Archive for the ‘Business-to-business marketing’ Category
All products that you can physically hold in your hand come in packaging to the consumer. That packaging is real estate for benefit messaging, as most of us know.
Consumer Packaged Goods companies (naturally) have know this for years, and many a junior product manager at Clorox, Quaker Oats or Proctor & Gamble took their first responsible steps in building a marketing skill set by designing packages that met all product branding and regulatory disclosure requirements and still left plenty of space for marketing messages. A lot of thought went into what should occupy each square inch of marketing real estate on a cereal box, say, or a cleaning fluid bottle.
Other industries took longer to cotton onto this opportunity, especially the financial services industry. Clearly they are cluing themselves in, however, and the proof was in my mail this week. I received two orders for fresh checks, for two different bank accounts:
Examine the images to the right, and you will see that Bank of the West has done a better job of using their available marketing messaging real estate.
Both made a claim on the front of their packaging:
- Chase: “Your checking account comes with way more than will fit in this box.”
- Bank of the West: “Checking that comes with the features and services that you want.”
Round One to Chase. Their claim is more intriguing, and makes no claim to knowing what I want.
- Chase stops there, however, and does not back up its claim. No other panel of the check box has any messaging on it.
- Bank of the West takes the next step and backs up the claims with six messages under each item in the check folio.
Round Two, and the match, to Bank of the West!
I agree with those who may say that the business account check packaging got more marketing attention than the personal check order, as business accounts tend to be more profitable for banks.
I still think Chase missed a chance to print suggestions for services that could further engage me as a banking client.
To quibble a bit with Bank of the West:
- I cannot find all the service suggestions/messaging until I pull off the packet of checks, and only two of the four service messages will appear right away. Important suggestions about mobile banking and using my account’s debit card are still under check packets I may not use for months.
- Chase’s box (albeit with no messaging printed on the inside or back) did fold into a nice, tidy easy-to-store shape. Bank of the West stuck me with a more awkward folio shape that will require a change in how I store checks!
The advantage still remains with Bank of the West in this packaging competition!
Share any packaging brilliance that you have seen lately. I would love to see images of them!
In marketing, you hone your pitch to fit into 140-character tweets and 100-character keyword ads. These shoe-box-sized spots for product messaging really challenge the copywriter to get to the point.
The same rigor goes for your 30-second, or elevator, pitch. You cannot ramble, you cannot drift off on a tangent. You must deliver one succinct, memorable sound bite that is so compelling that it buys you more time (right then or later) to make your case in more detail.
The only immediate goal of your pitch is to buy yourself time with that audience to have a longer conversation. Your close must also end with a question that hooks the listener:
Have these planned in advance, too. They should all revolve around this basic idea: “What are your pain points in this area?”
Translate that into whatever it needs to sound like for the particular audiences you wish to attract.
I wrote about this in more detail in a Forbes column last week. If you read it, let me know what you think!
A second key success factor in delivering a sterling 30-second pitch is to practice it until you can deliver it without thinking, and then develop the knack for tailoring it on the spot to your audience. Another way to think about your goal is to internalize your pitch so that it wears on you like a second skin, and rolling it out is a natural as breathing.
Third: Speak in plain English. Drain your pitch of buzzwords and cliches. Expunge it of technical terms. If your value proposition cannot be understood by the common man, keep working at it until all of your friends and everyone in your family nods their head in understanding the first time they hear it.
Let me know if this makes sense. Have you put the work in to hone your pitch to perfection? How did you know you had succeeded?
Shopping in the digital age is a smorgasbord of options. A few years ago, Google created what they call “ZMOT,” which stands for Zero Moment of Truth, to capture the concept that you have multiple chances to connect with a consumer, and cannot predict when among all those interactions the “moment of truth” will occur and the shopper makes a purchase or raises a hand to self-identify her or himself as a lead.
If you click on the logo to the right, you can find the handbook that Google issues to explore their ZMOT concept and how you might apply it to your business.
Understanding evolving shopping behavior was also the focus of recent research by Lenovo that winkled out the different uses of smartphone vs. tablets:
- The study found that research is the primary function of both devices during the purchase process.
