Do You Have a Strategy for Negative Social Media Posts?

April 16, 2014

I’m amazed by the stats that more than half of those on social media don’t have a plan to respond to negative social media posts.  Social media isn’t new, isn’t going away, and if you’ve followed or read anything about this space, you know there have been numerous posts about the subject.

The February 2014 research from Social Media Marketing University substantiates the notion that people still aren’t taking this seriously.

Negative issues need to be addressed and what better way to hear about issues than on social platforms. Don’t you want to know what customers are saying about you? You’d better be monitoring them and jump in with a plan to respond. There are several monitoring options out there will help you. Here are some free ones – Social mention, Google alerts, Hootsuite and Tweetdeck.

I recently had an experience with a major faucet manufacturer about a replacement. We had to get a new tub at home and my wife wanted to update the faucets, which we did. The manufacturer sent the wrong spout and it took our plumber almost 2 months to get the replacement for it. They weren’t good at customer service, just making excuses. I made mention (by brand name) on a tweet what my frustration was, and true to form, heard nothing back.

In the short run, ignoring me may not be a big deal to them since I had already purchased the tub set, but in the long run, my wife is planning to replace all the faucets in our 3 bathrooms. Guess who isn’t going to be considered for that purchase?

In a world where we have alternative plans for everything, don’t overlook social responses to negative posts. It’s better to address them straight on or they will fester and come back to bite you when you least expect it. Have a plan in place.


Are You Using Influencers in Your New Product Launch to Professional Tradesmen?

April 15, 2014

When you’re planning your next new product launch beyond your traditional media lists that you send to, are you utilizing the Influencers in the market you’re going after?

Most times you don’t think about those bloggers out there that have big followings in the markets that you’re trying to reach.

An Influencer is someone who is able to mobilize options and create reactions when talking about a specific market or topic. They are the kinds of folks you want talking about you and your products. For example, if your target is mechanical contractors, you should be talking with John Mesenbrink from mechanical-hub. His blog is known throughout the industry and he’s a respected source of information.

Beyond getting them samples to try, they are looking for material you can provide so they can produce their own content. If possible, some exclusive little tidbits are always helpful. They can spread the word to a large number of your target audience in a short period of time…that’s the good news. The  potential bad news is you can’t send them a press release and expect them to run it as is. Influencers make and have opinions, and we always run the risk that they may not be as kind as you would in evaluating the product. They will always be fair, but to some marketers, that’s a relative term.

Long-term strategy would be to identify and start-up a conversation long before you launch that new product. Get to know them and they you. Again, it’s about relationships.


Are You Getting Your Sales Force Involved in Social Media?

April 9, 2014

No, I’m not trying to delegate the social media tactics and implementations to the sales force, they’re too busy selling. But if you aren’t getting them involved to a degree, you could be missing some opportunities for prospecting, research, networking and branding.

Let’s face it, your sales forces are in the trenches every day solving customer’s problems. Chances are other folks are having similar problems. Why shouldn’t you share those solutions with other customers and potential new ones?

Don’t Overlook One of Your Best Resources for Great Content – Your Sales Force

Here are four things salespeople can do that will help marketing by using social media:

  1. LinkedIn - Make sure all your folks are on LinkedIn and their profiles include a uniform and concise description of the company. The marketing department can help with the wordsmithing. Messaging should be on your business and the solutions your company offers. Don’t forget to include links to appropriate videos and websites. Have your salespeople join and be active in LinkedIn groups. Chances are that one of your trade associations or users have groups already set up. Have them monitor and participate when appropriate, but make sure they aren’t selling. Have them put on their problem-solving hat and offer solutions.
  2. Social media training - We’re not trying to make them experts, but to give them an overview of what social media is and how you are using it as another tool. Once they understand the why and how, they can be a great resource for you. The training could be a 30-45 minute “go-to meeting” with refreshers possibly at the annual sales meeting. This could pay off big time with the next two items.
  3. Company blog - If your company doesn’t have one, maybe you should consider doing one. The biggest challenge is writing good content, and if you train your sales force, they will give you plenty to write about. Make sure they know you have a blog. Make them read it and make suggestions on future topics. First ask them for ideas on articles that would benefit the users. Once you get a list, identify those within the sales force that has the most experience/expertise in that product or market. In some cases, they might want to take a stab at writing it, but I’d suggest someone in marketing interview them, write a draft and get it back to them for approval. It would be ideal, when possible, to get an actual customer involved and quoted in the post.
  4. Content Generation - Your sales force is or should be the experts in the field. Are you taking advantage of their problem-solving expertise? Why not have them write down the problem and solution. Then they could do several things with it.
  • Get it to marketing to be put on a FAQ section of the web, and it also could be used for other social content down the road.
  • Share it with the other salespeople who may have customers with similar problems.
  • Share it with other clients/prospects of theirs via email that might benefit from the outcome.

