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The Millennials are Coming!

Actually, they’re already here. While there are no precise dates for when this generation begins or ends, most consider anyone born from the early 1980’s to the mid 1990‘s to be a millennial. That puts the majority of millennials in the sought after 18-34 demographic.

According to the Pew Research Center, there were approximately 55.2 million millennials in the U.S. workforce in 2015. By 2025, that number is expected to grow to 74 million, representing 44 percent of the workforce.

Millennials are flooding the B2B industrial sector and advancing into positions where they influence and/or make buying decisions. Research conducted by the B2B marketing firm Sacunas found that 73 percent of millennials are involved in product or service purchase decision-making at their companies. Approximately one-third of millennials report being the sole decision-maker for their department.

As marketers, you must learn to connect with this group and win them over.

Preferred Channels for Millennials
Millennials are less reliant on any one information source than other age groups. A report compiled by Chief Marketer claims there is no “silver bullet” to reach the millennial audience, and that a “mix of channels and approaches is your best bet.”

Fortunately, a multichannel strategy is the best way to reach engineers and technical professionals of any age. The three most popular channels to research a work-related purchase are general search engines, supplier websites and online catalogs, according to the “2015 Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector” research report from IEEE Engineering360 Media Solutions. In addition, online communities have seen a significant growth among younger engineers, with 39 percent now using them.

Naturally, social media is an attractive channel for millennials. Eighty-five percent use social media to research products and services for their companies. Facebook is the most popular platform, and the majority also use LinkedIn (Sacunas).

2015 Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector” found that professionals under age 35 are more likely to make contact during the needs analysis/research phase of the buy cycle, while professionals over 49 are more likely to wait until the purchasing stage. The takeaway is that suppliers must be discoverable and approachable during any phase of the buy cycle, through a variety of marketing channels. This conclusion aligns with millennials’ desire for a hassle-free, multi-channel client experience that is tailored to their specific needs.

Types of Content Millennials Consume
According to Sacunas, when researching new products and services to make B2B purchasing decisions, millennials prefer video-based content and case studies. In terms of targeted content, they rate training, demos and product news as being the most helpful information to receive from vendors.

The way that millennials consume content is worth noting as well. Technical professionals under age 35 conduct significantly more product searches and read more news and e-newsletters on their smartphones than their older colleagues (“2015 Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector”). Suppliers should consider creating websites and e-newsletters that are compatible with mobile.

What Millennials Look for in a B2B Vendor
What are millennials looking for in a B2B vendor? The top priority was ease of doing business (35%), followed by willingness to work collaboratively with their organization (33%), and industry/marketplace experience (31%), as reported by IBM. Eighty percent of millennials in the Sacunas survey indicated that social, environmental, or philanthropic efforts of companies are important to their purchase decisions.

How do you ensure you are the right company for a millennial customer? Pay attention to this audience’s preferences for channels, content and brand attributes during their buy cycle, and adjust your marketing accordingly. You might find your customer base becoming both younger and larger as a result.
 

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Three Tips for More Effective e-Newsletter Marketing

Chances are your company publishes one or more marketing e-newsletters. Eighty-one percent of B2B marketers use e-newsletters as a content marketing tactic, according to joint research conducted by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs. Sixty-four percent of B2B marketers rate e-newsletters as very effective or effective.

Your audience gravitates toward digital publications. They subscribe to an average of 4.4 digital publications, in contrast to 1.4 printed trade magazines, as reported in the “2015 Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector” research report from IEEE Engineering360 Media Solutions.

This audience uses e-newsletters as an important information source through all phases of their buy cycle, from early awareness, to research, to consideration and comparison. Engineers and technical professionals are looking for specific types of information in e-newsletters. They don’t want to be sold to; they want to learn and become educated. They want to know who’s who in the supplier world. They want to discover the newest products and technologies, stay-up-to date on industry trends and check the latest news.

Whether e-newsletters have a long-standing role in your marketing program or you’re of the 19 percent that don’t yet use e-newsletters (you should), here are three tips to pump up the effectiveness of e-newsletter marketing.

1. Determine goals and measurements in advance
At the Maven, we like to drill this message home: no matter what marketing campaign you’re launching, establish your campaign goals and metrics for success up front. If you already have them, see if they need tweaking. Also, make sure you know your audience: what they want and need. The reason that goals, audience and measurements come first is that these factors drive all other decisions.

