Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Answer Me This: Two Questions For the B-to-B PR/Marketing Team

By design, marketing and PR teams are charged with increasing brand awareness and supporting business development efforts, while ultimately helping to ramp up sales of a company’s products or services.

These business-critical duties involve programs such as messaging, online marketing, media relations, direct marketing, creative collateral and content development, social media marketing, research and many other programs.

No matter the program, each B-to-B PR and marketing team member should have at least a basic understanding of two critical pieces of information:

  • the company’s ideal prospect/ideal customer
  • the unique value proposition the company delivers to the ideal customer

Question 1: Who is the Company’s Ideal Customer?
A basic understanding of a company’s ideal customer helps the PR and marketing team connect with the most optimal market segments.  The insight serves as the entire foundation of the PR, marketing and lead generation program. The exercise helps to identify the people and businesses that will benefit your organization the most. 

A range of methods help create a targeted customer profile. Techniques suggested by MarketingSherpa involve a deep dive into current customers to identify the five optimal customers, and the five “worst” customers for profiles of each to understand demographics and characteristics. Other market research efforts, from simple surveys to extremely in-depth market intelligence, provide a distinct picture of where the target market lies. Cultivating a customer mindset makes all the difference to each team member, from the team who develops and maintains the company’s website, to the staff in the booth at tradeshows.

The bottom line is that having some insight into an ideal customer profile helps the team be more effective in awareness building, lead generation and marketing.  After all, marketing programs should resonate with the prospect most likely to buy. 

Question 2: What’s the Company’s Unique Value Proposition?

The second, equally compelling question to ask each PR and marketing team member, is to clearly communicate what the company does, and the unique benefits the products/services deliver over the competition.  A value proposition speaks directly to your target audience and it tells them exactly why they should purchase your products and services.

This means every PR and marketing team member must be able to quickly articulate the concrete results a customer will get from the company’s products or services. Again, MarketingSherpa provides useful insight into the issue.  The point here is that every PR and marketing team member should have at least some insight into why the prospect should buy from the company, the specific value the product or service provides, via wording the ideal customer can easily understand.

Central to Success
It's been my experience that acquiring basic insight into these two areas proves central to the success of any organization, including nonprofits.   

Again, there are numerous resources out there, including MarketingProfs, that help discover the answers to these two questions.

For the B-to-B company, what other questions need to be explored to deliver positive business outcomes?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Are You a Marketing Pooh or a Marketing Eeyore?

Marketing pessimist, Marketing Optimist?
This past week I attended a talk by Scott Stratten in support of his two-in-one “Book of Business Awesome/Book of Business UnAwesome.” The presentation was hosted by the Social Media Club of Detroit.   

Scott Stratten is the high-energy president of UnMarketing, a witty and passionate purveyor of spot-on advice to companies about what he terms “authentic marketing.” He is on a mission to help position brands as a trusted partner to target markets.

Marketing Yin and Yang

The book presents a clever “two in one” model. One side of the “Business Awesome” cover shows a cheery red ladybug and the subtitle “How Engaging Your Customers and Employees Can Make Your Business Thrive.”

Midway through, at page 122, you come to “the awesome end” and flip over to the other side… a parallel “unawesome” universe (think if it as Bizarro Marketing World) showcasing a bloody splattered ladybug on the cover and the subtitle “The Cost of Not Listening, Engaging or Being Great at What You Do.’

UnMarketing Scott Stratten Social Media Club of Detroit
UnMarketing's Scott Stratten talks circles of influence at Social Media Club of Detroit event, Motor City Casino
(photo credit: Deborah Edwards-Onoro) 

Here's an insightful review of the book, which says it all really. Stratten provides useful information in the short chapters, each providing as much depth as a blog post with pithy examples of either marketing done right, or marketing done very badly. The section on the blatant misuse of QR codes in marketing is especially engaging.

Which Do You Choose?
What’s interesting to me is that the book serves as a “personality” indicator – with which side do you begin?  Do you delve into the “awesome” side  showcasing the best of today’s social media marketing? Or do you delight by starting with the “unawesome” side filled with cringe-worthy examples of marketing initiatives gone astray?

Is it indicative of a marketer’s level of optimism or pessimism as to which side they flip to, considering the Yin and Yang approach?

Pooh vs. Eeyore
The decision as to which side to first select is similar to a personality test about what Winnie the Pooh character you are most like in The Hundred Acre Wood. 

