Saturday, March 3, 2012

7 Things it Took Me Over a Decade (or so) to Learn about B-to-B Marketing Communications

It’s funny how the same truths reveal themselves over and over again.  Before this wisdom escapes me, noted here for posterity are seven things it has taken over a decade to learn about business-to-business marketing communications. You likely know about them already.  I'm a slow learner.... 

1) Hit the books   Heading into a website relaunch or redesign?  Encourage everybody on the team to read Steven Krug’s “Don’t Make Me Think” (first edition written in 2000; most recent from 2006).  At the very minimum, by reading this seminal book, the team gains an introduction to usability basics like considering the main purpose of the site (lead generation?  information sharing?); types of visitors that will use the site (target audience); and what those visitors hope to accomplish when they visit the website (product orientation? downloading resources? setting up a product trial?).

2) There’s Power in PR.    Remember that PR doesn’t stand for Press Release.  Team with a reputable, results-oriented Public Relations agency to get the most benefit out of a PR program, like expanded awareness and engagement with key publics.  Or, do some reading about PR and take the time to be strategic in a public relations effort.

3) Go Outside the Organization. Redoing a website, a brochure, or direct mail template design?  Organizing an event? Take the time to run the concept by 3 to 5 relevant folks outside the organization.   As Krug says in the book mentioned in point 1 “testing always works, and even the worst test with the wrong user will show you important things you can do to improve your site." (or event, or newsletter, or brochure, etc .)

As an example, tap into free tools like  to help optimize things like landing pages. This tool, and many others out there, help fine tune landing pages and calls to action.

4) There’s Wonder in Wordpress. Setting up a blogging program or a new website? Take the time to familiarize yourself with Word Press and basic WordPress plug ins for SEO.  The platform is much more than a Content Management Systems.  Nobody expects you to be an expert developer, but know your way around this powerful and industry-leading web tool.

5) Set Meaningful Measurements. As possible, make marketing programs about metrics and results.  Meaningful metrics put the focus on business outcomes and help drive improvements.  All communications should be measured by their effectiveness in meeting business goals. For instance, track the success of a Social Media program with metrics like increased inbound web traffic or increased “mentions” of the company.  More about metrics here.

6)  Nail Down SEO Basics  Online marketing is all about being discovered by likely prospects and target audiences.  Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is critical.  Team with a reputable SEO expert because this stuff is both an art and a science.  SEO experts like those smarty pants at WebSavvyMarketing will steer you right. 
There’s value in self-education. As an example, here’s a simple SEO tip:  look at your competitors and see how keywords are used in their online content in the following areas – this is powerful stuff people!
                Page title
                URL architecture
                H1 tags
                Copy's keyword density
                Image alt text
                Use of internal linking

7) Have fun  Seek out positive (fun) work experiences.  As somebody once said: fun at work enables one to bring skills, grace, & enthusiasm to opportunity.

If you aren’t having fun, or you want more fun out of your work life, see what you can do to arrange conditions so you are!  


  1. Great thoughts, Julie! These are all a part of what I've learned over the last couple of years from you, and what I hope to always carry with me.

    Looks like I need to go read some Steven Krug!

  2. Hi Deanna! Thanks for the comment - yes, that book is worth reading, as are the resources from Nielsen Norman Group here: It's a process of continual learning!

  3. Thanks for the mention of @markitPR, Julie! We're the lucky ones to have you on our team!

  4. This SEO smarty pants does know a lot about WordPress and SEO, but she could learn quite a bit about PR from you and Peggy!

    Your point of needing a balanced mix of marketing and PR is critical and something many B2B organizations struggle with on a perpetual basis. So many flit from one idea to the next without ever really getting any of them right. That is the time to hire outside assistance to either provide consistent help or to help devise a solid marketing strategy for them to implement.

    One recent B2B client told me they've tried a whole lot of "things" but nothing seemed to work. Their intentions were good, but they've been winging it. They've now have WSM building an SEO friendly website, but your blog post is a reminder that you would be a great help to them in an ongoing basis. Which I will be doing this week!

  5. Thanks so much for the comments, Rebecca & Peggy! Happy to be your colleagues!

  6. Really awesome effort by this blogger. First time read such type of blog post. Thanks for sharing it dear.

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