Thanks in large part to the popularity of video on the consumer internet, video has become a more important part of many companies' B2B content marketing strategies.
SUMMARY: Business-to-business videos don't need to be boring - Great business-to-business videos can be accomplished by investing in professional production or by brushing up your amateur skills, Patricio Robles writes. Combining an entertainment instinct while showing off your expertise will make the video come off as interesting and informative. Don't ignore the emotional connections to your product or service, attributes a video can uniquely highlight. And cast the video with the company's star players for authenticity and persuasion.
Here are six tips for B2B companies looking to put video to use as a sales and marketing tool.
In just the past few weeks, I’ve talked to 5-6 marketing professionals who got out of the game years ago (to have kids, to travel, to try something different) and are now ready to get back into it. Most of them don’t recognize the marketing roles they’re now facing.
B2B marketing today has changed significantly. And whether you’ve been out of it for awhile, or want to make sure your skill set keeps up with what’s required for success now and in the future, here are four skills I recommend you learn quickly:
1. Funnel math and revenue performance management The mindset you want, even as a marketer, is that your job depends on finding and closing business. It’s not enough to manage the trade show, send the direct mail, or even flood more leads to the sales team. You need to understand the economics of the full sales funnel – how many opportunities are required to generate a closed sale, and how many leads are required to find a qualified, short-term opportunity (for starters).
Next, knowing that today’s sales process is completely non-linear, you need to understand the fundamentals of lead nurturing and two-way lead and opportunity movement, including the metrics behind these dynamics for your unique market and industry.
Here’s a relatively simple mathematical model for understanding the lead-opportunity-sale math for your company. And for revenue performance management, I recommend reading up on best practices from Marketo and others whose business focuses on revenue-centric marketing.
2. Social lead generation and buying signal mining If you’re worried about followers and likes, you’re doing it wrong. Focus instead on engagement, conversations, and driving an active, two-way discussion about the issues, needs and pain points your target customers care about most. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Your prospects are sharing their needs and buying signals on the social web every day. Your responsibility is to listen, look proactively for mentions of those keywords and buying signals, and become an information concierge to drive top-of-pipeline lead generation for your organization.
Technology and process drive value here, not media buying and budget. The social web is the greatest source of ongoing free leads ever seen. Are you taking advantage?
Here’s a best practice guide on social sales best practices, as well as a full (and free) resource on successful social selling.
3. SEO and inbound marketing fundamentals The rules change (literally) daily, but it’s important to understand the fundamentals of what drives natural traffic, and how to create content that drives perpetual inbound interest for your products and services. If you understand (and read) nothing else, understand that the most important drivers of successful SEO and inbound marketing are 1) great content, and 2) inbound links that demonstrate others are validating your great content.
It’s worth reading content from SEOMoz, Content Marketing Institute and others who keep up on the daily changes of the technical aspects of SEO, but educate and enable “the rest of us” on how to cut through the clutter and drive value, traffic and conversions.
4. Lead management/nurture workflow development Even if you aren’t using a marketing automation solution, your marketing strategy should reflect the reality that the majority of your prospects don’t convert (or move forward) right away, and that most of them need “nurturing” in advance of being ready to buy.
This isn’t about buying a marketing automation system. It’s about having a strategy that addresses how your customers buy, and enabling processes and tactics throughout your organization that address and empower your prospects where they are.
No matter how tightly you manage your sales process, your prospects will decide (independent of you) when they’re ready to buy. So your lead management and nurture strategy had better reflect that.
This isn’t to say that the “old” marketing focus areas and strategies aren’t relevant or don’t work. Because many are and do. But if you don’t have a working knowledge of the above four disciplines, it’ll be difficult to be a working marketer moving forward.
The Future of Social Business and Why Social CRM Will Be KeyBusiness 2 CommunitySocial business and, by definition, Social CRM is still a relatively grey area for many businesses (and, even some of the key players in the market place.
There’s a lot of talk about social CRM these days, but precious little action. This is at least partly, if not wholly, due to a misunderstanding of what social CRM is.
First, social CRM can’t be implemented within an organization simply by adding a particular tool or technology. That’s because we’re not in the midst of a profound change to the rules of business, but a communications revolution. No longer constrained to the phone or email, customers and prospects are finding new ways to voice their concerns, questions and feedback on social channels like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn – to name a few.