One thing you don’t want to do is keep publishing the same old e-newsletter just because that’s the status quo. Instead, have purpose.. Do you want to increase exposure? Then you should measure opens and forwards. Do you want to drive readers to a web site to take further action? Count clicks and forms completed. Analyze what is working and tweak the aspects that your readers aren’t responding to.

2. Allow form to follow function
The “form follows function” principle says that the shape of a building or object should be primarily based upon its intended function or purpose. The same holds true for e-newsletters, in regards to both advertisements and editorial content. Design follows goals.

For example, if you’re primarily sharing articles, your design might include a branded graphic header, followed by a list of compelling headlines, snippets of copy and links to more information. These design elements combine to make for easy user recognition, scanning and action.

Many organizations include house ads in their company e-newsletters. These should be designed around what action you want the user to take. Provide value through a benefit-oriented headline, image, a bullet point or two, and a compelling call to action—that’s all you really need.

Use images in a similar fashion. If you’re introducing a new product, show a clear photo of it and ask the user to take action: “Download the data sheet.” “Read the article.” “Request a demo.” If you’re promoting a white paper or analyst report, use an image of the document in the banner ad. Show users what they are getting.
Buttons and arrows, as simplistic as they may seem, make good visual cues for the user to take action. The same is true for “action” verbs. All the examples above include action verbs: Download, Read, Request.

3. Think beyond your company newsletter
If you’ve been publishing a newsletter for a number of years, it might be hard to move the needle further forward in terms of user engagement. That’s to be expected. Applying the two tips above will help improve results.

When you take a look at your goals, you might realize they can’t all be achieved through your current newsletter alone. Maybe you want to connect with hard-to-reach prospects who aren’t in your database. Maybe your goal is to penetrate a new sector or geographic market this year. Or, maybe you’re strapped for marketing and production resources but you want to expand your newsletter advertising efforts.

The solution is often to advertise in a respected and relevant third-party newsletter. Ads in third-party newsletters, such as the dozens published by IEEE Engineering 360, deliver broader yet still targeted exposure, giving you access to a highly engaged audience and new markets.

Another advantage of advertising in third-party newsletters is that someone else does all the heavy lifting. The right media partner will handle database and list management, newsletter design and production, and sending and tracking. If the newsletter is opt-in, you should receive timely reports about who clicked on your ad, which will offer new engagement opportunities for your company.

Finally, a media partner can help you integrate newsletter advertising with other digital campaigns, resulting in a holistic approach to the market and producing greater impact for your overall marketing program. To learn more about newsletter advertising options from IEEE Engineering360 Media Solutions, click here.


 

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Why Print Media Should Still be Part of Your Advertising Mix

For the past few years, the B2B marketing world has been buzzing about the rise and relevance of digital media. It’s true that there are many digital channels available to help companies connect with their potential customers. From social media to webinars, online catalogs to video, email to apps—B2B marketing has experienced a sea of change.

Conversely, spending on print is declining. According to research from CMO Survey, investments in traditional advertising have consistently dropped by single digit percentages each year for the last half decade. Digital marketing spend, by comparison, has consistently grown by double digit increments year after year.

And yet, data shows that print media still plays a role in a successful multichannel marketing strategy:

• The CMO Survey also found that digital spend is only a portion of total marketing spend for most businesses, and that companies are also spending marketing dollars on offline/traditional media.
• Fifty-seven percent of B2B marketers use print or other offline promotions as part of their marketing mix.. (2016 B2B Content Marketing Trends – North America: Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs)


The Benefits of Print
There are many benefits to reaching your customers using print media. Print is still a top-of-funnel medium, and can help you establish the value of your brand. Additional benefits of print include:

• With print circulation down, readership for most publications has been culled to only the most engaged, targeted audience, which is a desirable trait from an advertising standpoint.
• Print is perceived to offer credibility, especially in the B2B industrial space.
• Readers of print are not interrupted by targeted digital ads being served up in real-time based on browsing history or digital footprint.
• Readers are more focused when engaged with print, rather than multitasking like they do when consuming digital content.
• Print offers pass-along exposure among colleagues.
• Print offers high visibility—fewer ads mean more impact.

Finding Where Print Belongs
Research by the sales and marketing firm Outsell showed that marketers are increasing the number of tools in their marketing stack. Research from Lewis PR found that 84 percent of senior marketers worldwide state multichannel marketing is a key focus of their current marketing strategy.

Print advertising can still have a place within your stack of tools and overall marketing mix. . The question is finding the right fit in an integrated and multichannel marketing program.

