketing?

Image credit: Polymer Arts blog 

Why information matters in B2B marketing

UK entertainment chain HMV is the latest big name UK retail casualty to the Internet. HMV failed because it took its eye off the ball when faced with the twin threat of Apple’s iTunes (creating a mass download market) and Amazon (delivering cheaper physical products). Customers migrated online and researched their options. HMV failed to adapt and was left behind.

Buyers seek reassurance

Many B2B companies run the risk of suffering a similar fate because buyers are using the Internet to inform, rationalise and justify their decisions as they seek reassurance that they have made good decisions on behalf of their companies and stakeholders.

In order to make well balanced business decisions, business buyers look for information. They need to be able to benchmark different solutions in order to categorise, rate and select the ones that best suit their needs. Across different stages of the buying and decision making process, companies are researching, shortlisting and awarding business based on their needs and the information they come into contact with.

Modern marketing

As a business trying to be front of mind when it matters, you need to market accordingly. Traditional promotional techniques are not working as well as they used to. Advertising is seen as interruptive and counter productive. The needs of niche customer segments means that mass market propositions do not engage or entice them.

For you, the modern B2B marketer, this creates a number of problems not least in selecting the right channels of promotion. Marketing needs to be measurable and needs to work right across a variety of audiences and their differing needs.

How and where you provide the information that customers need when they need it is diverging. But thinking through what your customers are looking for and where they go looking for it can have a significant impact on your marketing communications activity.

Visibility

Increasingly, in a wide variety of B2B sectors, this is happening online. So being visible, promoting that visibility and talking in terms that are helpful, relevant and engaging mark out the genuinely more customer focused businesses from those looking to make a fast return.

Focus on getting your primary online environment – website, Facebook page or other hub – populated and optimised correctly before promoting and advertising it to your target audience.

For guidance, I encourage you to look inside Brilliant B2B Digital Marketing today and check out the free first chapter.

Image credit: Chameleon

B2B Digital Marketing Priorities 2013 – my webinar and slides!

This past Friday (11 January) I joined Dave Chaffey for the Smart Insights Marketing Priorities conference on Bright Talk – where we and seven other leading digital illuminaries  offered our assessments on important digital elements marketers should consider for the coming year.

I encouraged B2B marketers to master the basics using a seven step approach to effective and meaningful B2B digital marketing – acting as a teaser for my new ebook “Brilliant B2B Digital Marketing” published exclusively on Amazon in December.

I used the analogy of being more owl like and less magpie like in terms of being seduced by shiny new digital things – instead following a robust goal based digital strategy.

The presentation focused on the importance of getting websites and SEO right before investing in any form of online promotion.

The webinar is embedded below. Or feel free to use this link to launch it at Bright Talk (you may well have to log in). The slides are also available separately on Slideshare here – and have been updated to reflect the feedback from the three votes as well as increasing the size and resolution of all the case studies.
A BrightTALK Channel
This was my first webinar so you can see we lost some time towards the end because of the questions and polls.  Do leave feedback and any questions below and I’ll be happy to moderate.

What are your B2B digital marketing priorities in 2013? Share below.

Brilliant B2B Digital Marketing – ebook B2B case studies

The interest in my new 440 page ebook Brilliant B2B Digital Marketing (co-authored with Dave Chaffey) and now available from Amazon for Kindle and Kindle apps, has been overwhelming and I’m thrilled to be able to answer questions.

One of the recurring questions is around the companies and case studies profiled in the book. As Amazon’s Look Inside feature doesn’t really help here (and because B2B covers a very broad spectrum of companies), I figured I’d pull together a quick list of the companies included so you can make your own decision to purchase.

(in rough chapter order – websites, search engine optimisation, content, social, CRM and email and integrated campaigns, evaluation)

The Engineer, Blackberry, BOC, UPS, Oliver Valves, Acer, Dell, Barclaycard, Skanska, Mint, Github, Ocean Spray ITG, RS Components, Salesforce, Atlas Copco, Mettler Toledo, BASF, Smart Insights, Nokia Siemens Networks, Espresso, BrightTalk, William Reed, Tata Steel, GE, Eloqua, HML, Packworld, Corning, Knauf, 3M, BDB, o2, PWC, Ingersoll Rand, Cisco, Saint Gobain, tna, The Construction Network, Gorvins Solicitors, Meltwater, Tyco, Claremont Interiors Group, Anglian, Google, Egan Reid, Hubspot, Experian, Active Profile, Perkin Elmer, Adobe, MarketBright, Marketo, Yahoo!, ThreeUK, Klout, Litmus.