Social CRM, then, is not about dumping the traditional means of interaction between a company and it’s customers, but incorporating these social preferences into the mix. In other words, it’s about reproducing, as closely possible, the way humans interact.
So how to get started? Well, it’s not just about tools. It’s also about culture. And there are several questions to ask and steps to consider.
Here are a few to help wrap your head around social CRM.
Can you say with conviction what the role of social media should be in your B2B marketing mix? Whether your answer is a lot, a little or not at all, it’s difficult to put more than a vague level of confidence in the response. In a world where marketing is increasingly budgeted against measurable results, social media remains a painfully elusive factor in the B2B marketing ROI equation.
That’s where the annual Buyersphere report from BaseOne, in conjunction with B2B Marketing, Research Now, and McCallum Layton, comes in. The report surveys buyers from the Eurozone, but its findings and insights have relevance in all markets. The report is a compilation of interviews about the influences that drove purchases made by B2B buyers over the past year. By dissecting the process buyers went through, the report provides what it terms “concrete, reliable findings (that can) be used to convince your clients, persuade your bosses, and defend your decisions”. The full Buyersphere report can be downloaded here.
The B2B Opportunity for Social
Given the relatively low usage of social in today’s B2B buying activity, but the age-biased preference for social among twenty-somethings, there is a significant and increasing opportunity for companies to unlock the value of social media in their B2B marketing. But this will likely require creative thinking and staging engagement for social campaigns.
Today, too many social strategies used by B2B marketers use social media only for “company-to-buyer” communications, listening and responding and publishing their own content over posts and tweets. The Buyersphere report supports findings made in the excellent 2012 Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising and Brand Messages study: buyers have low trust and find less utility in what a company has to say about itself socially.
The upshot is that buyers trust the recommendations and referrals from their peers and friends and that company chatter is, well, just that. So how should a business modulate its use of social to begin getting the most from this nascent but increasingly influential channel? Expand your activities beyond simply responding to comments and updating your feed. Your real benefit from investments in social media occur when your marketing facilitates peer-to-peer recommendations on your behalf and turns customers and fans into an army of influential advocates.
Take Away: The business leverage in B2B social media today
While the specific answer to the question about how much investment your B2B marketing effort should make in social media remains elusive, a number of things are becoming clearer as we gain more insightful measurement of social media sentiment in B2B buying. Social media influence is increasing in B2B buying. How quickly depends on your market, but suffice it to say that waiting until your business is confronted with a competitor’s social media presence is going to put you at serious disadvantage. So as social influence increases in your market, making your existing marketing more ‘social friendly’ produces these immediate benefits while preparing you to take advantage of the longer term trend to social influence in B2B buying:
No cost visibility: Social sharing is the best free advertising for your business. Why? Because it is seen as earned, thus giving a brand an “earned” credibility lift. People on social media are not there to hear from advertisers, but to hear from friends. When a marketer’s email or social media post is shared, the brand can reach an astounding number of people. Enhanced authenticity: Because a prospect chooses to share your content with his friends, recipients see the message as authentic, trustworthy, worthy of their attention and possibly additional sharing. Increased access and opportunity: The email communication or social post, initially directed at one prospect or customer, becomes a far-reaching messaging tool.
Boom. How's that for a controversial opening line?
For the sake of harmony (and the point of this blog post), let's try to remove the political implications from that statement, and consider what it means for us as marketers.
How would most people describe their relationship with your company? Is it purely transactional, making you just a place they go to get something they need? Or do you elicit more personal feelings from your leads and customers? In an inbound marketing age where businesses are expected to get to know their target audience, develop personas, maintain an active social media presence, and be genuinely helpful to their leads and customers, it seems like there's room to develop a relationship between companies and consumers beyond just the transactional.
The fact is, people do business with people they like and trust, and it's really, really hard to trust a company. But you know when it's way easier to trust a company? When your audience is reminded there are real life humans working behind the scenes ... and maybe they can even get to know them a bit. So if your company comes off as cold, corporate, or faceless, it might be time to find a way to humanize your brand a little more. Here's how.
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