Strategic Outreach

Managing Change Via Communications

Why Wouldn’t You Put Your B2B Video on YouTube?

The use of YouTube by B2B marketers is growing fast, and since an entertainment element is preferred by viewers, this is where serious companies with complex offerings should lighten up a bit and relate to the “people” side of things.

Novell’s “Gimme” video for its WorkloadIQ (a suite of products for intelligent workload management) is amusing, clever, and right on in terms of the message. In it, conversations directed at the IT guy consist only of two syllables: gim-me (with various inflictions).  The “gimme” theme is something everyone in IT can identify with; in fact, anyone who is employed within the service and support sector of the business world would probably give this a knowing nod.

Even though the little commercial can be shared from the Novell site, YouTube is the fastest way to get extra mileage and awareness from the effort, and if the producer is lucky, videos like these get a big viral boost. Plus, if it had been on YouTube, I  could have easily imported it as a playable video right into this blog post.

Maybe it’s not up on YouTube because Novell is in the process of being bought by Attachmate and a consortium led by Microsoft, and they want to appear serious.  Microsoft doesn’t really have a great sense of humor as far as I can see – typically when they try, it looks like they’re trying too hard.

Other tech sector big-leaguers are cool enough to jest. My favorite Intel TV spot pokes fun at what’s funny to a techno worker. It’s far more interesting than the overplayed “robot who gets his feelings hurt” spot that had a Super Bowl premiere this year.

So is B2B awareness-building success on YouTube just for the big guys?  Not really. The Earnest Agency, a London-based B2B marketing services agency decided to take their research report that summarizes B2B use of the social web, and turn it into a lively animated video (think Monty Python animated cut-outs).   In the first six weeks (last autumn) it got 6500 views, 90 mentions on Twitter, and they saw a 30% increase in traffic to their website and a 77% increase in weekly visitors to their blog.

But there was one hitch. When you click the play button below, you’ll see that you have to then click a link to YouTube to see it.  See my explanation below.

Looks like you can only view it on YouTube.  It seems Sony Music Entertainment forced them to stop offering it on the agency website, since the soundtrack is a Dave Brubeck recording.   But apparently showing it on  YouTube is allowed (because it’s an educational venue?)  My take on Earnest’s mistake: 1) they used the whole jazz recording, not just part of it.   2) Earnest Agency is indirectly selling something…themselves.  It’s a commercial purpose.

Back to the bottom line on video: lighten up and use YouTube.

December 9, 2010 Posted by | B2B messaging, Brand and Reputation, BtoB Marcomm Creative, Content-Inspired Conversations | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thanksgiving is Story-Telling Time

Thanksgiving is a time for gratitude, reflection … and family stories recanted over mincemeat pie.

Want a lesson in extremely compact story telling?  You may have seen AT&T’s Rethink Possible TV spot.

If these guys can visually tell the life story of a fictitious future U.S. president right up through inauguration, along with the meeting and courtship of his parents, in 30 seconds, and still have time to include a leisurely look at the parent’s curious, flirtatious first glances …  while demonstrating the cell phone technology that made the meeting possible …. then certainly we B2B PR content developers can deliver a case study in a one or two short paragraphs.  Some of us do.

Happy turkey day to all my colleagues and friends.  I’m going to try my hand and making a mincemeat pie from scratch – complete with rich, brandy-fortified hard sauce.

November 23, 2010 Posted by | B-to-B Case Studies, B-to-B Social Media Technology, B2B messaging, BtoB Marcomm Creative, Business Storytelling, Content-Inspired Conversations | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Taking a New Approach to Reaching the Real Buying Influences

Just when you think you fully understand the buying influences and the right messages, think again.

One thing that I’ve learned during my career is to routinely take a second or third look, after you think you’ve got a market all figured out. BtoB buying influences can easily allude the marketer or PR pro who goes with “obvious” conclusions.