- By device, 65 percent researched only on a smartphone while a third (32%) researched and purchased. For tablets, almost half (47%) researched and the same percent both researched and purchased via tablet.
- But looking at the findings by the function of research, about half (49%) used a smartphone while only 20 percent did so on a tablet.
I suspect that the purchase percentages for smartphones are lower because the shopper may be using the device in a store, and go on to purchase the item in question offline (that is, at the cash register!) Read more about the study here.
I also found a nice presentation on buying habits that is focused on home buying, but has application for all businesses hoping to better understand where to put their marketing focus:
I love this description the author adapted from ZMOT’s evangelist of a typical consumer’s approach to shopping in the 21st Century:
Jim Lecinski, Google’s ZMOT expert, writes “at the Zero Moment of Truth, today’s shoppers bounce back and forth at their own speed in a multi-channel marketplace. They switch devices to suit their needs at any given moment. They search; go off to look at reviews, ratings, styles and prices; and then search again. They see ads on TV and in newspapers and online. They walk into local stores to look at products. They talk to friends, over the back fence and on social media. Then it’s back to ZMOT for more information.”
The challenge: Be There for the ZMOT!
The Caveat: Don’t chase every possible customer out there. That’s too many ZMOTs to cover. Craft a mix of marketing channels that you can actively manage well, and put all the other interesting options aside until you fully master the two or three channels which seem most likely to product great leads (B2B and big-ticket B2C) or sales (most B2C). Whether those few channels are Yelp, LinkedIn, Facebook or SEM is what you have to sort out by what you already know, what your consumer research tells you, and what you test going forward.
I am pleased to share a link to my most recent Forbes.com article, which offers brainstorming advice on how a small-business person should make the most of the remaining days of the holiday season. Here’s why:
As of Dec. 12, Rasmussen Reports released these two data points:
- 32% of Americans have not yet begun to shop for Christmas/Holiday gifts.
- 64% have started, but two-thirds of those have not finished.
Upshot: Two-thirds of your customers are still out there shopping!
Get creative with your holiday deal-making and get your messages and promotions in front of them! Digital marketing makes last-minute marketing easy and effective.
Click here for some ideas. Then go out and make some holiday noise in your marketplace!
I have been using Vertical Response recently on behalf of a couple of clients, and have found their e-mail engine as robust as other similar vendors.
During my recent work on the site, I had been solicited multiple times to try their new social media marketing tools. The notable offer was “try it for $9 (half price)”.
Now that I am a client, I also get their promotional e-mails, and I caught VR in a bit of tomfoolery with the offer I received this week:
- This isn’t a new offer. It has been presented to me every time I have logged in over the last few weeks, which means this “48-hour deal” is not quite true. It may expire on All Hallow’s Eve, but it has been around for a month.
- It went to the same audience (current customers) who have probably been seeing the $9 offer elsewhere, so there is a good chance I am not the only recipient who spotted the inconsistency.
This was avoidable, with just a bit of deeper thought:
- It doesn’t cheapen the offer to refer to its true age and looming expiration date.
- Make it newsworthy by extending the offer to honor the Giants’ win and Sandoval’s MVP award.
Finally, I have to address the e-mail’s subject line:
“Save Like a MVP – Use Code GIANTS48″
Given that people read as they speak, I would have used “an MVP” rather than “a MVP.” The latter is technically correct, but is more jarring to read, and does not match speech patterns! A small thing, but a detail that could leave a poor impression.
For more detailed thoughts on crafting great e-mail subject lines, click here to view a Forbes column on the subject.
What do you think? Am I being too picky here?
When exploring content marketing with clients, I always stress quality as a starting point: You have to be relevant and interesting to the reader if you want to engage them.
That said, one great article gets you nowhere. Lots of great content (however defined) is what get you attention online. And one of the leading “inbound marketing” vendors has just released a batch of data that gives you an idea about just how big that quantity has to be.
