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 http://fivesecondtest.com/ 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!