When choosing print media, keep in mind that the real value in print advertising may be in brand awareness and perception, and in getting your message or offer to stick over the long run. By simultaneously using both print and digital media, you can achieve concurrency of media and have a greater opportunity to connect with your target audience in different settings—whether they are at their desks, on their mobile device or offline.

Measuring the effectiveness of print is easier than in the past.. Do this by integrating print and digital efforts. Marketers can include scannable QR codes, or set up ad-specific URLs and corresponding landing pages so that they can track how much traffic is generated from a particular print promotion.

Digital channels are more plentiful, and offer concrete measurements and flexibility. Plus, the majority of the technical audience goes online first when searching for product, services and suppliers. However, a well-planned print should still play an role in your marketing mix – as long as it’s integrated with
digital in your multichannel marketing strategy.

Tell us – Where do you see value in print advertising? How are you merging digital and print?

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Five Industrial Marketing Trends that Matter in 2017

With the new year comes a fresh perspective and another chance to improve and optimize your marketing program. To make sure your plan is rock solid, check out the top industrial marketing trends for 2017 from the Marketing Maven and consider how to best implement them into your own strategy.

Trend #1: Media Mix is More Diversified
With so many media channels now in use, marketers have more competition than ever for share of voice, making it harder to capture the attention of your audience. Moving into 2017, we predict that more industrial marketers will incorporate a carefully planned, comprehensive mix of channels into their marketing plans.

According to a Content Marketing Institute/Marketing Profs survey, marketers use an average of 13 different channels to promote their message to the market. Leading the way are social media content, case studies, blogs and e-newsletters. B2B marketers also use an average of three paid advertising channels. The top three are search engine marketing, print or other offline promotion, and traditional banner ads. It’s not just paid search engine ads anymore.

The Industrial Marketing Trends Survey from IEEE Engineering360 shows that about 80 percent of industrial marketers are diversifying their mix, but the majority say they need to diversify more. If this describes your situation, you might want to work with media partners, agencies and other experts to help you determine the most effective mix for you.

Trend #2: Digital Spend Will Continue to Grow
The statistics are plentiful: At $83 billion, digital B2B spending outweighs all other B2B marketing spending by two times or more (Outsell). Forty-two percent of industrial marketers are growing their online budgets. Online display advertising is up 28 percent, while email spending is up 9.1 percent (Winterberry Group). Overall, 41 percent of marketing budgets will be spent online, a percentage that steadily increases year over year (Industrial Marketing Trends).
Industrial marketers are increasing their spending across a diverse mix of channels. The top areas of increased spending are content creation, search engine marketing, direct mail using in-house lists, social media, online directories/websites, and webinars. With the exception of direct mail, all of these channels are online or directly impact online marketing efforts. Digital is where your peers are focusing more marketing budget, and we expect this focus to continue in the year ahead.

Trend #3: Measuring ROI is a Priority and a Challenge
The pressure continues to rise for marketers to demonstrate ROI on marketing investments. Marketing budgets have gotten tighter, and are often under more scrutiny by executives. Additionally, the growth of digital media channels means an increased ability to measure marketing efforts — making demonstrating ROI no longer the exception, but the rule.

According to The Content Formula by Michael Brenner, 81 percent of B2B marketers say that measuring marketing effectiveness is their greatest challenge. But how is success measured? It depends on what metrics matter.
Salesforce reported that revenue growth is the top metric for digital marketing success. This makes sense, although it is often difficult to attribute a sale to a specific marketing program. A prospect has many touches with a potential supplier and there are often many decision makers and influencers involved before a purchasing decision is made. Hence, it remains a challenge to attach revenue gains to specific marketing initiatives.

After revenue growth, customer satisfaction and retention rates are the most important measures of success. In this way, the industrial space mirrors the overall B2B space. The number one metric of success is sales attributed to marketing campaigns. After that, metrics such as customer acquisition, customer satisfaction, leads and customer retention come into play.

Twelve percent of industrial marketers don’t have a method to measure success. If you fall into this category, consider working with your executive team and media partners to determine what results matter to you, and how you can begin measuring them.

Trend #4: Content is the Kingdom
As marketing expert Lee Odden says, “Content isn’t king. It’s the kingdom.” Content marketing is becoming more evolved, more sophisticated and is driving key performance indicators and measurements. Content is how companies get their message out to the market.

In a recent Content Marketing Institute survey, 88 percent of B2B respondents say they are using content in some way, shape or form. However, effectiveness varies. Only eight percent say they are sophisticated content marketers. Eleven percent say they are just taking first steps and have not yet made content marketing a process. Everyone else falls somewhere between these two extremes.

