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Savvy Sisters - Fri Nov 30, 2012 @ 02:09AM
Comments: 109

 

Savvy Week in ReviewHere in the states, the turkey is behind us and we're moving into full swing on all manner of holiday, winter, and end-of-year insanity. I believe all six Savvy Sisters are accounted for post Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and  - though we haven't got much shopping done yet - we've all still been happily consuming our share of blog posts from around the B2B blogosphere and beyond. 

Here are this weeks top picks for your enjoyment.

Have a great weekend and we'll see you on Monday! 

The Savvy Sister

Customer Service Should be your FIRST Branding Exercise via @level343

It's about what you DO more than about what you say. 

5 Social Media Publishing Lessons Brands Learned This Year via @CMIcontent

LOVED this - esecially the Bodyform example - made me snort my tea.

The Forrest Gump Guide to Attracting Readers and Becoming a Legend by @PushingSocial

There are lessons for all kinds and sizes of businesses here.

Make Word of Mouth Stupid-Easy For Your Customers via @lisagerber

... if you're not, you're missing a huge opportunity.

Is It Time for Content Marketers to Abandon Facebook? by @soniasimone via @copyblogger

We kind of saw this coming. It's a valid question.

7 Ways to Screw Up a Content Marketing Plan by via

Sometimes the best way to figure out what to do is by knowing what NOT to do.

 

And we also wanted to share a non-business post from a long-time friend of the Savvy Sisters - Mark Schaefer. This is a wonderful chance to give back and share some of that true holiday spirit. We applaud his efforts and heart.

The kid who wanted a door for Christmas  

 

 

 

 

Comments: 109
Jamie Lee Wallace - Wed Nov 28, 2012 @ 01:14AM
Comments: 54

soapbox.jpgI've been getting up on a soapbox over at Suddenly Marketing. 

You see, I've become something of a geek when it comes to branding, and I'm tired of seeing branding get the short end of the stick. 

Far too often, branding gets passed over for shinier, brighter, snazzier fellows like social media, integration, and beautiful new websites. It's not that I have anything against social media (total Twitter addict, here), integration (bring it on, baby!), or beautiful new websites (a picture is worth a thousand words ... when it's the right picture). BUT (and this is a big "but") none of those things work without branding. 

Sure, you can skate by for a little while - adding widgets, joining Google+, hosting a webinar or two, and giving your homepage a makeover; but nothing will help you stand out in a crowded market like having something to say. And not just "something," but something important, something different, something that resonates with your intended audience - shines out like a beacon across an ocean of me-too marketing ploys and been-there-done-that pitches. 

Your brand is your ace in the hole. It's the one thing no competitor can take away. 

So, why do so many companies gloss over the branding exercise or skip it all together? 

Because it's hard. 

I guide companies and individuals through this process all the time. It's a primary cornerstone of my business. I have a process. I have experience. I have an eye for pulling out the underlying stories and themes that come together to create branding magic. But no matter how many times I go through this experience, it's still hard. 

Getting to the core of something is never easy. You have to push through a lot of superficial stuff. You have to ask questions ... and more questions ... and more questions. And then you have to find answers. You have to boil the whole thing down to a few bite-sized nuggets of clarity that cut through the noise and - zing! - hit your audience right between the eyes

It's hard, but it's SO worth it. 

I'm not even close to being done with my rants at Suddenly Marketing, but swing by if you'd like to hear my sermon so far:

Branding is NOT Optional Part 1: A cautionary tale

Branding is NOT Optional Part 2: Let them eat your dust

 

And let's talk about branding, shall we? Because it matters. 

 

JME5670V2thumbnail.jpgAbout the Author: Jamie helps her clients craft standout brands, transform ideas and visions into profitable content, and create rave-worthy brand experiences. Part strategist, part writer, and part cheerleader, she makes marketing fun. Enjoy more of her posts, visit her site at Suddenly Marketing, look her up on Twitter @suddenlyjamie, or drop her an email.

More posts by Jamie.

