Native Advertising, Keep It Simple

Native advertising is one of those industry terms that is much discussed and has many meanings to many marketers. A detailed list of types and examples of native ads is helpful, but let’s keep this simple.

Think of native advertising as paid contextual placement that blends in with the editorial
DeathtoStock_Desk7content of the website or publication. Native ads provide information and insight into a product or service. They are generally viewed 53 percent more frequently than display ads, according to a study by IPG Media Lab using eye-tracking technology. This style of advertising is effective with consumers. But, it is particularly useful in B2B and technology categories that have long sales cycles as well as complex review and decision processes. In these scenarios, at least 60 percent of research is conducted before any contact is made with a manufacturer or supplier. The key to attracting attention and interest during this research phase is providing access to high-value content: information that your audience finds so worthwhile that they link to it, reference it or share it socially. It helps them identify and include your company’s products or services in the evaluation process.

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Research is Key to Creating Content in the Customer’s Voice

Content marketing continues to flourish. M/C/C, our agency peers, clients and prospects all understand its value to the buying process. Marketers continue to make content marketing one of their top priorities, and B2B and B2C companies alike are leveraging it for brand awareness, engagement and leads.

It’s been a while, but I previously wrote about how to get the most out of your content marketing. The post, based on the concept of “stop selling and start helping,” encouraged marketers to develop content that their customers and prospects want to read, not what they want them to read. I went on to suggest that regardless of the form or distribution, the most successful content should help customers and prospects solve problems and put them on the path to meeting their business goals.

What my previous post did not do, is discuss how you put yourself in position to create such content.  That’s what I hope to accomplish here.  Continue reading “Research is Key to Creating Content in the Customer’s Voice” »

No More Excuses – B2B Marketing Has a New Job

In today’s digital world, the tables have turned. B2B marketers have all the advantages of consumer marketers and more – and it is about time.

B2B marketers have long been challenged to find effective methods to target narrow, highly specialized audiences. Relative to large and broad consumer audiences, B2B audiences are fairly small in numbers and have traditionally been difficult to reach.

B2B Marketing New Job

But there are no more excuses. According to the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) 57 percent of research is done online before contact is ever made with a company. It is marketing’s job to influence that journey and lead customers to a contact. B2B marketers need to do the hard work of identifying the steps a prospect needs to take to go from interest to action that ends in a purchase. So often, the purchase cycles in B2B markets are long and complex. Prospects need to be educated on a product, solution or benefit of a new process. Sometimes this requires an in-depth technical briefing on your product or service. Prospects may also need to build confidence that you are a leading provider they can trust with a critical business process. In most cases, they need some combination or all of these messages to be communicated at different touch points along the way.

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Mapping B2B Decision-Making Cycles with Relevant Types of Content

B2B Decision Making ProcessWhen looking at a B2B environment, there are some significant differences in decision-making compared to a typical consumer purchase of something as simple as potato chips or as complex as a PC. A B2B decision-making cycle is typically much longer, ranging from months to sometimes years. The process is usually multi-step and involves many people within an organization ranging from technical experts to procurement to the C-level, depending on the scope and size of the decision. Often, a decision is built around the development of a personal relationship with a salesperson or can be influenced greatly by the level of support provided post-sale. Generally, B2B decision-making is more complex.

With 67 percent of the buyer’s journey now happening digitally (Source: SiriusDecisions), a thoughtful approach to content marketing at every step of the complex B2B decision-making process is critical, particularly online.Using the most relevant and valuable content within the broad spectrum of paid, earned or owned media during the appropriate phase can not only help increase traffic to your site but also help secure more customers.

The importance of aligning not only the right type of content to secure initial engagement but also developing compelling content to maintain interest during the three phases of decision making is illustrated by Marketing Sherpa. These diagrams demonstrate the impact of a 1 percent click-through rate (CTR) increase on customer growth.

Let’s look closely at the three phases:

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B2B Video Doesn’t Have to B Boring, Just B Yourself

When I’m wearing my consumer hat, I take my shopping experience very seriously. I’m not the kinda guy who runs out and purchases a new product unless I know something about it — except for cereal and chips. I’m a sucker for cheap prizes and buffalo-ranch flavoring, so I steer clear of those grocery aisles. Minus my vices, I consider myself an informed shopper. I read online reviews. I ask friends if they’ve ever tried the product. I search hashtags. I watch demo videos of the product in use. I use all the resources available so that I can avoid buyer’s remorse. Fortunately, the product manufacturers supply you with the majority of those resources on their websites, social media or media placements throughout the world wide webisphere.

