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.
IHS 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?
- 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.
- Once you identify the channels, you need to develop content for the different stages in the buying process for your product.
- 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.
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?
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.
October 30, 2013
Recently, Christopher Hosford, the East Coast Bureau Chief for BtoB Magazine, held a virtual roundtable discussion with some industry leaders about the future of email and where it’s heading. Here are some highlights from my perspective:
- Gmail – has moved to a tabbed format that is raising issues about open and read rates.
- Dynamic content – the wave of the future is to segment communications around real-time, behavioral-based messages.
- Mobile has an incredible impact on how people read their emails. 43% of all emails are opened on a smart phone.
- Automation tools are not a silver bullet – it’s the size and frequency that counts.
- Triggered email around events, time or a behavior-based activity.
- For B-to-B marketers, site visits or time spent on a site is more important, so you need good content to keep them coming back, especially for those in long selling cycles.
Their conclusion is that the future of email is bright because it builds on all these new ways of engagement and marketing perspectives.
You can read the entire interview here.
October 29, 2013
Beyond doing a great job in advertising, PR, messaging and engagement, have you ever thought of the other side of the equation – the customer experience?
Sometimes we can be our own worst enemies by focusing on getting the message out, and the means by which we’re doing it makes sense to us, but have we asked our customers what they think?
Forrester claims that Adaptive Marketing Confederation is the trend of the future. They define as:
“A flexible structure and culture of working with marketing staff, partners and systems that enables brands to respond quickly to their environments to align customer and brand goals.”
My take on what this means is pretty straightforward. Talk with the customer service people and sales folks to get a better sense of what the customers’ wants and needs are. I challenge marketers to get out of the office and into the field for some “Street Smarts” by calling on end users.
Forrester refers to customer intelligence teams. This goes beyond spread sheets as you need to uncover customers affinities and needs. All this is driven by data and sometimes it can become overwhelming. But you need to sort through it and along with contributions from other team members, outside marketing (sales and customer service), you can improve the customer experience.
I know this is a moving target, but if you’re not trying to improve it, your competitors will be.
October 23, 2013
I think everyone realizes by now that mobile is the fastest growing segment of the business. While the biggest impact is on the retail markets, B-to-B usage continues to grow. So should you have an app? The answer to that is, will your app give value and help your targeted user with practical things? If yes, then you’d better get rolling.
comScore data shows that 63% of mobile commerce happens via a smartphone. Don’t take these retail numbers for granted. From a B-to-B perspective, giants like Amazon are leading the way in this category. That means that a consumer can buy a book as easily as a hydraulic fitting using a smartphone.
So the questions you have to ask yourself are this: do I have a mobile website, and if I do, is it optimized for smartphones and tablets? If not, you need to get a responsive designed site sooner than later. But just because you’ve built an app doesn’t mean people will come.
I recently read a post by Heidi Cohen, 21 Ways to Promote Your Mobile App that gives you quick ideas on how to promote. Here are some highlights:
- Promote your app on your website
- Promote your app on your mobile site
- Get your app in iOS and Android app stores
- Use it in self promotion from emails to QR codes in print and digital ads
- Promote it on your business cards and email signature
Let’s not waste an opportunity.
If you like this post, you may want to read:
Mobile Marketing to the Professional Tradesman – What are you Doing?
Things to Consider When Using Mobile to Reach the Professional Tradesman.
Is Your Website Mobile Ready for the Professional Tradesman?