 


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.


Do You Say “Thank You” For A Retweet?

March 25, 2014

twitter (2)If you’re active on Twitter, you probably have received a “thanks for the RT.” Saying “thank you” helps build brand loyalty and brings a conversational aspect to your tweets. We all struggle on what’s the correct etiquette for thanking someone on Twitter. Do you always have to say thanks? Are there other ways to show your gratitude?

Angie Schottmuller from Interactive Artisan recently did a guest post on Jay Baer’s Convince and Convert that was right on target with helpful do’s and don’ts regarding etiquette. Here are some highlights:

DO’s

  • Follow the user - Review their profile and if they are a good fit, follow them.
  • Reciprocate - Scan their tweets and see if one is applicable for you to RT.
  • Retweet a Retweet - This is a good way to recognize the user and put quality content back into the stream.
  • Conversational Mention - Reply with a conversational response about the post to get a discussion going.

DON’Ts

  • Don’t put numerous RT’s back-to-back.
  • Avoid peak content hours.
  • Don’t put out a generic thanks. Always include a hashtag.

If you like this post, you might like:

7 Tips to Use Twitter to Generate Traffic and Leads.


When is Less – More?

February 25, 2014

We all get caught up with having to do more and more, especially when it comes to developing content and deploying it through various media channels. We get pressure from our bosses (clients) to be on every new thing that comes down the road. I recently read an article by Joe Pulizzi, the founder of The Content Marketing Institute,  that addresses this actual issue - Do less, not more.

So here’s a novel thought, Don’t worry about quantity and start focusing more on quality. Let’s be realistic, we don’t have the time, resources or possibly content to do all things. Joe cites examples of great brands that started out by dominating one channel consistently over time. What a novel idea. Doesn’t it make sense to focus on and own the primary space you’re in? It doesn’t mean you can’t branch out into other means of getting your message out, but just take it slow.

So what does this mean for the manufacturers? It means do some homework to find out where your customers get their information. If it’s blogs, forums or LinkedIn groups, then start there. Create a blog, for example, that addresses your niche. Make sure you regularly contribute to it so you attract followers. Make sure topics are about solving customers’ questions/issues, not trying to sell them something. Engage them in a dialog of ways you can help them do your job better. Make whatever you do so good people can’t wait to read what’s coming next. In other words, over time, become the go-to resource for whatever specialty you offer.

I think you will find that by focusing on few things and doing them well will not only make you feel better, but will actually accomplish some of those marketing goals of becoming the industry expert.

What are your thoughts?


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.


Manufacturers: Why Are You Using Content Marketing?

February 18, 2014

I just saw a stat this week that over 90 percent of B-to-B companies are now using content marketing. I wonder if you asked them why, what the answer would be. Hopefully it’s not because everyone else is using it! If you’re using content, you know how much time it takes you and your team to develop and place good content.

Whether it’s content marketing or any other tactic, there should be good reasons for using it and a detailed plan of action – what to say, where to use it and how to measure it. I recently read an article by Heidi Cohen, Why Use Content Marketing – 7 Reasons that I thought would help us all in not only reviewing what we’re doing, but more importantly, evaluate and possibly refocus our efforts on those activities that are working.

We all have different reasons and priorities, and from a manufacturer’s point of view, here are three things you may want to consider when using content marketing:

  • Build your brand - this should be true in any type of promotion, but building good content helps set you apart and builds your reputation.
  • Attract new customers - Give customers what they want pre- and post-information that will help them through the sales cycle. Good content will sell itself.
  • Support existing customers - with updated product/installation information, handy apps or other tools that will make doing their job easier. Remember, existing clients are your best repeat customers, so continue to engage them.

Why are you using Content Marketing and what tactics are working best for you?

If you like this post, you may want to read:

Manufacturers: What Are You Trying to Accomplish with Your Content Marketing?

Smaller Companies are Doing a Better Job with Content Marketing

What are you Doing to Improve your Content Marketing Performance?

Content Marketing: Have a Strategy and Be Relevant.


Are You Going To Do Things Differently in 2014 With Your Blog?

February 11, 2014

When was the last time you reviewed your blog’s progress? What, you don’t have anything to review it against you say? If you’re going to take the time to blog, then let’s make sure your time and talents are being put to the best use. Well, let’s put a list of things together for you to evaluate:

  1. Goals - what were yours… thought leadership, lead generation, social media support?
  2. What content drew the most attention - look at your top posts for the year and write more around those topics.
  3. Are you maximizing your reach - is the content being utilized in all your marketing efforts including social media? Are you participating in forums and doing guest posts?
  4. Metrics – have you compared this year’s results to last year’s? Is one time of the year better or a day of the week pulling more hits?

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