Tag Archives: business-to-business

business-to-business marketing communication

Businesses Benefit from Strategic Social Media Programs

Bridge to CustomersWhile social networking began as a consumer activity, it has become a crucial component of most business marketing strategies as it allows companies to reach highly targeted audiences with custom messaging to build brand awareness and establish a relationship with the customer who now expect companies to be reachable and accountable.

Business Benefits
Businesses are now regularly using tools such as Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and LinkedIn for hiring, customer support, product development, brand recognition, and, of course, client acquisition and retention. Social media has another benefit: the cost of acquiring customers is significantly lower than placing ads, and creates a lasting relationship.

The benefits of a quality social media marketing program include:

  • Transparent, authentic feedback from your audience
  • Integrates well with conventional marketing programs
  • Reach highly-targeted audiences
  • Improves search engines positioning
  • Lower cost than advertising
  • More long term and wider impact than conventional public relations

Listen first, Act second
Buyers look to objective internet sources to compare business products and services including existing customers who are more than willing to share their experience with these products. Companies can’t control the chatter, but they can learn what customers want.

Brands such as Comcast have made major strides in customer service by listening on Twitter. When their brand is mentioned, they know. When someone has a problem, they help them within minutes. They follow the first rule of social media: listen first, act second. Maintaining a regular monitoring program helps to understand customer sentiment and how it changes as you implement online programs.

Defining Success
Measuring the success of a social media campaign is possible only if you define your targets in advance. Whether they include increased traffic, website conversions or leads, you must have clear targets for successful campaigns, at short-term and long-term time intervals. A few examples of what success might look like include:

  • Gaining a better understanding of your customers
  • Increase brand exposure in ways which were not possible before
  • Reducing costs for achieving the same targets using other marketing tactics
  • Increase sales and conversions

Some great resources to compliment this blog post:

Social Commerce, Social Media Today, November 2, 2010

Content for People, Not Robots, Impressions Through Media, September 18, 2010

Do you like what I like? The power of social influence.

Twenty years ago, our friend Dan did meticulous research on lawnmowers, comparing price and quality, reading Consumer Reports, and talking to various salesmen, asking questions at local stores. Once he decided which brand and model to buy, we piggybacked on his research and bought the same one because we knew he did a thorough evaluation.

While influence is nothing new, the many ways we’re influenced is, in more and more ways.  If you consider all of the consumer buying decisions we make: where we shop and dine out, which movies we see and what music we listen to, we have always made decisions with influence from our family, our friends, and, even perfect strangers.

Now, in addition to in-person influence, we are often influenced by a virtual community made up of people that we know, and their friends, many who post their opinions on Facebook, by liking a page, or on Amazon, by reviewing a product, or on Yelp, by reviewing a restaurant or local business.  (Yelp, by the way, got in trouble with site users for manipulating reviews in favor of advertisers and has changed their policy based on widespread negative feedback.)

That’s why Facebook has been making it easy for companies to incorporate the Like widget on their websites and blogs. Everything you “like” is cataloged for all of your Facebook friends to see.

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Social media profiles: A disconnect in the corporate strategy?

switchboardI’ve been wondering lately about the concept of integrated social media strategies for businesses.

There’s no mistaking it but some social media will work better for certain types of businesses and industries than others. Some will excel with the use of videos, and some with the written word. Some will adopt the use of multiple social media— running the gamut of blogs, twitter, linkedin, youtube, and facebook.

So here’s the question which has been plaguing me for a while: Who’s doing it well? I mean, who’s doing a good job tying them all together, cross-linking and integrating them into a full user experience.

I became even more curious yesterday after reading a post, Which Twitter Strategy is Right for You, by Rodger Johnson. The post describes the twitter strategies of  six companies you may have already heard about: JetBlue, Rubbermaid, Dunkin’ Donuts, Dell, Zappos, and Comcast. So, with these key twitter players in mind, I thought I’d do a little experiment, and see whose doing what and how well are they linking all their profiles and web sites together e.g. how would a user know about all the profiles these companies have?

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Social Media Marketing: Showing Your Cards

showing your cardsMaybe it’s because of the time of year. Reminiscent of all the school beginnings, new terms, new school supplies. The times when you had to hunker down and read books on your teacher’s reading list. Or, maybe you’re lucky enough to have friends who recommend books to you. And, of course there’s always the book group phenomenon where people actually get together to talk about books!  What a novel idea.

Over the two years since I’ve been blogging for Impressions through Media, I’ve come across and read many social media marketing books which have been instrumental in helping to explain these new channels and how best to integrate them into your businesses marketing. After all, most of us who have been working in marketing for some time now, have been somewhat mystified by the ways the channels have changed. What were standard ways of promoting your business may now becoming obsolete.  We need to have a way to keep up.  For me, it’s perusing the new titles online and in the aisles of the bookstore. Looking for suggestions from other bloggers, as Chris Brogan and Julien Smith call, “trusted agents” And then, the real clincher, is finding the time to read them.

In the past couple of weeks I have come across three very exciting new titles, which I feel compelled to share with you, all published in 2009 by John Wiley & Sons.

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A Little Knowledge Goes a Long Way

knowledgeThe other day I had an opportunity to speak about social media with a team at a Boston-based non-profit organization. In their profession, social media has been slow to be adopted. Some niche areas are like that; they always have been and likely always will. In this organization they were able to recognize that social media could be beneficial to their line of work.

We were together for two hours. Fortunately, I had given them an assessment form in advance to obtain information about their familiarity with social media e.g. Who has pages on facebook, linkedin. Do they send email newsletters? Are they familiar with RSS feeds? Do they read blogs? Know how to set-up up google alerts?

It was not starting from complete scratch, but I did find beginning with a definition of social media to be useful to get us all on the same page; and answering the overarching question which I believe was on most people’s minds in the room, “Why should we care about social media?”

When asked about why social media matters, I typically give my standard answer, “Because it’s here to stay.” Just like the turnabout we witnessed in the ’90s during Web 1.0, when to be a credible business you had to have a web presence whether you liked it or not, we came to expect to find organizational websites, email addresses, online contact forms, faq’s, and search capability. We’ve come to expect immediate response, and notice when we don’t receive it. When someone doesn’t have an online presence (even today), we notice it—big time!

Your guess is as good as mine as to whether facebook, linkedin, twitter, blogs and the tools we’ve been using in 2009, will be the ones that will have the most longevity, or whether a whole new host of solutions will take their places in the coming year. I think it’s fair to assume that we’ll be talking about a variation of the web 2.0 language in the not so distant future, but some of these tools will be with us for a long time as we move into the 2010′s.

As Marketing Sherpa reported, “The most significant barrier to organization’s adoption of social media, (namely 46% of the respondents) identify the reason as ‘lack of knowledgeable staff.’”

Bottom line, if we want staff to become knowledgeable then organizations need to make the resources available to them so they can acquire the tools they’ll need to work in social media.

Within twenty-four hours of my social media talk, I received an email with a link to a work-in-progress with photos and videos that the team had put together. The group had also outlined categories for blog posts, who they’d like to ask to be guest bloggers, resources to add to a delicious account, what they had hoped to monitor on google alerts. Needless to say, I am bowled over and excited for them. (BTW, If you’re reading, kudos to you!)

I’m also excited to report that we don’t have to accept “lack of knowledgeable staff” to be among the reasons why organizations don’t adopt social media. Think about the possibilities when we provide more in-depth training. Knowledge goes a long way!

Six Tips for Using Twitter for Business

Twitter Book CoverThe Twitter Book by Tim O’Reilly and Sarah Milstein offers six great chapters to get you up to speed on Twitter.  If you’ve already been using Twitter, you’ll still benefit from the more introductory chapters with info on retweets (RT), direct messages (DM), hashtags (#) and much more.  If you’re planning to use Twitter as part of your business communications toolkit, then you’ll want to spend considerable time and focus with Chapter 6, Twitter for Business: Special Considerations and Ideas.

There are many great tips in the business chapter, here I’m going to focus on six which I’ve found most useful (also, because I want to encourage you to go out and get the book, and not tell you everything!)

1. Start using Twitter slowly, posting once a day or just a few times a week. Once you find your twitter account to be proving useful then devote more time and resources to it.

2. Use Twitter as vehicle for holding conversations rather than for making announcements

3. Identify the Person or People Behind the Account: 

According to O’Reilly and Milstein, people aren’t interested in connecting with a “nameless, faceless entity…identify the person from your company doing the twittering on your Twitter account page.” When you have multiple staff twitters you can create a custom background to identify everyone. And you can also individual pages as we do at Weber Media Partners, where CEO Catherine Weber. also tweets messages from her own page.

4. Retweet (RT) your customers. The authors define retweeting as the act of reposting somebody else’s cool or insightful or helpful tweet and giving them credit. For example, Tim O’Reilly recently re-tweeted:
 “RT @pascale: “Her Code – Engendering Change in the Silicon Valley” here is the now public video: http://icanhaz.com/hercode

.”

Not sure about how to retweet, look at the pages of the people you follow to see how retweeting is being used.

5. Offer solid customer support: You can reply in public to customer service messages, e.g. Comcast’s page Comcast Cares, @comcastcares, is referenced as a “gold standard” for this model

6. Post mostly NOT about your company: “…think about Twitter as a way to exchange mutually interesting information…post mostly third-party links, resources and tips that would be of interest to people who follow you.

What tips can you share about twittering for business?

Make Every Tweet Count Challenge

twitter whaleHow well can you encapsulate information into 140 characters? We think it can be done quite well and are up for the challenge. Over the next few weeks, beginning on July 1st, we’ll be tweeting messages from Marketing Sherpa’s B2B Marketing Benchmark Report . The 140 characters will include a reference to MarketingSherpa and a tiny url link (from MarketingSherpa http://tinyurl.com/mfjjqy), so in actuality the tweets will need to be a maximum of 94 characters–but who’s counting!

