Strategic Outreach

Managing Change Via Communications

Research Shows B2B Content is King

Some relevant research completed over the last 12 months reinforces the importance of branded content in B2B marketing.

I recently attended a NorCal BMA conference up in Silicon Valley where Barry Trailer of CSO Insights summarized some of their research findings in their report, 2010 Key Trends in BtoB Lead Generation Optimization.

Of all the marketing tools, website design/content topped the list in terms of percentage of B2B marketers who say they will increase budget dollars in the next 12 months (65% of responses). The next three biggest areas for increases were for email marketing, new media (ex: blogs) and web search optimization.  The loser was direct mail.

A Custom Content Council survey reveals that 32% of overall marketing communications budget dollars go to branded content, although the mailed survey went to both B2C and B2B industries. I’m not alone in believing that Conversational Marketing doesn’t get very far without Content Marketing.

Also of interest: within a custom-content budget, 51% of the dollars go to custom print publications, 27% for internet media and 22% for other categories including video and audio.  No surprise that half is still needed for print, given the cost of printing.

Content as an SEO Utility

One by-product of the battle for first-page search engine rankings is the advent of what I call “shallow content.”  These are quickly-crafted articles with borrowed facts and ideas that have something to do with the marketer’s industry and thus the article can be filled with the relevant and useful keywords.  The keywords legitimize the article so when Google finds the link to the marketer’s website in the text,  a credible in-bound link is noted on the “score card”.  All for SEO purposes.  The idea of potential prospects actually reading the content is secondary.

September 25, 2010 Posted by | Authenticity, B-to-B Social Media Technology, Brand and Reputation, Content-Inspired Conversations, Perspective Paper Strategies, Website content | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Application Stories Fueled B2B Manufacturing-Tech Leadership

Early in my career in the years “B.I” (Before Internet), I began experiencing first-hand the marketing power of pumping out useful, insightful content to the marketplace.  My colleagues and I proved that we could magnify the perception of a very small company as a leader, by demonstrating what they know.

Our Detroit-area agency did the marcomm and PR for a Bridgeport, Connecticut manufacturing-tech specialist and system builder,  Bodine Assembly & Test Systems.  Bodine had one basic carousel system format that they applied to the assembly of products in dozens of industries, from consumer padlocks and batteries to fuel injectors, to little telecommunication connectors.  Fascinating to watch.

My on-going program focused on demonstrating the depth of their custom engineering genius, applied successfully for so many different product manufacturers.  We created a direct mail mini-magazine, videos, advertising, PR, trade shows – a comprehensive mix. Lots of testing technology news. And we helped top executives to speak out, on subjects such as quality assurance to lean manufacturing.

The biggest element was the application stories. The trick was beating the proprietary-technology roadblocks that so many of Bodine’s customers would put up, many times for good reasons since the assembly process contributed significantly to their competitive edge.  But we worked with them, or around them.

Door Hardware Application in Bodine's Direct Mail Mini-Publication

Showing the “nuts and bolts” of applications helped prospects visualize themselves as users of the technology.  We also had our version of the Human Interest angle … let’s call it “Engineer Interest.”  For instance, we told the story of how an older Bodine synchronous assembly machine that had been making garter belt clips, of all things, was sold and converted into a machine to make electrical products. Women’s fashions had changed, markets shifted, and the technology got re-applied.

Over five years time,  we proved that our awareness-building programs worked, with metrics from publication-sponsored research, and from Bodine’s successful entry into new markets, fueled on the front-end by marketing communications.

Also see my May post on persuading top management.

August 26, 2010 Posted by | Authenticity, B-to-B Case Studies, B-toB Advertising, Brand and Reputation, BtoB Marcomm Creative, Business Storytelling, My Career, Tech Sector Thought Leadership | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Media Relations is not Favor-Mongering

Some companies have a strange view of Media Relations, and the practitioners of the craft that they hire  are always under the gun to get something out of almost nothing.

What if a friend told you: “Yes, I’ve made a career out of asking my relatives for favors and money.  I do it every month, again and again.  In fact, I have to constantly interrupt them if whatever they’re doing doesn’t involve me, and remind them that I need another favor.”

"Just One More Favor."

Sad, to be sure.  Media Relations, when done right, is not at all like this.  It’s about matching insights and resources with the right communications venue, not about calling in favors.

The business and trade publication biz is a tough one these days.  For editors, the workload constantly increases, and the revenues and compensation are typically going down.  Competition is fierce.  So you better have something new and important, backed up with data, if you want them to spend their time (and money) on articulating it for you and getting the information to your marketplace.

You probably aren’t going to have brand new, stunning information that fits this criteria every week. The rest of the time, make yourself available to help out and contribute by answering a question that a publication editor may have.  This will be occasional.

Meanwhile, take advantage of all the other valuable, low-cost or free channels for disseminating your own Thought Leadership content, on-line and otherwise.  And there’s even Advertising.  Yes, remember that thing called Paid Advertising.  More targeted than ever. “Wow, Uncle Dave is actually paying his own way now instead of bugging us.”

Which brings me back to my “asking favors from your relatives” analogy.  If you were then to replace the word “media” and call it “Family Relations,” you’d soon have to remove the word “Relations” because none of your relatives would want to have any kind of relationship with you.

July 13, 2010 Posted by | Authenticity, Brand and Reputation, Media Relations | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment