Archive for the ‘business-to-business marketing’ tag
I just wrote an e-book that came out of a conversation with a friend of mine who manages a government program to help U.S. manufacturers who are being slammed by competition from overseas.
Helping US manufacturers confront new global competition
When low cost rivals from overseas steal business from established American tech companies and manufacturers, it can come as a shock. You’re doing fine for years and suddenly you’re getting hammered. My friend’s federally funded Western Trade Adjustment Center educates and supports affected companies to to become more competitive by making changes in all kinds of areas, from supply chains to IT to manufacturing processes.
I offered to create some content for her to use to educate her companies on the marketing and branding piece, and the idea for a series ebooks was born. The first one is about what not to do.
Technology- and sales-driven companies often go along fine for years without paying any attention to marketing and branding. Innovation and engineering rule. Then, the world changes and the marketing mistakes that didn’t matter come back to bite them. Fixing these mistakes can not only make a big difference, it’s a lot faster than easier than re-engineering a product or process.
The 7 mistakes I see most often
Over the past 30 years I’ve been involved in re-branding scores of innovative manufacturing, tech, agricultural and service companies to deal with new marketplace realities. For this ebook, I boiled down the most common mistakes I see along with tips on how to fix them:
- Not looking as good as you are
- Shooting before you aim
- Not being clear
- Talking to yourself
- Leaving Sales out in the cold
- Not leveraging the Web
- Fragmentation (multiple personality disorder)
For details, download the free ebook. Actually the principles in this ebook apply to any business faced with copycats and lower-cost competition.
The other day I was thumbing through a business magazine and was struck by how many print advertisers were missing a huge opportunity. In today’s digital world, print ads can be an entry point for a sustained online conversation that can convert mild interest into a sale. Instead, many of these B2B ads just sat there.
There was no reason to notice them, no compelling reason to read about the problem they solved, and worst yet, no reason to go beyond them to engage in a deeper conversation with the advertiser. For this, companies were paying over $35,000 a page!
Print advertising has actually become even more valuable in today’s cross platform digital environment. Done right, a print campaign can drive people to a wide array of online channels like customized landing pages, videos and social media. These digital channels are free for the most part, and allow for extended engagement with customers and prospects.
Now, when you develop a B2B print ad campaign, you increase your ROI exponentially by integrating it with interactive opportunities that reside in the digital space.
Here’s the catch though. It still has to be a good ad. It has to capture attention because it’s provocative and relevant, addressing an issue that’s meaningful to the audience. Even if it’s just a branding or “image” ad, it has to be interesting. If it’s about a technology, the value proposition needs to be expressed simply and clearly. It’s a brave new digital world, but the techniques for igniting a connection are the same as they have always been.
Video is hot, and YouTube isn’t just for consumers. B2B prospects who won’t take the time to read an email will often click on a video link. Then, despite being crazy busy, they’ll sit back and watch a video all the way through. It just has to present a problem they care about right upfront, and cut quickly to the chase with a compelling story about your solution.
What we call “Web InfoVideos®” are not only informative. They’re guilt-free and productive fun. They seem to generate immediate action too. People respond to take the next step in your sales process, like a free trial.
There’s a lot of neuroscience behind the structure of Web InfoVideos. You appeal to the emotional right brain (where, studies show, all choices are made) and deliver a left brain rationale. You engage all the learning channels: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic – with sound, text, pictures and motion.
The great thing about InfoVideos is that they have so many applications. You can use the same video in:
- Emails to prospect or customer lists. Include a link as the main topic of an email. Or, add a link to the salesperson’s signature
- Pepper your website with InfoVideo content. As an added bonus, video improves SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
- At trade shows, play a “continuous loop” version of the video in your booth
- Create landing pages specific to a campaign, vertical market or product and include a video link
- Place InfoVideo links in online press releases and newsletters
- Social media marketing: include your latest videos on LinkedIn, in blogs, in “thought leader” content, on social video sites, etc.
- To kick off a one-on-one meeting, a video can provide a dynamic capsule summary of your value proposition
Videos deliver an excellent return on investment. Just make sure they are strategically focused, clear, relevant and interesting. Be careful about length too. The optimum time seems to be around 2 minutes for an introduction to a concept.
The most entertaining and sophisticated videos make use of the layering capabilities of Flash programming (HTML5 isn’t “there” yet). So, you need to do a version that lives online on your server with live links, and a version for YouTube that works on mobile devices. For a few examples of Reality2 Web InfoVideos, click here.
Turns out a guiding principle of online consumer marketing works for B2B as well. Instead of sending respondents to a general corporate website, send them to an interactive landing page or “mini site” developed specifically for the campaign or vertical market.
Here’s the secret formula we’ve refined over the past 12 months to create engagement:
- Give information in bite-sized pieces on the interactive mini site, so visitors can control the process of revelation. The interactivity of the tabs (with short copy) makes it fun. People end up reading more, painlessly.
- Provide multiple calls to action. Give people attractive choices and promotional offers whenever possible. Keep the calls to action always visible as people move through the mini site.
- Let people escalate their level of interest and commitment without barriers. No registration required for informative material. It’s fine to offer a white paper upon registration, but we’ve found that we increase direct sales inquiries by removing this barrier.
- Offer a cool personal item as an incentive for registering or signing up for a demo – including the chance to enter a drawing.
- Offer a downloadable brochure PDF as well as a way to instantly “drill down” after reading each tab.
- Make the design clean, the headlines clear, the look simple and the navigation easy. Give the mini site a theme that ties in with the rest of the campaign (emails, online and print ads, social media, online press releases).
- Sales contact information (both phone and email) should be prominent and always visible. And of course, provide a link to the corporate site too.
We developed and tested tabbed landing pages/mini sites for our client SNL over a year ago. They were so effective that now we do a landing page as part of every campaign, for each division and product line. In the example above, when SNL Energy expanded its web-based energy information service we positioned it as the “smartest energy source” and created this landing page as the multi-media campaign “hub”.