Optimise your inbound marketing with outbound for successful new brand market entry

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Thanks to their utilisation of machine learning, Google is getting scarily good at providing exactly what searchers want. Context (season, location and so on) and user intent (to buy, learn or explore) are all accounted for by Google’s RankBrain, a component of their 2015 Hummingbird algorithm update. And most would agree that the experience of searching on Google has, generally speaking, improved accordingly.

Relevance has always been one of Google’s watchwords, and in my opinion, they’re nailing it with ever-increasing frequency. RankBrain represents a huge milestone in Google’s long-running quest to remove the guesswork and assess web pages as a human would.

Google realised in its early days that quality of links was much more important than quantity, so they developed something called PageRank, which apportioned a ‘score’ to inbound links. Eventually, due to their over-exploitation, links from link farms and forums were deemed meaningless.

Even before the Hummingbird update, Google had started to look at how users interacted with content – by way of such metrics as bounce rate, time on site, etc. – rather than just the content itself, rewarding sites that people spent time on (i.e. engaged with) and downgrading ones that people bounced out of.

Long gone are the days when 500 words of badly written, keyphrase-filled text accompanied by some strategically labelled media would cut the mustard. Around 10 years ago that sort of content was everywhere. And why wouldn’t it be, with SEOs having figured out that 5% keyword density was, essentially, what Google wanted?

“To hell with quality, get someone from overseas to write the text for 2 pence a word. No one reads text on websites anyway. Just make sure 1 in every 20 words is the keyphrase!” Seriously, I went to SEO seminars around 10 years ago and heard this kind of thing being dished out on numerous occasions by SEOs. And legacies of the approach still linger in dark corners of the internet – there’s still cheap Croydon locksmiths offering their Croydon locksmith services 24/7 throughout the Croydon area if you’re in the Croydon or South London area and need a South London locksmith!

But thankfully things have changed. Content is king. We make websites for humans, not spiders. If you want to create new market presence and generate interest, don’t neglect inbound marketing till after your programme of outbound marketing is established. Get an inbound SEO strategy up and running from the word go.

And while I believe it’s true that if you have amazing content it’s possible to rank amazingly well on google without doing any SEO whatsoever, there’s still many, many things you need to consider if you want to maximise your inbound marketing and organic search impact to create valuable new leads. Some of them, arguably, are common sense, while others are less obvious. Here’s a few to mull over…

1. Make your site (http) secure

The little ‘s’ at the end of the obligatory http that precedes all web addresses tells users that a site is secure; that an SSL (secure socket layer) certificate is in place, ensuring that any information they choose to submit is encrypted. Google favours sites with SSL (for obvious reasons) and what’s more, non-secure sites are flagged up as such by website browsers, which it’s safe to say erodes user confidence and increases bounce rate.

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I’ve installed SSL certificates on several websites in recent years and rankings have always improved afterwards. If you don’t have SSL in place, make it a priority. It’s usually quite a simple procedure that your hosting support will be able to assist with (for me personally, tending to work mostly with WordPress, the Really Simple SSL plugin has been invaluable). A big plus with the Squarespace CMS, if that’s your platform, is that SSL’s included as standard and simply needs activating.

If you do have to purchase an SSL certificate, expect to pay up to £50 for standard SSL and quite a bit more for a level of protection suitable for e-commerce. 

2. Make sure your site is hard to leave

In the summer of 2018, the closure of just over half of House of Fraser’s 59 department stores was in the news, and something I found interesting about the story was that it was the older stores, with their stairs & escalators at the edge of the building - by the exit - that had been forced to close, whereas the newer stores, with escalators in the middle of the building, were more profitable and therefore able to stay open.

The central escalators kept customers in the store longer, meaning they were more likely to purchase - and not necessarily what they came in for! The same principle applies to websites…

Let’s say one of your users has arrived at a page that isn’t giving them what they were hoping for. But just as they’re about to leave, bang, you hit them with some eye-catching encouragement to explore other pages. Whether you upsell, cross-sell, down sell or offer something for free is up to you. I’d suggest offering as many alternatives to leaving in as many places on the page as possible (without compromising site design to the point that it induces vomiting!) And even if this detour doesn’t lead to a conversion, the extra time they spend on your site will earn engagement/UX points with Google.

A ploy used on e-commerce sites is to prominently display ‘similar’ and ‘previously viewed’ products. Editorial and blogging sites meanwhile display links to related and popular content. But in other sectors there’s quite often a lack of effort in keeping people ‘on-site’, with potential leads surely being lost as a result. 

3. Use SEO in conjunction with outbound demand generation

At first this might seem counter intuitive. The purpose of demand generation is, after all, to create new markets and/or generate interest in new products or solutions, which people wouldn’t necessarily be searching for.

But if you wait until your demand generation has taken effect before beginning your SEO, you’ve already missed the boat and might find your competitors (damned vultures!) cashing in on your hard work, which would be criminal (and a little bit heart-breaking), considering that it was you who drove the demand in the first place!

Some time ago I worked for an online surf & leisure retailer that sold surfboards and other hardware. In terms of digital presence, I’m proud to say we went toe-to-toe with companies much bigger than ourselves. And this was partly due to a ‘get in there early’ SEO strategy.

A solid rapport with our suppliers and manufacturers enabled us to find out about and in turn, write blog posts about products that were right at the beginning of their lifecycle (e.g. surfboards that were but a twinkle in their designer’s eye); products that no one had ever heard of, but products that just might become the next big thing.

The subsequent demand generation would kick in (largely done for us by the manufacturers, with their social media, video channels and demo tours) and guess what, we’d be in the top 1-3 SERPs (Search Engine Results Page) nearly every time - and sometimes above even the manufacturer’s corresponding product page for a period of time - due to the fact that we’d let the world know about their product before they had! And if you’re consistently the source that breaks the news, so to speak, Google will view you as an authority, which is what successful SEO is all about. 

4. Tune up your content – make your site as fast as possible

In our age of instant gratification, if your website takes more than 3 seconds to load you’ve lost nearly half your potential traffic. And the ones that do stick around are already getting pi**ed off with you!

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There’s plenty of websites that will carry out performance tests on your site for free (WebPageTest is as good as any) and provide handy reports that show you where you’re going right or wrong. Here’s the main areas in which you’ll likely find room for improvement:

  • Hosting: Is it time to upgrade from shared hosting? Or experiment with a different host?

  • Images: Have you optimised your images? Looked into next-gen file formats such as WebP, Jpeg 2000 and Jpeg-XR? What about using SVG files for flat artwork - instead of other, more byte heavy formats? Are you serving appropriate images in relation to screen size/resolution?

  • Minification of Javascript and CSS: If you’re using WordPress this can be done with a plugin, which will probably also provide caching options, further improving site speed.

  • CDNs: If you’re not doing so already, enlisting the services of a Content Delivery Network such as CloudFlare is highly advisable. In a nutshell they cache your site on servers based in different locations around the world, assisting your host with the delivery of your website files. For me they’ve been a revelation, increasing page load times on average by around 25%. For smaller sites CDNs are generally a free service, with cost-per-bandwidth charges applicable for larger sites.

So relevant content – giving your prospects and customers what they’re interested in to make their lives easier and better – is absolutely key for successful, especially sustainable, market entry. However good the content though, SEO can make the difference between your proposition being found on Pages 1 or 2 and….being found on Pages 9 or 10 of a search. So don’t let all that great, heart-felt, content investment go to waste and make sure you integrate SEO with your demand generation strategy!

How Fire NBM can assist you with prospect and account based marketing:

  • BRAND INSIGHT, POSITIONING AND PROPOSITION DEVELOPMENT 
    Our experienced researchers conduct brand perception surveys, insight programmes and phone interviews for businesses to discover what challenges their prospects and existing clients face, what they are looking for in service and product providers and how they make their buying decisions. Our strategic marketers and creatives then bring this to life!

  • DEMAND GENERATION RESOURCING Fire NBM works with companies to develop B2B prospect personas, content marketing strategies, brand propositions, campaigns and creative execution. We assist clients to optimise the best mix of outbound and inbound techniques to drive new business growth with specialist marketing resourcing. Our social media specialists ensure messaging and content works well across all digital media, with our our content team including qualified journalists.  

  • INTEGRATED DIGITAL SERVICES Bringing our extensive knowledge of attracting and engaging customers to well defined digital relationship models, both standalone and integrated to offline channels. We assist clients in a range of digital areas from UX design workshops and web design and development to conversion optimisation, SEO, PPC and social sellling.

 

 

How to reach out successfully to new audiences

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Being confronted with the challenge of winning new customers from new audiences can be as intimidating as stepping out onto an unknown street at night. Like most things though, being forewarned is being forearmed and having some sort of navigation (a google map!) will help you reach your destination. Effective demand generation from new audiences is no different. ROI success depends upon not only careful planning and execution, but having a sustainable and appealing brand in place. We think there are 7 key pillars to consider: 

Brand Demand Generation 1) Don’t neglect your differentiating opportunity

Few B2B companies companies have strategic plans for managing their company brand. In fact most B2B industrial and tech companies are low on the B2B branding ladder and struggle to ensure a common template for their stationery and advertising, let alone have a brand essence that is reflected in everything the company does. Dell, Sony and IBM, for example, offer both B2B and B2C lines of business. Each does similar things. Yet, prospective buyers may see one standing for flexibility, another for innovation and yet another for quality - respectively. All of them possess all three values but the high ground for each value is owned by only one of the companies. This provides them with the opportunity for gaining competitive advantage.  It doesn’t have to be limited to established global organisations either! Take Moz, Mindsea and Rackspace as smaller examples that connect with an ‘essence’ as well as a tangible offer. What is the single most important value that your company presents to the world? What high ground do you own or want to own? Having this in place will give your demand generation a better ROI and what’s more, an investment in a sustainable future for the company.

Brand Demand Generation 2) Use martech & salestech tools to store, manage, and engage your new contacts

Before you put in place a new brand demand generation campaign, make sure you’ve also got the right systems in place. You need what Gartner calls a “system of record”, such as Salesforce or other CRM—a place to store and track your account data, contacts and leads. HubSpot is an example of a “system of engagement”, which is a process-oriented tool that enables you to segment your contacts, create customized offers and launch email campaigns. Many marketers are also using Marketo, Oracle Eloqua, or Pardot as their system of engagement. To complement marketing’s efforts, sales teams use sales automation systems, such as SalesLoft or Outreach, to automate how they engage with target accounts in their territories.

Brand Demand Generation 3) Leverage fresh, accurate data to help you plan, prioritize and personalize your customer engagement

To scope your demand generation effort effectively, you first need to understand the total audience for your target buyers or your ‘total available market’ (TAM). That means up to date, accurate demographic and perhaps technographic data that can help you answer these sorts of  questions:

  • How many accounts are there that fit my ideal customer profile (ICP)?

  • How many contacts are there at those accounts that fit my buyer personas?

  • How many accounts and contacts can I chase given my budget and resources?

Once you know your TAM, you need a clear understanding of your coverage, i.e. do you have the right data in your martech to engage with that audience and personalize that engagement effectively. Ask yourself:

  • Which accounts fit my ideal customer profiles and do I have their complete firmographic details?

  • Who are the contacts at those accounts that fit my customer personas?

  • Do I have their complete, accurate contact details (current title, email, direct phone)?

  • Do I have data about their areas of interest/responsibility/pain points so I can personalize our content marketing to them?

In working with several B2B companies from start-ups to enterprises across many industries, we find that most organizations are missing up to 80% of their total target audience, and up to 50% of the data they do have is incomplete or outdated.  

Brand Demand Generation 4) Recognise the importance of data quality for successful outcomes

If you define the right buyer personas and you’re selling to the people who are the most likely to buy your product or service, that is typically going to result in better conversation rates. Picking the right targets depends upon having complete and accurate data to analyse, particularly if you’re trying to use predictive tools. No matter how your team decides on which accounts to target, starting with account and contact enrichment can help ensure that you’re making decisions based on a complete and accurate picture of your situation. Since ABM depends upon actually engaging your targets, data quality becomes even more critical as you start running campaigns. Because data decays at an alarming rate, you need email addresses that have been verified. The gold standard is a 95-100% deliverability rate, so you should seek a guarantee from any data vendor that they will provide that level of quality. Having direct dial phone numbers is also key so that your team can follow up with contacts efficiently.

Brand Demand Generation 5) Select the right channels to execute your marketing strategy

Defining your ABM processes is about aligning your goals with the tactics you’ll use to achieve them—deciding how you’ll use your core systems and what others you may layer on top. Over the last few years, the martech landscape has expanded exponentially to include many specialized  tools. You’ll still need a defined process set up handling leads in both marketing and sales areas. You also need to consider how often will you send emails, will marketing or sales send them, and will they have customized landing pages per account or by segment? How might you layer in buyer intent to identify new accounts and demand centres and integrate them into your ABM process? What about custom events for Board level audiences? Direct mail? Each medium or channel you consider needs a well thought-out and documented execution process in order to drive new business wins. 

Brand Demand Generation 6) Use personalized messaging to engage your target audience

Whether you’re doing display ads, email campaigns, bespoke videos, direct mail or all of the above, running ABM efficiently means developing resonant content that can be tailored for each account and buyer persona, and be repurposed. One reason that 92% of B2B companies see higher opportunity-to-close rates from ABM accounts (sourced from the SiriusDecisions 2017 State of ABM) is that the messaging and content are highly tuned to the target buyer. Our customers have achieved great results by segmenting their ABM lists by title & seniority and then sending a high-level message about innovation and line of business goals to the C-level and more nuts and bolts tech benefits to the practitioners. They also segment their lists and content by the size of the company they’re targeting, since pain points will differ. Where a good generic email campaign may get 10-20% open rates…we’ve seen customers who micro-target their content achieve 50-70% open rates, 25% engagement rates in a first call and an 8% conversion to a meeting within five to seven business days.  

Brand Demand Generation 7) Measure and optimise your demand generation campaigns

Now, your systems are all in sync, you’ve got a process for fresh data and customized messaging and you’re engaging your targets with tailored content – it’s time to measure and optimize your campaign. For example:

  • Content: Which messages, subject lines, creative have driven the most engagement & revenue?

  • Systems: Where are we seeing the best conversion rates, the best ROI? Should we change our targeting slightly to be more specific?

  • Data: Can I optimize my target personas? Add or remove keywords or change exclusions? Tweak titles slightly? How might that change my TAM?

  • Processes: Can we be working leads more efficiently? Is our lead & account scoring accurate? Do marketing & sales still agree on who to target?

These seven building blocks are all essential for demand generation success, but without careful alignment between your marketing and sales teams, your campaign won’t be structurally sound. To build a strong foundation for success, your marketing and sales teams must collaborate on your ideal customer profile (personas and target accounts and criteria) develop a joint process to engage contacts across channels, and also agree on the KPIs you’ll use to track and measure your results.

How Fire NBM can assist you with prospect and account based marketing:

·        BRAND INSIGHT, POSITIONING AND PROPOSITION DEVELOPMENT 
Our experienced researchers conduct brand perception surveys, insight programmes and phone interviews for businesses to discover what challenges their prospects and existing clients face, what they are looking for in service and product providers and how they make their buying decisions. Our strategic marketers and creatives then bring this to life!

·      DEMAND GENERATION Fire NBM works with companies to develop B2B prospect personas, content marketing strategies, brand propositions, campaigns and creative execution. We assist clients to optimise the best mix of outbound and inbound techniques to drive new business growth and our social media specialists ensure messaging and content works well across all digital media, with our our content team including qualified journalists.  

·        INTEGRATED DIGITAL SERVICES Bringing our extensive knowledge of attracting and engaging customers to well defined digital relationship models, both standalone and integrated to offline channels. We assist clients in a range of digital areas from UX design workshops and web design and development to conversion optimisation, SEO, PPC and social sellling.

 

 

Best B2B growth campaigns don't forget the milk

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Is a half dressed man pouring milk over his head really anything to do with B2B growth campaigns? Going on the journey to lift your B2B marketing to another level might leave you with worthy, well thought through campaigns which tick most of the boxes – but still leave you with dull campaigns and one key box unticked – grabbing attention. We’ve outlined some of the steps to build your business growth along an engaging, attention grabbing content journey:

1. Get to know your audience…be patient
How many different roles are you selling to? How much of a grasp does your marketing and sales team really have of prospect roles, their attitudes and their buying processes? Invest time in building pictures – or buyer personas – of these individuals. Use research, customer interviews and surveys and don’t underestimate your internal staff knowledge. This critically gives you the basis for personalisation of your marketing contacts with them and enables you to have that must have of effective marketing – saliency with your prospects.

A buyer persona is basically a detailed description of your target customer or client. This is a fleshed out profile, including what their challenges are, demographic information and what their general interests are likely to be, especially in terms of media consumption (events/journals/websites etc). This is all written as if your ideal customer were an individual person. It helps you gain a better understanding of your customer’s needs and the problems they are facing. 

2. Have confidence in your brand story
To gain trust and, ultimately, the sale, it’s up to you to establish your trustworthiness and authority on a subject for which the customer needs a solution. So, your content marketing efforts should aim to establish your brand as a thought leader. Easy to say, harder to do.  Do you know what your customers think of your brand anyway? What expertise do you have now or do you need to develop to establish yourself with a more compelling market positioning and proposition?

Whilst differentiation around a single core benefit may often be tough (or even impossible, depending on your sector) in B2B, you still have a number of pillars to build a differentiation story or at least a different emphasis from your competition both in WHAT you offer and HOW you go about delivering ROI and the solution benefits. 

3. Use creative to go beyond simply worthy content
Blogging and content creation is critical to attract and convert customers as more customers use the internet to make buying decisions or at least add you to supplier short-lists.  But consider too how creative your campaign should be to stand out from the crowd. Technology is a prime example of a sector that has long been labelled dull, uninspiring and devoid of creativity. The communications of tech brands are often serious and worthy, but rarely does anybody love it. Here’s a couple of examples of B2B campaigns I love that go beyond ‘worthy’. The first is a low budget, video production. Video gives you the chance to bring your brand personality to life and create emotional connections with your prospects. This piece provides some humour & inspiration in the otherwise ‘dry’ sector of, yes, early payment discount automation (click image to view):

By contrast, here’s some creative for a global tech business, Cisco, on a totally different scale and budget, but like the previous video, humanises technology, making it real and more lovable (click image to view):

4. Think CX – customer experience – across all channels, offline and online, not just your website
When someone visits your website, what do you want them to see? What customer experience would you like them to go through? When they’ve been to a company event you’ve run, where online do you want them to go next? These are just a few of the topics covered by the practice of Conversion Rate Optimisation or CRO.

CRO is the method of using analytics and user feedback to improve the performance of your website. Once you have data on the above metrics, such as where people go on your website, you can then determine where the drop-offs are and what to do to prolong that engagement further or maximise their chance of converting into a lead before that point.

As intelligent SEO is becoming more commonplace, keeping visitors on your website and converting them once they have reached your homepage is just as crucial as getting them there in the first place.  As your strategy evolves to be more content focused, blogging and content creation can be used to keep leads coming back to your website, pushing them down the funnel.

5. Don’t underestimate email marketing
Email marketing is still one of the most effective ways to generate leads in B2B. Email has become a way to push prospective customers and clients further down the funnel by nurturing their engagement with your brand. Using that data from your buyer personas to determine what their problems are, you can take a cold lead from the initial awareness stage (first interactions with your site) into the consideration stage, to getting on the phone with your sales team in the decision stage.

Lead nurturing has been made even easier in with marketing software, helping you market in a more streamlined and efficient way, freeing up your time, while not compromising the quality of the content you are producing. Marketing automation allows you to nurture your leads through the entire buying process, delivering highly-targeted, personalized messages that address their issues directly in order to drive engagement aimed at pushing leads further down the buyer's journey.

6. Make social media a higher priority
Too many companies have simply ‘a presence’ on social media rather than highly targeted and optimised paid SM campaigns to generate qualified leads. How much is your presence simply keeping resources tied up? What ROI is it generating?  The best way to go beyond this is to start measuring Social Media ROI by:

  • Identifying clear and achievable social media KPI’s. What are you looking to achieve with the campaign? Do you want to to drive revenue or build brand awareness? This will help determine exactly what success looks like for your social media marketing.

  • Setup analytics to track success against specific criteria. Your ability to retain and convert your leads depends on how informed you are about their behaviour on your website. Nearly every single goal is measurable and Google Analytics is a free tool that you can use to set up trackable goals and monitor how often visitors complete the actions you want them to.

  • Benchmark against your competitors. Compare your social media efforts to your competitors and you can uncover areas of opportunity for your organization to stand out and be different from them. Learn what platforms are most successful in reaching your target persona for the campaign and personalise your activities to grab their attention and solve their problems.

7. Start scaling up your martech to execute content
Whether it’s Pardot, InfusionSoft, HubSpot, Marketo or Act-On or any other, they’re worth having a look at. Before diving into execution mode, make sure you have a firm understanding of your target market. Who are they and what kind of content and experiences do they demand? Whether you analyse audience activity or evaluate how your internal teams leverage sales collateral, you must use your marketing technologies to inform your audience decisions. From here, you can take advantage of personalization capabilities across your favourite tools.

Moving from ad hoc posts to martech enabled content leaves your marketing resource to spend more time on things like research, strategy and service development. It also makes your blogging and content production more effective with a higher ROI. According to Hubspot, the martech platform, B2B companies that blog 11+ times (yes, 11!) per month have almost 3X more traffic than those blogging 0-1 times per month. These blogs are SEO-focused and optimised, intended to rank well on search engines, increase traffic and address their audience’s biggest challenges. They are often backed up by more premium content such as ebooks, which convert that traffic into leads for the business to nurture into clients and customers.

Lack of strategy and investment is the primary reason why online content fails to achieve the desired result. Pouring milk over someone’s head is unlikely to be the answer to your own business growth challenges, but do consider some new creative appropriate to bring your brand to life as part of your B2B growth strategy…. and go beyond the worthy.
 

How Fire NBM can assist you with prospect and account based marketing:

·        BRAND INSIGHT, POSITIONING AND PROPOSITION DEVELOPMENT
Our experienced researchers conduct brand perception surveys, insight programmes and phone interviews for businesses to discover what challenges their prospects and existing clients face, what they are looking for in service and product providers and how they make their buying decisions. Our strategic marketers and creatives then bring this to life!

·        CREATIVE DEMAND GENERATION Fire NBM works with companies to develop B2B prospect personas, content marketing strategies, brand propositions, campaigns and creative execution. We assist clients to optimise the best mix of outbound and inbound techniques to drive new business growth and our social media specialists ensure messaging and content works well across all digital media, with our our content team including qualified journalists.  

·        INTEGRATED DIGITAL SERVICES Bringing our extensive knowledge of attracting and engaging customers to well defined digital relationship models, both standalone or integrated to offline channels. We assist clients in a range of digital areas from UX design workshops and web design and development to conversion optimisation, SEO, PPC and social sellling.

 

Brand plays centre stage for successful demand generation

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Brand is critical to a company’s growth strategy – but how often does it play a bit part in demand generation initiatives?

According to Forrester Research (2018): ‘CMOs must shift from a company-centric approach of managing a brand as an asset to a customer-centric one of creating a resonant brand experience’.

If your product or service value proposition doesn’t resonate with B2B customers - it doesn’t matter how well thought through your demand strategy, how great your content is or how effective your marketing tech is. You’re not maximizing your impact unless your brand is centre stage.

1.    Refresh your brand promise to build trust that powers demand

Many organizations don’t put in the necessary resource to keep refining and refreshing the company’s brand promise to the customer. Delivering consistently on expectations is key, especially in the first client engagements. Brand and value proposition development deserve a committed effort.

By being clear and consistent, you can make sure prospective buyers, customers, influencers and partners quickly see what your company stands for and what your brand is all about, so they can more easily decipher whether your solution is the right one for their organization.

Benefits include – greater lead volumes, shorter sales cycles, higher conversion rates, more impactful & effective advertising and, more often overlooked, a more confident company and sales team.

2.    Create unique brand experiences to drive demand generation

Companies that invest in delivering exceptional brand experiences and communicating thoughtfully produce positive associations around each customer touchpoint. In turn, these companies win engagement, business, preference and, ultimately, loyalty. This disciplined effort improves demand marketing results over time and allows you to scale.

One of the best ways this can be applied is in content marketing. Providing educational information that informs your prospective buyers is one approach. It’s often really hard for your brand, content or offer to stand out. This is where brand comes in. Don’t do the same old white paper or webcast. Think about putting your educational information, for example, into a workbook of some sort or make it come to life using a video or live chat with your team members as subject matter experts. This will showcase your authentic, unique brand while creating demand for your solutions. So does your brand resonate?

