How Does Social Media Impact a B-to-B Purchase?

April 8, 2014

B-to-B purchases are usually more complex and the selling cycles are longer with multiple decision makers in the mix.

I recently read a post by Heidi Cohen, B2B Purchase Process 2014: What You Need to Know, that highlights findings from the DemandGen’s 2014 B2B buyers behavior survey.

Use of Social Media in B2B Purchase Process 2014

Here are some points of interest that would relate to Manufacturers:

  • Purchasing process teamwork – 55% include 1-3 people and 37% include 4-7 people.
  • 72% use social for research – they are looking for recommendations, expert advice and connecting with potential suppliers.
  • They’re not looking for information, but quality content.
  • 46% of buyers use search engines to start their purchasing process.
  • 37% ranked white papers and infographics on manufacturers’ websites to be the most important info.

So based on these stats, what are you doing to make sure you’re being found and considered?


Manufacturers: HVACR Contractors Are Changing The Ways They Interact With You

March 26, 2014

Progressive contractors, I believe, are changing the way they are interacting with their manufacturers. When I ran across this research recently, it verified in my mind that it holds true.

HVACRBusiness recently released a new research study, “HVACR Contractors: Trends in the Adoption of Products/Systems & Management Approaches,” (download here), that highlights new trends on their involvement with manufacturers. I did a podcast interview with Terry Tanker, the publisher, to talk about the results of the research.

Here are some highlights.

They define a “High Yield” contractor as being more active in managing their business, have substantial revenues and are experiencing significant growth. In other words, The “A” players in the field.

  • 93% get involved in the early stages of the selection process of new products.
  • Contractors have even greater expectations for products/systems than 5 years ago.
  • Contractors are expecting manufacturers to do more to help them compete and operate efficiently.
  • The selling environment has become more business like and competitive.

The bottom line is that these “High Yield” contractors have made significant changes in their relationships with their manufacturers and expect more out of them. Among them the top three are:

  1. Making manufacturers more accountable for their products/systems.
  2. Offer more support.
  3. Make more objective decisions about products/systems/brands.

Bottom line – 70% are more likely to evaluate additional manufacturers and their products. You can’t depend on your sales rep going to see them personally to introduce a new product. By the time they get there, the contractor may be well down the selection process. Contractors, no matter what kind, are looking for good information, not a sales pitch, but information that can help them do their jobs. If you can do that, it will help keep you in the game.


Podcast: What HVACR Contractors Are Looking For From Manufacturers

March 19, 2014

HVACRBusiness recently released a new research study, “HVACR Contractors: Trends in the Adoption of Products/Systems & Management Approaches,” that highlights new trends on their involvement with manufacturers. I did a podcast interview with Terry Tanker, the publisher, to talk about the results of the research.

Listen to the podcast here.

You can sign up to get a copy of the study here.


What’s Your Marketing Strategy for ’14? See What Other Marketers Are Saying

February 19, 2014

As the year gets under way, we are all completing our plans and strategies for the upcoming year. Last fall, ExactTarget completed a survey of over 2,500 marketing executives who gave their insights on what they will be doing this year.  You can download the full report.

The main takeaways are:

  • Increasing conversion rates
  • Improving brand awareness
  • Collecting, measuring and using behavior-based data

2014StateofMarketing-page 1

Other points of interests:

  • Acquiring and developing strong relationships with new potentials.
  • Email is not dead, on the contrary, it will be a core driver in ’14.
  • Responsive websites will be the norm moving forward.
  • Mobile is big – there are now more mobile devices connected than there are people in the world.

The key is to develop a strategy, implement it and evaluate it. If some things are doing well, try something else. Make sure you use both the traditional, as well as some of the newer digital options in your mix.

Hope you have a great 2014.


Digital Media: Are You Using to Reach Your Industrial Customer?

February 12, 2014

As marketers in the industrial B-to-B space, I think we all recognize that our potential customers have several options beyond the traditional ones we’ve used for years. The challenge for us is to identify where they are getting their info and to make sure we’re there when they start looking. That means we need to embrace the digital world, and a recent study by IHS GlobalSpec shows that only about 35% of industrial marketers are satisfied with their online efforts.

digital media page 1IHS GlobalSpec has recently released a white paper, Taking a Strategic Approach to Digital Media that gives you some guidelines and recommendations on developing a plan and monitoring results.

Some highlights that I found interesting were:

  • Almost half of the industrial professionals visit 10 or more work-related websites each week.
  • Top four resources for these professionals are search engines, online catalogs, supplier websites and GlobalSpec.
  • 56% of buyers don’t contact a vendor until the research phase is done, and 19% wait until they are ready to buy.

What does that mean to us who don’t want to miss these opportunities?

  1. It means that we need to identify the channels that our customers use to gather info. The best way to do that is ask them.
  2. Once you identify the channels, you need to develop content for the different stages in the buying process for your product.
  3. Implement and monitor a program. The beauty of digital is we can immediately get feedback on what’s working and what’s not.

Don’t let digital scare you. It’s just another way to communicate with customers. Don’t worry about reinventing the wheel on content. Chances are you already have great stuff, you just need to identify it and maybe change the approach of features/benefits on how your products can help customers with their issues.


Content Marketing: How Will It Affect You in 2014?

January 21, 2014

Content marketing is becoming more of a focus with all of us, and for it to be effective like any other tool, you need to have a plan and strategy.

