Archive for the ‘Multi-Channel Marketing’ Tag

Corporate Social Media Roadmap

One of my contacts on Twitter posted a reply back that “Social Media is a Fad”. I have been thinking about that for the last couple of days. There is a tremendous amount of momentum around leveraging social media for business. This isn’t the first time that I have heard this in the last several months, but I guess perception is reality.

So, to that end, I have outlined a social media roadmap for those who are trying to “figure out” if the hype will lead to something real. I have been around enough to have seen this conversation a few times; websites, ecommerce, web applications, and now social media. This simple roadmap is targeted to those who want to do something, but are having a hard time presenting a business case, especially in this economy.

Social Media “Crawl”

  • Make sure your team has a complete profile on Linkedin –It would be nice if they were on Plaxo, Facebook, Twitter, etc.; but make sure that the profiles are complete and up-to-date; including past roles. For a lot of potential buyers, awareness of your company comes through an employee’s profile. Make sure they have a good impression.
  • Make sure that everyone has the same basic description– For the company, links to the various pages on the website (including one to careers). Also, make sure there is consistency in the company name (ie. Abbreviations, LLC on the end, Website name, etc)
  • Create a social media policy for employees– There is a fine line between personal and private. Social media can blur that line, especially on Facebook with pictures. Make sure that policy also includes connections to partners, vendors, customers, and other employees. I am not recommending that you curtail their ability to interact with online relationships, but make sure there is protection for the company.

Social Media “Walk”

  • Inventory Corporate Online Relationship Networks – You will be amazed at who your team is connected and no one else knew it. “I needed someone who could do this” or “We need an introduction to X”.
  • Identify who or which companies are missing – a key to successful networking is getting outside your own network. A lot of times it is the 3rd degree relationships that can produce the greatest opportunities.
  • Run a networking program for employees – Sales people and Executives generally know how to network, but the vast majority of employees don’t. But, they represent the vast majority or potential introductions as they had lives and experiences prior to joining the company.
  • Build an Online Relationship Campaign– This isn’t going out and collecting 25,000 random twitter followers, but building online relationships (across multiple social media sites) with the key influencers, bloggers, buyers, vendors, and participants in your industry. If the saying is “Sell where the customer is…” ; you need to start a program of connecting to them online.
  • Start an enterprise blog on your website– designate a team approach to creating an online thought leadership center for your company. Tie your blog updates to your social media participation. I update my Linkedin, Twitter, & Facebook every time I create a new post. It provides content and value for your connections; at the same time, creates a call to action for your website.
  • Cross Pollinate Your Traditional Marketing Database with your Social Media Contacts– I add all of the new contacts that I meet into my Linkedin and other social media accounts. Social CRM is becoming the new “hot” thing as companies are trying to manage the multiple (potential) customer communication channels.
  • Multi-Channel Marketing now Includes Social Media– I have been integrating my social media contacts into an email campaign list that I send my weekly blog digest. I have gotten a tremendous boost to my blog traffic by integrating email, social media, and traditional networking. A multi-channel, integrated approach allows you to reach the potential customer where and how they want to communicate. Especially with our busy schedule and email overload, don’t assume because they did not repsond that they are not interested. They may not have really “seen” the message.
  • Be Respectful– don’t SPAM your social contacts with random messages. Make sure that what you send them provides value to your network. They may not want to buy, but they will respect your attempt at providing value to the relationship and credentialing your thought leadership.

Social Media “Run”

  • Building your own online community into your corporate website – Use social media components to create a more compelling interaction on your website. Also, this provides great search engine optimization, thought leadership, differentiation, lead qualification, customer experience management, etc.
  • Build public, semi-private, and private group areas in your community– Provide value without a login through public groups, but encourage them to sign up (membership) to see a lot more. The private group areas are then used to continue the sales pursuit and provide individualized customer support.
  • Integrate your community with your marketing and sales activities– By integrating your online community, you provide a call-to-action for your outbound sales and marketing efforts. Also, this allows you to leverage your corporate website more effectively during the transition from marketing awareness and interest to sales process and lead management.
  • Integrate your community with Social Networking sites– Google, Facebook, and Linkedin all have member APIs that allow someone to use their membership in third-party communities. This removes one major obstacle for people to participate; the dreaded sign-up.
  • Integrate your community with your Enterprise Systems– Integrating your existing content and data with your online community is important because it allows you to leverage the investment in your existing CRM, ECM, etc. systems more effectively.
  • Leverage Web Analytics and Lead Scoring –An online community provides a trememdous amount of interaction data that can be measured, scored, and utlized for lead qualification.