3. Map content and messaging to buyer journeys that's true to your brand

Developing interesting and compelling content is a major achievement, doing it in a way that's reflective of your brand multiplies its value. Product positioning, key benefits, brand pillars, value proposition, audience, and tone are just a few items that need to be taken into consideration. Together, these elements combine to create a full messaging framework that can guide your marketing across every piece of content and every channel. Everything you create, both internally and externally, should be able to map back to this messaging.

4.    Leverage your brand to create customer advocates that
drive profitable demand

As you build trust, more of your customers become brand advocates. Ideally, because of the work you’re doing, it becomes organic and word-of-mouth referrals will grow.

It’s productive to put customer brand advocacy to work in your demand effort. And don’t settle for just case studies - mix in creative ways to have your customers share their story and their work. You can include them as subject matter experts on key topics at industry conferences, roundtables or articles in high-profile sources. Having customers talking about the issues provides brand association and momentum. This fuels brand trust that powers demand.

5.    Brand-driven demand generation is a winning formula

Sustained demand marketing success relies on brand strength and differentiation. Having a differentiated, relevant solution with a consistent brand promise is essential to a marketing team’s ability to drive revenue and increase sustained sales.

Don’t leave your brand with a bit part role!

 

 

How Fire NBM can assist you with prospect and account based marketing:

·        BRAND INSIGHT, POSITIONING AND PROPOSITION DEVELOPMENT
Our experienced researchers conduct brand perception surveys, insight programmes and phone interviews for businesses to discover what challenges their prospects and existing clients face, what they are looking for in service and product providers and how they make their buying decisions. Our strategic marketers and creatives then bring this to life!

·        CREATIVE DEMAND GENERATION Fire NBM works with companies to develop B2B prospect personas, content marketing strategies, brand propositions, campaigns and creative execution. We assist clients to optimise the best mix of outbound and inbound techniques to drive new business growth and our social media specialists ensure messaging and content works well across all digital media, with our our content team including qualified journalists.  

·        INTEGRATED DIGITAL SERVICES Bringing our extensive knowledge of attracting and engaging customers to well defined digital relationship models, both standalone or integrated to offline channels. We assist clients in a range of digital areas from UX design workshops and web design and development to conversion optimisation, SEO, PPC and social sellling.

 

Social Media – Made for Manufacturers...?

Fiona presenting at Made in Britain Workshop

So, how does social media work for manufacturers?

That was my opening line at a recent talk to MDs and Sales Directors of 30 or so UK manufacturers at a factory in Burnley....a first for me! Almost everyone in the room was a B2B company, with a serious commitment to growth and everyone was there to learn more about marketing in the context of being a British manufacturer.

So how does social media work for manufacturers as part of your marketing tooklit?  Well, the same as for any other B2B business to be honest.  If you stick to the basic principles of marketing - that is to say to attract, get and keep good customers – it’s pretty simple to apply those principles in a social media context.

Let’s look at a core business need that any growing manufacturing company has – prospecting for new business (your company might call this business development or lead generation).  If you’re part of any function in the business where your role is to “attract” customers, using social media can help to meet this need more easily than you think.

Part of prospecting is to understand the total addressable market for your manufacturing products or services.  This addressable market – usually referred to as your “audience” in social media terms – is made up of 4 main groups:

  • the “unawares” - those who don’t know you and don’t know they have a problem you can help with

  • the “awares” - those who know you & know they have a problem you can help with, but have no intention of addressing you or the issue now (or maybe ever)

  • the “shoppers” - those who are actively shopping around for companies/products who can help them with their problem

  • the “buyers” - those who have engaged & met with providers and are about to make a purchase decision

(Thank you Martin Stevens for this brilliantly succinct précis!)

So what’s the most “social” way to draw attention to your manufacturing business in your market?  And how do you make it easy for yourself to identify which of the above 4 groups your prospects fall into?  Here are some ideas:

  • Post regularly and consistently (and by that I mean daily).  Make your posts conversational to avoid coming across as spammy.  Ask questions – you want to know your prospects’ urgent needs, opinions, likes, dislikes.  Share relevant manufacturing industry content whether that’s your own or something well written and thought-provoking by someone else (even a competitor). This stimulates actual conversations with real people (amazing huh?) which is the start of nurturing a relationship.

  • Actively engage in conversations on manufacturing related topics. Whichever social media platform you’re using, you’ll find groups of like-minded people talking about what they make.  Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, with an opinion and to share your own knowledge as well the brand messages of your organisation (at a ratio of 80:20 personal:brand).

  • Adopt a friendly, open and conversational tone of voice.  Be human!  It’s called “social” media after all.

It won’t take long for individuals within your sales team to begin identifying prospects from this type of social engagement.  And once you’ve identified your prospects, you can turn them into leads.  It doesn’t take much due diligence on the part of your sales teams to come up with an email address and phone number so you can make a direct approach.  Once a prospect becomes a lead they can be nurtured through your sales funnel in a way that suits their needs.

I reckon that’s a big YES to social media being made for manufacturers!


