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Publish or Perish- The New Paradigm for B2B Marketing? (Part 2 of 2)

A few weeks ago, I posted on the importance of getting your business to think like a publisher. Presuming you buy into the need for this mindset, what do you do about it?  If you are a B2B marketer, how exactly do you think like a publisher?

Here are some thoughts:

Create targeted content- It goes without saying that you need to create high quality content.   However, you could have videos produced by Steven Spielberg that generate little or no interest from your audience.  To build relevance, organizations need to build a range of content that appeals to the broad array of stakeholder interests and concerns associated with what you sell.

Here is what I mean by this.  Consider a complex technology solution sale and the number of people who can get involved in the process.  Is the content you produce and manage adequately oriented around the business owners, IT personnel, line managers, and contract/procurement teams that all have influence in the buying decision? Is it organized in a way that these influencers can easily learn about the issues that are central to their function in the buying process?

In my own practice, I have observed lots of companies who are trying to reach multiple stakeholders with the same message, through the same channels.  At best this results in a mishmash of generalized information that proves to be only marginally useful for engaging the influencers in the buying decision.  As well see in an upcoming example, segmenting the message creates an opportunity for better focus and more relevance.

Consider not only who they are but where they are in your relationship-So much of what companies do from a content perspective is oriented around prospecting and closing new business.  For businesses whose model is subscription based (e.g., SaaS models), information about how users can generate more efficiency and value from the solutions they already buy can be even more important to the long-term health of a business by further cultivating the relationships they already have.

Make full use of the channels at your disposal-Today’s content distribution mechanisms give you a wide range of options for targeting who you talk to and what you say.  Use them to segment the content that you feed to the various constituents you are trying to reach.  For example, Dario’s company (from Part I) uses a blog for driving awareness and education and the company home page for driving sales.  This   bifurcation of purpose allows his company to be extremely focused in messaging and UI design.

Give it to them in the media format that they want- There is lots of choice now on how you communicate with your audience, so don’t force white papers on customers as the only way to learn about your offerings.  Besides, have you heard about the Forrester report that states that video increases the likelihood of a front page Google search result by 96%?

Give your audience a voice- I heard a very interesting statistic from SplashMedia, that stated that only 14% of prospective customers were inclined to believe the marketing messages that came directly from the selling organization, while 78% of prospects tended to believe the opinions of other customers.  To be sure, giving your customers a voice is a big risk, and may not be such a great idea for companies who are not highly responsive to customer needs and complaints. Then again if you can harness the enthusiasm that people have for your offerings, (as implied by the statistic above) customers can be a great way to generate complementary content that helps close new business.

In the end, keeping these ideas in mind will help you think more like a publisher.  While your audience is not paying for your content, it is sacrificing its time and attention to read/listen to/watch what you create.  Orienting your organization around building specific messages for the right audience at the right stage in the customer relationship is most likely to generate the engagement that you need for driving and sustaining growth.

Market for Mobile Business Apps to be $6B+ by 2014

May 17, 2011 Comments off

According to Compass Intelligence, market for mobile business apps to grow to $6.12B in 2014 from $3.21 last year.  By far, greatest use of apps is for navigation/tracking (nearly half of businesses use apps for this purpose).  Link to article here.

Enterprise Selling- Not Just for the Salesperson Anymore

April 16, 2011 2 comments

Great thinking from Sameer Patel on Saleforce.com acquisition of Radian6 and discussion of implications for Customer Experience Management (CEM).

Most relevant points/learning for me in the article that resonate with my own experience in selling enterprise solutions:

  • Customers now come informed before they are ready to buy
  • This is pushing a shift in marketing which requires involvement of entire organizations, not just sales/marketing (marketing fluff won’t cut it with these educated prospects).  Note: just because this is needed doesn’t necessarily mean that this is what the selling organizations are offering
  •  This is in turn driving increased need for all parts of the organization (not just sales) to be listening and engaged in the discussion with customers- and where social networking tools can provide additional value
  • The combination of Radian6/Salesforce.com provides an opportunity to begin to manage and mine these interactions, but it has a ways to do this before the vision is realized

One hole in the “stack” that Patel points out in the combined offering is the ability to generate leads.  He coyly suggests Marketo/Hubspot as solutions for this, but my question here is how effectively an application can do this.  In my view applications help manage the lead generation process, not execute it. If anyone has experience in the effectiveness of these tools or has come across resources which point to the success of these tools, I’d welcome your thoughts and input.

