25 Sep

Friends? Don’t expect them online

Connecting online with like-minded people (both professionally and personally) has changed peoples’ business and private lives and I don’t think we’ve seen anything yet. Whether it is through online collaborations (such as “The Age of Conversation“) or through applications like LinkedIn and Facebook. But are they friendships?leaders meeting

Lewis Green doesn’t think so. He writes: “Virtual is good. Reality is better” and I agree. Friendship between people requires meeting in the flesh and not once, but many times. I don’t have more than a handful of friends and they are people I know very, very well. However I have many acquaintances, colleagues and business contacts.

There is nothing wrong with that. Relationships need a starting point and a path to grow into friendships. The hardest part for most people is precisely that; a starting point.

If you are building a business, if you are a marketer, a significant part of your life is focused on creating those first steps on that path; an opportunity to start a conversation, to gain a foothold of someone’s attention and interest.

17 Sep

Does blogging help your search results? You bet.

In case you wondered how effective blogging is for search results, it is very effective.

B2B marketing and branding (or business marketing and branding) is our key area of specialisation. Below you see where my blog ranked for some key search terms relating to my business:

Business branding – 3rd out of 55,300,000

B2B marketing – 5th out of 2,960,000

Business marketing – 7th out of 523,000,000

(Searching www.google.com.au, which is what my market are most likely to use)

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16 Sep

Guest post by David Meerman Scott – The New Rules of B2B Marketing

This is a guest post from David Meerman Scott, thought leadership and viral marketing strategist and the author of “The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to use news releases, blogs, podcasts, viral marketing and online media to reach your buyers directly”.

For decades, B2B marketing and PR has focused on only two ways to get noticed, buy your way in with advertising or beg your way in with PR. B2B marketing and PR people have operated under the assumption that you either had to pay big bucks for ads, tradeshows, and direct mail, or rely on magazines, newspapers, radio, and TV to tell your story. That approach might have worked fine when the only way that people found answers to problems was to search tradeshows, Read industry journals, rely on “experts” (analysts) advice and opinions, and interact with company salespeople.

But now buyers are finding answers to their problems online. They search Google, read online portals and news sites, listen to bloggers’ advice and opinions, pay attention to word-of-mouse from peers and friends, and visit company websites

So what’s a marketer to do? The answer is to think like a publisher and create compelling online content in the form of YouTube videos, online news releases, blogs, podcasts, and online media to reach your buyers directly. Each of these things also has an opportunity to go viral, with others telling your story.

Being successful means, as Yoda said in Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back: “You must unlearn what you have learned.”

Old rule: Buy your way in with advertising

As marketing people, we’ve all learned rules that worked in the offline world. But to succeed on the Web using the new rules, old habits must be unlearned.

“Stop shouting BUY MY PRODUCT” (people turn off overt advertising, especially online). You need to unlearn the marketing habit of constantly pitching your product. Instead create content to help people answer their problems.

Old rule: Beg your way in with PR

  • Your buyers are not nameless faceless metrics. They are people like you and me who want to consume valuable content.
  • You must unlearn the idea that media and analysts are the only ones who can tell your story. Instead, the web has made PR public again.

New Rule: Publish your way in with great content that your buyers want to consume.

  • You must unlearn interrupting people with “messages.” Instead, publish online content they want to consume
  • You must unlearn the use of gobbledygook about your products and services. Instead start from the problems and needs of your buyer personas.
  • You must unlearn spin. Instead, understand that people crave authenticity and transparency.
  • You must unlearn being egotistical and trying to force people to adapt to your terms. Instead create online content people want to consume
  • You must unlearn the assumption that you must buy access. Instead, create something that goes viral and let millions of people tell your story for you.
  • You must unlearn the idea that the “clip book” is the only way to measure your communications efforts. Instead, consider how you can reach people directly.
  • You must unlearn the idea that “leads” are the only way to measure your marketing efforts. Instead, consider how you are engaging your buyers and building a position as a trusted resource.
12 Sep

The problem with the latest

Most marketers love the latest idea, strategy or tool. Yes, you too I suspect. There is a good reason for it, we are constantly looking for a competitive edge, either for our company or for our clients. Agencies and consultants are hired for their expertise, their ideas and their ability to execute after all.