How Fire NBM can assist you with prospect based marketing:

· BRAND INSIGHT, POSITIONING AND PROPOSITION  DEVELOPMENT
Our experienced researchers conduct brand perception surveys, insight programmes and phone interviews for businesses to discover what challenges their prospects and existing clients face, what they are looking for in service and product providers and how they make their buying decisions. Our strategic marketers and creatives then bring this to life!

·  CREATIVE DEMAND GENERATION Fire NBM works with companies to develop B2B prospect personas, content marketing strategies, propositions, campaigns and creative execution. Our social media specialists ensure messaging and content works well across all digital media whilst our content team includes qualified journalists.  

·   PR AND MEDIA IMPLEMENTATION We plan and implement the optimal mix of digital and offline media for integrated, multi-channel, inbound and outbound campaigns, making your B2B business growth initiatives more productive in terms of new leads and ROI.

PBM? Treating B2B prospects as they want to be treated...

How often do you hear new business marketing campaigns are a ‘bit hit and miss’, or that just ‘the timing was wrong’?  Or simply ‘it’s a blunt instrument - we're great at keeping clients but can't seem to win new ones’.  A reactive approach to growth can lead to a smash and grab for some new marketing tools which, if they don’t work within a few weeks, are binned.  Only to make way for a grab at another marketing tool – whether that’s more direct marketing, SEO, advertising or telemarketing.

If you have a new client momentum and a healthy pipeline, where sales time and account based marketing is underway, life can feel pretty good. But what if your existing client base is growing stale?  What if you want to launch a new business division or what if you want to step-up to a new growth phase?  And in a Brexit climate, what if you want to develop your international marketing?  Add to that the insane speed of the development of new marketing technologies and tightening data regulation placing larger regulatory burdens on businesses - such as the imminent 2018 Euro Data Regulations - how do you avoid the hit and miss of new business marketing campaigns?

A structured approach to new business strategy and business growth - Prospect Based Marketing (PBM) - reduces the risk in any new business campaign. It builds qualified audience segments and communities to nurture, starting from cold through to fully qualified prospects, giving you greater likelihood of positive ROI. Its key elements are :

1)    Planning your prospect experiences develop the pathways for businesses to meet your own and plan how you want your brand & offer perceived. Build understanding and insight, build prospect personas and likely issue profiles.

2)    Ensuring your prospecting is content rich in line with your brand strategy and designing messaging relevant to inbound prospects’ stage in the funnel. For outbound, don’t go in with blunt approaches.  Use questioning, research and referral based methods of contact coupled with compelling and relevant content marketing.

3)    Leveraging marketing technologies to drive engagement employing either a) interruptive or b) organic media strategies. Community engagement on social media is as relevant for prospects as it is customers. Taking an organic PBM approach makes prospect nurturing and new customer wins strategic rather than a flash in the pan. 

Creating effective PBM is about striking the right balance between outbound and inbound activities as well as using the right mix of marketing tools.  These can be a combination of social media, event management and especially publishing the kind of content (or the ‘hooks’) which will guide your prospects on their journey to becoming warms for conversion.

Don’t build blunt instruments!  Build eye-catching, engaging and relevant PBM campaigns.

 

How Fire NBM can assist you with prospect based marketing:

·  BRAND INSIGHT, POSITIONING AND PROPOSITION DEVELOPMENT
Our experienced researchers conduct surveys, insight programmes and phone interviews for businesses to discover what challenges their prospects and existing clients face, what they are looking for in service and product providers and how they make their buying decisions

·  CREATIVE DEMAND GENERATION Fire NBM works with companies to develop B2B prospect personas, branded content marketing strategies, propositions, campaigns and creative execution. Our social media specialists ensure messaging and content works well across all digital media whilst our content team includes qualified journalists.  

·  PR AND MEDIA IMPLEMENTATION We plan and implement the optimal mix of digital and offline media for integrated, multi-channel, inbound and outbound campaigns, making your B2B business growth initiatives more productive in terms of new leads and ROI.

Sparking prospect engagement with innovative content

 

For building awareness, creating leads and sparking new business growth, good storytelling is at the heart of things. And imaginative ways to tell great stories have been around since the Stone Age. But without a strategy linked to your brand, without an underlying ‘why’, your stories, however beautiful, can fall flat in a new business growth context. With ever more pressure to automate marketing, revamp the website, develop new metrics, focus on a particular channel, departments can feel they’ve ‘done something’ towards achieving their content marketing goals. But if there’s no new business in the pipeline, what's actually been achieved?  

To shorten the odds on creating new business opportunities and ultimately growth, have in mind a content framework:

1. Express the passion in your brand and develop stories around it. Keep your marcomms from becoming an avalanche of text unrelated to your brand’s mission, beliefs and differences. Rather, connect your comms with your brand and business objectives to give your stories an anchor. Reflect your positioning in the market and invest time in developing interesting, eyecatching propositions….

2. Develop a razor sharp sector focus. Concentrate your efforts where you can move the needle furthest. Start on just one customer segment at a time – probably that of your best customer. They’re a model for your other segments. Don’t try to appeal to everyone.

