Thought leadership and content marketing: 4 practical tips

Thought leadership (some times called content marketing) is one of the most powerful but challenging tools in the B2B Marketing toolbox: here are 4 practical tips on how to get started.

As the very smart Chris Koch points out in this terrific blog post on idea marketing, many companies have given up trying to create valuable content and started dressing up product brochures as thought leadership.  But with the right approach B2B companies large and small can leverage their Subject Matter Expertise (SME) and create valuable content that will connect with their customers and drive business results.

4 Practical Tips from ITSMA’s Chris Koch

At the end of his post, Chris offers 4 practical tips on how to do a better job of thought leadership marketing. We thought they were worth highlighting for you:

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…)

SEO for B2B Marketing: tips to reach more customers

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an important part of any Business to Business (B2B) marketing and lead generation program designed to reach more customers.  With most purchase decisions involving web research at all stages of the decision process, getting found by search engines is key.  While many companies need help, the good news is that SEO is quickly moving from a hard to understand technical discipline to a marketing discipline focused on strategy, planning, prioritization, and execution.

Understanding search engine optimization (SEO) and key SEO priorities for B2B Marketers.

Unlike B2C SEO marketing which often concentrates on technical optimization and “black-hat” specialists who try to “cheat” the system, improving SEO results for B2B comes from a combination of technical optimization and content value.

Technical optimization is similar to hygiene.  Without good hygiene it is hard to get a date (ask any 14  year old boy!) but hygiene alone will not get you many dates.  To become successful in the dating game you need more than good hygiene, you need to be interesting, and even more importantly interested in your date’s interests.  You need charm to be truly attractive.  SEO for B2B marketers works in a similar way. (more…)

Twitter for business: If you don’t know these 4 things, your business will never succeed on Twitter.


1. Twitter is a real live back and forth conversation, not a radio broadcast from 1937.

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!”)

Full of puffery, selling too hard, self-absorbed, trivial, using ‘we’ language. (“We’re all going to the conference today. The cab stinks!”)

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.

Twitter is your forum to engage customers, both current and prospective: some happy, some bored, some angry. Use the Twitter search bar on your home page to save searches about your own company.

If you’re not big enough to generate third-party tweets, at least pay attention to what people are saying on relevant business topics you know something about. Then get into the conversation.

Talk to people. Listen to what they say. Then talk some more. You can do it. You never know where it might lead.

Whole Foods engages customers on Twitter better than anyone.

JetBlue Airways, too.

And here’s Frank Eliason, the man behind Comcast Cares.


2. You can’t succeed on Twitter wearing a paper bag over your head.

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.

Customize your look. Use the left sidebar to display pictures of your people, email addresses, what your company does, and more.

Bring your page to life. Looking good matters, just like it did in high school.

Look at what Verizon has done with Twitter.

Here’s Darren Rowse, problogger.

And Shaquille O’Neal.

And BrainRider.

3. Twitter is not the bulletin board in your company lunchroom.

Don’t fill your Twitter stream with stuff that no one outside your company cares about. It’s a public space, and people are free to come and go as they please.

Twitter is more like a hotel lobby. It’s your reception area, it’s your storefront, it’s a handshake, a business lunch, a non-stop around the clock business convention where every encounter holds the promise of a referral, or even a sale.

But that doesn’t mean you should be pushy. Be polite. Relax. Smile. Shine your shoes and make a good impression. Make your mother proud of you.

Be interesting. Be topical. Be controversial. Be informed, inquisitive, smart, funny, and even though you’re on Twitter for business, don’t be impersonal. Be human.

Like Chris Brogan.

Or Scott Monty, for Ford.

Or Tim Walker, for Hoovers.

4. People don’t suddenly become more gullible just because they’re on Twitter.

Don’t push a system guaranteed to get a million Twitter followers in a week. Don’t spam. Don’t use exclamation points!!! DON’T USE ALL CAPS!!!

Don’t troll for Retweets by sending out automated pre-loaded Tweets quoting Abraham Lincoln every two minutes: “Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.”

Don’t link to your own website all the time. (Even though you’re linking with tiny URLs, Twitter knows. You’ll look like a spammer.)

Don’t send out automated Direct Message thank you notes to new followers: “Hi, [your name goes here], thanks for following! Your website is amazing! Visit mine [link] to buy my stuff TODAY!!!”

Treat people the way you’d like to be treated.

Like Starbucks.

Or Kodak.

Or Lance Armstrong.