IMC Intuition

Thinking out loud about all things IMC

Posts Tagged ‘B2B Industrial Marketing

Are you Linked In?

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LinkedInWhile many local businesses have a presence on Facebook, I am regularly surprised at how few take advantage of the networking potential on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network with over 400 million members worldwide.  LinkedIn is much more than a talent solution; there are many marketing and direct sales tools as well as a publishing platform available for free, or at a very low cost compared to other types of media.

Whether you business serves direct-to-consumer (B-to-C) or business-to-business (B-to-B), be sure that you have a complete, up-to-date profile and company page, then get to work building your network.  Take a minute to connect with me atwww.linkedin.com/in/bethryanimc.

LinkedIn is your online networking tool.  Like a conference, LinkedIn is a place to connect with  current and potential customers, discover new markets and learn about new business trends.  As Chamber members, we all know how critical networking is to the success of our businesses – so make sure that LinkedIn is part of your marketing strategy.  Is keeping up with your marketing tasks slowing you down?  I can help with an individualized LinkedIn set-up or in house workshop.

Creative Tension & Listening

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You can look at most any PR, communications or marketing blog and get a cookbook style tome with step by step instructions for perfection in communications.  Here are two examples:   “If Tiger would have…” or “BP should have…”  It’s really easy to apply communication rules to someone else’s dilemma, then sit back and take credit for being an “expert.”

 Oh my, the web is full of it. 

My career didn’t begin in the la-la land of marketing, it actually started in the nitty-gritty of industrial manufacturing operations – purchasing, expediting and a brief stint as storeroom keeper in our shop; the area where dedicated employees, working with our engineering and field service group, work miracles on a daily basis within the pressure cooker environment of meeting shipping dates and satisfying customers.   I think here in marketing where everything always works, I forget just how much tension exists in the daily operations of manufacturing.

Particularly coming from the idealistic world of graduate school, I sometimes am perplexed as to why my colleagues don’t seem to get what I’m trying to accomplish in Marketing Communications.  I was brought back to reality this week, reading an article by Dwight Barnhard from Superior Aluminum Castings, Inc. in Modern Casting Magazine (June, 2010, p. 38).

Dwight uses the analogy from what was once a standard childhood occupation – using two tins cans connected by a string to create a private long distance conversation, making use of the principle of vibration to carry the sound.  He reminded me that this particular communication system relied on a tight string; in other words, it worked as long as tension was applied.  The second consideration was that only one person could speak at a time, while the other person had to listen, very carefully.

His conclusion is that, “Like the tin can and string, if used properly, creative tension and a listening ear can turn dialogue into teamwork and vision.”

This was a good comeuppance for me this week; maybe it’s  not my colleagues that don’t get it, I’m thinking it’s me… Creative tension and listening are my mantra for this week!

Links for this post:

Modern Casting Magazine,  http://moderncasting.com/

 Superior Aluminum Castings, http://supalum.com/

How to Handle a Negative Blog Post

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PR Daily, published by Ragan Communications,  ran a great story today of how Bemis Manufacturing handled a potential PR nightmare by responding to a negative blog post with seamless customer service quickly and effectively creating a positive outcome for everyone involved — another gold star for honesty and transparency.

Read the story:  http://directions4success.wordpress.com/2009/12/08/negative-blog-spurs-positive-outcome/

Ragan’s PR Daily is my must-read-every-morning favorite that covers PR and social media – check it out:  PR Daily: Top stories from around the web.

Written by Beth Ryan

December 16, 2009 at 4:06 pm

10 Commandments of Social Media

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Why don’t we use social media more in B2B?  The simple answer is that people are far too busy with email to take the time to learn how to use social media tools and change their daily habits.  It’s only been 15 years since old economy businesses did not want employees to have access to email or the internet, and now we cannot imagine being productive at work without them. 

Lon Safko wrote a great article for Fast Company with some good ideas on how to begin to make social media an important part of daily life.

 The 10 Commandments of Social Media:

  • Thou Shalt Podcast (often).
  • Thou Shalt Set Alerts (immediately).
  • Thou Shalt Comment (on a multitude of blogs).
  • Thou Shalt Get Connected (with everyone).
  • Thou Shalt Explore Social Media (30 minutes per week).
  • Thou Shalt Be Creative (go forth and create creatively
  •  Thou Shalt Blog (like crazy).
  • Thou Shalt Create Profiles (everywhere).
  • Thou Shalt Upload Photos (lots of them).
  • Thou Shalt Upload Videos (all you can find

Personally, blogging like crazy is a tough habit for me to cultivate, but a good one for a person who primarily writes for a living.  I had an engineer ask me last week if he really had to join our Linked In group, because he doesn’t like to post profiles – no doubt not wishing to attract spam, but I personally do not have any spam problems on any of the social media sites where I participate. I can hit a delete key in less that a second!

Video and podcasts are one of the most underutilized social media tools, and such an inexpensive way to do product demonstrations and capture opinion.  A testimonial in the customer’s voice has to trump a quotation in writing. 

These tools have the potential to reduce travel expenses for both sales people and customers.  In the capital equipment business, the technical buyer can reduce travel expenses to see equipment in operation, and the purchasing and maintenance employees can visualize what the equipment is and how it will be used. 

Videos in particular assist international customers who find detailed information in English daunting to read; automatic translators are great, but not necessarily accurate for technical language.