If you are just getting started with content marketing, you are not alone. Thirty-nine percent of industrial marketers are in the same situation (Industrial Marketing Trends). This means that 2017 presents a big opportunity for improvement and success in this area. Be sure to devote time and resources this year to developing a content strategy, producing engaging content on a consistent basis, and measuring content effectiveness.

Trend #5: Email Marketing Maintains its Value
You may have heard that email is dead, but that simply isn’t true. Email has remained a cornerstone marketing tactic for B2B marketers for almost two decades. With mobile phones and tablets, your audience can connect with email almost anytime, anywhere. And don’t forget that email marketing offers easy to measure metrics like opens, clicks, forwards and conversions.

Data reinforces email’s continued popularity and effectiveness. Salesforce reported that 73 percent of marketers believe email marketing is core to their business, 65 percent say email is an effective marketing channel and 58 percent are increasing their email marketing spend. Newsletters are the most popular email marketing tactic.

As you continue to shape your marketing efforts in 2017, be sure to keep email in your portfolio. If you already publish a newsletter, consider advertising in other industry newsletters to reach a broader yet still targeted audience.

Where do you see 2017 heading for industrial marketers? Comment below and tell us where you’re focusing your efforts in the year ahead.

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Three Steps to Get Media Attention When You Have No News to Report

Media attention is one of the best ways to build brand awareness and demonstrate thought leadership for your company in the industrial sector. Respected third-party mentions of your company can help influence potential customers, and those relevant links back to your website are like gold. But what if your company doesn’t have any breaking news to write about for a press release? There’s a way around that problem. You can still gain the interest of editors, bloggers and writers. Just follow these three steps.

1. Identify the relevant media properties and journalists
If you have any kind of public relations or marketing strategy you probably already know (and read) the relevant websites, blogs, online publications and other media outlets that cover your industry. Make a list and start to dig deeper. Find out who the reporters, writers and editors are that cover the topics most closely related to your subject matter expertise, products and services. Get their contact information. Their email addresses are usually published next to their names.

Next, examine any media kits or editorial calendars these media outlets have available. Even mission statements can reveal special areas of interest. See where your company and expertise fits in. You have to plan because most media properties publish editorial calendars six months to a year in advance, plus it takes time to establish contact with editors and writers, build a relationship and pitch your story.

2. Generate and develop story ideas
This is the step where marketers sometimes get stuck because their company doesn’t have any breaking news to report. But there are always good stories waiting to be discovered and told. Here are a few ways to find them:

  • Piggyback on the issues currently trending in your industry. It might be a technology breakthrough, a shift in market dynamics, new regulations, a key merger or acquisition, or other issues in the news. What is your company’s position on these issues? Do you have a point of view that’s unique or under-reported? Develop a story around it.
  • Offer up an in-house expert to analyze or comment on trends or other recent news. Prepare a compelling bio for your expert that you can submit to editors. What’s special about your experts and what they have to say? Why will it be important to the readers of the publication?
  • Conduct a survey or other research and promote the findings to relevant media outlets. What have you uncovered in your research that may be of interest to the writers and editors—and the readers? You can also use the research tactic to produce white papers, webinars, articles and other marketing content.
  • Choose a topic that’s recently been covered. It might be an article about one of your competitors. Look for a side of the story that hasn’t been reported on and develop a new idea around it. Journalists like to report every side of a story and may be interested in follow-up articles.

3. Make Your Pitch
You have your list of targeted media outlets and contacts. You have your story idea and you’ve turned it into a compelling pitch. Now it’s time to reach out to reporters, bloggers, writers and editors. You need to personalize your pitch to each individual—don’t send out a spray-and-pray mass email. Introduce yourself and your company, pitch your story idea, and tell them why their audience will be interested (answer the always-relevant question: Who cares?). Offer background materials, which you should have at your fingertips ready to hit the send button. Do everything you can to make their jobs easier and make saying “yes” easier for them.

The fact is, the media in any industry is a story seller’s market for you, not a buyer’s market. Every media outlet is looking for the next great story to give to their readers. If you’ve got it, and you can make a convincing case for it, they will want it. Of course, not every idea you pitch will hit the strike zone. Sometimes your story won’t get picked up. But even if it doesn’t, you’ve cultivated relationships with important media contacts in your industry and have positioned yourself as a go-to resource that could be called upon in the future for quotes, opinions and interviews for other stories.