 

 

Image Credit: John H. McCarthy

Comments: 54
Savvy Sisters - Fri Nov 16, 2012 @ 09:00AM
Comments: 47

Happy Friday, everyone! This seems to be a productive week sandwiched between the hurricane and Thanksgiving. We hope that you have felt as energized as we have. And, the B2B marketing bloggers are obviously getting a lot done as well, and there is a lot going on around the blogosphere. Here are some of our favorite posts from the week. What did we miss? Let us know in the comments. And have a great weekend!

Savvy Week in Review

The Savvy Sister

The Two Reasons We Really Buy by @BobBurg

If you know what the two reasons are, it'll give you some great insight into how to craft your marketing message.

Three Content Marketing Myths That Drive Me Crazy by @brencournoyer via @MarketingProfs

Don't let these three misconceptions hold you back from putting content marketing to work for your business.

What The New Yorker Magazine Can Teach You About Content Marketing by @demianfarnworth via @copyblogger

This was really surprising. Interested in seeing if this trend continues. 

Inspiration is everywhere - 7 effortless ways to find new Ideas for your blog by @PavelNovel

Running out of things to write about? Never fear. Here are seven solid ways to get the blog engine turning again. 

The No Hype Guide To Video Marketing on YouTube by @tommyismyname via @jaybaer

Thinking about video? You should be. Here's a great post on how to market that video so it delivers the results you're hoping for.

How to Develop a Content Matrix: A Step-By-Step Guide by via

Here's how to make sure you develop content that resonates with your buyer personas.

 
If you using (or trying to use) content marketing at a large B2B organization, don't miss this interview with Michael Brenner from SAP. 
Comments: 47
Stephanie Tilton - Wed Nov 14, 2012 @ 07:00AM
Comments: 365

If you’re like me and love getting your hands on the latest research into B2B content marketing, you should check out these three reports: 

 

While each of them provides terrific insights on their own, I find the real value in comparing how B2B marketers are approaching content marketing and how prospective buyers are consuming and using it.

What it takes to keep prospects engaged

You may have heard recent surveys showing that the enterprise B2B sales cycle has shortened. This is likely because prospects are holding vendors at arm’s length until later in the cycle (making the cycle look compressed from the vendor’s viewpoint).

Regardless of how you measure the sales (or buying) cycle, buyers need to conduct their due diligence before making a purchase decision. And that means they want to find the information that addresses their questions throughout the process. To address the needs of an often large number of participants in the purchase decision – representing different areas and interests across a company – marketers need to produce content tailored for different roles and satisfying a range of questions.

In fact, the IDG report shows that an average of 9 information assets are downloaded during the purchase process. And the average IT decision maker consumes 5 pieces of content before being ready to speak to a sales rep.

It’s no surprise that the CMI report showed the biggest challenge for B2B marketers is producing enough content. At the same time, it makes sense that the B2B marketers who feel their content marketing efforts are most effective are the ones who produce more content types and assets, and tailor their content to the decision-maker profile.

 

CMI-effectiveness.png

Yet according to the B2B Content Marketing Trends 2012 report, a majority of companies still segment mainly by product or service.

contentmarketing-segmenting.png

 

Want to follow in the footsteps of those who are pleased with the effectiveness of their content? Start by developing buyer personas.

Aligning goals with strategy

While the ultimate goal of content is to drive a purchase, each content asset should be tied to an incremental goal based on where it falls in the buying cycle. Interestingly, the B2B Content Marketing Trends 2012 survey found that thought leadership/market education is the second highest goal after lead generation.

contentmarketing-topgoals.png

Thought leadership means different things depending on whom you ask. Too often, I see companies defining thought leadership as a white paper or other piece of content that simply summarizes the latest industry research, or that shows they’re up to speed on their customers' industries and understand their pain points, goals, etc. That's not thought leadership -- that's table stakes. If a company didn't have that understanding, it wouldn't be in business.

Thought leadership isn’t just a goal you assign to a set piece of content. It’s a program and initiative that involves a dedicated focus, process, framework, and research that leads to innovative or visionary ideas or insights. So if your company has set this as a goal, make sure it has everything in place to truly deliver on it.

For additional insights on the IDG Enterprise Customer Engagement report, check out Ardath Albee’s post

What’s your take on these latest research findings?

Pie chart image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Comments: 365
Savvy Sisters - Fri Nov 09, 2012 @ 07:00AM
Comments: 21

Our thoughts are with everyone affected by Hurricane Sandy this past week. We Savvy Sisters are thankful to have weathered the Savvy Week in Reviewstorm no worse for wear. If you're looking to lighten the mood, these posts just might do the trick. Enjoy and stay safe!

The Savvy Sister

Why businesses must blog with passion by @craigmcbreen

If you're going to invest time and money in blogging, make it count.

10 rules of disruption by @dolectures

Step outside the echo chamber, give these a read, and get inspired to disrupt something.

How To Verify Your Pinterest Account and Why You Should by @jeffbullas

Are you dabbling with Pinterest? It just got more valuable for businesses promoting their products and services. Find out why.

Social Media vs. Branding: Which One's Losing and Why? by @davidbrier

As someone who is passionate about branding, this one really got my goat.

Is Your Content Marketing Keeping Pace with Your Buyers? by

The way prospects consume and use your content is changing. Find out how if you want to stay in the race.

13 B2B Lead Generation Mistakes You’ve Made—So What Can You Do Now? by via 

Here's how to take care of that sinking feeling in your stomach when things go awry.

 

 

Comments: 21
Wendy Thomas - Wed Nov 07, 2012 @ 09:16AM
Comments: 93

Today's guest post is written by  James Barnett who is an Exhibition Marketing enthusiast and former Business Consultant researching the Social Sphere’s relationship with the Creative Industries on behalf of Nimlok UK, distributor of Modular Exhibition Stands.

 

Top 10 Tips for Exhibition Marketing in the Social Sphere

 Exhibition Marketing has a unique relationship with the social sphere, as social media platforms allow you to communicate your messages with contacts and build relationships. The exhibition provides a unique opportunity for face to face relationship building which is imperative for people seeking to venture into business partnerships. However the benefits of social media serve as an extended PR campaign around the exhibition, providing the opportunity to further reach your audience. The exhibition standinteractivity encourages visitor participation and real-time exposure through social media, and provides a compelling case for the following top tips.

1. Twitter, What to Tweet? – 500 million accounts and access to the global population make this tool our starting point for social media engagement. Tweets should be focused on encouraging traffic to visit your stand. Special prizes and give always are good techniques to generate interest.

- Tweetdeck allows you to research the trends within your product niche and demographic of the show. Identify three new areas to hit every day to expand your audience engagement. Followerwonk is a useful tool to find industry influencers, identify somebody in your product niche and request a Re-Tweet from them.

2. Prescheduling Tweets – Hoot suite and similar web based programmes enable you to write and schedule tweets in advance. Social media planning can be generated up to two months in advance.

- One of the best tricks to effectively use Hoot Suite is to assign multiple social accounts including LinkedIn, Facebook, & Pinterest so you can control which tweets go to which areas to secure the best exposure.

3. Discover what’s Trending? – Find the most relevant hashtag (#) for the event and incorporate it into your message.

- The Tweetdeck tip works well for this, but don’t be afraid to start your own trend. Try #NimlokWOW to woo the online audience and encourage debate.

4. Facebook for Business– This is not just a personal tool, it has become irresistible for business.  A personal message, promotion or interesting information that adds value to your audience can and will engage your target market.

- Consider if your company has 20 employees with 100 friends each, if they each click ‘Like’ on the Facebook Fan page, that’s potential exposure to 2000 people. Of course have a screen prepared on this page, ready for any customers which come to the booth.

5. Exhibition Content Posts– Snaps of the exhibition stand design and product demonstrations could be shared through your social channels. Consider using an exciting backdrop as a focal point to encourage photos and public interaction.

- A shot of potential suitors analysing your product will become a great sales tool in the post-show follow up of networked contacts.

6. Company Show Name– A relatively unpublicised fact is YouTube as a search engine would actually rank second behind Google for popularity and should include features from the show. Don’t spend a fortune on the video though; it’s very much about the human connection effect and a real display from your exhibition. 

