BRINGING SEXY BACK to B2B MARKETING

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If you can get through this next sentence without falling asleep, congratulations. B2B marketing has traditionally consisted of facts, figures, testimonials and whitepapers. Still with us? Good. As boring as that all seems, we can assure you, it doesn’t have to be this way. And if you’re a B2B business out there, we just want you to know – it’s not you, it’s us – the agencies that owe it to you to help bring your brand out of its cocoon, releasing its true colours and allowing it to soar high above the mediocrity. After all, there’s no such thing as a boring product, just boring packaging.

Hit ‘em right in the ‘feels’
With a huge amount of advertising noise coming from every direction, particularly the digital space, it’s important that B2B businesses really put themselves out there. Marketing efforts need to be tailored for the common human, not robots. Tuning in to those things called feelings will encourage people to really engage with your brand and talk about it. Remember the customer comes first so ask yourself:

– What are they interested in?
– What’s the best way to reach them and when?
– How are you going to solve their problem?
– How are you going to make them look like a god to their peers?

Try to avoid hitting them with the hard stuff too early. Yes, they may need some solid facts at some stage but first, think about how you’re going to lure (ahem) lead them in. Although B2B products may not be bought for emotional gratification, it doesn’t mean the marketing behind it can’t include plenty of warm fuzzies. Make them feel safe, show them how cost-effective it is and let them know your company cares about them as an individual.

Get your flirt on
Let’s face it, you’re trying to make an unsexy product desirable so just like a finely-tuned Tinder profile, show a shit tonne of charisma and put your best profile pic forward. Social media is the forum to do this; it gives you a chance to present a familiar, less formal side to your business through the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Instead of your customers feeling like outsiders learning about your business, here’s their chance to get in on the action by joining conversations and sharing with their friends. Showing pictures of your staff is also a great way to ‘humanise’ your brand – “oooh, they look like a warm, down-to-earth company – in fact, they’re the kind of company I can see myself starting a relationship with” (sigh).

Stick to the game plan
Right, so now you’ve got an idea on how to make your company relatable and look super snazzy (side note: don’t go too far and use words like ‘snazzy’) so what now? Avoid going in hot without a strategy. You’ve got fun stuff and you’ve got boring stuff, now how are you going to roll it all out? Do continue things that have served you well in the past (we never said get rid of those white papers all together). Do target more than just the top dogs – an idea can come from any person in the company. Do aim to reach people outside of work hours too because, well, people are addicted to their phones and tablets. Don’t lose yourself – brand identity still needs to be evident in everything you do. If all else fails? Offer free stuff! Everyone loves a little win, even if it’s as simple as a free e-book.

Last but not least, don’t forget the plug. Whenever you get the chance, talk up your company and offer the easy click. For example, BallantyneTaylor would say something along the lines of “we know you’ve enjoyed this article, so don’t play hard to get – if you want to get a little stalky and see what other great things we’ve done (and could do for you) check us out riiiiight: here.

Which content works on Facebook?

This fantastic infographic from Vi Knallgrau GmbH, and agency for new media in Vienna, sheds some light on what types of content and strategies work best for brands on Facebook.  

The infographic is based on a for week study of Facebook posts from 50 Consumer Brands and 50 Retail Brands in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.  Due to the fact that the study is contained to a specific region, it’s unlikely that every single data point will resonate with your own brand, but we think it is pretty universal food for thought!

 

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Source file: infografik_english.jpg 1000×3059

Want a second opinion on your content marketing strategy?

Contact Managing Director, Steve Ballantyne at: steve@ballantynetaylor.co.nz

Or check out our ebook, The Superheroes of Digital Marketing.  We’ve got an entire chapter dedicated to content marketing!

The essentials of content marketing

Engaging today’s business buyers is no easy feat.  Not only do the messages you send out need to be personalised and relevant to the challenges your audience faces, but the content you produce must be actionable – letting your buyers know what the next step in the process is and where they can go to find more information.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First, you have to create content that people actually want to read.

Successful marketers produce informative content, personalise it and deliver it to specific leads throughout every phase of the buying cycle.  Content needs to not only showcase your expertise, knowledge and thought-leadership, but address the challenges and concerns of your buyers.

The best content will enlighten prospects, facilitate the buying process and lay the foundations for an ongoing conversation.

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Produce some eye-catching original content

When you are considering what to feature as your content marketing strategy, remember that your messaging is not limited to articles and whitepapers.  Think videos, webinars, microsites, infographics, ebooks and apps.  Or set your content apart with a more unique tactic – a video game, movie or cartoon.  There’s no end to the ways to interact with your brand; just be clear about who you are creating content for and what purpose it serves.

Curate content to fill the gaps

The average sales cycle for a B2B technology purchase can take up to five months and involve as many as seven people, each of which will be consuming multiple pieces of content during their journey.  You probably have a thousand ideas on how to reach each of these buyers, but is your budget going to cover them all?

