#torontob2b Marketers Meetup IX: Marilyn Barefoot

On October 4, 2012, Brainrider held it’s 9th Marketer’s Meetup in Toronto.

In this post we are sharing a BRAINSTORMING WORKSHOP entitied, “Big ideas that will knock your socks off”  by Marilyn Barefoot, from Barefoot Brainstorming.
It was an interactive session, so some content is not shown in this video.

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#torontob2b Marketers Meetup IX: Trevor Hamilton

On October 4, 2012, Brainrider held its 9th marketers meetup in Toronto.
In this post we are sharing Trevor Hamilton from More Marketers Now’s presentation, “Create an Inbound Marketing Campaign”

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Better B2B Marketing Strategies: 2013 Marketing Plan Ideas

A dozen practical ideas and B2B marketing strategies for your 2013 B2B marketing plan including planning by objectives, generating awareness, acquiring prospects, nurturing prospects, and qualifying sales leads in order to get better results.

Planning Your Marketing By Objectives

Get better results by prioritizing measureable marketing objectives and B2B marketing strategies and using them to identify gaps and opportunities in your plan.  Planning by objectives focuses on the strategies, programs, and tactics needed to deliver.  And measureable objectives make it possible to measure and track your progress, test and compare tactics, and more effectively report your results.  This chart lists 4 B2B marketing objectives and what to measure to evaluate performance:

Generating Awareness
&
Acquiring Prospects
B2B Marketing Strategies: VisitorsB2B Marketing Strategies: Prospects
  • How many find you & your expertise
  • How many become identified prospects & give permission for contact
Nurturing
Prospects
  • How many are engaging with your credentials
Qualifying
Sales Readiness
B2B Marketing Strategies: MQL
  • How many meet qualified lead criteria
  • How many meet are signaling readiness to buy

Using Playbook Planning To Plan & Execute Programs

With fewer targets, who are difficult to reach, and even more challenging to influence, your B2B marketing strategies have to be hard working.  Get more out of your effort by planning integrated marketing activities that work together as a program instead of a collection of tactics.  Start with the objective for the program, focus on a specific target so you can develop more effective call to action offers, and then ask what channels and activities you should include in the program.  Ask what inbound, outbound, social, and paid channels could support the program.    And evaluate what you could do before, during, and after the key activity.  Finally identify the metrics you need to asses performance against the objective.

Here is a quick B2B marketing strategies program template to help you plan:

Objective •Acquisition
•Nurturing
•Conversion

Target •Firma-graphics
•Role
•Need/Pain

CTA&
Offer/Content
•Call to action
•Best performing offers/content

Activity:
Channel &
Tactical Mix
•Past Results
•Reach
•Ability to execute
•Measurability
•Inbound
•Event
•Outbound
•Social
•Paid
•Pre
•During
•Post

Creative •Copy
•Design
•Concept

Timing •Start
•End date/ongoing

Measuring
Results
•Qualified Inbound Traffic
•New Prospect Acquisition
•Prospect Activity Scoring
•MQL

 

B2B Marketing Strategies: Generating Awareness & Acquiring Prospects

Most marketing plans include events (tradeshows, conferences, roadshows, webinars, etc) and paid media (PPC advertising, sponsorships, e-blasts) because they have been in past plans and they can generate predictable results.  Two newer program types worth testing include inbound marketing and social publishing.

Inbound marketing & social publishing

Inbound marketing leverages what prospect want to know about what you know.  Prospects want information to understand their landscape and make better business decisions.  And they know they can often get that information through you.  Inbound marketing works to connect you with prospects actively looking for that information.  But to reach these prospects you need to make your subject matter expertise easier to find.

