Tag Archives: Customer

B2B content marketing trends in 2013 & upcoming challenges

According to a recent study by Content Marketing Institute, a little more than half of all surveyed B2B marketers are planning to increase their content marketing spending in 2013. This result almost mirrors the B2C oriented study and shows a clear trend of the increasing importance of content marketing across organisations.

B2B content marketing expected spending

B2B content marketing expected spending

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another promising development is the ongoing trend of B2B marketers, likewise to their B2C colleagues, to acknowledge the importance of content creation by gradually increasing in-house content creation efforts over outsources efforts. A trend which in my eyes is an inevitable step to create ownership, necessary processes and content creation experience. Contradicting this notion is however a slight increase in content marketing challenges, particularly in the category “producing enough content”.

Content Marketing Challenges

Content Marketing Challenges

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

B2B organisations are rich of quality content, the crux for every marketer is however to unlock this content from Key Account Managers, R&D folks, manufacturing partners, field engineers and top management. It is not impossible, but for many organisations, the years relying on external partners for content creation meant these necessary internal relations haven’t been built up to now capitalise upon.

Take on the challenge for 2013 to make B2C content sexy and engaging:

> Acknowledge the richness of content in B2B! Content doesn’t just have to be consumer stories in the earned media category – it is unlikely that your heavy machinery customer will post a picture of him and his new crane to your Facebook channel, however asking him in person for an experience interview changes things dramatically! Most often you will find open customers who are as emotionally connected to their products or work like your B2C counterpart’s mobile user.

> Be a tactician! As with customers, the same applies to your own R&D and sales guys. It is very unlikely that they will knock on your door and ask you to write an article about their work or achievements; but there are surely some out there who are more outspoken or who like to glow in their own glory. Perfect – use them as forerunners. Creating a competitive environment by adding a section “success stories” to your publication will spark drive and challenge others to showcase their success in similar ways. It doesn’t happen over night but with patience this will lead to great success and a pipe full of publishing ready content.

> Measure everything! Use digital tools to measure the results of your content creation efforts. Show the time customers have spent reading or accessing various channels and show it in a dramatic fashion. 50% of your content creation efforts will be spent internally, as shown above, on your colleagues or even superiors to market the content marketing idea to them. See them as your audience which is easier won by strong use cases than shallow marketing jargon, especially in B2B.

> Be a risk taker! Content marketing has to be engaging otherwise it doesn’t show effects and or results as planned. Don’t just rely on content marketing tactics that you are familiar with such as blogs, websites, case studies or whitepapers. Think outside of the box and look for the sexy new thing such as mobile and gamification. Don’t let Kodak style content marketing efforts fool you – not everything B2C marketers do leads to a great ROI apart from its sexy look to outsiders. Try to think of other tactics as use cases, why no gamify content creation internally or run a best product in use picture with customer’s field engineers? Applying tactics to the B2B world is easier as it seem but the sale internally can be hard and daunting. Be prepared for that and create a lot of small use cases for new tactics – these will help to convince superiors and colleagues of new tactics and ease the approval process.

> Use your own organisation as testing ground! Over the years, my most critical yet most rewarding audience was internal. Every employee in your organisation is waiting to be engaged, more in B2B than ever imagined. They won’t take anything for granted nor jump on every campaign or effort coming from marketing but if you manage to convince this audience, everything else will be a piece of cake. Furthermore, this will provide you with a richness of feedback (mostly critical) which helps to learn and avoid mistakes in the outside world.

> Have fun! I have seen and meet many B2B colleagues who were nothing but worked up in what I would call sales support (that is updating brochures, organising exhibitions etc). Working in technically oriented organisations doesn’t come with the same audience and or work environment as in B2C but that doesn’t mean you and your team cannot have fun. Create a driving environment for ideas, host internal creative brainstorming sessions, have regular team retreats to come up with new tactics, go to conferences and speeches to learn from colleagues, competitors and even off the grid B2C marketers.