Digital Metrology in a Crowded Field

Early in my career I worked with an Italy-based company (DEA) that made multi-axis, robotic-like digital equipment for probing durable goods components to measure dimensional accuracy.  During the automated routine, the probe would touch points on the part, ensuring that holes and features were within tolerances specified to meet quality objectives.

Back then, the new kids on the block in the manufacturing world were the “quality” people, working in lab coats in Clean Rooms, carefully measuring samples (first parts of a production run, for example).  These were the typical users of the Coordinate Measuring Machines (CMMs) our client was selling. So of course, it would make sense to direct the advertising and PR toward these Quality Control engineers.

What we didn’t first realize and acknowledge was that the Manufacturing and/or Production Engineers (the guys that specked out and ran the “dirty” work out on the shop floor), actually controlled more budget dollars for the Clean Room quality control equipment than the quality guys.  Plus, the Manufacturing Engineers were starting to get the CMMs out onto the production floor to achieve faster checking and higher sampling.

So, while the heavy competition (there were more than 12 CMM builders at the time) were still grinding away with their ads and PR in Quality and Quality Progress magazine, we targeted the publications that the Manufacturing Engineers read – and created messages specifically relating to their world.

DEA’s market share steadily grew, while others floundered or disappeared. DEA was later bought by US-based Brown & Sharpe.

September 15, 2010 Posted by | B-to-B Case Studies, B-toB Advertising, Brand and Reputation, BtoB Marcomm Creative, Buying Influences, Media Relations | , , , , , , , , , , , | 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

“Will It Blend” is the Ultimate Demo

More ideas to borrow for BtoB marketing:

No one can deny the success of Blendtec’sWill it Blend?” viral-video marketing strategy.  It’s both a BtoC (home blenders) and BtoB (commercial blenders) equation. It’s proof of the power of the demo, especially when you take it to an extreme…and have some fun with it.  The no-to-low cost nature of this campaign is the biggest news.

CEO Tom Dickson hosts the hugely viral video series

There’s dozens of these goofy demonstrations on YouTube; their smiley CEO Tom Dickson blends iPhones, Transformer toys, even Bic lighters (their “don’t try this at home” disclaimer is serious).  I don’t play golf, so this one (below) certainly doesn’t disturb me one bit.

How do you apply the demo video to less-visually-dramatic BtoB products and services?   Take a close look at what time-lapse could do for you – whether it be actual video footage or graphics.

August 21, 2010 Posted by | B-to-B Case Studies, B-to-B Marketing Vocabulary, B-to-B Social Media Technology, B-toB Advertising, Brand and Reputation, BtoB Marcomm Creative, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Borrow Best B2C Campaign Themes for B2B Messaging

My workday adrenaline is fueled by the fact that business innovations are exciting, new technology enthralling.  Likewise, B2B marcomm messaging should tap into new and engaging energies, rather than reverting to hyperbole and braggadocio.  And why do we need to always be as serious as a funeral home?

So, here’s my first in a series entitled:  “Best B2C Campaign Themes to Borrow for your BtoB Messaging.”

First up:  KIA Motor’s “You Can Go with This, or You Can Go with That”  TV Spot for the Soul.  Gotta love it.  Amusing nonsense.

I can imagine the ad people pitching the idea to KIA: “Yeah, so we’ll have these really badass rappers from the hood, but they’re hamsters.”  The use of small appliances is brilliant; it takes me back to my irreverent/irrelevant college radio days back in Ann Arbor, with Fraser Smith, John Giese, Daddy Wags (where are they now?) and occasional Firesign Theatre guests.  Lots of non sequitars.

So now, imagine this. Your next B2B campaign.  Bag the “solution” laden copywriting mode, and instead use vivid images captioned with “you can get with this” (your offering) in contrast to the chaotic alternative if you “get with that.”  Obviously, you can’t use KIA’s actual rap tracks; we’re talking about parody or similarity here.

More to come.  If you’ve got a favorite, please let me know.

August 11, 2010 Posted by | B-toB Advertising, Brand and Reputation, BtoB Marcomm Creative, Business Storytelling, Issues That Worked | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments