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.

Things that happen every 60 seconds online

Business Insider published this fantastic infographic detailing some of the amazing things that happen every 60 seconds online. I can’t vouch for the statistics but if you haven’t yet realised that your business can benefit from embracing the web, hopefully this does the trick.


Is the old agency model dead?

A question posed in PRWeek this week as agency GolinHarris took over the publication with several pages given over to analysis of their new agency structure.

Much was made of their decision to demolish the traditional structure and replace accepted roles with a four pillared approach based on strategist, creator, catalyst and connector specialists instead of generalists.

But is it a clever PR stunt or something deeper? A comment perhaps on the evolving demands placed on the consultancy sector or the often bloated nature of the agencies that work within it and their need to drive efficiency?

Whichever side you come down on,  it provoked lots  of industry heavyweights, and some lightweights too, into offering their perspective.

What their move has done is recognise the growing role and significance of digital and social media in the marketing mix. And it gives a mid-sized PR agency the opportunity the take on specialist PR, advertising, media and digital agencies in an increasingly divergent operating environment.

Scale is a factor and this is the reason most agencies are structured the way the are. Clients invariably prefer a single point of contact as this reduces the communications flow to a more manageable level. It will be interesting to see if other agencies follow suit.


My Twitter Week (we 25 March 2011)

In the week the iPad 2 went on sale in the UK, here are links below to some of the content that engaged, intrigued and even enraged me over the last seven days.

What have you been reading that you want to share with the world?

Monday: I stumbled across (using StumbleUpon) a smart site called  http://www.futureme.org/ where I fairly promptly wrote myself a letter that will be emailed to me in a year’s time. I went for the short term but you work a lot further into the future. It will be interesting to see what has developed, changed, improved.

Tuesday: I was alarmed to read on Social Media Examiner that an Alterian survey claimed that most marketers are clueless about social media conversations. Surely not knowing what is being said you, your brand and your company is increasingly about as neglectful as it gets!

Wednesday: Two bits of ‘big number’ news on Wednesday. First that Linkedin hit 100m users followed swiftly by news that The BBC has received over 50,000 applications for 500 positions in Manchester. Maybe they need to fast track some HR appointments to help start the sifting process.

Thursday: I spent the day at Social Media Academy’s Manchester conference, where I gave a talk on social media for b2b marketers. My slides are here, a blog post covering all the day’s presentations is here.

Friday: The ever readable Seth Godin mused on whether businesses and individuals try to get away with less rather than trying to do more. Which camp do you fall into?

More next week!


Why just dipping your toe online doesn’t work

Time and time again we see companies making a hash of their online presence and the opportunities afforded to them by the Internet. To some it can be a place to make a quick buck, to others it is a terrifying place only entered with extreme caution. To others it represents an incredible opportunity to reach and engage with likeminded individuals.

From a business perspective, you are doing your company’s future success online more harm than good if you are just dipping your toe and using the latest in-vogue digital marketing tools rather than joining them up strategically.

Limiting your reach and exposure to a single website, the odd profile on a social networking site or a couple of banner ads on key industry portals really inhibits your ability to shine online and draw customers to you.

A term that is already in use in digital marketing circles is ‘social media optimisation’. This takes the notion of search engine optimisation one stage further and in using high traffic social media sites to in essence provide a backlink to a nominated web page, means you are optimising your site through social media.

As a weekend challenge, visit the website namechk and enter your vanity url to see whether it is already being used. You might find in some instances it has already gone. If not, I really recommend reserving it on the following so it is yours for the future if not right now: Linkedin, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, Vimeo and Foursquare.

And if you want to really go to town, you should also consider reserving your vanity url on Delicious, Digg, Disqus, Reddit, StumbleUpon and bag yourself a WordPress blog handle too.

All these tools will help you not only create durable profiles and content, they can host and distribute your content, driving inbound enquiries to your business. Which ultimately makes it easier for prospects to find you on platforms they prefer to use.

Summary: A strategic approach to using everything the web has to offer (just like any other approach in marketing) might be more protracted but keeps you focused and pays dividends in the end.

Image: My China Connection

Marketing Metrics 10: Linkedin

[Image http://www.iconarchive.com/icons]

Linkedin is THE platform for business professionals looking to develop themselves, their contact pool and their business. What began several years ago as a professional networking forum quickly evolved into a powerful tool to raise profile and showcase expertise.