-Here’s a great example of a low budget video …..http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbH1JogHX9

7. PR Campaign, Pre & Post Show–The power of the web enables you to develop a PR campaign prior to the launch of a show, engaging the online audience and growing your social presence. After the show there is a great opportunity to share videos, facts and pictures from the show and develop new connections further. 

- Social Media tracking software Radian 6 can measure the effects of online marketing. The best practise if you receive multiple visitors is to record details on social channels, if however you are able to network with a potential investor then exchange business cards. 

8. Blog– Write about your show. Blogs enable you to publicise your findings and create interesting content for your site, boosting your SEO results and generating links across the web. Good quality Blogs can be found from the Google Blog Search option and sites such as Technorati & Blog Engage.

- For any new bloggers starting from scratch, Google Blogger is highly recommended as a content platform due to its easy integration of predesigned templates and an affiliation to the Google + Platform which is gaining a larger market share.

9. LinkedIn– LinkedIn has a great new display similar to Twitter which appears in the feed of connected professionals within your groups and communities. Tweets should be repurposed for use within LinkedIn.

- If you receive a list of attendees before the show, research these individuals on LinkedIn and connect to their network. Join groups which are related to your niche and update a full open profile of your exhibition team so reciprocal networking options are available.

10. Pinterest– Vibrant images from the show will grow in popularity upon their inclusion within this social bookmarking tool.

- If your images aren’t taking off on this platform, try using Instagram to adjust the colour contrasts and lighting effects and re-distribute across the web.

# # #

 

 

Comments: 93
Savvy Sisters @savvy_b2b - Fri Nov 02, 2012 @ 04:00AM
Comments: 127

Savvy Week in ReviewHappy November! 

We hope you all had a fun and spooky Halloween. While you're snacking away on the stash of leftover trick-or-treat candy, here are some of the week's beset B2B posts for your reading pleasure. 

Enjoy that sugar buzz and we'll see you on Monday! 

Have a great weekend. 

The Savvy Sister

The 6 Emotional Triggers of Killer Content by @skooloflife via @blogcastfm

You've read all the "best practices" and boned up on all the best new strategies, but what really makes killer content tick? This post breaks it down for you - six key emotional elements that drive reader interest.

Value Proposition Development: 5 insights to help you discover your value prop via @MktgExperiments

People are easily confused by the concept of the value proposition. This post does a great job of explaining what the value prop is (and isn't) and how to figure out what your specific value prop is.

The problem with white space (And what you need to know about design) by @craigmcbreen

An important design concept that can help increase visitor engagement with your content.

Get mad. Marketing from your dark side. by our @suddenlyjamie

You know what your brand stands for, but do you know what you stand against? Name your enemy and harness the power of your battle's conflict to take your branding up a notch. 

More than thirty percent of small businesses should quit using social media via @leaderswest

Could it be true? Are you among that thirty percent? 

How To Optimize Your Infographic For Maximum Reach by via

Help your infographic go wide and far!

 

And here's something fun - Doodlers Unite, a TED Talk by Sunni Brown (@sunnibrown).Next time you get called out for doodling in a meeting, you can tell your boss that you're actually being productive. Hat tip to @imaginibbles for the find. 

 

 

 

Comments: 127
Heather Rubesch - Thu Nov 01, 2012 @ 08:00AM
Comments: 114

Case studies are very valuable elements of the B2B content marketing mix.  They can be stand alone pieces to leave behind with a prospect, inserted into an RFP or sales proposal or included in a newsletter.  Well executed they can solidify and clarify your benefits in the mind of your prospect.  Unfortunately there are some common mistakes that marketers are making with their case studies.  Make sure you aren’t one of them!

 

Making the before unbelievable

It is customary in a case study to ask the client to describe their previous state so the reader can get some feel for what their business drivers were for installing your system, implementing you product, hiring your consulting firm.  This is a critical piece not to over embellish.  You just make your client look bad and you set the wrong tone for the whole piece.  If you lose your believability in the first paragraphs of the case study then very few people will bother to read the rest of it.

 

The Fix

Stick with facts and metrics.  Use flowery adjectives sparingly.  Use as many direct quotes from your client as you can.

 

Letting your template constrain you

Templates are good as a guideline but they are not a one size fits all.  I recently worked with a client who had a very specific four page template that was their case study standard.  The interview material from one of the clients I spoke with was powerful but brief.  The sentiment could honestly be summed up in 2-3 paragraphs rather than four pages.  So let those 3 paragraphs be enough!  Better to present 3 powerful paragraphs that tell your story than belabor them in four pages of fluff and drivel!

 

The Fix

Write the case study without a particular format in mind.  Focus on telling the story with as much clarity and as concisely as possible.  Then see how it fits into a few templates your organization has agree upon recognizing that case studies will very in length.

 

Thinly veiled product pitches

Case studies are excellent reinforcers of product materials because they have the ability to put the product benefits into action in a relevant industry, company size, etc as the prospect.  Resist the urge to try to force your product feature laundry list into your case study.  It is fine to put a direct quote from a client about the product feature that has been most beneficial to them or the one that differentiated you from your competitors and thus served as the tipping point but don’t try and get them to quote every last feature or sneak them in to the body of your case study.

 

The Fix

Appreciate that the benefits of your product ranked greatest to least is less important than the sentiment and context of the story being told.  Be true to your clients voice even if it doesn’t fit your agenda.  Listen carefully because they might give you a bigger benefit than you could ever realize on your own!

 

Including only the overly positive

I recently did a series of interviews for a client in order to create some case studies.  I asked the same basic set of 12 or so interview questions to each customer.  In reviewing the quotes to assemble some testimonials for case studies and quotes for the website my client zeroed in on all the ones that were “This product saved our business” and “We couldn’t live without it”.  These are great but they aren’t really very specific.  The less “wow” quotes like “Their training was simple and effective and allowed us to cross train all our office staff for maximum continuity” is a lot less flowery but sure says a lot more about how you are different from your competitors. 

 

The Fix

Focus less on the headline quotes and more on the supporting details that describe what life is like with your company after the ink dries on the contract.  Let the customer describe the day to day benefits and balance it with the big picture results.

 

What are your organizations specific challenges with case studies?  How have you overcome them?

Tags: Case Studies
Comments: 114
Heather Rubesch - Tue Oct 30, 2012 @ 11:43AM
Comments: 64

The team at SocialMouths has done it again.  They have put out a new infographic, The B2B Lead Generation Manifesto,  that drives home small changes to your current marketing plan that can make all the difference.  I especially like the tips on moving your registration box for information / download to the second page.  Solidifiy why they want it, get them salivating for it before you show them how much demographic info they are going to have to share.

Also check out tips on converting those who registered for but did not attend your live webinar.  Good stuff!

Tags: Toolkit
Comments: 64
Guest - Mon Oct 29, 2012 @ 05:03AM
Comments: 116

agile_scrum.jpgWhy Your Team Needs to Be Agile 

There is no doubt that we live in an "information age," in which anything we need to know is easily and quickly found. Our tastes and trends change, adapt, and respond to the rapid real of information around us. And for businesses, that means success now comes from adjusting practices to match this fluid environment.

A relatively new concept, the agile methodology, is becoming increasingly common in business practices, especially in the field of marketing, as a way for businesses to work with and not against the rapid pace of our culture.

Agile marketing can be defined by four main emphases:

  1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  2. A working product over comprehensive documentation
  3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  4. Adapting to change over following a plan

Implementing this in your marketing program: Transforming your marketing program or team into one that is agile should begin by focusing on the delivery of an end product that affects change for your client. Ditch cumbersome approval processes, and trust your team members to produce high quality work. Make sure you are always working closely with clients by communicating with them on at least a weekly basis, and be ready to change your game plan if that's what your client wants.

Making Your Team Agile

The agile methodology was first introduced over ten years ago in the software development field. The software market was changing too quickly for its then-current waterfall method to sustain development programs.