I hope this convinces you this really is a true B2B digital marketing publication and not one looking at the B2B arm of predominantly consumer brands and businesses.

Get your copy of the book now by clicking here.

Why B2B digital marketing requires a new approach

There has been a very good reason why this blog has been left unloved for much of 2012. I started the year musing on the lack of credible B2B digital marketing texts available to modern marketers – so decided to write one.

In this blog post I lay out why it’s needed and what you can hope to get from it. Much more on B2B digital marketing to come over the weeks and months.

Marketing in complexity

Understanding, interpreting and delivering on customer needs has been the foundation of marketing for over one hundred years. Many business­-to-business (B2B) organisations are already successfully using digital marketing in specialist sectors like financial and professional services, IT and software, manufacturing, engineering or science.

Businesses have been buying and selling products to one another for hundreds of years. But, don’t let anyone tell you that B2B marketing isn’t different from marketing products to consumers. It is. B2B marketing often involves communicating challenging and niche product benefits to hard to reach and hard to engage B2B decision makers, through a complex purchase cycle taking them from unaware to purchase.

B2B requires a specialised skill-set and understanding of the psychology, the gestation period, differing information needs and complex operating environment in which specifers, influencers and decision makers work together to procure products and services on behalf of their companies.

Scarcity of advice

Yet, for business marketers, there is a limited amount of good quality, specific advice and best practice available to draw upon for the unique challenges and opportunities available from digital media.

Visibility in Internet search for B2B marketers is key. Companies that follow a stepped approach that creates touch-points, positive first impressions and a tangible interest to customers will see a return on digital marketing investment.

Up until now, there have been surprisingly few books or guides which address the unique challenges of promoting business products and services online, whether these are for companies which don’t sell online who are focused on lead generation and customer communications or online B2B retailers.

B2B marketers can still learn something from the many texts that focus on how global super brands like Apple, Starbucks, Coca Cola and Unilever build and promote their portfolios. Yet, it is often hard to relate what they do with their multi­million dollar budgets and unrivalled resource relevant to B2B campaigns.

Until now.

In my new (and first) full colour, 400+ page case-study and best practice packed Brilliant B2B Digital Marketing (published in association with Dr Dave Chaffey and Smart Insights), you’ll learn how to create a plan or simply work through all the issues you need to think about to make online B2B marketing more effective.

Available now from Amazon for Kindle and for all Kindle apps across a wide variety of PC, Mac and smartphone devices (check your app store, it will be free) it covers all the areas you need to review to take your online marketing to the next level if you market to other businesses.

These include:-

– creating a strategy and setting measurable goals

– building effective, high impact relevant websites

– optimising digital marketing for search

– using content and inbound marketing

– harnessing the most appropriate social media tools to engage target audiences

– developing deeper calls to action and eCRM

– using analytics to improve digital marketing

I hope it helps you to determine a clear pathway to improved digital marketing for your business and one that gives you the success you demand. Do please feedback, either here, on Twitter copying me @renepower using the hashtag #BrilliantB2B, via Linkedin.

And if you want to leave a review on Amazon, please feel free – nice ones may qualify for a kickback of some kind in 2013.

7 steps to brilliant b2b digital marketing; Preview at On the Edge, 10 October 2012

The blogging has been slow through 2012 because I’ve been working on a major project – a book dedicated to be b2b digital marketing. This work, published by Dave Chaffey’s Smart Insights website looks at a robust 7 step approach to digital marketing for b2b companies taking in strategy, websites, search, inbound content marketing, social media, lead generation and CRM and analytics and evaluation.

I’m very excited to say the book will soon be available from Amazon and iTunes (late October 2012) and for a limited time only it is available to Expert Members of the Smart Insights website. Visit http://www.smartinsights.com/guides/brilliant-b2b-digital-marketing-ebook/ to join the site and get the book early, and hundreds of other digital marketing resources for the next 12 months.