Be interesting over and over again to attract opted-in leads
HubSpot has aggregated the results of the 7,000 businesses that use its analytics software, and present strong evidence about how frequency does make a big difference in getting content marketing (they call it “inbound marketing”) to generate leads. This isn’t surprising, but the actual quantities are. Check these out:
- Websites with less than 50 pages got a lot less traffic than larger sites, especially those over 1,000 pages in size. Such large sites got close to 10x the traffic of a 50-page site.
- The large-site advantage was more pronounced for small companies, perhaps because building such a large site was probably a big percentage of their total marketing budget.
- B2C companies had more to gain from creating large batches of website page than B2B companies.
- Inbound leads rose significantly once 200 pages were amassed, and dramatically once 400 were passed.
- Regular use of landing pages (which count towards total pages, I assume) really start to have a positive impact on lead generation once their inventory reaches and passes 20, with a huge jump for B2B over 40. Worth dedicating time to having a fresh landing page for each online campaign!
- Blogging seems to have steady incremental value, with two or more each week a real goal to achieve to convert visitors to leads. (Larger companies seem to get more bang for their buck out of active blogging, unfortunately.)
- Facebook pages with over 1,000 likes perform significantly better than company pages with under 1,000. That’s a clear goal to shoot for!
Look the material over yourself, but the message is clear. You need to dedicate your organization to creating lots of great content consistently over time if you want to make inbound content marketing work.
The social media services vendor Compendium released some great guidelines this month about how to time and structure your social media content releases through the top three social channels of LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. They also break out the differences between B2B and B2C, making the information about 1,000x more useful. And they put all the information into a very nice graphic.
(If you are less visual than textual in how you absorb information, click here.)
Here are a few items I found either confirming of my previously held thoughts, or enlightening me about stuff I had not considered important:
- LinkedIn and Twitter activity clumps at the top and the bottom of the hour during the day. The inference is that a person’s meeting schedule affects when they check into their social accounts. This makes sense, but had not occurred to me as I went about targeting day-parts for my posts.
- Question marks and exclamation marks in posts diminish click-through rates.
- Hashtags improve click-through rates for B2B, but not B2C. I wonder if this is because Twitter/LinkedIn topic searches are more focused for B2Bers, and generate highly relevant results that raise CTRs.
- Sunday is the day when most B2B LinkedIn click-through activity occurs. This makes sense, too. Lots of busy businesspeople catch up with less urgent tasks that day.
- Wednesday is tops for Twitter for B2B posts. This seems random, but Compendium data is built on a big enough sample set that I have to believe it.
- B2C clicking peaks on Monday for LinkedIn and Twitter, with Wednesday hanging in there for Twitter just as it does with B2B activity.
You may find other insights that will help you use timing and grammatical structure to better break through the dense clutter in most people’s social “inboxes.” I encourage you to explore this interesting report!
Let me know if you find it useful. I did.
[In the interest of full disclosure, I have never done business with Compendium, but have had a few very nice chats with their representatives by phone.]
Too many B2B companies still rely almost exclusively on direct sales (phone calls, e-mails, trade shows…) to push their products/services to market.
This is increasingly troublesome, as their buyers are going online to “vett” their potential vendors. And if they don’t find a vendor online with more than just a website, said vendor drops down (or off) their shopping list.
“B2B buyer behavior has been changing dramatically over the last few years as buyers become more sophisticated, find new ways to gather information online and (via) social media. 90% of business buyers say when they’re ready to buy, they’ll find you.”
- Positions you as an expert
- Gives you the chance to add value immediately by sharing useful information with no strings attached
- Keep you top-of-mind, as YOUR outgoing messages (e-mails, keyword ads, etc) always come with that gift of free information!
Don’t take my word for it: Here is a link to free (!) research that explores the value of B2B content marketing in more detail.
The report is a survey of B2B marketers, not their customers, but their rankings of which types of content to use are based on experience, so this report does provide a useful guide to other B2B marketers about where to focus their time, energy and dollars.
Never Swim Alone!
You will notice that well-edited writing and professional writing are cited by well over a third of the respondents as a key to success, after originality, great story-telling and custom content.
