01 Jun

Focus less on reach, more on persuasion.

On the obsession with technology in marketing: I’ve been an advocate and avid user of marketing tech forever BUT….Let’s not forget that (so far) no piece of technology has persuaded anyone to engage with you, or buy from you. It’s allowed us to reach more people, but not persuade them. It’s allowed us to be more targeted, but no one has ever sent an email on to a colleague because it was so well targeted.

That only happens with great messaging and creative and I think that in B2B there is a massive under-investment in creative.  With the access to a multitude of channels such as email and social media, the path to your customers’ heart is actually harder because everyone else is communicating to your customers too.

If the objective is to persuade people, rather than just reach people, consider a few ideas here (and add your own in the comment section!)

#1. Laser target your messaging – generic never wins.

 It’s cheaper to have one theme, one campaign for many segments/personas but what’s the point if it doesn’t persuade anyone?  You can differentiate not just in what you say but how you say it. Your campaign in itself can be a competitive advantage.

#2. Invest in the best creative you can afford

Once you know what you want to say of course. There’s a difference between telling and persuading. We live in a visual world where you compete for seconds of someone’s attention, so make it count. You don’t need to hire an expensive agency, but get the best creative you can afford in your budget.

#3. Use video, but do it right

Video is a killer medium for online engagement. But if you do it, do it as well as you can afford. Just because you’re literate, doesn’t mean you can write, and just because you have a camera doesn’t mean you can make a compelling video. Video is often the key campaign asset and all the marketing automation in the world can’t help you if your message falls flat.

Any other suggestions?

15 Feb

B2B marketing rule #1 – Sell or die

The focus in our B2B marketing world on marketing technology, social media and other tools and tactics is astounding. This is not an article to poohoo the value that can deliver; this is about looking at whether or not we are losing our focus on what actually underpins everything from the sales pitch to the lead generation campaign; persuasion.

Sounds like selling to me…and it is. The most fundamental thing we still need to do is get the right people’s (many, not one) attention and demonstrate the difference we bring.

Educating or persuading?

For years now, there’s been a lot of talk sharing your knowledge freely.  Oceans of content are being produced, often by dedicated content management agencies, employing former journalists, who these days are being laid off faster than they come out of University.

The core idea is sound; people crave information to make buying decisions, to a large extent so that they can rationalise their purchase decision. So if you want to be considered, you have to have a voice for those who are seeking. Nowhere more so than when they buy on behalf of a company, in Business to Business or B2B.

What’s important is not to confuse educating with marketing.

The purpose of education is to help you make better choices. The purpose of marketing is to make people choose you over someone else. So in other words, ONLY if education leads to changing someone’s preference is it a marketing activity and worth doing. You can be smart with that and play a long game, with a long lead of informative content, but it should only exist in the context of a clear marketing outcome.

In the end, it’s not about giving people more options, but fewer.

27 Feb

How not to drown in the well of thought leadership

“Thought leadership”, providing insight and education to your customers is an amazing opportunity to position your brand, generate interest and connect to a community. The guys that do it well (like Marketo) have made it a pillar of their marketing strategy.

This is not just creating some “content” to feed campaigns. Jon Miller from Marketo put the difference between thought leadership and content marketing nicely:

Thought leadership consists of ideas that require attention, that offer guidance or clarity and that can lead people in unexpected, sometimes contrarian directions (think of Seth Godin).  Thought leadership needs to be educational and ideally provocative; content marketing can simply be fun or entertaining.

It ain’t easy, as anyone who’s had a crack at it will tell you.  And outsourcing insight is not an option either, like you might do with some of your content marketing. So if you go down the path, here are a few thoughts:

Don’t confuse education and marketing. Unless your insights change someone’s mind, and  are part of a consistent narrative, it’s not likely to drive marketing results. For me, the key of the above quote is  “guidance or clarity and that can lead people in unexpected, sometimes contrarian directions.

Plan it like any campaign.  It’s not going to happen in between other things.  Your best bet is to put it in your marketing plan as a campaign like any other. Special recommendation: if you’ve decided to make this a collaborative effort with some colleagues, make sure it’s in their KPIs with dates and times…or you’ll be doing it alone.

What’s your experience?