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the Kodak “social” media moment

Kodak, despite its financial struggles over the last couple of years (more here), has emerged as the golden child of social media. With 29 dedicated Facebook pages (overview on Kodak’s website), various dedicated Kodak owned blogs, twitter, flickr, google+ and youtube profiles (summary here), Kodak is actively engaging with consumers and prospects.

Kodak FB Page Screenshot

Kodak’s CMO, Jeff Hayzlett, has been very outspoken in the media about Kodak’s strong social media engagement, not just by publishing Kodak’s own social media tip booklet, but by detailing Kodak’s belief to grow its brand and thus, in theory, its market return.

 

How much is a Facebook like worth?

It can be hardly argued that Kodak’s social media efforts were of shortsighted nature and or didn’t reach consumers, yet sales fell short in almost every product category Kodak serves, multiple quarters in a row. One could of course argue about operational and or product inefficiencies at Kodak (e.g. the constant decline since Kodak’s $ 10 billion sales in 1981 through its struggle with the digital disruption in its markets), yet sales is what ultimately matters and this is were Kodak’s social media engagement seems to fall short.

 

Can you convert fans, likes, followers into buyers?

Most articles, blogs, books and papers argue to convert followers into sales by promoting follower specific sales incentives, apply like gates (e.g. you can only access certain content by liking a site) and various other methods. Unfortunately, Kodak has applied almost any of them. Kodak has been highly engaged with its followers, listened to conversations, offered specials, had consumer specific content areas and even filtered consumers into product niches to allow for highly relevant content. Based on this, one can continue to argue Kodak’s mediocre and lagging innovativeness in the digital image space is a major factor to let sales slip further downwards.

 

The Kodak Moment of Truth:

1) Social Media can hardly make up for a lack of product innovation. If you have 1000 fans but no product, you can impossible start to convert fans into sales. In other words, don’t over-promise but under-deliver (as it seems, traditional marketing lessons learnt do still hold true).

2) Listening to consumers is reactive, sometimes a company might need to be proactive (especially in new product development – taking lead times into account)

3) A like is worth nothing if you file for bankruptcy: this is probably the most important lesson to be learnt here! When a business is going fine, a like can be calculated in any way you want because you can actually afford to spend resources thinking about the value of a like. Most likely you will also have to spend resources to justify the resource expenditures in the first place, which is why you come up with this calculation in most cases. In a situation in which the very existence of a company is in jeopardy, all creative like value calculations come however down to one simple point: conversion. Can you or can you not convert your likes into sales.

 

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Your celebrity partner is not the only brand ambassador to worry about!

The press and theory:

According to an article by the AdvertisingAge, Beyonce Knoles has just signed a $ 50 Million brand ambassador deal with Pepsi. Whilst brand ambassadorships are meant to catapult the brand’s reach based on a more credible partnership than just celebrity endorsements, the question of authenticity to consumer remains. Naming will.I.am director of creative innovation at Intel or Lady Gaga creative director of Polaroid is hardly credible to the educated consumer.

 

The other angle:

Johan Jervoe, VP of creative services at Intel, argues for the celebrity expertise infusion into an organization based on the cultural and process impact these celebrity partnerships may result in. Whilst Intel cannot specify any ROI to backup this claim, it remains questionable how much real operational impact a celebrity can have based on a career in live entertainment or acting. Some consumers surly fall for the Lady Gaga designed printer without questioning Lady Gaga’s stake in the design process besides lending her name to the product and appearing at tradeshows, others surely question the authenticity of these endorsements which widens the brand to consume gap.

 

The crux of the deal:

On a more subtle base, consumer’s might be drawn in by Lady Gaga, will.I.am and co, yet their brand experience will be defined at every brand touch-point, with an ever increasing likelihood that aspirational celebrity endorsed placements differ from the consumer’s real life product experience.

 

The harsh reality (a real life story):

As it happens, I am up and jet-lagged after an enduring US – EU trip which made me yet again aware of the difference between story telling and fulfilling the brand’s promise. The most outstanding brand experiences of my recent trip were with airline ground personnel as well as various rental car representatives. Both organizations have worked with celebrities to point a flashy & glossy picture of their service offering. The big difference however was that in both cases, company own and company branded but external staff missed the brand’s value proposition in every aspect, had obviously no pride in working for their respective brand nor cared in any way about the consumer brand interaction, particularly their influence in the game.