This is important: You have to create your own content ‘frame’, not simply borrow someone else’s with your cover note. And amateur efforts get you graded down, limiting the potential impact of your content execution. If you cannot write, don’t try. Hire a writer to help you polish the content you want to share.
I blog for my clients, I write their e-mails, I plan and execute their online ad campaigns. They get on with creating and providing great customer value.
Put your own frame around “re-purposed content”.
You will notice that I am reusing someone else’s content, but with my own angle and spin to make the post itself represent me, not the originators of the content (in this case, Optify).
For more advice on “content” or “inbound” marketing, click here.
What do you think? How do you approach content marketing? What lessons did you learn from your early efforts?
Too many small businesspeople get the relationship backwards between creative design (logos and other “identity” graphics, for instance) and “brand.”
I wrote about this on Forbes.com recently, but let’s review the proper relationship:
Brand ≠ Logo
Brand = Reputation
If you successfully build a reputation for delivering top consumer value for the dollars they spend with you, you will build a strong brand. And you can slap just about any logo on it you want (tastefully), and that logo will become representative of the value you deliver.
I am being a bit flip here: “Just about any logo” is certainly hyperbole, as everything you do has to reflect well on your business. But as a small businessperson, you must create a basic, enduring creative look for your business, and stick with it. Distracting yourself (and siphoning scare money) into a constant overhaul of your “look” is wasteful, and actually confuses your target audience.
Most consumers care little about logo design, and a lot about the quality of your product and service. So, if you had to spend one extra dollar on something, which should it be?
The next time any marketing guy tries to sell you on the idea that you need to “rebrand yourself” with a “new look” to “relaunch” your business, politely show them to the door. That is the last step in a “relaunch,” not the first, and may prove unnecessary at all if you fix the problems that may be hindering your value delivery!
Let me know in the comments if you disagree with me on this!
Here is another link to that Forbes article. Follow me there if you like it! (Share it, too.)
As search engines continue to refine their game, their goal (especially Google’s) is becoming quite clear: Get the SEO manipulators out of the game, and put the focus as close to 100% on relevance and quality of CONTENT as possible.
A recent article in Fast Company about Google’s Panda and Penguin algorithm releases captures the dramatic shift in responsibility for search engine optimization (SEO) back to clients from agencies. Why? Because the search engine owners like Google and Bing are obessed with having actual online CONTENT drive search results for people surfing the web rather than just page structure and keyword tactics.
Less trickery, more content
Ostensibly, creating great content has been the goal of marketers all along, but up to today specialists who studied the way Google, Bing, Yahoo and others produced results could experiment with key words and phrases, and structure pages around a “keyword strategy” to drive their client’s web pages up the rankings to the “Holy Grail of Page One”.
Google in particular doesn’t like being gamed, however, and continually makes it harder to achieve Page One without actually creating fresh, relevant, useful content to engage the site/page visitor.
I post occasional articles for clients on a content publisher called ezinearticles.com, and I remember the reduction in page views for articles posted when Panda went live last year. All such online content publishers had to explain what was going on, and make the case that fewer page views did not mean fewer quality leads. (The hope was that Google’s upgrade actually reduced less interested click-throughs more than quality ones.)
The bottom line: The content you create is more critical than ever.
- You need a content strategy that keep you focused on those core product or service messages that best promote your value proposition.
- You need to create a steady stream of this content to stay fresh and relevant to search engines.
- It has to have immediate informational value for the reader even if they do not click through the content to your site.
- You must weave social media into your distribution strategy for this excellent content so that it arrives in front of the people you want to engage regularly.
There are fewer easy fixes in SEO anymore. It is the hard work of creating and distributing great content that will consistently drive your online sites and pages to the first page of search engine results.
- You still need a keyword/phrase strategy, because you need to track and analyze the search terms online searchers are using to find what they seek.
- Your content still needs to reflect those themes.
- However, search engines are a lot better at grading your page not just on the keyphrases you include in the copy, but the value of the information the entire page contains, and how the visitor interacts with that page (length of visit, clickthroughs from the page, etc.)
Fast Company Article Link: