1 0 Archive | June, 2011

Reminder: Don’t forget your audience!!

Have you been engaging in every possible web marketing effort that you can? Video, Facebook, community sites, Twitter, mobile, blogging – our options are endless. And any of these methods could be beneficial to your business – as long as it’s reaching your target audience.

It’s easy to see all of these options (especially the free ones) and start to shift your efforts – especially when you see your competitors in all of these places. But at the end of the day we can’t forget why we’re working so hard. We want to be in front of our audience. And now that we’re at a mid-point in the year, it’s a great time to step back and assess your marketing mix to be sure it’s focused on the people you want to reach.

Do the research. If you’re already well aware of exactly who you want to target, then you’re halfway there. But many of us could still benefit from a quick re-evaluation/reminder of who we want to be in front of, especially if some of our goals have changed.

If you aren’t as confident, take the time to become sure before you launch your campaign. You can hire a consultant who will get comprehensive market research and demographic data and evaluate it all for you. If your budget won’t allow bringing in a third party, you can still find out who your target audience is and how they behave by surveying your current clients and prospects. Surveys can provide valuable information and best of all, they are inexpensive or free. Need help compiling an effective survey? There are a lot of great resources out there, like this one.

You can easily make a list of everything you’d love to know about your audience. Here are some ideas to get you started:

• Who are they?
• Where are they located?
• What are their goals?
• Where are they buying from and how often?
• Do they know who you are? If so, what do they think of you?

Once you are sure of who you want to get in front of, choose the marketing efforts that will best reach them. Facebook, for example, can be an effective and inexpensive way to reach your audience. Or it can use lots of your time and energy and leave you with a friend list that’s 1/20 of what you expected. Creating a mobile app can make it easy for people to reach you, just as long as your target audience is using them. (Find out by asking on your survey!) The bottom line – whatever you choose, make sure that the people you want to get in front of will see you.

Once you’ve chosen your marketing mix, tailor your efforts to attract the interest of your audience. Consider all of the variables that you can adjust, from design and visuals to copy. Also consider frequency with efforts such as email. Different audiences have different thresholds when it comes to frequency of contact. When re-designing your website, always keep in mind the point of view of your user, and be sure to conduct focus groups or surveys to confirm your decisions (or to show you what needs to be re-worked).

Keep that message clear and consistent across your entire campaign. You’ve got a lot to say and it can be easy to try to say it all at once. Condense it into a clear statement/phrase/theme that resonates with your audience and keep it going strong through all of your efforts. At any point in your campaign, your website, emails, Twitter page, etc. should all be basically saying the same thing. Remember – consistency is not only memorable, it’s key.

It might seem like Marketing 101, but too often marketers lose touch with their audience...we’ve all seen it. Identify your audience, learn how they think, and never forget it throughout your entire campaign. Your success will speak for itself. You know your audience does.

Where have you felt especially successful recently in reaching your audience?

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Survey: Revenue Increasing for Manufacturers

That sound you hear may be the gears of the industrial marketing engine turning a bit faster compared to recent years. According to the 2011 GlobalSpec Industrial Marketing Trends Survey, sales for manufacturers are increasing, along with marketing spend.

87% of industrial companies expect sales to increase in 2011 over 2010 levels, while only 3% expect sales to be down. On the spending side, 38% of industrial companies are increasing marketing spend and 24% are adding headcount in marketing.

You can download the full set of survey results, along with analysis and recommendations for marketers in the white paper “Trends in Industrial Marketing 2011: How Manufacturers are Marketing Today.”

Marketing challenges and goals remain the same
While the industrial economy may be changing for the better, some things seem to never change, namely the fact that manufacturers face the same marketing challenges and goals year after year. For the second consecutive year, not generating enough high quality leads for sales topped the list of manufacturers’ biggest marketing challenges. 52% selected this as one of their top three challenges. Not having enough marketing resources and needing to drive more traffic to company Web sites were the other highly ranked marketing challenges.

In terms of goals, 71% stated that lead generation or customer acquisition was their top marketing goal, a trend that has remained the same year over year. What’s slightly different in 2011 is that 19% of companies selected branding as their primary marketing goal, up from 13% in 2010. This metric indicates the importance of being noticed and recognized in competitive and crowded markets. It also indicates the need for manufacturers to implement targeted online programs that offer both lead generation and branding, such as online searchable catalogs, online events, e-newsletter advertisements, and ad networks.

The industrial sector is paying attention to emerging marketing channels
In 2011, for the first time, the majority of industrial companies (57%) plan to use social media as a marketing channel, compared to only 24% using social media last year. LinkedIn is the most popular social media application among industrial companies. Facebook and Twitter are also seeing more activity from industrial marketers. Overall, 63% of industrial companies are using more social media. At this point in the maturation of the social media market, the outcome most effectively achieved is increasing brand awareness. If that is one of your marketing goals, you may want to evaluate social media tactics for your company.

Other emerging marketing channels are being funded as well. 64% of companies are spending more on video and 47% are increasing spending on online events. Among all of these emerging marketing channels there is one common thread: they are all online channels, which brings us to the next topic...

...Online marketing is the number-one area for marketing investment
The survey shows that as marketing spending increases, the areas for investment are online. The top eight channels for increased marketing spend in 2011 are all online, from search engine optimization and social media, to Internet banner advertising networks and online newsletter advertisements and more. Industrial companies now spend an average of 38% of their marketing budget online and 50% of companies report that online marketing is a bigger percentage of their marketing budget in 2011 than it was in 2010.

The takeaway for manufacturers is that the industrial audience has largely migrated online to search for products, suppliers, and services. The way to precisely target this audience, connect with potential customers, and gain measurable results is through online marketing and working with the right online media partner.

One other takeaway: download your complimentary copy of “Trends in Industrial Marketing 2011: How Manufacturers are Marketing Today.”
 

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Seven Keys to Influencing the Influencers

As anyone who has ever tried can tell you, getting your story in front of an influential writer – whether it’s a traditional journalist working for an established publication or an independent blogger – is no easy task. It’s a lot like having someone try to find you in Times Square on New Year’s Eve.

The reason is any writer who is important to you (i.e. anyone with the influence to move the sales needle by writing about your product or company) typically receives hundreds of e-mails, pitches, press releases, Tweets, etc., from others who also want his/her attention.

Sure, there is a chance that a writer will randomly open your e-mail, see something of interest and write about it – an event public relations professionals call “your lucky day.” But like anything else in the business-to-business realm, leaving it to chance is not the best strategy for a manufacturing company that is looking to amplify its presence among prospects.

While there are never any guarantees – no matter how good a job you do – there are some proven ways to successfully reach the most critical influencers. Here are seven of them.

Get to know the writer’s beat and interests. The simplest way to break through the clutter is to take an interest in the writers who are most important to your company. There are plenty of ways to do that – follow their blogs in your RSS feed (and add comments to them), follow them on Twitter, become a Facebook fan if they have a fan page, and, most importantly, actually read what they write. Use the phone instead of e-mail, arrange a meeting in person (for breakfast, lunch or dinner, if the writers are willing.) In other words, engage with them; become a real person to them instead of just a name on a random e-mail.

Find out what the writers’ hobbies or interests are outside of industrial marketing and match them to yours. There are cases where stories were placed with top-tier journalists simply because the writer and the person pitching the story shared an interest in baseball. The story still had to be relevant to the writer’s audience, of course, but the baseball connection is what broke through the clutter.

Knowing what the writers cover also will prevent you from pitching stories that have no interest to them. It’s always a good idea to mention something the writer has written recently and how it relates to the story you’re pitching. If you can’t do that, it’s probably not appropriate.

Get into the conversation – and give back. Up until a few years ago, writers covering the industrial/manufacturing world would make their pronouncements from the top of Mt. Olympus, and then disseminate them to the masses. As I said in the first secret, today feedback (particularly in the form of comments) is a precious commodity.

Industrial writers, especially bloggers, appreciate it when interview subjects or company spokespeople comment on their stories. They want comments. They look for comments. They covet comments.

If you regularly follow a blog or traditional media writer and comment on stories or posts, you establish a rapport that will serve you well. If you read an article that interests you, hit the “Like” button, Digg it, or otherwise share it. Post a link in your Twitter feed, or re-Tweet something the writer posts. Don’t just do it with stories you’re involved in; do it with those to which you have a less direct connection. It shows you’re paying attention and value the writer’s work. It also may help that writer reach an incentive or other goals, which is good for all.

Offer extras. Everyone offers their experts to be interviewed as part of a story. But even traditional media outlets are striving to provide more of an online presence for their stories. 

When the interview is finished, offer to provide photos, video/audio (if you have it) or other graphics such as statistic-based charts. If there’s a YouTube video that helps illustrate the story, point them to that. The less work they have to do to find viral elements to accompany the story, the better. And the higher you are on the list when the next story rolls around.

Know the writer’s audience. Does the writer write for CFOs, general managers, engineers, line of business managers, business leaders, etc.? If your story isn’t right for the audience, you’re wasting the writer’s time. Worse is when you succeed in getting the story written anyway – and the audience turns on the writer. Again, that wins you no points with the writer for the future.

Make sure any story you pitch is suited to the writer’s audience. If your core story isn’t right, see if there’s another angle that might work better. A story about lowering costs by cutting staff will appeal to CFOs, and maybe even general managers, but will absolutely alienate the line-level engineering or manufacturing staff.

Know when/how to contact reporters. The other side of building these relationships is understanding what writers like and how they want to work. If they typically write their stories in the morning and look for ideas in the afternoon, contacting them at 10 a.m. is not going to get you very far, especially if it’s by phone.

The same goes for the type of contact. Some writers like the personal touch of phone calls; others are e-mail-only. Some have Twitter accounts they use to contact potential sources – they put out a Tweet and wait for responses. Or they want responses sent to a private box on Profnet or HARO (Help A Reporter Out). Learn which they prefer and follow it.

If you do have permission to call, always be respectful of the writer’s time.  

Be responsive. Be very responsive. Most writers tend not to plan very far ahead. They’re constantly working on tight deadlines, especially in the current 24x7 news cycle, so their primary interest is the story that’s due next. That means you may get a request for an interview or more information that needs to be fulfilled now.

Acting quickly means the better chance you have of making it into that story since it’s often “first come, first served” when it comes to last-minute sources. Don’t be surprised if that last-minute request comes from something you pitched months ago, either. Instead, be glad that the writer thought enough of it to save it all this time.

On the other hand, if you can’t get the person, statistic, photo, etc., the writer needs, be honest about it. Let the writer know as soon as possible so the search for sources can continue.

Keep up with the influencers. Like the industrial landscape itself, the media covering it is a constantly-shifting landscape. Writers come and go from an outlet. They change beats or interest areas. The delivery methods themselves change (from print or broadcast to online to bloggers to who knows?) and so forth.

Yes, it’s often difficult to keep up, but it’s worthwhile. Knowing who and/or where your key contacts are – especially those writers you’ve spent all that time building relationships with – is essential to making your media relations program work.

Signing up for a data service that regularly updates its database is a good start. But it’s ultimately your responsibility, not theirs. Tracking them in a database designed for media relations, including space to capture those personal preferences and hobbies you spent so much time discovering, simplifies the process over using a spreadsheet. It also makes the information easier to share with others in your organization.

Check your competitors’ website newsrooms and Tweets to see who they’ve been speaking to as well. The more up-to-date your list is, the better chance you have of making a connection.

Influencing the influencers isn’t rocket science. It’s more a matter of common sense, and treating writers like the people they are rather than anonymous targets to be aimed at or prizes to be acquired.

Take a real interest in the writers who are important to you, and find ways to engage them so you become real to them too. It’s your best bet for making sure your message is easily spotted – even when competing for attention with a Times Square-size crowd.

This article was written by Dan Green, national media relations manager at Tech Image, a public relations firm that helps technology companies of all sizes accelerate sales with highly-refined messaging, content development and influencer outreach programs. Tech Image has been named a Top Tech Communicator five years running by journalists in PRSourceCode’s annual survey, and Green has been named to the list twice. He can be reached at dan.green@techimage.com.
 

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Using Social Media To Turn Your Customers Into Advocates Can Have A Big Payoff

I recently returned from BMA’s (Business Marketing Association) annual Conference for btob marketers in Chicago. And among the many sessions offered and discussions taking place, one thing was clearly obvious to me this year – social media is no longer viewed as merely a passing trend. The marketing world - and the world at large – has accepted its legitimacy and is now just trying to figure out how to leverage it for business success.
One specific way to use social media for business particularly struck me as having tremendous value – and that is, using it to forge better relationships with customers. In turn, these good relationships can mean your customers can act as advocates on behalf of your company – telling colleagues and peers in their industry about your business.
Forrester research has revealed that three of four customers don’t trust traditional media but nine out of ten trust other customers. And ask any marketer, word of mouth recommendations are worth their weight in gold. After all it’s easy to toot your own horn, but when your customers do it on your behalf it is much more impactful.
While this is by no means revolutionary, some new research and tactics to identify our most enthusiastic and influential customers emerged at the conference that I thought were worth exploring.
The first step to identifying who the advocates are among your customer base are, is to poll them – ask how likely they are to recommend your company. Providing answers that are ranked from one to ten, ten being “highly likely to recommend”, choose only those customers that select a nine or ten to act as potential advocates.
Once you have identified your advocates ask them to write a review or testimonial, and use their own words in your marketing messages.
Another way to harness the valuable contributions of your customers via social media is to do things for them – like host online events or webinars specifically for them announcing a new product before others get to see it. Then in turn this select group of customers can then blog and tweet about it – spreading the good word among others in their industry.

Lastly, consider developing a company forum where customers can communicate amongst each other, share ideas, problem solving, etc. Merely providing a platform for them to communicate means you are demonstrating your appreciation - which can go a long way.

Do you utilize the power of your best customers through social media?
 

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Tips for Segmenting Your E-mail List

E-mail is the most popular marketing channel for industrial companies, with 70% using e-mail to their internal lists in 2011, according to the GlobalSpec 2011 Marketing Trends Survey. And 48% of the industrial audience reads e-mail newsletters daily or several times a week.

One of the best things you can do to make e-mail a more effective marketing tactic is to segment your list into groups of similar recipients. Segmenting your list and sending targeted, relevant content to each group offers a number of benefits including:

  • Increased open rates and click-through rates 
  • Reduced unsubscribe rates
  • Increased leads and potential sales
  • Improved relationships with customers and prospects

Ways to segment your list
If you’re just getting started with list segmentation, it’s probably best to start with a simple segmentation between customers and prospects. This is the most logical and obvious segmentation because although some email content might be appropriate for both audiences, there is definitely information that will benefit one group more than the other. For example, you don’t want to send current customers special offers to become new customers; conversely, you wouldn’t send prospects an e-mail with an offer that rewards them for their customer loyalty. And it’s probably easy to determine who on your e-mail list is a customer and who is a prospect. Therefore, your first segmentation task is to divide your list between customers and prospects.

Other more advanced ways to segment your e-mail list are:

  • By types of products or services purchased, allowing you to provide specific information to customers who use certain products or services
  • By expressed interest area based on an analysis of previous e-mail click-throughs or other information in your database
  • By the length of time a prospect has been on your e-mail list, with introductory offers going to recent contacts and more in-depth content going to long-term contacts
  • By geographic location, allowing you to create messages relevant to a country or community
  • By value of contact to your company; for example, frequent and large purchasers who are engaged regularly with your company vs. infrequent purchasers

Your ability to segment your list depends on the data you have and your ability to access and analyze it, such as previous click-through history, purchases, and areas of interest. If this data isn’t available or is incomplete, you can conduct a survey of your current e-mail contacts and ask questions about their interests and preferences to create segments. There are many low-cost survey tools available on the Internet such as SurveyMonkey.com, SurveyGizmo.com, or Zoomerang.com.

For new contacts, you can add a couple of questions to the e-mail sign up form on your Web site to gauge users’ interests and segment them appropriately. Remember to keep your form simple and only ask a few questions.

Create relevant content
The whole purpose of segmenting your e-mail list is to deliver targeted, relevant content to your readers. Some of your content may be useful across all segments, such as announcements about company-wide events, while in other cases you will want to produce white papers, Webinars, product announcements, and other content for a particular segment. This will require more effort on your part, but relevancy to your audience has been shown to be the number one factor for maintaining a reader’s interest.

Which brings us to the subject of analysis. It’s important to track the results of your segmentation efforts. For each segment you e-mail to, you should be seeing uplift in open rates, click-thru rates and conversions. If not, you might not be segmenting your list properly, might not be sending content that is targeted enough, or may be e-mailing your list too frequently or not often enough. Continue to test different segments, content, and mailing frequency until you achieve the benefits of segmentation.
 

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