The more traditional waterfall method has too slow of a process to develop software, and by the time developers were able to roll out a product, the market had already changed enough that their software was outdated.

Obviously the waterfall method doesn't work for products and ideas that need to be shipped quickly; so, enter the agile method, which uses a much more adaptive approach.

Implementing this in your marketing program: Being agile means being flexible enough to change your project plans when either a client or current events requires it. If something changes and you need to change your marketing strategy, be ready to get all hands on deck for a "ship day" devoted solely to developing a new strategy.

1. Sprints

Instead of focusing on long-term goals, like the waterfall method, the agile method focuses on shorter time periods, called sprints, which is a time period between one and four weeks. Before each sprint, a team will hold a pre-sprint meeting, in which they decide what tangible goals they want to accomplish during the sprint period. The goals will then be broken up into short tasks, between 1-3 hours each. For my team, those tasks often look something like this:

  • 2 hours writing
  • 2 hours editing
  • 2 hours research

 

When using the traditional waterfall method, teams often focus on annual goals, which are really difficult to execute on a daily basis. But, when using the agile method, those annual goals are broken up into sprint goals, which are broken up into daily tasks, making it much easier to actually progress towards goals in a tangible way.

Implementing this in your marketing program: First off, you need to decide how long your sprint periods will be; most companies bill on a month cycle, so it might be easiest to have a 4 week sprint. Second, divide your tasks up based on your budget for your clients and your hourly billing. For example, if your client's monthly budget is $1,000 and your hourly billing rate is $100, then you can devout 10 hours to that client. Next, divide those decided hours up into specific tasks based on your goals, which might look something like this:

  • 2 hours of situation analysis
  • 2 hours of strategy development
  • 4 hours of product development
  • 2 hours of implementation

 

2. SCRUMS

An important part of every sprint is the SCRUM meeting. SCRUMs are short, daily meetings in which the SCRUM master (meeting leader) asks the team a series of questions:

  1. What did you do yesterday?
  2. What are you going to do today?
  3. What are the roadblocks or obstacles you are facing?

The SCRUM master then records each team members' answers to refer back to should there be any confusion (SCRUM masters often find mobile technology, like tablets very helpful during short or off-site SCRUMs).

SCRUMs keep every team member informed about what the progress and problems of each project, which allows all members to effectively work across all projects, so no one person gets buried under mounting roadblocks. SCRUMs also allow team members to track progress, so if anyone project falls behind, all members can jump on it immediately.

SCRUMs provide a certain level of accountability, as well. When a team member claims a day's worth of tasks, that member will be asked whether or not those were actually finished at the next SCRUM. 

Implementing this in your marketing program: SCRUMs need to be mandatory for all team members every day. Keep meetings short and on topic by appointing a regular SCRUM master. If issues arise that need to be discussed further, set up a separate time to talk about those problems—SCRUMs should always be brief.

3. Post-Sprint

At the end of every sprint period, the team will hold a post-sprint meeting, in which they evaluate what tasks and goals did and did not get completed. Goals that were met or projects that were completed during the sprint are then presented to the client. Items that did not get completed are then put on the list of goals and tasks for the next sprint session.

Implementing this in your marketing program: After presenting completed projects to clients, ask for their feedback, so you can better evaluate client satisfaction. Adjust your marketing strategy according to the feedback and reaction of the client.

Adapting to Change

By focusing on short tasks and short sprint periods, the agile method allows teams to easily adapt to change. If a certain project needs more work, then all team members can easily work on that particular project until it's caught up (this is normally called a ship day, hack day or hackathon).

Shorter sprint periods also allow for more frequent client/customer feedback, which allows the team to adjust to any desired changes.

While adapting to the agile method might mean large internal changes, ultimately, being agile and adaptable to change is by far more marketable and effective than the traditional waterfall method. We live in a fast paced world, where mobile technology makes information instantly accessible. Your team needs to be able to adapt to changes as quickly as they come in order to stay relevant to your clients.

 

Kyra Kuik works for a creative internet marketing company in Seattle, WA. You can connect with Kyra via Twitter

Comments: 116
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