We’ll be updating the list as we go along, as well as writing comprehensive posts about lessons learned from the report. Comment here if you’d like to join in the conversation, and on twitter for realtime results.

Follow Weber Media Partners on Facebook (become a fan!), LinkedIn, and of course right here at Impressions through Media. Sign up to receive posts by email, and rss feed, too.

To obtain a copy of Marketing Sherpa’s B2B Marketing Benchmark Report, you can find it online.

Weber Media Partners Tweets: https://twitter.com/webermedia

  • On average websites absorb 1/4 of marketing expenditures followed by search tactics & email
  • Company website elevated from a spoke in the marketing mix to hub of marketing strategy
  • Lead management process has become critical to success of marketing and sales programs

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Make Every Tweet Count: B2B Marketing Insights from Marketing Sherpa's B2B Marketing Benchmark Report

MarketingSherpa B2B Marketing Benchmark ReportIn my last post, I mentioned Marketing Sherpa’s B2B Marketing Benchmark Report. The report’s 200+ pages of research findings from 1,147 B2B Marketing professionals, and 157 charts and tables, provides an abundance of valuable information; more than I can do justice to in a solitary summary or post.  So, my plan is share portions of information which I find most compelling, a little at a time.

Make Every Tweet Count

You know as well as I do, there’s been quite the hubbub about Twitter lately, and some people are still a little cynical about how much can be communicated in 140 characters. So I thought what better way to take on a “make every tweet count” challenge, and post a series of insights from Marketing Sherpa’s B2B Marketing Benchmark Report. The fun part too, is encapsulating the messages as best I can, while maintaining the essential part of the message. I plan to add commentary in weeks ahead, expanding on concepts from the report, along with my regular posts and social media marketing coverage.  I hope you’ll follow, and join in the conversation.

Today, I’ve posted:
“On average websites absorb 1/4 of marketing expenditures followed by search tactics & email, from MarketingSherpa http://tinyurl.com/mfjjqy”

Be sure to follow Weber Media Partners on Twitter, Facebook (become a fan!), LinkedIn, and of course right here at Impressions through Media. Sign up to receive posts by email, and rss feed, too.

To obtain a copy of Marketing Sherpa’s B2B Marketing Benchmark Report, you can find it online.

Blogging for Business: 8 Tips for Writing Blog Posts

publishLet’s begin here, with this question—can blogging for business be taught? Keep in mind, I’m not talking about the software, I’m talking about the nuts and bolts of writing, the 500, plus or minus, word post.

A little earlier today I read, “Show or Tell: Should creative writing be taught?” by Louis Menand, in The New Yorker.  It’s a fascinating piece which references a new book by Mark McGurl, entitled “The Program Era: Postwar Fiction and the Rise of Creative Writing.” The article discusses the differences in opinion, which have gone on for decades about whether a person can be “taught” to write or “encouraged.”

I’ve had some conversations recently with people who are considering whether or not to start a blog for their company. While I know some are concerned about the time commitment and whether or not there’s a return on investment, I think most of their unease has to do with the fundamental question: Can blogging for business be taught?

I say, “Yes.”  Yes, it can be taught. Yes, it can be learned. It’s a skill which can be cultivated.  Bloggers are purveyors of content. We read and synthesize information, offer our opinions and insights, and present our findings.

8 Tips for Writing Blog Posts:

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Social Media Marketing: Defining Moments

Marketing Sherpa’s 2009 Social Media Marketing and PR Benchmark Guide published last month provides many important insights into the emerging trends in marketing.


Definition of Social Media Marketing

by Marketing Sherpa

“The practice of facilitating a dialogue and sharing content between companies, influencers, prospects and customers, using various online platforms including blogs, professional and social networks, video and photo sharing, wikis, forums and related Web 2.0 technologies.”
[see full definition in Marketing Sherpa's executive summary & report]

Marketing Sherpa explains how communications are changing and offers the tip, “adapt or become extinct.”

The study says that out of eleven marketing budget line items, only social media and emailing to house lists, are tactics which more companies are planning to increase spending on.  Companies indicated they are planning to reduce spending in the other nine tactics which include: paid search, telemarketing, online display advertising, mobile marketing, direct mail, event marketing, radio/tv ads, emailing to rented lists and print advertising.

So, about now your thinking.  Interesting, but why?

Dave Evans, author of Social Media Marketing An Hour a Day, offers an explanation which I think can be applied to this question.  He says that the kinds of people marketers are trying to reach, are finding group-oriented (social) networks as being very effective when it comes to receiving and sharing information, as compared with the largely one-way channels such as television, radio and print.  Evans states, “Online community members are discovering that it is very easy to find, learn about, and share information that directly contributes to an informed choice. It is for this reason that people are moving en masse to the Social Web, and it is for this reason that you should be there, too.”

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