Surprisingly, my consumer hat and business hat look pretty similar. At heart, I’m a consumer. When it comes to purchasing products and services for video production, I do my research, ask around and watch demo videos about the particular service or item that peaks my interest. I’m fortunate that the video production industry understands my buying habit better than most. There are plenty of video demos from manufacturers and users that help supply me with the info I need. That’s not always the case in B2B. Customers are often left feeling unsatisfied.

The Head and The Heart

B2B marketing is often really boring, and its videos share that same fate. For starters, a lot of B2B companies specialize in service, and that’s hard to concept for video. I mean, what does service look like in the corporate spectrum? Guys shaking hands. Woman on a headset talking. Guy using the computer. Line graphs being drawn out. It’s not exactly riveting. I can’t see immersing myself in a video full of stiffs. When was the last time you went to the movie theater to watch executives in a conference room pointing at charts and waving financial reports?

That’s why B2B marketers and video professionals have to think outside the box. Time to toot the ol’ agency horn a little bit. M/C/C just finished an anthem video for our new website. M/C/C falls into the B2B category, even though much of our clientele falls into both the B2B and B2C categories. With more than 27 years in marketing communications, M/C/C, more than most, has a better idea of what triggers the audience’s attention across the spectrum. Our new website captures that sentiment:

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Tapping Into The B2B Blogosphere

In March 2012, Neilsen reported and calculated more than 181 million blogs around the world.

Yes, 181 MILLION.

Everyone and their mom seems to have a blog these days. From parenting to family to travel and even button collecting – there is a place for everyone to get a piece of the pie. While the consumer sector of the blogosphere has  latched on quickly to the trend, the B2B world has been slower to adopt these channels as strategic communications tools with real tangible benefits.

Since embracing social media and blogger relations in the past years, Dell has learned a thing or two about the importance of blogger relations. They have learned that people and their opinions come in all forms and every person finds their own and unique way to share a story. The savviest of companies are using this unique, word-of-mouth marketing strategy to help change company perceptions and tap into niche industries with relevant conversation.  B2B brands should take note!

Photo by: Dell Official Flickr, CC-BY-2.0

Photo by: Dell Official Flickr, CC-BY-2.0

 

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Snapshots of Success: Enterprise IT

M/C/C has worked with a wide range of business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) clients throughout its 26-plus years of service, but marketing high technology holds a special place in our hearts. In fact, a love for technology is one of the reasons why our founder, Mike Crawford, started this specialty agency. Take information technology (IT) and telecom, for example. To this day we’re deeply ingrained in the enterprise IT support and infrastructure industry, understanding what it takes to drive these audiences to action. Take a moment to check out a couple snapshots of our success in this space over the years.

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B2B Marketing – One More Time, But With Feeling

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In college, every Marketing 101 class teaches students about high-involvement and low-involvement purchases. The premise is simple. Low involvement purchases, or impulse purchases, involve low-cost items with a perceived low risk. The kind of thing you don’t spend much time thinking about before you buy. Like a pack of gum at the checkout line. High-involvement purchases, on the other hand, are normally more expensive with the customer perceiving a higher risk associated with making the wrong choice. High-involvement purchases require buyers to reflect on the pros and cons, the rational and emotional reasons for buying an item, or even the pros and cons of NOT buying the item.

For you B2B marketers, I can bet safely that your customers make high-involvement decisions about your company’s products and services. I’d also bet your marketing communications are all wrong for that kind of decision-making. That is, unless you’re a client of ours.

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Sink or Swim: Tips and Tricks for B2Bs Just Jumping into the Social Media Pool

Two words that often puzzle those in the business world?

Social media.

Yup, you know what I’m talking about! If you’ve ever explained the many benefits of social media to a business professional you know that, I don’t understand how social media will influence my bottom line is the typical response from those hesitant to invest in social networking; but don’t let that stop you from considering your social options. For one, social media has never been more important to the business world. So, if you are reading this blog wondering why your business-to-business (B2B) company, should be using social media, you’ve come to the right place. Welcome. Continue reading “Sink or Swim: Tips and Tricks for B2Bs Just Jumping into the Social Media Pool” »

B2B Marketing and Advertising: Holidays Aren’t Just for Consumers!

Contrary to popular belief, the holidays are a prime time for B2B marketers to advertise. While many companies tend to lower their budgets in December, there are several advantages to doing the exact opposite. We’ve all heard the common saying, “use it or lose it.” It just so happens that this fits perfectly when it comes to unspent portions of business budgets at the end of the year. With spare cash at hand, clients and prospects may be more willing to purchase a product or service from a company. By sitting back, companies are missing out on huge opportunities and potential sales. So, while the holidays may seem like the time to pump the brakes – don’t!

Let me break down the six reasons Vocus gives us as to why it’s vital B2B marketers continue to do their ‘thang’ during the holidays. Continue reading “B2B Marketing and Advertising: Holidays Aren’t Just for Consumers!” »