The problem is the silver bullet syndrome. Something new comes along (CRM, email marketing, social media marketing; you fill in the rest) and suddenly this is the panacea to all marketing problems. So everyone is an instant expert and the currency of the latest idea quickly devalues to the latest fad.
Spike Jones from Brains On Fire laments the fact that Word of Mouth Marketing is going that way:

I’m over it (the term, not the practice). And I guess I knew it would happen sooner or later: every marketer in the free world is either trying to give advice on word of mouth marketing or says that they are practicing it. From big ad agencies to the guy working out of his garage.

I don’t buy it.

And a bit further down:

 

The words “word of mouth marketing” are becoming watered-down and sucked into the vast nothingness that is marketing-speak. And while it saddens me, I guess it was to be expected.

 

Word of Mouth is not new of course. Cavemen used it I’m sure. But talking about Word of Mouth marketing makes you sound as though you are in touch with the latest. Actually making it work for a client is a very different story of course. “Because big ideas are easy doing stuff is hard”.

So in time, everyone moves on to the next silver bullet and the people who actually execute something like a word of mouth campaign do what they have always done; make sure their clients talk about the results they have achieved. Sounds like word of mouth.

10 Sep

If you wondered what excellence in lead generation is about…

The amount of stuff written on lead generation is mind boggling, but as with everything, sometimes people come up with something useful. Hat off to the guys at raintoday.com, for creating a really useful and readable e-book, called The One Piece Of Advice You Can’t Generate Leads Without.

Ten people, ten different interpretations

The concept of having ten people write an individual piece on the same subject works well, and I particularly liked the opening piece by Jill Konrath who writes as if she was a prospective buyer. This is a short bit which paints the picture:

“In short, I have way to much to do, ever-increasing expectations, impossible deadlines and constant interruptions from people wanting my attention”

Another one that got my attention was Ardath Albee’s article “Tales to keep them talking” which argues the importance of having a content strategy to drive the conversation, based on the “essence” of your company. (which is really the brand essence as I see it)
So what’s the gist?

The observations may not be earth-shattering, but they are succinct and the achieve their objective to cover the most important issues, not all the issues.

  • Understand who you want to talk to, agree this within the organisation
  • Have an ongoing conversation, not a series of one-off communications
  • Nurture leads”, or in people language keep a two way communication open; a considerable portion of sales actually comes from these leads
  • Measure what you do, or don’t do it at all

Download the e-book here – I think you’ll enjoy it.

07 Sep

Now you can search your Google Reader

I use Google Reader as my RSS reader. Up to now, Google didn’t have a search function in Google Reader. Bizarre, really, but suddenly overnight, one has appeared.
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Like many of you, I have lots of RSS feeds, feeding me hundreds of posts a day.

Some I read religiously, some I skim past. Apart from keeping me informed, they are also a source for ideas for my own posts, so when I find something I like I “star” it for later.

But sometimes I just have an idea and wonder who’s written about it. Being able to search my feeds is a fantastic additional feature and long overdue. They were probably too busy working on the Gphone:)

04 Sep

How good are agency websites?

There are two types of businesses that almost exclusively use “Flash” websites: advertising agencies and architects.

Why? Does it work? I.e. do their audience want this? Are these the most effective websites for agencies and architects?jwt.gif

I asked a mate in a digital agency about advertising agency websites and he came back with this:

“Normally it’s to show off the ‘creative’ nature of the business. Also, a lot of the agencies around are still tv centric so the moving image is a big part of what they know and understand. I think agencies just want to appear “cutting edge” in the internet world and they think that Flash says that about them…”

When I asked him why they create Flash sites for themselves and non-flash sites for their clients his answer was:

“For the client sites, it all comes down to demographic of their audience (for example, some brands are purely 12-20 year olds who want the flashy – everything moving – type sites. Where as (other brands) are mainly 25+ women so they don’t care too much about flash.”

Back to my point; is this what works for agency clients? I don’t have the answer, but I’d love to hear your views.

UPDATE: David Meerman Scott posts this answer to the question. You won’t be left wondering what he thinks:)