B-to-B Marketers: Are You Utilizing SlideShare?

July 23, 2014

slideshareWhen we think of utilizing social media in the marketing mix, SlideShare is probably the most overlooked and underutilized tool. There are over 60 million unique visitors a month to SlideShare sites with over 215 million page views.

Users are not only looking for good content, but also shared insights and SlideShare gives you a platform for both. Plus, you get the added bonus of using the other social media tools to promote your Power Points.

Lots of marketing departments, even if you tell them how great a tool it is, their push back very often is we don’t have time to develop one. My position is that between sales, marketing and the C suite, there are plenty of Power Points already existing that highlight and focus on issues that help differentiate you and help set you up as an industry expert. Here are some places to look:

  • Industry or association speeches that a C suite executive have given regarding an important issue or trend and their position on it.
  • Presentations to key customers on ways you can help solve their problems.
  • General positioning  Power Point on what makes you different.
  • Distributor-focused Power Point that talk about ways you support them.
  • Contractor-focused Power Point of the tools available to them from you to help them do their job.
  • New products with features and benefits.

I recently read an article by David Waring in Social Media Examiner -7 Ways to Use SlideShare for Your Business, that I found to be very  useful. He gives tips and examples on things as basic as creating well-designed slides, to how to work to get high rankings with key words and phrases by using key words in the file name and tag names. He also gives you tips on  how to grab attention using  how-to guides and  list titles.

The long and short of it is if you haven’t tried it, you have nothing to lose. You may be surprised what kind of views and leads you may get. I’d like to know your thoughts after you’ve tried it.


Big Data, Mobile and Social Media Dominate the Conversations at the 2014 BMA Global Conference

June 12, 2014

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect

960x300_BMA14

I recently attended the Business Marketing Association (BMA) global conference which was held in Chicago May 28-30, 2014. The largest B2B marketing conference in the world, BMA14 was attended by a record 950 B2B marketers from 450 firms, 33 states and 12 nations.

The 2014 BMA conference also deployed two digital platforms—Livecube and ISEBOX—to enable speakers to take polls and attendees to ask questions, follow tweets, share photos and access conference content. If you are in charge of planning live events/conferences, I would suggest checking out these two resources.

The 3-day conference was jam packed with content – featuring 79 speakers and presenters leading 41 sessions—three pre-conference programs, nine panels, 12 keynotes and 17 firestarters. These sessions covered a wide array of topics and trends of critical interest and importance to B2B marketers today. Someone at the conference referenced the amount of information presented was like drinking from a fire hydrant!

Here are a few themes I saw throughout the entire conference:

Big Data

marketing_technology_jan2014

It’s becoming more and more difficult for marketers in today’s environment and I thought one illustration that did a great job of representing our challenge was the Marketing Technology Landscape graphic by ChiefMartec.com. We are surrounded by data, but starved for insights; that is, data does not automatically equal insight. Today’s marketers need to solve both analytical and creative issues as we continue to trend toward extreme personalization…segments of one.

Mobile

Since mobile devices are the predominant way people globally access the web and information, mobile is a critical factor when planning future marketing efforts. Here are a few stats from the conference that help reinforce the importance of mobile:

  • Mobile data usage doubled in 2013
  • In the US, 1 of every 5 minutes spent on mobile are on either Facebook or Instagram
  • More Facebook users globally now engage the site via their mobile device compared to their desktop
  • 78% access Twitter via a mobile device

Social Media

Social media continues to be a key component of the B2B marketing mix, with Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube still being the main ones utilized by B2B marketers. There was a great session by Tim Washer from CISCO on “How to bring humor to B2B storytelling.” Just because you work in B2B marketing does not mean you need to be devoid of humor…check out some of these examples shared by Tim:

You can view/download videos and documents from the entire conference here: http://bma.isebox.net/.


Are You Putting the WHY Before the HOW in Your Marketing Programs?

June 11, 2014

Traditional marketers are still, for the most part, selling the features and benefits of their products and why they are better than the competition.

Look at any trade magazine for example, and look at the headlines. I’ll bet 80% of them are promoting just that fact.

To stand out in the crowd and really get some traction in the market, we need to put the WHY before the HOW. The reader wants to know or is searching for solutions to his problems. Ways to make his life better. Here’s an example of someone doing it right (disclaimer, they are a client of ours).

OsbornBrushTestLab

Osborn is a global manufacturer of surface treatment solutions. In other words, they make stuff to remove and polish metal parts.  They are one of the major players in the world, but like everyone else, they have a ton of competition.

A typical method of selling these types of products is on price since most users can differentiate the different levels of quality. It’s hard to make any margin if price is the topic of conversation. So what Osborn did was ask the WHY question to find out what kind of pain points their users are having. One identified they can help in the production process to get the most productivity out of their processes. Whether it’s in their facility or Osborn’s test lab, they can help find a solution.

It’s ironic that many of the performance issues aren’t with the product, but how they are running it on the equipment. Even though they are in the brush business, their ultimate goal is to help the customer. Thus their value proposition isn’t selling  grinding wheels, but selling solutions. Do you think price comes into the selling equation now? Nope.

Their program identifies and talks to different end-user groups as well as a different message to their distribution partners. All directing them to specific landing pages.

So if you put the WHY before the HOW, chance are you’ll be noticed more, get more interaction and sell more stuff with price not being the leading topic of conversation.


