Brain Vibe

marketing muses to stay engaged

Commercials Aren’t Dead

Communicate passion.  Tell a story.

We tell our stories through one-on-one conversation, phone conversations, texting, books, magazines, blogs, radio, podcasts, TV shows, and movies.  They are experienced verbally, auditory, and visually.  In marketing, we are spending more and more of our effort shifting to a single form of story-telling and that is verbal.  Our messages are increasingly moving towards mediums of online print over full sensory experiences.  Whether it is because budgets are smaller, resources are tighter, or social media is the ‘new’ thing to do, it is creating a smaller impression with customers.

There is certainly a decline in TV advertising as viewership is on the decline.  Digital recorders allow you to pass over commercials, and people that do watch are either not the right audience or ignore commercials when they air.  However, there is a genius to visual marketing and advertising in the ability to engage, entertain, and leave a memorable impression that can be more powerful than the printed word or truncated and symbolic creative.  While TV commercials are not as viable as a marketing vehicle as they once were, they are still powerful in other venues.

Don’t Give Up on Commercials – Transform

I was reminded yesterday about the power of visual marketing and advertising and what we miss when we don’t incorporate our stories into a fuller sensory experience.  First, there was a question posted by Leena Goswami on LinkedIn on how to inject some life into B2B marketing.  The second was stumbling upon the new Apple/PC commercial on CNN Money.

In response to Leena’s question the first thing that came to mind was a commercial Dassault Systems had produced a couple years back that aired on TV and websites.  In addition, they had secured a mention in a PBS Frontline episode on their contribution to the engineering process of the Boeing Dreamliner.  Dassault is a leading provider of product development and lifecycle management solutions.  Aerospace and defense is a major customer base.  Sales cycles are long and complex.  Relationships are decades old.  It’s a typical mature B2B market where the players are defined and heavy consolidation is happening.  So, as a marketer, how do you get your customers excited about you?  They told their story through video around the story –  “Create, share, and experience in 3D. Dassault Systems, see what you mean.”

Of course, you can’t talk about visual marketing and advertising without Apple.  As much as they put their commercials on TV, they are also placing them on websites, their own website, and up on YouTube.  Their latest web commercial for iLife transformed the banner add from a click to entertainment.  It’s already spreading across YouTube.

In both of these examples they not only tell a story and communicate passion, the fact that they are traditional commercials and incorporate visual and auditory aspects makes the experience more memorable.  It sticks.  Apple commercials are so good they are shared.  Dassault’s commercials set them apart from lack luster and dull communications of their competition allowing them to freshen their image and show they were a leader.

Commercials have gotten a bad wrap of late due to lack luster results from traditional TV placement and concepts that are more art interpretations than stories.  However, that doesn’t mean they are not viable and in certain cases more so than even social media marketing for awareness and reach.  Permission marketing is certainly important and preferable, but there are times when you need to get your message out and certain venues allow this without asking permission.  In an age when time is everything, permission marketing and social media marketing can be too slow.  There is quality, and there is spam.  If you are going to disrupt, make sure it is appreciated and not irritating.

Tell a story, communicate passion, know your customer.

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Are You Culturally Aligned for Social Media?

Let’s get back to basics.  Now that the numbers are in and you’ve had a chance to get comfortable with using social media in your marketing efforts, what are you finding out about your corporate marketing culture?

Maybe you were testing the waters to see if social media really worked.  Or, maybe you were expanding on initial efforts and were applying it in a more strategic manner within an integrated marketing mix.  At this point, how you are using social media is starting to take shape and there are indications of if it works to create affinity with your community.  It also has given a perspective of what it will take to continue and be successful extending social media marketing within your organization.

We have spent a lot of time looking at metrics to measure how effective social media marketing is to achieve reach, awareness, increased connections, and depth of interaction.  The IAB has gone so far as to create a standardized list of metrics and definitions.  This is good, and aligned to successful marketing goals.  However, another aspect to consider is how the rest of the business is also committed to participating and embracing a new way to interaction with customer and the community.  After all, social media marketing is about interaction, connection, and transparency.  It can be solely a marketing function, but to really work, it must match the corporate culture and that may mean changing the way your company thinks and interactions with your customers.

Here’s a list of things to ask as you move into your next phase:

  1. If you’ve recruited your company experts and evangelists to post articles for your blogs, are they committed to continuing their contribution?
  2. Are your experts available and transparent in their discussions and follow-up with comments?
  3. Are you able to integrate your new community successfully into your sales process?
  4. Does your senior leadership team perceive the results from your social media marketing efforts as a benefit to the company AND they are willing to further invest?
  5. Is sales finding value in the community to follow-up on leads provided?
  6. Is sales utilizing information from conversations and participating themselves in your communities?
  7. Has the use of social media become part of nurturing a customer relationship and not just the beginning of a customer relationship?
  8. Have you been able to directly and clearly connect social media marketing efforts to business goals?
  9. Does marketing still consider social media marketing new and exciting or is it now ubiquitous in overall marketing efforts?
  10. Do negative comments and perceptions voiced within your communities still keep you up at night?
  11. Does the voice you use in your social media marketing efforts coincide with the voice of your leadership team uses with customers?
  12. Which online effort does your overall business think is more successful and beneficial: social media, the website, email marketing?
  13. Is the website experience tightly integrated with your overall website and online presence or is it a separate experience and venue?
  14. As the marketer, are you still trying to figure out if social media is effective or how you want to use it?
  15. Does conversation and interaction amongst connections in your community happen parallel to business to customer conversations or is it integrated with your active participation?