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How has your company received media attention with no real news to report? What tips or strategies would you pass along to your peers in industrial marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Find the Perfect Balance of Content in Your Marketing Efforts

Now that most industrial marketers are deploying a content management strategy, they’ve also discovered how much work it is to produce and publish content. There’s also the question of what type of content you should put out there.

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Content types fit into one of three general categories. Thought leadership content that your company produces. Curated content that others produce and you share with your audience. And promotional content that focuses on your own products and services. Each type has its place in your content mix. There are no rigid rules about the mix, but we think a balance and appropriate breakdown looks something like this:

  • 30 percent thought leadership content
  • 50 percent curated content
  • 20 percent promotional content.

Thought Leadership Content

Thought leadership is original content produced by your internal team. It’s usually educational in nature. It’s always relevant to your audience. Thought leadership is powerful stuff because it:

  • Demonstrates your expertise in specific areas
  • Showcases your opinion and point of view on issues
  • Builds customer and market perceptions of your brand

Thought leadership content is also the hardest to produce. It requires the most resources in terms of generating ideas, writing, illustrating and more. It requires the most time and money. But you need to produce thought leadership as part of your content marketing strategy, and if only thirty percent of your content is thought leadership, you should be able to handle the effort especially if you repurpose your content in multiple formats. For example, a white paper can be the basis for a blog post or a product demo can evolve into a YouTube video.

Curated Content

To curate means to pull together, organize, sift through and select for presentation. Curating content from other sources and sharing it with your audience offers a number of benefits:

  • Requires fewer resources on your part to pull together
  • Faster to get it out because you don’t need to produce it
  • Gives your audience other perspectives
  • Also builds thought leadership because of what you choose to share and how you share it

If you’ve ever retweeted and commented on a link in Twitter, or shared an article on Facebook and added your commentary, then you’ve curated content. You’ve also gone one step further by adding context for your audience with your comment on what you’re sharing. That little extra—a comment added to the share—can help put your own spin on curated content.

You can easily discover content to curate. Follow other industry leaders and industry news sites. Track relevant hashtags on Twitter. Use Google Alerts to be notified when specific keywords appear in the news. Evaluate what you find and then share with your own audience what you consider to be the most useful and relevant content. If 50 percent of your content is curated, you’re letting others do a lot of the heavy lifting for you—and you’re working smarter.

Promotional Content

Because you share thought leadership and curated content you “earn” the right with your audience to publish promotional content. And by keeping the mix at 20 percent of your overall content, you are unlikely to anger your readers for occasionally tooting your own horn. They’re following you for a reason: they’re interested in what you have to say.

You need promotional content mixed in because you need ways to talk about new and updated products, or enhanced and expanded services. You need to get your target audience interested in what you sell. You need to make offers, generate engagement opportunities and keep your sales and marketing teams excited. And you can do all of this through content marketing, as long as you keep the percentage down.

Even promotional content can offer value. If you know your audience’s desires well, you can make your promotional content more targeted and increase the likelihood it will be accepted.

Where, What and How Often to Share

You have three basic choices on where to share content: your social media channels, corporate website or blog and e-newsletters. That’s a start. You may want to look at webinars, online events, banner advertising, press releases and third-party list rental to help promote your content to a wider audience.

What to share includes your own or third-party curated articles, blog posts, white papers, eBooks, presentations, videos, infographics and more.

How often should you share? As often as you can as long as your audience continues wanting to hear from you. If you find comments, likes and shares increasing on your content, you’ve got your audience’s interest. If people are dropping off, you’re sharing too much or what you’re sharing isn’t relevant. Find out what’s right for you.

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How do you find the right balance for your content marketing? What tips or strategies would you pass along to your peers in industrial marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Webinar Recap: Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector

Social media has made an impact in B2B marketing. According to Advertising Age, 58 percent of B2B marketers are increasing their social media spending this year, ranking it fourth among tactics with spending increases. Marketers are not only investing money, they are investing time, with 62 percent using social media for six hours or more each week and 36 percent for 11 or more hours, according to the Social Media Examiner.

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As spending grows and you commit valuable time to social media, this channel’s role becomes increasingly important in your marketing strategy. It’s essential to know how to do social media right. The recent webinar, Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector, shows how social media is being used by your target audience of technical professionals, presents the results from our fourth annual social media usage survey of technical professionals, and offers recommendations on how you can use this data in your social media planning.

Watch the webinar on demand.

Below are some of the highlights of the webinar.