3. Have an equally sharp understanding of your buyer’s context. Know who your buyers are and create buyer personas. Understand what they care about and what their path to making a purchase looks like. Get your head around which points along the buyer journey you can use stories & case studies to influence and drive conversions and move your buyers along  the sales funnel.

4. Construct a conversion ladder with goals at each rung. This may have only 2 or 3 rungs on it – but if you’ve thought about it you’ve gone further than most of your competitors! The goals on your cladder help propel your prospects along the buyer journey; what’s more, you can track and measure the performance of your content at each rung using the right analytics, e.g. logging email opens, downloads or website visits using marketing automation.

5. Plan conversation triggers. Your marketing effort must be directed to initiating conversations. Both outbound and inbound marketing methods work – it’s working out the mix that matters. Outbound marketing can work well in the short term, inbound takes time to build but starts to reap benefits in the mid to longer term.  Choose to initiate conversations through emails, phone calls, or even text messages.

6. Create a campaign matrix. Pull together knowledge of your buyer’s context and their journey with your conversion goals and methods of content delivery along each funnel stage.  Use content to move your prospect from unaware through to the aware, interest, research and purchase stages.

You’ve now a framework for dropping in your stories and content before:

7. Build a scaling ability. Work out how to tackle producing enough content to satisfy buyers’ appetites – and over many months. Build a plan for repurposing, repackaging and recycling your content. Create worthwhile, quality content when you start out – not token content.

8. Optimise for search. Content marketing done well will create a special combination of mechanisms - content, social media and search. Look at applying specific keywords to increase your content’s ranking among the many media choices available (webinars, email, newsletters, blogs, etc). Don’t limit your search by not being knowledgeable about the basics of SEO, by using terms that people don’t use (e.g. jargon versus commonly used terms).  Remember to post enough keyword rich textual content on your website or blog.

Stories relating to your brand and your passions in the context of your audience's key needs may not have the longevity of cave paintings - but they’ve more chance of being noticed by your prospects and sparking engagement.

 

How Fire NBM can assist you with content marketing:

·   BRAND INSIGHT, POSITIONING AND PROPOSITION DEVELOPMENT Our experienced researchers conduct surveys, insight programmes and phone interviews for businesses to discover what challenges their prospects and existing clients face, what they are looking for in service and product providers and how they make their buying decisions

·  CONTENT DEVELOPMENT Fire NBM works with companies to develop branded content marketing strategies, propositions, campaigns and creative execution. Our social media specialists ensure messaging and content works well across all digital media.

·  CONTENT IMPLEMENTATION We provide a managed marketing service to act as ‘virtual’ marketing departments for businesses seeking integrated, multi-channel campaigns with a greater new lead, new business and growth orientation. Our content team includes qualified journalists.  

 

Your ideal cocktail

Hmmm, nice thought...but what of the new business marketing cocktail? A common question of many clients is just which is the best channel mix? The answer as ever, isn’t that simple - and lies somewhere in the design of what's best mix for your business, your proposition and your markets.  And much easier said than done....and like your first cocktails, don’t get put off if it’s a bit sour at first - keep working on it.  

So to help, here’s a checklist:

1. Make time for new business marketing. There’s always the existing client or customer work and so...you’ll never have enough time! But that’s an excuse you can’t afford to hide behind.  And likewise, whilst you need to make sure all of your collateral is up to date, don't use that as an excuse not to get prospecting.

2. Establish strategic foundations. Establish the propositions, mindful of your brand, its positioning and personality. Are you a hero, a rebel or a sage brand? The more the proposition and campaign theme can relate back to your brand and ‘reason why’, the more powerful the communications and your 'hook'.

3. Multi-channel. By that we mean don’t just rely on just one channel or technique to attract business.  Think across the full channel range.

4. Think data. Successful new business marketing is underpinned by segmentation, testing and learning - and it’s fuelled by data. So develop an ethos of continual data collection and analysis.

5. Inbound marketing. Once you’ve weighed up the proportion of outbound to inbound you want to undertake, try a range of content and channel mixes. Blogs are hugely important but you can do more (see our September blog on the Made in Britain campaign)

6. Outbound Marketing. There’s a lot written about whether or not to use outbound approaches  (direct mail, telephone appointment setting)  - but well researched, targeted, clever (creative) proactive approaches work. Does it work for you, now? Test it and see.

7. Keep it continuous. If you bunch your new business activity into sporadic efforts you’ll have gaps in the pipeline. It can take weeks or months to convert initial enquiries so you should always have some prospects that you're developing into a live client or customer. Think activity levels.

8. A culture of new business marketing. Everyone has a role to play. Ask your whole team to keep an eye out for new opportunities. Things they may have read about e.g. job changes (on LinkedIn, Twitter, Trade press etc). An employee may not be ‘sales person’ but they should feel empowered and motivated to sell your organisation’s propositions wherever they are.

9. Keep your new business marketing visible. Add new business reporting as an agenda item in your board and senior management team meetings. Discuss what’s working and what isn’t. Set up either shared Google Docs, basecamp or a CRM platform that everyone can access.

So, can we buy you a cocktail? ;) 
 

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