 

The return loop:

No matter if a new mobile operating system inclusive of new hardware gets mass marketed by various celebrities but newly opened flagship employees fall short of being able to sell the product to the consumer and highlight the negatives compared to their big fruity competitor or if airline ground staff does not care about check-in policies, rental car employees disrespect customers and forgoe their own rental policies, these are the touch-points that truly matter, the touch-points defining first hand customer brand interaction, the touch-points that have a driven influence on repurchase / revisit behavior but worst, the touch-points that will lead to negative brand buzz.

 

Old marketing tantras become the new philosophies, yet again!:

> Stick to the basics! Don’t overpromise but underdeliver. No matter how much marketing budget gets attributed to hiring the next big star for a product world tour, an outstandingly cool tv commercial or “product development” don’t forget to monitor where the action happens: at customer – brand touchpoints

> Don’t forget sales! A great social media campaign, to give the celebrity a break, that falls short of in-store product placements in important retail channels, doesn’t hold up to the promise (e.g. see my Kodak vs. Apple post). The same holds true for a big marketing stunt to promote said new mobile OS but employees lack sales savvy to close the deal with in-store customers.

> Don’t forget the customer! No matter how popular the celebrity, how great your competitor’s campaign based on celebrity affiliation: what your customers thinks, feels and encounters is what matters!

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Channel segmentation is the past – Cross Screen advertising the future

The past:

For the last couple of years, online marketing and online advertising has evolved into a race for better CPM, conversion and high pitched segmentation efforts on both mobile, social and web based advertising platforms such as Google and Yahoo. The problem with most platforms however is, that marketers tend to ignore platform switches of consumers. E.g. a person being targeted and reached via SEM on a web client might moments later be using his mobile, playing on a console or chatting with friends on his tablet. Instead of being channeled into platform specific segmentation and either under or over-targeting parts of the target audience in various channels, it serves a point to rethink segmentation and targeting with the means of modern day technology.

 

Technology is an enabler for a new set of questions to be asked:

Companies like drawbridge have started to use algorithmic modelling to pair a user’s devices, which allows to target one user on all his devices. More information on drawbridge’s technology can be read in their current whitepaper.

 

Without disappointment, you cannot appreciate victory:

The major drawback to date of technology side providers like drawbridge is the exclusion of another major hub of screen time: consoles! Consoles do still allow great advertising possibilities by, like other in game advertising formats, capitalising on the deep player immersion during gameplay. Although Sony has earlier this year patented a new form of in-game advertising by interrupting gameplay for on screen advertising, it is questionable if this format will capture the in-game advertising potential and thus leave the door open to alternate technologies to emerge and capture a major foothold.

 

What marketers should start asking themselves:

Is it more effectively to spread advertising budget cross channel based on channel specific segmentation / targeting data or is it more beneficial to follow a specific user cross screen / channel with dynamic messaging efforts. You decide!

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Bring the POS to the consumer, not the other way around

What is the problem with traditional brick and mortar stores?

Consumers have to invest both search and travel time to get to the store – worst case to find an unmotivated employee or a crowded store. How much motivation can expect a consumer to have to come to you multiple times to finalize his or her purchase.

Why not challenging this traditional concept, which some smart companies already have, in some way or another. Think Tupperware for example!

Mini is another great example, launching the “mini store” in Paris with 10 floating Mini Coopers ready to be test driving on the spot. Why is this a great concept? I think it draws attention to the product, it reduces potential clients or customers time requirements (travel time) and it reduces further hurdles and brings in the very intriguing aspect of emotional POS strategies.

I wonder when other car makers will catch up on this – could well see other A-Segment to C-Segment vehicles capitalize on a similar brand to POS strategy. Not sure if it would work for your Porsche 911 buyer – kinda doubt it :-)

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