How technical professionals use social media

  • The majority of technical professionals—56 percent—spend less than one hour per week on social media for work-related purposes. That still leaves a sizeable portion of this audience that is on social media for more than an hour each week.
  • For the most part, technical professionals are looking for content on social media: keeping up on company news, new technologies and products. But they’re also looking for you: 41 percent use social media to find new suppliers.
  • Technical professionals of all ages use social media, with some differences. Those under age 35 are more apt to use social media to find a new job, network and seek expertise, while older workers use social media for more traditional purposes such as reading news and product reviews.
  • Overall, technical professionals are passive users of social media. They tend to read and watch rather than post and participate. The most popular social media activity is watching video, with 27 percent watching a video a few times a month, whereas only 14 percent post a comment.

Preferred social media platforms

  • LinkedIn continues to be the most popular social media platform among technical professionals, with 74 percent having an account. Sixty-one percent have a Facebook account and 41 percent have a Google Plus account.
  • LinkedIn usage has shown growth every year for the past four years. Google Plus is also growing. Facebook and Twitter remain flat, but a large portion of technical professionals still use Facebook.
  • LinkedIn: 69 percent use LinkedIn to search for contacts and 47 percent to read product and industry news. Seventy-nine percent belong to at least one group, primarily to read discussions (62 percent). Only 27 percent actually participate.
  • Facebook: With the line between work and personal life continuing to blur, Facebook is not just for personal use. Top work-related activities on Facebook are following businesses and reading/researching content.
  • Twitter: 73 percent follow businesses and 27 percent read/research content.
  • Google Plus: 80 percent follow businesses and 25 percent participate in discussions.
  • Video: Overall, 48 percent of technical professionals use YouTube or other video sharing sites for work, although among 18-34 year olds, the percentage is 58. The most popular types of videos among technical professionals are product demos, how-to videos and training videos.

The value of digital resources

  • Your customers spend an increasing amount of time online using a variety of digital resources, but when researching work-related purchases, social media channels are not nearly as valued as other established digital channels. The top resources have remained consistent over the years: search engines, online catalogs, supplier websites and GlobalSpec.com.
  • Technical professionals report that social media is not more valuable because it is not efficient, too noisy and not reliable. Technical professionals also say it’s hard to find useful content on social media. In addition, about a quarter of workers are blocked from using social media at work; using a mobile device offers a workaround for that problem.
  • A key takeaway is that to be successful with social media you must deliver the content technical professionals want. This will help elevate you above the noise and become more valuable to your target audience.

Recommendations for suppliers

  • It’s worth using social media as a marketing channel; however, don’t rely on it too heavily or divert resources from more effective and established digital channels.
  • To get the most out of your efforts, integrate social media into your overall marketing strategy. Establish a vision, strategy and goals for your social media initiatives.
  • Tie your social media efforts to marketing objectives. Research shows that social media is best used for brand awareness and thought leadership.
  • Get more of your organization involved in spreading your message through social media. Seventy-eight percent of technical professionals say they have never posted news or information about their company on their social networks. Create guidelines and rules for using social media. Make it easy by providing content for your sales, customer service and other colleagues to post.
  • Gain a more in-depth look at social media usage by your target audience and how you can most effectively incorporate social media into your overall marketing efforts.

View the recorded webinar.

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Why Press Releases are Important in Industrial Marketing

Writing and distributing press releases should be part of every industrial company’s marketing and communications strategy. Many industrial companies are in the habit of issuing a press release when they launch a new product or have other company news. But sometimes the press release becomes nothing more than a checkbox on a communications to-do list. That’s not enough. Press releases can be powerful tools and deliver significant payback in terms of getting your company name in front of your target audience and raising the profile of your brand in the markets you serve.

Seize press release opportunities
Product launches and other company news are obvious reasons to write press releases. But relying only on “news” could result in long periods of time in which your company is silent, which lessens your visibility. Fortunately there are many other opportunities for issuing press releases:

  • Promoting a special event your company is hosting or a speaking engagement for one of your executives. The press release should tell why the event is important to your audience and relevant at this time.
     
  • Piggybacking on issues and trends in your industry. There’s often news in your industry that may not directly involve your company, such as technological advances, regulatory changes, mergers and acquisitions, a new report from industry analysts, etc. You can leverage these situations by issuing a press release that states your company’s position on what’s happening in your industry. Why the technological advance is beneficial—or why the industry should proceed with caution. What new regulations mean to customers. How a merger between two competitors will affect the industry and customers. Why a popular held belief is about a technology or trend is authentic—or misguided. The key is that your company has a unique and relevant point of view that distinguishes it from other voices in the industry.
     