Social media marketing requires a level of commitment that traditional marketing efforts did not require.  If marketing is the only one responsible for shaping, contributing, and interacting with customers, then social media marketing will fail due to a lack of resources available and the inability to connect customer conversations and interactions throughout the relationship.  Maintaining a silo within marketing disconnects the customer and in the end can create a wedge in the relationship.  In order to be truly successful, social media needs to integrate with the overall business relationship.  Is your company culture up to the task?

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The Value of Social Media for B2B Purchase Decisions

digital-medium-used-by-us-professionalsUnderstanding how customers decide what solutions they need, which services they need, or what vendor to work with seems to move in peaks and valleys.  With social media on the scene and companies embracing it to get closer to customers, the question is arising again.  The real question is, how does social media contribute to a customer’s purchase decision?

Taking visitors to social media networks or connections to social media marketing efforts into the sales process has thus far eluded marketing.  The answer may be in this recent analysis provided by eMarketer.com.  While GenY is more optimistic about visitation and use of social media activities by US Professionals, Boomers and GenX think that professionals are less inclined.  This is not surprising as other statistics show an age gap.  What is important to realize is that Boomers and GenX are typically the ones making the decisions and holding the purse strings.  If they aren’t using social media to gather information about solutions, services, and vendors their purchase decision is not going to be influenced by what marketers put there.

Another revealing aspect of this study is the individual vehicles and their place in the typical workday.  Social networking, where marketers are looking to develop one-to-one relationships, are not as frequented by decision makers.  The other area to connect directly, internet forums, is also a lagging vehicle.  On the other hand, traditional vehicles such as a news site and personal email are ingrained in everyday behavior.  Social media, as a newer communication and information source, requires change in a decision maker’s behavior.  Other tools, such as mobile devices, were readily adopted due to teh fact that they mimicked and incorporated existing communication methods.  It wasn’t as much of a leap for people to make.  Social media, on the other hand, my be too different from how decision makers gather information or collaborate.

In a world where the journalist is considered a dying breed, across the board responents reconginzed the role they play in a professionals workday.  In fact, the gap is significant when compared to blogs.  This seems to point to a need to value and validated content versus opinion.  Another aspect to consider is that business journals are still able to sell online content and information.  Social media in time may become a trusted source of informtion, but today’s the number indicate that decision makers as designated by generation still rely and trust traditional sources.  Blogs, forums, and networks may still be seens as commentary and biased even is they are produced in journalistic fashion.

As GenY moves up the ranks and GenX further gravitates to social media int the workplace, things will shift.  But, this may still be several years out.   As marketers, we need to consider our audience’s preference for communication and information gathering when leveraging marketing tools that should drive sales.  Social media in business is still an immature source even as the hype has reached a crescendo.    If social media is not used regularly in a workday, it does not have the marketing power to transform engagement into sales.  Purchase decisions are complex and content and engagement needs to happen in a manner that creates trust, credibility, and aligns to the customer decision process.

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Filed under: b2b, marketing operations, marketing technology, networking, social media, social media marketing, , , , , , , , , , , ,

B2B Social Media is Not One-Size-Fits-All Part 2

In Part 1 I wrapped up with, “The big question is, what does social media marketing do for B2B? ”  Not surprisingly, it all depends on who you speak to and what a company is expecting out of marketing.

Marketing’s main focus is the ability to drive three things: Awareness/Thought Leadership, Relationships, and Leads.  Social media marketing appears to have success in some areas, but lagging in others.

Awareness/Thought Leadership

Paul Dunay writes in his Daily Fix for Marketing Profs that social media marketing outperforms traditional marketing effort. “(Unaided) awareness from podcasts were 68%, compared with 21% for streaming video and 10% for television.”  Whether it is because there is a novelty and newness to social media or there is something intrinsic to how it conforms to a more natural interaction remains to be seen.  But, currently there are obvious lifts in driving awareness and in turn thought leadership though social media marketing.

Another advantage seen of social media marketing tactics is the ability to leverage SEO to drive more traffic towards websites.  It is one aspect that ties into established metrics so that benefits are clearer and in terms that marketers understand and familiar with.