As Facebook rose to prominence in the consumer space, Linkedin has been quick to deploy the latest techniques to ensure it stays ahead of competitors like Ning and Plaxo.

Whilst social media (annoying term!) continues its progression into business, and published luminaries’ pontificate on how to monetize it, we the practitioners are left to try and find a way to make it work.

In my  view, Linkedin supports two specific objectives: profile and reputation raising AND lead generation. But in this era of soft marketing, you should categorically focus on the former before crashing ahead with the later. The loud, spamming bores are given short thrift on Linkedin.

And, if you follow my non-nonsense ten-step approach to making Linkedin work for you, you’ll be well on your way personally and professionally to achieving both objectives.

If you’re viewed as someone people value through your contributions on Linkedin, you will be sought out. This means posting answers, offering solutions and sharing interesting content. Group members will want to connect with you, your contacts will want to recommend you to their contacts and over time be recommended by you. All these numbers are pretty tangible.

[Image from http://sterlingadvisorsllc.com]

So too, are the tangible numbers related to lead generation. This starts with group and answer discussions, click-throughs to [or downloads of] associated content like slides, blog posts, web visits, Twitter, views/follows on company profile, provision of Answers etc, all leading to connection requests and enquiries.

Everything you do on Linkedin gets you closer to the people you want to get close to. Applying Frignes Karinthy’s six degrees of separation strategy means that technically there is little stopping you accessing the FTSE 100 CEO you seek an audience with; you just have to do it in the right way as you get one shot.


Few account holders stray beyond the free platform such is the integration with other tools including email, Twitter, Slideshare, WordPress and Amazon. But upgrading to one of the business plans affords the opportunity not only to use InMail to communicate with anyone, run detailed 3rd level searches and see expanded profiles but also to see who has been looking at your profile.

Professionals and companies – such as recruitment – are generating real revenue through platforms like Linkedin. Given you can take a step-by-step approach to building your expert profile, contact pool and leads, can you really afford not to?

39 million users can’t be wrong

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

Blog Gold 2010: Does your digital marketing sizzle?

In July 2009 I wrote about how I saw emerging technology bringing tremendous opportunities, choice and challenges. The ability to reach wider audiences, tailor products, services and communications, and have better visibility of what works, all make digital marketing a must for most enterprises. The last twelve months have seen an explosion in talk around how to make the most from digital marketing and has proved just how important having a digital profile for your business and yourself has become.

The challenge to companies and marketers still to embrace it is in doing it properly,credibly and in line with business objectives. Avoid ‘just doing it’ as many digital gurus may advise. Like any other marketing element, consider long term, customer focused, permission based marketing strategies which will help you use the right tools in the right way. This retains all the brand equity you have hopefully amassed over many years of successful customer satisfaction, and make taking it online a little easier.

B2C brands like Dell and Amazon have done, and continue to do this supremely well. B2B marketers can take the best from their models and apply them cost effectively to their own operations.

Planning digital marketing that sizzles hinges on how you do business and transact. So what sort of business are you?

Are you running an eMarketing program (essentially online promotion which drives customers to have to enquire, make a call, visit a store or see a salesperson in order to place an order? Are you running an eCommerce business (incorporating online marketing with transactional capability? Or are you running a true eBusiness (with the front end seamlessly linked and automated into the back end)?

Digital marketing should help achieve one, some or all of the following objectives:

1. To sell – growing sales by satisfying needs, easily.

2. To serve – add value and customer satisfaction with good delivery, regular communications and order updates and other online services.

3. To speak – starting a proactive two way dialogue helps identify and anticipate customer needs.

4. To save – doing it all efficiently and effectively, reducing overall administration, warehousing, logistics and distribution costs.

5. To sizzle – providing an enjoyable brand experience that creates positive word of mouth (buzz) and leads to return visits and purchases. This is brand building, creating an emotional tie with the customer.

I concluded with a telling summary that if your digital marketing doesn’t sizzle, doesn’t stick people to your site, doesn’t get them to talk about it, recommend it, bookmark it and return to it, you’re wasting your time, money and effort.

I’d reiterate a year on that, conversion is and should be the most important role of any website. There has to be a reason for people to bother, to keep bothering or be bothered enough to bother anyone else with it. Whether it is direct selling, information, advice, education, comparison, research, it needs to be doing something for your target audience.