Here are seven inbound marketing and social publishing ideas worth testing:

  • Develop and publish better content by targeting what your customer is looking for at each stage of their decision process
  • Optimize your prospect resource center to make your subject matter expertise easier to find
  • Publish your marketing content on a custom Slideshare Channel
  • Use LinkedIn to share relevant content with your target audience
  • Use sidebars with tiered calls to action: raise your hand offers, get more information, and subscribe.
  • Feature more content links on your home page
  • Optimize form completions by offering more relevant content (ie access to what customers want to know)

B2B Marketing Strategies: Nurturing Prospects

Advances in marketing technology have enabled increased prospect nurturing.  But the key to successful nurturing is matching nurturing tactics to audience behaviour.  No prospects want to be continually spammed with conversion offers or new product announcements; instead they want information relevant to what they want to know.   Try thinking like a magazine publisher who has the objective of engaging their readership.  For example:

  • When prospects are actively researching they want information directly related to what they are looking for.  So test relevant “For More Information” links in your thank you content, autoresponders, sidebars and at the end of every content asset.
  • When they are not actively researching, you need to spark their interest.  Try sharing popular or new content that answers the question “What’s my problem?”, “What are my peers doing”, “What are my peers reading?”.  And give them lots of potential links in a digest format so they can easily find and choose their own adventure.

B2B Marketing Strategies: Qualifying Sales Readiness

The final objective in this list is qualifying prospect sales readiness with lead scoring.  This is challenging because out of the box scoring rules and a lack of sales readiness offers and activities reduce scoring accuracy.  Here at two ideas to test for 2013:

  • Focus on Marketing Qualification (MQL): ie is a lead worth sending to sales for a follow-up to see if they are ready to buy.
  • Test Sales Readiness Offers such as “Request a hands-on demonstration”, “Project & Pricing”, “Get a Free Consultation”, or “Get a ROI Analysis”

Twitter for B2B Marketing: 5 tips

While 140 characters of text hardly seems enough to say much about anything, Twitter is a useful B2B marketing tool – especially when it comes to gaining insights about content and customers. With its simple publishing, connectivity with social media platforms, and capacity to track and measure engagement, Twitter is a great tool for curating, sharing & testing content.

Here are 5 tips to get the most out of Twitter:

Its not all about you Too many businesses use their Twitter stream like a one-way pipe, pumping out dreck best left for an in-house corporate newsletter. (“Our new product launch is just 16 months away!”). Don’t link to your own stuff all the time. The web is a big place full of things that are of interest to your potential customers. Link to those things from your Twitter stream and folks will be more likely to follow you. And less likely to unfollow you.
 
Don’t be vanilla Don’t use the plain vanilla Twitter page background that came with your sign-up. It’s a sure sign that you don’t care. Upload your own background to make your page inviting, engaging, professional. Even the free ones are nice. Add your company logo, or your own photo, in your profile area in the top right corner of your page. Then link to your website or blog. Okay, there’s room for only one live link, not much space for text—and none for pictures—in your profile area. But that shouldn’t stop you.
 
Follow people to get followers A quick way to get followers list is to follow people. Search for analysts, publications and influencers in your market and follow them. Then follow their followers. Search related keywords and #hashtags (like #B2B) to find other tweets in your category and follow their authors. Now watch your tweet stream, who’s joining in the conversation and follow the accounts with something useful to add. Not everyone you follow will follow you back, but a lot will.
 
Schedule your tweets Start with 2-3 tweets a day. Use a tool like Hootsuite to bulk schedule your tweets in advance. Don’t send them all at once but trickle them out and test different times of day. You might have a morning, afternoon or evening audience or even followers in a different time-zone. You can tweet in real time too, but scheduling ensures a steady stream and let’s you post tweets more efficiently and strategically.
 
Use your analytics Here’s where you get the insights that makes Twitter so useful. Use a tool like Hootsuite to track how many people mentioned or clicked on your link. While retweets and mentions might suggest if you’re on the right track, clicks are a better measure of content engagement.

More B2B Marketing Resources

Visit the BrainRider Knowledge Center for lots of free tools and best practices.

How to use LinkedIn Company Pages for B2B Marketing

In the past year LinkedIn has expanded their company pages with several great B2B Marketing features.  If you have not actively managed your profile to help connect with and convert more customers 2011 might be the time to start!

Getting found and quickly telling your story when customers search for you has become a key part of  B2B marketing plans.  Because LinkedIn profiles have great SEO they often deliver first page results.  And since three quarters of B2B purchasers are now using social media as part of the buying process (source: ITSMA) you should expect that they will look at your profile as part of the process.

Make sure that your employee profiles and company profiles are telling your story and supporting your value proposition.