  • Building thought leadership. When your company produces a new white paper, publishes the results of a survey, or is quoted in an article, you can issue a press release to promote the content and build your reputation as a thought leader in your industry. Again, explain the relevance of the content to your audience and make it newsworthy and timely.

Have a distribution strategy
You should post your press release on your website and link to it from email newsletters, social media and other digital platforms like your GlobalSpec.com supplier profile, but you should also consider a broader distribution strategy to better reach your target audience.

  • Use a press release distribution service such as PRWeb, EmailWire, eReleases, BusinessWire, Gorkana, Meltwater or others. Most services can help you distribute your press releases broadly as well as target specific niches. They will also offer reporting in terms of which publications picked up your release.
     
  • Communicate with individual editors of specific industry websites. This involves researching a publication and editor’s specific area of interest, and targeting those editors who will be most interested in your news. You might want to reach out to editors and introduce yourself personally rather than simply flooding them with press releases. In addition, if you establish a relationship with editors in your industry, they will be more likely to contact you for an interview and quotes when working on a story that’s in your area of expertise. Translated that equals free, third-party exposure.

Set goals and measure
Press releases can help generate inquiries and engagement opportunities for your sales team, although they work best when integrated into your overall marketing program. To track the effectiveness of your press releases, be sure to ask the distribution service you use or the specific publication what type of metrics they provide.

Key metrics include:

  • Number of pick-ups (where your press release appeared)
  • Number of views (how many people saw your press release)
  • Number of clickthroughs (how many people clicked on a link in your press release)
  • Comparison reports (how your press release performed on these metrics compared your industry’s benchmarks)

Include these four items in all press releases

  • A striking headline: grab the reader’s attention with a headline that conveys the subject matter and why it’s important to your audience. Try writing a number of candidates, then choose the strongest one.
     
  • Keywords: sprinkle relevant keywords (sprinkle, not pour; a few mentions should do) in the press release to help with search engine optimization.
     
  • Links: Always include links to landing pages, downloads or other web pages so the reader can get more information (and you can track performance).
     
  • Contact info: Don’t forget to include email address and phone number for your media contact person.

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Seven Steps to Thought Leadership in Your Industry

Admittedly, thought leadership is a buzzword. But like many buzzwords, rub away the patina of jargon and you’ll see there is substance relevance behind the popular phrase.

Thought leadership means having a reputation in the market as a company with unique, innovative, and important ideas about your industry, the forces shaping it, the challenges facing it, and the future awaiting it. As a thought leader, your company will gain credibility in the market and become a trusted advisor and partner. Potential customers will gravitate toward your products and services. Journalists will seek you out for quotes. Analysts will call you. Industry websites will link to you.

Thought leadership is especially important in B2B markets where the decision-making process can be long and complex, and involve multiple people who look at problems from various angles. But what every one of those people have are questions about the decisions they face. What they all need is an expert they can trust, someone (or company) who can demonstrate the knowledge and perspective to solve their problems. They need a thought leader.

Here’s how to be that thought leader that the market will turn to for expertise.

1. Focus on your audience
The number one attribute of thought leaders is they are able to provide answers to questions their audience has. Questions about approaches to solving problems. Questions about technology trends. Questions about industry best practices. Every industry is changing rapidly. Your audience has a multitude of questions that must be answered so they can make the right decisions about buying products or setting strategic direction. Answer those questions.

2. Sell ideas, not products
Your audience knows your company is in business to make a profit, but that doesn’t mean you should be trying at all times to be turning a profit. Before you can sell products and services, you need to be able to sell ideas. Offering intelligent, well-reasoned, and useful ideas is what will attract your audience. What will turn them off is trying to slip product pitches into articles, white papers, blog posts and other content that is allegedly educational in nature. Your audience will smell a rat.

3. Identify a niche
In this day of extreme market segmentation and specialization, the generalist thought leader is dead. The specialist survives. Choose a niche that is important to both your company and your audience. Focus on that arena to develop thought leadership. It’s best if you can choose a niche that is not already dominated by another company, so you can “own” the expertise. Putting your resources into one area of specialty means that you might have to sacrifice somewhere else. That’s okay because you’re choosing what’s most important to you and your audience. You’ll also be able to find targeted outlets—websites, e-publications, industry events—where you have a captive and motivated audience.