Originally posted 14 July 2009. Image courtesy of BestDigital

Why quality social networking beats quantity every time

If you read this blog, I think you’re savvy enough to have a number of active social networking accounts up and running in your name.

They’ve steadily grown over a few years. You’ll have a mixture of good friends, colleagues, customers and clients, suppliers and distributors and a healthy number of people you know only in cyberspace.

And if you’ve moved jobs or moved company, you probably picked up a number of recruiters, agents and other professional services contacts that were relevant at one time or another but not necessarily now.

The unwritten rules of ‘social networking’ (which if you do it in a business context make the very name a little absurd) seem to focus on quantity not quality. Social networking experts suggest you build an audience quickly and then take the time to refine it over time. Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook as examples of mainstream platforms all offer recommendations, make it easy to search and invite lots of contacts to connect, follow or become a fan.

I disagree with this well preached approach for two pretty fundamental reasons.

1/ Who ever bothers to or has the time to conduct a spring clean? Have you ever actually tried it? If you started out with a numbers game in mind, it’s a nightmare job to undertake.

2/ More importantly, don’t you want to be engaging with the like-minded niche? Isn’t marketing about being targeted, about being relevant? If you adopt a ‘connect with everyone’ approach in social networking, what message are you conveying? How are you going to be perceived – as a professional or an opportunist?

Some will disagree but personally I avoid the list builders on Linkedin (look out for the LION), avoid high follow and spamming Twitter  networkers (the clues are there in their numbers and tweet content) and look for people that inspire me, offer something interesting or different, or can give me information.

I propose anyone starting out now on their digital journey to do the same.

B2B Marketing Principles 8: Slow uptake of digital marketing techniques

The debate has raged in the business press about the merits of digital marketing techniques in B2B.

B2B companies predominantly sell product and operating a sales driven approach, so it is not a surprise that some if not most continue to use unsophisticated marketing methods to drive interest, stimulate enquiry, convert, and remain in long term dialogue with their customers.

Sales teams want material that supports their presentation of the business, positions the product, helps handle objections, compares with competitor products and closes the sale. This in itself gives some context for why communication problems are created when companies try and introduce a marketing led approach to a sales focused business. Marketing techniques, including digital, are aimed to drive enquiry, work 24-7 and when done well keep your sales teams busy.

Companies in B2B can be slow to adapt digital marketing techniques for several reasons.

1/ Information skills gaps mean there isn’t always someone who sufficiently understands the technology or is able to argue the case for its use at a senior level, contributing to a general reluctance within the business to embrace it.

2/ The fear and cost of change (including the cost of hardware, software, training, resource and maintenance and upgrades) puts some companies off.

3/ The challenge of converting from legacy paper based systems to digital can be process obstacle to overcome.

4/ The bewildering selection of database, CRM, eCRM, types and styles of website can put off important decisions.

5/ The emergence of social media and with it an era of direct communication and engagement frankly scares many companies. They have also spent years building lucrative distribution relationships to secure market penetration and don’t want to risk upsetting business partners by entering into it.

So where does this leave us? Most B2B companies operate limited database and communications systems, do not maximise customer relationships, do not leverage prospects, have underperforming websites and limited awareness online.

But the benefits of embracing digital marketing techniques are vast (and will be covered in an entire series on digital marketing in April 2010). Every click, enquiry, visit, recommendation, connection, friend, fan, follow, email, advertisement can be tracked, measured and evaluated in ways offline marketing techniques can only dream of.

As a minimum, consider putting in place the following:

– A hosted database/eCRM package – like Project Sales Achiever.

– A website with a contact form, news and email opt in subscription and RSS feed.

– Encourage (and incentivise) 1-2 passionate employees to start blogs about what you do.

– Register an email address with Google and set up the following

– Google Reader – to keep on top of industry news without increasing the amount of email you receive

– Google Analytics – to monitor traffic to each and every page of your website

– Google Adwords – even if only £5 a month, create a presence in customer searches

– Have an expert assess the SEO functionality of your site, these guys are my pick www.latitudegroup.com

– Create a Linkedin profile for yourself, join relevant groups and create a company profile and encourage your staff to join it

These are small steps but they will give you additional exposure on the web, raise your profile and give your credibility a shot in the arm.