Key features you should be using on LinkedIn company pages

LinkedIn Company Page Best Practices (more…)

B2B Marketing: How To Understand What Your Customer Wants To Know

At BrainRider, we’re always evolving our content planning tools to follow lead generation best practices.  The following tip is one of of our favorites from Marketing Sherpa and how we apply it.

Marketing Sherpa’s #1 lead generation best practice is: “IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THEM (NOT YOU)“.  While you likely agree that you should be focused on your customer it is hard work to get it right.  Just think of all the “about us” content that is sent your way every day!

Understanding “What your customer wants to know” is the strategic question we ask in order to apply discipline around this best practice.  But in order to understand what your customer wants to know, you need to know more about your customer.  While traditional customer research methodologies can provide rich and robust data their cost can be more than they are worth for companies with a limited research budget.  The good news is that you can still get lots of customer learning with the following quick and dirty — but effective tools.

Four ways to profile what your customer wants to know

1. Start by looking at your web analytics.

Google analytics is a great place to start tracking your site if you don’t do so already. Because every visitor to your website leaves a digital footprint you can check your site’s referral data which shows you where your traffic is coming from and if the visitor used a search term to get to your site.  Ignore the table-stakes referrals that just mention your company name, product names, or URL.  These visitors were just navigating by search.  Instead look for terms that indicate what a visitor was looking to understand.  But don’t forget that searches will only get to your site if you have at least some information about what they are looking for.

Here are some examples of recent searches that brought prospects to BrainRider.com:

  • “how to increase b2b sales”
  • “find b2b customers”
  • “how do I nurture new customers”
  • “85% of B2B customers use the Internet”
  • “enforcement of pipeda usa”
  • “inconsistent brand b2b”
  • “increase B2B sales”
  • “privacy legislation in Canada b2b”
  • “what are sales nodes”
  • “understanding decision stages”

2. Next, ask the people in your company who speak directly with your customers.

Sales, customer support, who ever picks-up the phone when customers call are great places to start.  They will have a real understanding of customer needs and especially what customers want to know.  Work hard to get them to remember all the questions they get asked, ESPECIALLY the questions that were harder to answer.   It is sometimes easier to dig deeper for this insight if you do a small team brainstorm or at least an in-person conversation.  We use questions like these and lots of repetition of the same question phrased different ways to get the conversation started:

  • Who is your best customer?  What are your 3 best client opportunities?  Who are the key stakeholders?What are some of the questions they ask?  What are some other questions that might get asked?  What are the more general things they want to know?
  • What keeps them up at night? What does their boss want to know?  What information would they love to get?
  • What industry information do they search on the web for?  What are they Googling?  Where else do they go for information?
  • What do they care about most?  What kinds of problems are they trying to solve?

3. Ask your customers to share what they want to know.

Start by putting a search box on every page of your site and tracking what visitors are searching for.  Consider a question form with a call to action like “Ask our experts”.  Include a question on your telemarketing scripts.  Ask existing customers, customers who use your competitors, or new prospects.  Ask them over lunch, coffee, or breakfast.  Even non-customers can sometimes give you great insights about what a customer might want to know.  So ask over cocktails in your neighbourhood!  And the good news is that customers who know that you want to know what they want to know usually think you are smart because you want to know what they want to know.  (Or something like that.)

4. Listen to the questions your customers are asking in other places.

For example, LinkedIn groups, industry forums, association message boards, tradeshows, industry publications can all be a rich source of intelligence.  And don’t forget the questions that analysts and experts in your industry are answering.  These sources are often paid to keep current with high-value questions from your customers.

Using these quick and dirty research approaches you can start to build an understanding of what your customer wants to know.  And that is the first step to practicing Marketing Sherpa’s lead generation best practice advice that it is “IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THEM (NOT YOU).”

And one last point.  We would really love to know what you want to know more about.  So please send your question to info@brainrider.com.  We promise to try and answer it!

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Quick follow-up and thanks for the emails!  Check out laddering as a tool to gain more insight on what your customer wants to know.  See this post from @Savvy_B2B: Steps to Success – Using Laddering in B2B Marketing  https://www.savvyb2bmarketing.com/blog/entry/629611/steps-to-success-–-using-laddering-in-b2b-marketing