Will a positive marketing “Pooh” Bear start with the Business Awesome side, and the dreary Marketing Eeyore start at Business UnAwesome?

Even despite claims as being a “realistic optimist”,  I’m most definitely a Marketing Eeyore.  I was compelled to start with the Business Unawesome side, and delighted in each of the short marketing tales of woe.

Which are you most drawn to -- Pooh Bear Business Awesome or Eeyore Business Unawesome?

Check out this online audio archive interview with Scott talking with WDET's Craig Fahle.  

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Marketing Checklist Goes Up North

Our beloved cabin, located in the upper Northeast corner of Michigan, is a source of great happiness for my family and me.

One of the more enjoyable aspects is watching my husband use his considerable “Mr. Fix It” talents as he renovates the entire structure, which was in pretty bad shape when we purchased it.

His handyman pursuit necessitates numerous visits to the local hardware store.

On one such trip to the town’s family-run hardware store, we discovered a compelling business card, pictured here. (contact info blacked out for privacy reasons)

The marketer in me couldn’t resist analyzing this business card, and running it through my own homegrown four-part checklist to see if it makes for an effective sales and marketing piece – so here we go!

1) Contact Information: Does the piece of marketing collateral contain the basics like contact info, phone, email or website?  Is contact information easy to locate on the piece? You’d be very surprised how many marketing pieces like brochures, tradeshow signage and other pieces fail this basic test – even those generated by larger companies with sophisticated, well-staffed marketing departments.

  • Yes, this piece does contain the appropriate contact information for this service provider – phone and address (blacked out in the graphic for privacy reasons)

2) Compelling: Does the piece of marketing collateral effectively describe the product or service, and pull out compelling factors about the product or service?  In other words, does it reflect a unique value proposition?

  • Yes.  It is crystal clear what this service provider does. (“I Make Things and Fix Stuff”) By stressing “70 year’s experience”  in machine work and woodwork, this card emphasizes a very unique value proposition for this service provider.  The affordable rate is another compelling factor about the service.

3) Answers Why? Does the piece answer the key question “Why should I change my current solution for a new solution?”? or “Why should I buy this solution from you?”?

  • I’d say this isn’t a clear yes or no.  The impressive experience and price of this service provider is clear and compelling.  The reason to hire him over say, doing it yourself (or having a handy husband take on the fix it projects) isn’t so clear here.

4) Format:   Is the format of the sales and marketing piece effective for the target audience?  That means, if the piece is a brochure, is that the most useful format for the prospect, is it easy for them to save and refer to later?  Or would the piece be better as an electronic PDF which can be downloaded from a website.

  • Yes. this piece is appropriate and relevant in a business card format. It is conveniently displayed on the hardware counter.  The store is a natural place to distribute this sales and marketing piece to those looking for “fix it” supplies for their cabins.

3 Out of 4 Ain't Bad!
The up north business card scores a solid 3 out of 4, not too bad!

Feel free to use this handy checklist for any sales and marketing collateral you produce, or run across at your local hardware store.  

Sunday, November 4, 2012

You’ve Got Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Now What?

Dear Mr. or Ms. Business-to-Business Company:
Congrats!  You’ve got your Twitter account, your LinkedIn profile and your Facebook company page up and running.
You are regularly blogging (right?) and sharing all that great original content via regular Tweets, posts and updates.  You’ve set up goals for your social media program (like increased web traffic or improved SEO results) and everything is humming along nicely.

For the sake of argument, we will assume the scenario described above.  We will also assume that you’ve set some specific goals you hope to achieve through active social media marketing.  Now it’s time to measure success!

To help get you started on the path of measuring for social media marketing success, offered here are three useful links for a “return on social” culled from all the resources available out there.

Insight from Forbes
This recent interview is a good place to start. This Forbes interview features authors of a new report on measuring social media. While the book and interview is targeted to nonprofits, this post shares useful insight for the business-to-business sector as well.  Definitely worth the read, the in-depth Q&A looks at the “secrets” to measuring a return on social media engagement.

“One Stop Shopping”
Check out this handy list of resources and blog posts from those smarty-pants at Social Media Examiner.  This information serves as “one stop shopping” for the latest in tools and techniques. You’ll see all the latest insights and background related to the importance of measuring a “return on social” from these trustworthy and knowledgeable folks

3 Can’t-Miss Tools
Now that you’ve done some background reading, your next step is to roll up your sleeves and get started.  This post from B2B Inbound Online (guest authored by yours truly) shares three basic tools for measuring social media success.