Curating content isn’t stealing; in fact, it’s a respected social practice.  It will help you fill the gaps between original content ideas and will take some of the pressure off your budget.  But don’t run the risk of landing yourself in hot water, make sure you credit the source.

Promote your content

Now that you have some brilliantly worded original content and a catalogue of curated content, how do you promote it?  How will you get the word out and ensure the right people see it and share it?

There are three promotional techniques to advertise your content:  Owned, Earned and Paid.

  • Owned media is when you leverage a channel you create and control.  This could be your company blog, YouTube channel, website and Facebook page.  This is your chance to make the most of what you’ve got – but make sure your buyers stay front and center.  And think about the devices your buyers use to connect with you – desktop, mobile, tablet?  We strongly suggest responsive design to cover all your bases.
  • Earned media is when customers, press and public share your content and discuss your brand.  Every B2B marketer should be involved in the social media that matter to their customers, and the content you produce should be repurposed to suit each channel.
  • Paid media is when you pay to have third-party channel distribute your message.  This includes advertisements, paying for media coverage or distributing press releases on paid sites.  The hard part, however, is sifting through the options and keeping track of what is and isn’t working.  If you’re buying display advertising, experiment with design and calls-to-action.  If it’s pay-per-click (PPC), change up keywords and search terms.  Advertising on Facebook or LinkedIn?  Target different user interests, groups or job titles.  Find out what works for your audience, but bear in mind that people generally put more trust into non-paid channels, so set your expectations accordingly.

Last but not least, make sure your content is easy to find.  You could have the most compelling blog, the greatest website and the most informative articles, but it’s all for naught if no one can find it.  Keep a consistent look and feel across your content as well; you don’t want your webinar and looking like it came from a completely different company than the ebook!

Over the course of the next few weeks we will be exploring the pertinence of content marketing to any company’s marketing strategy.  Check back in each week as we delve deeper into this topic and find out how you can improve your own efforts and strategies.

In the meantime, you can check out our ebook: The Superheroes of B2B Marketing!

5 ways to score more LinkedIn followers

With over 2 million companies registered within their database (including all Fortune 500 corporations), it’s no real revelation that LinkedIn can be a powerful tool in the B2B world. A company profile allows you to build your professional network via the influence of social media and being top of your class is certainly beneficial to your brand. Procuring company followers increases your business’s visibility as your updates will be seen throughout the LinkedIn community, attracting your target audience.So how do you acquire a bunch of LinkedIn groupies? While there is no exact formula to catapult you into the upper echelons of LinkedIn stardom overnight, there are certainly some helpful practices to enhance your company page.

1. All in the Family

Your friends and family are your biggest fans, so use your real life community to help develop your social media channels. When you start using a new platform, invite these people to connect with the page first. This will help you to build a decent foundation to start attracting new followers.

2. Share and Share Alike

You can use your already existing social media communities to draw attention to your LinkedIn page. Share your business via Facebook or Twitter, all of these forums should be used in conjunction with each other to yield the best results. You can do this in corporate forms of communication (email, newsletters, advertisement) as well, just remember to make it compelling. Include information you will make available to followers: promotions, articles, event, etc.

Following other companies’ pages is a good tactic as well. Showing a bit of sportsmanship and camaraderie will no doubt earn respect from your peers as well as gather some reciprocated follows along the way.

3. A Matter of Substance

Since most everyone is on LinkedIn for career purposes, use this opportunity to increase exposure for your products or services. Share engaging, original content that is applicable in your followers’ everyday life. Workplace tips or career advice is always relevant and, if you are having trouble coming up with content, consider using personal experiences. Chances are you are not the only one to encounter a business problem — share how you resolved a difficult matter with others who may be having issues in a similar situation.

Once you add new content, make sure to share it across your other social media platforms; it will increase the likelihood of people finding your LinkedIn content.

4. Consistence Beats Resistance

Post new content often to keep viewers interested and coming back to your page. Perhaps set aside one day a week (or more) to publish new information or advice. This will force you to keep your content timely and relevant.

5. Top Jocks Need Their Lackeys

Just kidding. You’re employees are not your lackeys. But getting staff members involved and backing your company is advantageous for everyone involved. First, encourage anyone who does not have a LinkedIn page to create one and list your company as their current employer. You company logo will then show up on their profile and will click through to your company page. You employees can then “like” and share status updates from your company page. Remember: more views = more brand recognition = more followers.

As I previously mentioned, overnight popularity isn’t something to realistically strive for. But begin putting the groundwork in early. You may be pretty green at the start, but a little networking and a bit of swagger will ensure you’re the one being crowned king of the LinkedIn prom.

If you feel that your LinkedIn profile could use a bit of a boost, we’re here to lend a helping hand. Contact our Digital Manager, Veronica Nobbs: veronica@ballantynetaylor.co.nz