Relationship Building

Tim Whiting, Integrated Marketing Leader at Motorola, provided an excellent framework for how he approaches social media in a discussion on LinkedIn.  Engagement, Connection, Intelligence.  From this perspective he sees this as a cycle by creating mechanisms that entice customers, allow you to have venues to converse, then following up on that with a way to measure progress and success.  Tim is finding that the benefits of social media is connected to loyalty and advocacy.  His experience seems to bare out with trends in consumer benefits where customer service leverages social media tools to improve customer satisfaction and mitigate churn.

In a previous article, I also provided the example of IBM Cognos and their success in building relationships specifically using Twitter.  Overall, the ability to reach out to customers and get them to interact with the brand has been a positive experience.

Lead Generation

The challenge, as yet, appears to be lead conversion.  This is either due to the infancy of social media tactics within B2B, or it is more difficult due to those that engage are not qualified to enter the sales pipeline.

Forrester found that 25% of B2B marketers cannot connect social media marketing tactics to sales pipeline.

In a recent discussion with the head of business development at a information services company, those that engaged in discussions on blogs and LinkedIn tended not to be good candidates for opportunities.  The reason was that in many cases those that engaged were not really customers but consultants or agencies that gave perspective but weren’t in need of services and solutions.  They piggy backed on other’s marketing efforts.  Another issue is that for B2B service providers, social media gave too much away for free reducing the ability to sell services.  The take away seems to be that marketing needs to improve its ability to connect with the proper audience and strike the right balance between thought leadership and planting seeds.

As I researched lead generation in social media I found a lot about tactics to us, but very little in terms of success.  Marketers claim they are generating a high volume of leads.  However, when I speak with sales executives, they have not seen the value of these leads or leads have not filtered their way into the pipeline.  Sales is currently not convinced that social media efforts drive revenue.

Warm and Fuzzy

No one can dispute the value of social media marketing in B2B and certainly the increased focus, even without budget, is a stong indicator adoption and use.  So far, though, social media marketing helps in the traditional space of the warm and fuzzy aspects of marketing.  This may work in the short term as a way to show initial success, but eventually it will need to convert leads to sales before it will be taken seriously and have longevity in the B2B marketing mix.

Part 1

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B2B Social Media is Not One-Size-Fits-All Part 1

Social media opens up a wide array of possibilities for marketers as well as cost savings.  However, how or if it is used for marketing will look entirely different depending on the company, industry, and products and solutions sold.  Social media marketing is not “one-size-fits-all”.

The hype of late has really told the story of social media marketing within the consumer arena.  The picture is quite different in business-to-business.  When Forrester talks about 50% of marketers increasing their spend in social media, take out business-to-consumer and you get a very different perspective.  Supporting this, agencies see the big push in social media spending is really still from consumer focused companies.

In a recent Q&A session on LinkedIn, I asked marketers what percentage of marketing spend was for social media marketing and what that number was last year.  So, even if everyone said they were increasing spend, this could provide a perspective on how committed they were.  One reply provided an article from from eMarketer and included a graphic on social network advertising spend.  To my surprise, the biggest increase of spend was not this year (2009) 17% but last year (2008) 46%. No wonder all the hype over the past year.

But, this still doesn’t show what is happening in B2B.  That came from responses from marketing and business developmentThe B2B social media marketing spend answer: no marketing spend.  None. Zero. However, that doesn’t mean that no effort is spent on social media marketing.  Dani Lee, Director of Marketing at Copanion says, “(This) is partly due to the fact that our B2B SMB target audience has low adoption of social networking. However, from a time perspective, we definitely spend more time on social networking this year compared to almost no time last year. We drive content to our social networking sites with the goal of creating more engagement with our audience over various channels.”  Another contributor doesn’t see that social media makes sense in highly complex solution sales.

The big question is, what does social media marketing do for B2B?  Or, is there also a factor that social media marketing as it is defined today does not represent B2B marketing perspectives for marketing overall.

Where social media marketing and advertising is focused on the consumer, the engagement is much more relaxed and, well, social.  In B2B, there is a lot of vested interest on both sides of the deal. Sending tweets to customers may not be the answer to relationship building.  There also may not be an audience to connect to through social networks and communities.  B2B is going to have to figure out what the conversation looks like from their perspective and map to social media outlets.  It all boils down to conversational preference.

You can watch the Q&A session on LinkedIn by going to http://www.linkedin.com/answers/marketing-sales/advertising-promotion/internet-marketing/MAR_ADP_INM/443710-575533?searchIdx=0&sik=1237987444226&goback=%2Easr_1_1237987444226

Also, if you would like to participate in a survey on budget and resource allocation, you can go to http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=9ccwmeJJoa_2f_2fcSl_2bwgr_2fDA_3d_3d

Part 2

Related Articles:

You Don’t Have to Get Social Media, You’re Doing It

Conversational Preference in B2B Social Media

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Filed under: b2b, customer relationship, marketing technology, networking, sales 2.0, social media, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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