Content can be developed in many forms and this can be an overwhelming task, all the more reason to have a plan.

I recently read a post by Heidi Cohen, 2014 Content Marketing Predictions that I thought was interesting and wanted to share some of the highlights of her 7 points:

  • Content Marketing should be part of an integrated program - content needs to be created in different formats as people take in information in various ways and we need to make sure we’re touching them several times.
  • Content Marketing expands to all corporate communications - it’s no longer limited to marketing.
  • Managing Content Marketing assets - track and maintain assets identifying those that need updating  and those that need to be created.
  • Track Results to sales - start by nudging readers to some call-to-action to start an engagement and then follow it through to a sale.

What kinds of actions are you taking in 2014 to improve your content marketing?


What Does 2014 Look Like For You?

January 15, 2014

I know for most of us, 2013 was a positive experience. Most of our clients and the folks I talk to in the industry had good growth this past year and are expecting the same this year.

According to a recent article in eMarketer.com, 80% of small business are forecasting a better 2014.  Here’s what they are saying they will be concentrating on in 2014.

While the small business owners are optimistic about 2014, economic uncertainty and government policies are still on their mind.

So what is your outlook for the new year and where are your challenges? Do any of them match up with what the survey indicates?


Smaller Companies Doing a Better Job with Content Marketing

December 10, 2013

Smaller B-to-B companies (under 100 employees) seem to be doing a better job maximizing their content marketing efforts according to Content Marketing and Marketing Prof’s B2B Content Marketing 2014 Benchmark, Budgets and Trends Research.

Heidi Cohen does a good job highlighting important nuggets from the report. Among them:

  • Over 90% of B2B marketers are using some sort of content marketing.
  • 42% of marketers think their content is effective and 20% thinks theirs isn’t.
  • 48% of smaller B2B organizations have a documented content strategy compared to 41% of bigger organizations.
  • 78% of smaller companies have someone specific overseeing content marketing as opposed to 58% of larger companies.

More people are planning on spending more of their budget on content marketing. If you’re like the rest of us, budgets aren’t getting any larger next year and we have to do more with less. Heidi suggests looking in other people’s budgets to help the cause.

The biggest challenge still is producing good relevant content no matter what your budget is. That’s why a content marketing strategy is the most important thing you can do to ensure  good content on a regular basis.

Are these findings consistent with what’s happening in your world?


What Are You Doing to Improve Your Content Marketing Performance?

December 3, 2013

When you go to all the work to create great content, don’t miss out on opportunities to share it. We’re all guilty of getting into a routine when creating content and rarely deviate from it, whether it be because of time constraints or just laziness. The point is, we need to shake it up a bit sometimes.

According to 2014 B2B Content Marketing Trends, there are over two dozen tactics that you could use. Here are some that I think are important in going after the professional tradesman:

  • Offer useful info on your website - Make sure to include topics that help folks through your selling cycle.
  • Industry newsletters - As you collect email addresses, send out a regular newsletter quarterly or monthly. If you are selling to several different audiences, segment the newsletters so they will be more meaningful for those who read them.  A plumber probably isn’t interested in something a HVAC guy would be. Don’t be concerned about the size of the lit, but the quality of it. I’d rather be regularly communicating with 500 key prospects than 5,000 unqualified ones.
  • Case Studies - By market or application are in high demand by your target audience. Tradesmen like to see what their peers are doing and the results. Post on your website, use it as an e-blast to your targets and have them reprinted so your sales force has something to hand out.
  • Videos - How to and feature and benefit videos are an easy way for you to get your point across. Put it on your website, and put it on YouTube (create your own channel) with the appropriate search terms.
  • Online Presentations – Take those PowerPoints you do everyday on why you’re better than the other guys and put it on your website, along with putting it on SlideShare with appropriate key words.
  • Podcasts - Even if you don’t have a blog, you can utilize this tactic. Interview an industry leader on the issues of the day or what’s coming down the line that might impact your reader. You can use it again on your website and do e-blasts to targeted audiences.

Those are some highlights from my point of view. Whether it’s utilizing these tactics or others, step outside the box and try other things. You’ll be glad you did.


Is it Time for a Marketing Check-up?

November 5, 2013

doctor checkup

As we start planning for 2014, ask yourself this question:

When was the last time you took a hard look at where your marketing budget is going?

B-to-B budgets, while on the mend from the last few years, are not growing at the same rate as the tasks we are being asked to do. We all are creatures of habit and tend to go and support things that we’ve used in the past and have been successful.

Do this simple exercise. Pull out a spread sheet from 3 years ago where you have all your line items. I’ll bet you didn’t have things like lead nurturing, responsive websites, mobile apps, mobile marketing or content marketing as part of your radar a few years ago.

Yes, over the past few years you may have dabbled in a new tactic, but have you done enough to see if there has been any impact on your brand? I’m not saying you should abandon your current tactics, just make sure you’re not missing any opportunities that might help you sell more. You go to the doctor for your annual visit, don’t you? Why not put your marketing budget through the same type of process?

You may even want to get someone outside your organization who is familiar with your markets to review line items and make suggestions as to what you might want to try or include moving forward.

By using an outsider, you’re not worrying about someone trying to sell you something, and for some reason, outside consultants somehow get the ear of the C suite easier than you or I would.

Good luck in your planning process and at least set aside a portion of your budget to try new things.


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