4. Give it time
More than most other initiatives, building a thought leadership platform takes time. Not only must you produce content to support your position, you must publish and distribute the content. You must participate in industry conferences and events. You must continue to repeat your position and perspective in order to be heard. All of this takes time—not days or weeks, but months and years. You don’t become a recognized thought leader overnight. The benefits are there, but they take time to accrue.

5. Educate and entertain
Your main goal is to educate your audience by being able to answer their questions and becoming a trusted resource. But you can’t do this with facts and figures alone. If you’re boring your audience won’t pay attention. In any communication today, there has to be some aspect of entertainment. But not dog and pony shows. Not juggling acts. The way to entertain is through stories: real-world experiences and anecdotes are the best ways to add entertainment to education. Get personal. Start sharing. Be human.

6. Don’t be a know-it-all
Being a thought leader doesn’t mean you know everything about a subject. And it definitely doesn’t mean you can predict the future with absolute accuracy. Instead it means you have enthusiasm for your subject matter. You have a vested interest in your industry niche. You are open to the possibilities the future may bring. You are able to admit you don’t know everything and at the same time you refuse to abandon your quest to advance the knowledge base in your industry.

7. Commit to producing and distributing content
There’s only one way to build your reputation: content. Your target audience is hungry for information. Thought leaders supply it. You should be pitching article ideas to relevant online publications in your industry and getting to know editors. You should also be moving forward with producing content on a regular basis in the form of blog posts, webinars, newsletters, white papers, videos and more. Distribute your thought leadership content on your website and through your social media platforms. Find a media partner with channels like e-newsletters, webinars, online events and banner advertisements that can help you distribute your content to a targeted and engaged audience.

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The “New Normal” in Marketing

There’s a “new normal” in B-to-B marketing today that centers around the value of content and thought leadership. In her keynote presentation at the Industrial Marketing Digital Summit, IHS Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Stephanie Buscemi discussed the complex risks and challenges facing marketers today, and how to overcome them by embracing the new normal.

Goals haven’t changed, how to achieve them has
Marketing has always been about building awareness, generating demand, and most of all winning the hearts and minds of customers and prospects. But the way to achieve these goals has changed dramatically in the digital age. Today, disruptive technologies such as mobile, social and new online channels require a fresh set of marketing skills and an up-to-date marketing mix. Add in globalization and emerging markets and you’re facing competition from new places. Then there’s Big Data and the challenge of taking advantage and making strategic sense of the increasing volumes, variety and velocity of data we have available on our customers.

Content is the new currency
Clearly we need new ways to connect with customers and prospects, but how do we overcome the disruptive nature of today’s business environment? The target audience we need to reach is already overwhelmed by information: searching for it, organizing it, analyzing it. The answer is content, which may seem counterintuitive because that means even more information coming their way. But the answer is not content that simply increases the noise level. Instead, you must create content that is relevant, brings value, and is delivered to the right person at the right time in the right place—this is the new currency of marketing.

Differentiated and valuable content is produced from a position of understanding and solving those key customer issues that only your company has the expertise in. Your company’s unique expertise is what matters here, along with your ability to deliver value and insight in the form of highly relevant content that engages your customers and prospects.

Thought leadership thrives on content
Every company can be a thought leader because every company has expertise. Translating that expertise into unique value that you deliver to your customers is the key.

Content allows you to leverage thought leadership, elevating your credibility and cache. The keys to thought leadership are identifying areas of interest that affect existing and potential clients, and then educating them on issues and best practices in those areas of interest. This will make you a valued source of knowledge and help earn the right to speak to your target audience with established credibility.

One of the difficult aspects of using content to create thought leadership is that you have to set priorities. You have to produce the content that is compelling and relevant and addresses those customer issues where you have expertise — and not try to chase every opportunity. You must stay true to your position and brand. Sometimes that means making decisions about what you won’t do. If content doesn’t fit within the overlap area that is created by the intersection of customer issues or opportunities and your expertise, then you shouldn’t be going there. By remaining consistent in your content marketing, you can become a trusted, respected and reliable partner to your customers and prospects.

Content drives value in your organization
Your content strategy should be developed based on an “outside in” viewpoint based on positioning unique value to your customers and prospects. If you thoroughly understand your target audience and their business challenges and goals, you can architect a content strategy that effectively influences their buying decisions and the marketing funnel. Customer and audience analysis can then feed your product management process to help determine what products to manufacture that will provide customer value and company profit. Buscemi calls this value management, and it all starts with content—the new normal in marketing.

You can now view Buscemi’s Industrial Marketing Digital Summit presentation on demand.

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