Manufacturers: Here’s a list of things contractors would like from you

June 10, 2014

men at jobsite

I recently did a series of interviews and podcasts of contractors. The main focus was on what manufacturers could do to better support them in the field. These contractors were electricians, plumbers, HVAC and general contractors. There were some common issues from them that I thought would be useful to manufacturers:

  • Quick response to questions – access to knowledgeable tech people for problem solving.
  • Regular site visits – have your salesman make regular visits. Most contractors say they very rarely see the manufacturers. Great way to build relationships and identify possible product problems or shortcomings.
  • Application training – quick tips on doing a process better/quicker. If not in person, via email.
  • Best way to communicate with them - mobile phone or email.
  • Don’t use/look at social media (Twitter, Facebook).
  • Recognize that they are professionals.

It looks like there are some opportunities for manufacturers to up their game. There wasn’t a contractor I talked to that would turn away a visit from you. That sounds like an opportunity to me.


2014 Report on B2B Manufacturing Content Marketing in North America

May 22, 2014

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect

The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs recently released their fourth annual report on the content marketing practices of business-to-business (B2B) marketers working in the manufacturing industry.

In this report you’ll find answers to questions such as: What percentage of manufacturing marketers have adopted content marketing? What tactics are they using? How does their approach to content marketing differ from that taken by other B2B marketers?

This report also looks at how manufacturing marketers approach content marketing when compared with a wider group of B2B North American marketers representing a range of industry segments.

Here are some key highlights from this most recent study on manufacturing marketers and their content marketing efforts:

  • 86% have adopted content marketing
  • Only 30% say they are effective at content marketing
  • Use the same number of tactics (13) as other B2B marketers
  • 81% use YouTube to distribute content and rate it as the most effective social media platform
  • Cite different goals for content marketing when compared with other B2B marketers
  • Top challenges faced for their content marketing programs: 1. Lack of time, 2. Producing the kind of content that engages and 3. Producing enough content
  • 46% plan to increase their content marketing budget over the next 12 months

Click here to read more details and download the full report.


Are Full Line Print Catalogs Dead?

May 13, 2014

Catalogs

Interesting question, isn’t it? Back when I started in the ad business (back in the stone ages), the full line catalog was not only your bible, but one of your largest marketing expenses. It would take months to develop, and as soon as it was printed, some items were either added or deleted from the line thus making the catalog obsolete. Sound familiar?

Of course the web changes all that, and with the advent of databases, it’s easy to keep your catalog current and for users to search for the products they need. I’d say that over the years, as companies added a digital catalog, print runs started to decrease on average of 25-30%.

Recently though (last 7-10 years), printed catalogs have been declining even more. Think of all the trees we’ve saved and the number of printers we’ve put out of business.

I recently read an article in Industrial Distribution magazine’s online edition that cited a study done by United Stationers that shows that end users preferences have changed to online.

Now you may ask what does a study by an office products company have to do with the industrial and construction market. Well let’s not forget that they also own ORS NASCO in the industrial sector and Lagasse Sweet in the Jan/San sector. I have to believe  the office products trends are not so much different from the markets we play in.

The study also showed that smaller, more single-category-focused printed pieces are on the rise.

Contractors and MRO professionals – they are/were still apprehensive about giving up printed material. I think that’s changing a bit. Let me clarify my statement.

Yes, the old timers (55 and older) probably prefer a printed book. But you might be surprised, at even that age group, they want current info and aren’t afraid to go on the Internet to at least find something. Let’s face it, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to use Google.

Now distribution might be another story. Countermen, for sure, prefer the printed piece for day-to-day inquiries. If you don’t believe me, next time you’re in a distributor look at some of them.

Most of these contractors not only have access to computers, but have tablets and smart phones on job sites where they can access info immediately. So I’d feel safe in saying that most of us have some sort of online presence.

So if you buy into my premise, here are a few things you can do:

  • Create a digital strategy and fund it with the money you save from not printing all those full line catalogs.
  • Create single category pieces whether they are product or market focused.
  • Create good meaningful direct mail pieces that will inform and inspire your target audiences.

Do I think the print catalog is dead? No, but it’s on its last legs.

What are your thoughts?

 


40% of Salespeople Aren’t Making Their Numbers. Can Marketing Help?

April 22, 2014

I recently read an article in eMarketer.com that dealt with sales stats in 2013, and that almost 40% of the sales forces weren’t making their numbers and it floored me. I sure wouldn’t want to be running a company based on sales of XXX and then the sales force under-delivers by that large of a difference-Yikes!

2013 wasn’t a bad year for the economy (we’ve seen a lot worse), and I can’t help but wonder what their issues were in closing the sale. One of the biggest reasons given was the sale ended in a “no decision.” What does that mean?

Here’s an interesting graphic:

It sounds to me like either the leads weren’t qualified correctly or the salesman didn’t do his homework in determining where the prospect was in the sales funnel. It also sounds like there were multiple decision makers in the process and possibly they all were not included in the sales pitch. A few other things bother me as well:

  • What I can’t understand in this report is that 31% were unable to effectively communicate value to a prospect – yes, you heard me right.
  • 26% had content that wasn’t aligned with the buyer
  • 20% didn’t have the necessary content or resources for selling

This sounds like a great opportunity for marketing to step in and help fill the content voids they are talking about. It also begs the question of whether these results were from a traditional selling model versus that of one using social media as part of the mix.

If you had good content that was searchable on the internet, chances are the right people will find that info long before they identify themselves to you as a prospect and get a lot of their basic homework done first. You’d be able to show your expertise in a market segment so they think of you as an industry expert, which will help set you apart (value of your brand) when they finally decide to contact you. Marketing can help answer those questions ahead of time if we know the different stages of the selling cycle and what’s important to address at each level.

Am I missing the boat here or do you agree?


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.


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