Link to the article here:

http://bit.ly/f9aSIT

Erasing the Stigma of Enterprise Software

March 23, 2011 Leave a comment

I read an interesting article last night (thanks to @JHaughwout) reporting that Andreessen Horowitz (Silicon Valley VC) is bulking up its capabilities in enterprise computing and solutions.  There were a couple of great points made in the piece:

1) many VCs have shied away from investments in enterprise solutions because

  • Sales cycles are long
  • IT purchasers are a difficult sell (are a pain)
  • The companies they fund compete with industry stalwarts such as IBM

2) there is a great divide between the quality and usability of B2C software and that of B2B solutions

Why is the elegance we find in consumer applications so blatantly missing on the enterprise side?  As the author of the article points out, our experience at home increasingly raises the bar for those who want to play in the enterprise side.  People will demand solutions at work that are as functional as those they use at home.  Companies who get this will not only be highly differentiated, but  will be able to bring a new set of evangelists and advocates for their solutions.

We believe that this “consumerization” of the enterprise space is a very important trend.  It is driven by the proliferation of Saas models, infrastructure on demand, outsourcing and increasingly efficient marketing and distribution methods.  Its why you will see more content from us on successful tactics used in B2C social media and how these can be applied to the B2B/enterprise world.

Through my experience with small enterprise software companies I have lived through the painful truth of the points above, but currents in the competitive structure of the enterprise software space that suggest that they may not be the status quo for long.

Link to the article:

http://read.bi/eyjCM8

Why Branding Matters

March 19, 2011 1 comment

I was at a forum this week focused on helping a specific B2B technology/services company gain traction on an offering that was designed to provide enterprise security for mobile devices (target market is $1B+ in revenues).   As with many of the clients that I have worked with they struggled with the following:

1)      Shortening sales cycles

2)      Building brand recognition for a new offering

3)      Moving into an adjacent market with different decision makers

I will post more on my blog in future posts on topic #1, but I wanted to share the thoughts of one of the panelists on the forum- a CTO of a major hospital system- precisely the target customer for the company’s offering.  I got two main insights from his contributions to the talk.

1)      Brand recognition matters in so far as it helps in weed through deluge of communications that he gets from vendors on a daily basis .  “I get 60+ emails a day from people trying to sell me stuff.  If I have never heard of the company before, there is no chance that I will open an email or take a call from them.”

2)      References from his peers matter.  From same CTO- “If my peers are other organizations are talking about a new technology or company, I take notice.”

In my operating experience and as a business owner and entrepreneur, I have struggled with investments in branding not only because of the expense, but also because of the difficulty of tracking what meaningful results, if any, might result from these “investments.”

But clearly, as  the example of the CTO mentioned earlier- it helps drive effectiveness of sales and marketing and makes the path to the decision maker more efficient as well.

The good news here is that with social networking there are new and inexpensive ways to not only drive brand awareness, but also to begin tracking the effectiveness of these efforts.  To be sure, effective use of B2B social networking for the purposes of effective lead generation is in its infancy, but we see it as a critical means of driving efficiency and advantage versus some of the older methods that many B2B companies struggle to generate results from today.  In future posts, we will explore more specifically how this is done, but for now you may want to check out the following:

For B2B Social Networking: http://bit.ly/fslfC6

For B2B Brand Measurement/Tracking: http://buswk.co/e1tQgp

B2B Survey Indicates Online Marketing Investments Focused on Lead Generation

March 11, 2011 Leave a comment

A recent study by AMR International finds that B2B marketers are concentrating nearly 40% of their online spend on lead generation. What’s more interesting about this is the fact that among those who do not formally use metrics to track paid search effectiveness, less than a third saw paid search as being effective. Leads to some interesting questions regarding effectiveness of digital channels, which we will continue to investigate further in subsequent posts.

Link to article can be found here: http://bit.ly/eNPXfc

2011 Estimates for SMB IT Spending

February 8, 2011 Leave a comment

According to Gartner, SMBs (defined as entities which employ less than 999 employees) will spend an estimated $860B on IT. $137B of this will be on software. Gartner estimates only 11-18% of firms purchase on-demand services, but predicts that this will grow to 35% by 2012.

SMBs See Technology Investment as Top Proirity

January 28, 2011 Comments off

According to a Doremus and Forbes insight study, 45% of SMBs surveyed would upgrade technology if they were able to obtain additional capital. Suggests that this is a particularly attractive segment for vendors of technology solutions.

emarketersurvey.pdf

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