The first step of pre-promotion of the book took place in Manchester this week where I chaired and opened the On the Edge digital marketing event. The slides below give a flavour of the thought process under pinning the book and why it should be so useful to so many people.


There is nothing like this book for b2b marketers in the market right now. It has been been a labour of love and contains hundreds of best practice tips and dozens of b2b specific companies including 3M, Atlas Copco, BOC, BASF, Blackberry, Ingersoll Rand, Knauf, Nokia Siemens, Oliver Valves, Saint Gobain, Salesforce, Skanska, UPS and many more.

I’m thrilled to almost be at the point of release. Expect much more from me over the coming weeks on this exciting project and how can get involved in it.

Going beyond the status update – content marketing for b2b marketers

So this is my first blog post in a while since migrating the blog in it’s entirety from wordpress.com to a self hosted platform.

I wanted to share my presentation from the recent B2B Marketing Summit, in London on 14 June 2012. At this multi stream event, 150 b2b marketers had the opportunity to attend conference presentation across 4 streams including content marketing, social media, data and lead nurture and generation.

In opening up the day in the content marketing stream, I talked around an eight step approach to get people thinking more strategically about content – focusing on audience and their information needs at different stages of the buying process.


Please share the presentation if you agree with the central proposition and offer a comment or two on your own b2b content marketing challenges below.

How to ensure more productive meetings in 2012

Lots of companies and marketing and sales teams are busy pulling together their master plans for the coming year. Often this means lots of onsite and offsite meetings. Meetings get a bad rap in business because people use them to avoid work, avoid decisions and to look busy.

In the spirit of starting the new year with a bang and doing things differently (better even) in your workplace, try giving some thought to the meetings you host and participate in.

As a host:

1. What decisions can be made without the need for a meeting? Email, file sharing, web and video conference can all be used to bring ideas to life with micro teams managing different project elements.

2. How can you manage expectation, secure the best input and minimise conflict – all in the shortest time? By being prepared. Expansive agendas and pre-reading usually assist this, but how many meeting hosts actually take the time to do this thoughtfully with the end goal in mind?

3. How critical is it that all the people involved need to be there in the room? Consider who makes decisions, who influences them and who is a ‘nice to have’. (Every person in one of your meetings for one hour is costing you two hours of productivity).

4. What tactics can you employ to keep the meeting short and on point? Think about employing pre-reading and preparation, detailed agendas, firm timekeeping, different venues, removal of chairs, tables, laptops and screens, removal of snacks, drinks, burst brainstorms and action focused takeaways.

5. What is needed after the meeting to ensure that decisions made are actioned? As the host you need to decide, and if necessary obtain buy-in from meeting participants to support you. At the very least, they should be kept up-to-date as a courtesy.

As a participant:

6. Can you be bold in fielding meeting requests and demand more from the host? Reduce the amount of time lost to meetings by being a little stricter with your time, for example by stringently focusing on the positive/negative impact on project delivery?

7. Can you add value? Establish quickly if it is a meeting you can add value to. There is no point attending to ‘hear it first hand’. That’s dead time.

8. Do you understand what is expected of you? If not, ask. If the host can’t tell you, politely decline. If you don’t have time to prepare, politely decline.

9. What is your involvement after the meeting? If you don’t get a definitive picture on this before you commit, the chances are you’ll have a whole load of work to do afterwards.

10. What’s in it for you long term? What are you going to get out of being involved?

Summary:

Sure, face-to-face contact is critical but in 2012, more than any other recent year, time is money. How are you going to ensure you keep projects moving forward, keep teams engaged and keep clients and customers happy without spending too  much time in unproductive meetings? Share your ideas below.

Six examples of how to use Facebook company pages for B2B marketing

I’m writing regularly over at SmartInsights. It is a great digital marketing blog with lots of collaboraters covering lots of urgent topics.

There is a real lack of good quality information online about B2B use of Facebook as the debate rages about its relevance.

Across two posts over recent weeks, I wanted to outline the emerging and evolving case for adding Facebook to your B2B marketing arsenal. And I wanted to offer some advice on the type of strategies you might adopt. In the second post which went live earlier this week, I identified a number of current B2B companies using Facebook to drive engagement and promote their business.

Q: How is Facebook working for you?