 There is a potential to save  time and reduce cost by integrating social media into B2B marketing, we just have to take Lon Safko’s advice and take 30 minutes a week, or in my opinion, 30 minutes a day, to use it.

 Links in this post:

The 10 Commandments of Social Media, http://www.fastcompany.com/blog/lon-safko/ten-commandments-social-media/ten-commandments-social-media

 

Fast Company, http://www.fastcompany.com/

Written by Beth Ryan

June 13, 2009 at 3:01 pm

Going Bananas over Mail Chimp

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Email marketing is one of the best tools in IMC as it provides both an economical medium to tell your brand story and accountability in the form of measurable results.  One of the great challenges in B2B for small companies is that while email marketing is highly desired, typically there is little to no budget.   A big disappointment with the Microsoft CRM 4.0 CRM package is that there is no html email interface or compatibility with an affordable hosted solution.

After looking at all of the hosted solutions, I discovered a tremendous value in email – Mail Chimp.  In their own words, “We make it easy to send email newsletters to your customers, manage your subscriber lists, and track campaign performance. Unlike some of our competitors, we don’t ‘dumb things down.’ We take extremely powerful tools that sophisticated marketers use (like segmentation, a/b testing, and ROI tracking), and we make them accessible to anyone. And because our platform uses an open API, it’s easy to integrate internal systems (like Salesforce) and web applications (like Magento and Drupal) with our email marketing engine. That’s why over 80,000 users, who range from small 1-person startups to Fortune 500 corporations use MailChimp.” 

I chose this provider because they provide the first class tools offered by their high priced competitors at an affordable cost.  Of particular interest was the ability for readers to select mobile format in addition to html and text.  In the “view in browser” function there is the Google translation tool, social media tools, subscribe and archive links.  Another great capability is the ability to link email campaigns to your Google Analytics account providing better performance measurement.  I have used the Chimp Charts for several years now to compare our performance in terms of open & click rates, bounces and unsubscribes against industry benchmarks; it’s about time I looked at their service offer.

I have all of this added functionality without a penny of additional cost.  It was very cool this week to tell my company President that we could exponentially improve our program without spending more money, and he could now receive our newsletter formatted for his Blackberry.  In a value vs. cost comparison,  Mail Chimp wins hands down.

Links for this post:

Mail Chimp, http://www.mailchimp.com/

Chimp Charts, http://www.mailchimp.com/resources/charts

Follow Mail Chimp on Twitter, http://twitter.com/mailchimp

Google Speaks: Put Video at the Center of your Online Campaign

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On Wednesday, May 27, I attended our local Erie Ad Club program featuring Google Ad Words Marketing Manager, Maureen Schumacher entitled, “The Digital Landscape; Trends Shaping the Future of Marketing.”   She discussed 8 important trends:

  1. Last month there were 1.6 billion people online; there are 5 times more people with mobile phones than computers.  
  2. Search is a core (human) behavior; something that we do instinctually. 
  3. No medium is an island.  Marketers need to be cognizant of the relationship between online and offline media.  Use internet media to capture offline buzz.
  4. Put video at the center of your online campaign. One of the fastest growing categories on the internet is “How to”.
  5. Don’t think “if I will build it they will come.”  Even a highly technical, graphically desirable website can fail.  Suggestion:  atomize + distribute.  Use select content and develop a widget or video to distribute.  
  6. Ideas come from everywhere, tap into the ideas of the crowd.  Her suggestion was to tap into Google Labs new tool, Google Trends.  Many companies create campaigns to solicit user generated content; example: Heinz Top This! Campaign.
  7. Reach consumers at the moments of relevance; while the internet is 24/7, timing is a significant factor.
  8. Marketing should be accountable.

For the most part, most of these trends are just good marketing practice.  For B2B industrial marketing, the most interesting point is #4,  “Put video at the center of your online campaign. One of the fastest growing categories on the internet is ‘How to’.”

 Pre-internet, a company selling large industrial equipment would spend thousands of dollars to ship equipment to a trade show where it would be on display for product demonstration.  Alternately, one customer would visit another customer’s plant to see equipment in operation.  When video first hit the marketing scene, the going cost was $1,000 a finished minute for a professional video on a VCR tape – a cost only very large companies could afford.  The capital equipment market was flooded with home-made, poorly written and organized videos, duplicated and sent out in snail mail. 

 Today, with Flip video cameras and freelance studios, a company can produce high quality You Tube videos at a fraction of the cost.  B2C is full of video – why is B2B so slow to provide this type of content? 

 One important reason is that US manufacturers are reluctant to allow any photography in their plant – they do not wish to have their competitors see the inside of their plant.  The second issue is the loss of intellectual property to competitors; the very factors that differentiate products can easily be stolen through viral video.  A “How to” video can easily become problematic for B2B industrial equipment without careful selection of content, preservation of customer confidentiality and poor quality.    

Gary Anderson, writing for Marketing Professors says that video is not limited to your website or You Tube alone.  “The array of tools at a communicator’s fingertips can accomplish so much: interactive training sessions, video sales presentations, live meetings with prospects, ‘video voicemails’ recorded and sent with just a few clicks…” in addition to posting on a website.  He feels that all videos should be available as iPod ready.  He also suggests getting professional assistance when starting a project.

 In B2B, we need to analyze how video can fit into the marketing mix, not just because it’s cool, but because our customers expect it.

Written by Beth Ryan

May 28, 2009 at 7:48 pm