Social Media “Sprint”

  • Integrate your business processes with your online community – Customizing the interactions of the community for your business processes; customer experience management, sales support, Call-center, project delivery, supply chain, partner management, etc. This means that different audiences interact within the community, but have personalized experiences based upon their roles and goals. I serve up a different forecasting dashboard in the Product Management Group versus the Sales Group.
  • Reimagining your Information Architecture– Some of the leading organizations are rethinking the traditional ideas around organizational Intellectual Property. They are begining to build flexible information architectures whereby the “community” is really the presentation layer for their corporate systems. They build interfaces as “application mashups”. Your access to information and applications is based upon just-in-time rights management. If I am working on a project, I get invited to the project group that has all of the project history, notes, documents, and applications that I need to interact with the project team. This also then is extended outside the organization to partners and customers. The enterprise is no longer a “castle” with a moat and a drawbridge, but a modern city with buildings, doors, locks, security systems, etc. This allows for more effecient business scalability.

At the end of the day, I don’t see social media as a fad. I think the hype factor will dimish along with the effectiveness some of the early adopters have been able to drive, but I see online social interaction as the next logical step in the evolution of the web and business.

If I Only Had $1 for Marketing, Where Should I Spend It?

A question that I have been working on for a number of weeks… Where would I focus my marketing budget at different budget levels? What activities provide the biggerst return on your marketing dollars? What would I recommend for a marketing budget?

These are common questions that I get when I build a marketing organization directly or I provide marketing consulting. It is especially relavent with so many companies slashing marketing budgets, at the same time looking for something to change the rules and build a foundation for growth.

My short list of critical marketing activities are below… budget is harder because you have to take a lot more factors into account; such as  industry, sale cycle, channels, pricing, packaging, type of product, type of services, size of company, growth expectations, etc…

1. Branding – the ability to tell your story, make it compelling, and differentiate yourself is critical.

2. Website – making sure that the website tells the right story, is search optimized, and credentials your organization. Some websites sell, but most are really sales support or customer support. The best sites manage the customer relationship. Depending on the industy, maturity, etc. I would recommend building an online community (social media components embedded into the website) to manage the pre-sales activities (community) and the one-to-one customer account activities (private groups).

3. Demo, Video, Sample, Picture, Flash, etc. – something that is a tangible representation of your offering that communicates the value of the offering which can be syndicated out through social media sites, Youtube, etc.

4. References, Case Studies, and Testimonials – Communicating value in a tangible way, credentialling your ability to deliver the solution

5. Collateral, PowerPoint, Flash, Webinars, Seminars, etc. – Depending upon your industry, there are accepted norms for delivering the pitch… some industries it can be done your website, via webinar, others require a PowerPoint, others still use PDFs. Irregardless of the medim, you have to tell the “visual story”; solution, pictures/imagery, value proposition, differentiation, package, pricing, functions, features….

6. Online Marketing – Search Engine Pay-Per-Click, Search Optimized Press Releases, Linkedin, Facebook, other industry specific social media sites/groups, maybe a banner ad on critical industry sites, etc.

7. Media, Blogger, & Analyst Outreach / Industry-specific Online CommunitySocial & Forum participation – The lines between traditional media, bloggers, analysts, and communities are blurring. You have to have  a strong presence and recognize the contribution those who follow the industry have on buyers.

8. Multi-channel Marketing – Email, direct mail, personal landing pages, drip marketing, campaigns, analytics, etc. You need a good outbound marketing engine as most companies cannot rely on networking & inbound referrals alone. You also should tie it into a good CRM system so that you can make the information actionable.

9.Events, Conferences, Tradeshows – With the economy tight, a lot of the travel dollars have been slashed, but participation is still a good way to get out of your own network. Selection of which to attend is more art than science, but a good rule of thumb is “go where the customers are”…

10. Partnerships – getting a partnership is really only the first step in actually getting business from partners. Nurturing relationships, training and supporting, building solution value, providing sales support, and providing channel marketing are the real challenge in getting sustainable business. “Build it & they will come” doesn’t usually work for partnerships, either.

Bottom line, is this is a generic list of activities, but the secret sauce is prioritizing where you spend your limited dollars. I write about social media a great deal as I believe that done correctly that it can be a game changer, but the real value is focusing on doing the marketing basics really well. You can always build upon a great foundation, but you have to crawl before you walk before you run.

Decoding Marketing: BtoB CMOs Integrating SM, SEO,Lead Gen, CRM, MCM, and M$trics for Success

What? Let me translate…

B-to-B = Business to Business

CMO = Chief Marketing Officer who has responsibility for Strategic Marketing, Product Management, Product Marketing, Channel Marketing, Marketing Communications, Lead Generation, & depending upon the nature of the company Customer Service.

SM = Social Marketing; both the external Social Media properties like FaceBook, Linkedin, Twitter, YouTube, etc, as well as, the branded online communities built as a part of the corporate website that leverage social media components and generate a ton of user content.

SEO = Organic Search. SEM is Search Engine Marketing whereby you pay-per-click for placement. SEO is better, but you have to be on the 1st page of organic search to really get placement. There are some really effective strategies leveraging online press releases, PR, cross-linking strategies, user generated content on your website, targeted meta-tagging, and more focused website content.

Lead Gen = Lead Generation, meaning the qualified stuff, not the “IP address 123.345.128 visited your page at 12:35am”. I mean the stuff sales organizations appreciate; qualified, interested, and clearly identified, preferrably educated, but ideally a referral. Inbound leads are a reflection of your outbound activities. If you are scatter-shotting your marketing activities, throwing stuff up against the wall, without a clearly coordinated call to action, you will have trouble with leads. Good marketing aircover involves multi-channel, clear value communications, and targeted to potential buyers where they buy. As a friend said the other day, “one message is ok, a campaign is better, a relationship is the best”. Relationships take time, multiple interactions, and can’t just be about the transaction….

CRM = heard about a new company doing Social CRM which brings all of your online social media contacts from multiple sites into your CRM. COOL! Now, take it one step further and find a way to bring those contacts into a dialogue on your website about attributes of your offering that is of interest to them… priceless…

MCM = Multi-channel communications, an essential tool in today’s world. Not the end-all, but a significant, important tool to managing your outbound marketing. The ability to coordinate marketing communications, target market specific interactions, and tie all of that into your CRM system is a strong foundation. I am talking with a leading Multi-channel Marketing firm this afternoon to find out there strategies for integration social media components into their lead scoring systems.

M$trics – A cute way of saying metrics. Marketing cannot get quantitative enough in my opinion. We need to make sure that we have clear ways to measure the impact on the business; whether through a direct ROI or the ability to affect the conversion from one stage of the sales process to the next. At the end of the day, Branding disconnected from the Business is hard to justify.

Success = Integrated marketing strategy that helps position the company & the product above the competition, drives awareness in the market, generated leads, and help position the company to get referrals and repeat purchases.

Plan = Without a destination, it is hard to figure out if you will arrive….

Marketer’s Dilemma

I have been following a good number of different bloggers on marketing. One of the challenges I find is that one are that I can’t seem to find really good information published out there is how to really break through the “marketing noise” on the internet. Let’s face it, there is a real problem out there for traditional marketing vehicles:

Changing Landscape of Online Lead Generation

Changing Landscape of Online Lead Generation

So, when I talk to other marketing professionals and a good number of CEOs, I get acknowledgment that there is a problem with SEO, email marketing, telemarketing, direct mail, tradeshows, webinars, etc. but I get a lot of different solutions:

A. Do more of the same

B. Cut budgets and focus on just the “free stuff”

C. Use social media “stuff” like twitter, blogs, and linkedin

D. Hire more sales people who have rolodexes

So, bottom line is that I have been asking a lot of hard questions and not getting a lot of good responses. On the other hand, there are some really good people who do get it that I will acknowledge in the next few posts.

The short answer, if you are wondering, is that the only real way to break through the “noise” is to concentrate your fire and use a multi-channel approach on the outbound that is coordinated, segmented, and integrated with your sales efforts. I will talk more about a multi-channel approach in subsequent posts.

On the in-bound side, you need to make sure that you build an online community that enables you to get your thought leadership and make sure your prospective audience can identify your differentiation. The new buyer paradigm “Google before Engagement” means that the potential buyers are doing research prior to engaging with your sales organization. If you are not found in their organic search results, the odds of hitting their buying window is small. Additionally, the likelyhood of catching their attention with outbound marketing messaging is also limited.

Online communities allow you to:

  • Galvenize your evangelism efforts
  • Coordinate your partner, employees, customers, etc to assist you in evangelizing
  • Provide a thought-leadership showcase for your differentiation and value proposition
  • Enable partners to assist in presenting a holistic solution
  • Provides a more engaging web experience for visitors to your website
  • Provides more behavioral information to identify “buyers” from “browsers”
  • Provides specific calls-to-action and credentialling for your outbound marketing vehicles
  • Provides an incredible amount of user generated content to feed/flood the search engines
  • Provide a centralized place to drive referrals and recommendations

Ok, so “I get it, but…”

There are plenty of objections, challenges, etc that I will review in the next couple of posts to assist you in understanding the role community should play in your new marketing playbook…

Bottom line is that the internet is evolving, the internet is changing marketing, changing sales, changing everything. Marketing’s role and focus within an organization must evolve to be relavent.

If done correctly, you should not only be able to keep pace in a down economy, but grow. You can’t score on defense….

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