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The Sweet Reward of Saying Thanks

22 Nov

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During the holiday season, we often jump from Halloween right to Christmas or New Year’s and simply view Thanksgiving as the day we eat too much – and for me, watch the Dallas Cowboys game. (I’m still a Chiefs fan, but when you grow up before cable TV you liked the team you could watch.)

It’s unlikely you start your customer communication with politics or religion. The subjects are too volatile for most businesses to discuss. That’s why, as a business, it seems like Thanksgiving is the one holiday we should focus on.

At our house, every month, we get a box of Cheryl’s Cookies. They usually don’t last long, especially with kids, but they are just cookies. Very good cookies, but still just cookies. Unlike our B2B clients, where customers spend thousands, sometimes millions of dollars, these cookies cost us less than $20 a month.

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We recently received an overnight envelope at our house from Cheryl’s. It clearly  wasn’t our  normal box so I opened it (a highly valued activity at my house). What  did I find? A very simple  message: Thank you. No sales message. Not a coupon for  a repeat order. No offer to upgrade. A  note that simply said, “Thank you.”

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Thankfully, they also sent a small box that included a single cookie.

So what does this have to do with B2B or building materials marketing? It  was a reminder to me that we sometimes forget to simply say “thank you” to  our customers, our clients, our employees or other people we interact with  during our work life.

Why do we overcomplicate the process of simply saying “thank you” during  this time of the year? Is it because we don’t care about our customers? I don’t  think so. Is it because we are a business and businesses aren’t “warm and  fuzzy?” Possibly or have we simply forgotten that regardless of our roles or  interactions, we are still just another human whose plate is too full, whose day  isn’t long enough and who might just be taken for granted? There may be  something to that.

Yes, we are in Business to Business marketing, but we are still people to people and the old adage that you do business with people you know, like and trust remains true.

This year, don’t forget this simple act of a thank you to the people in your life. While trying to cut that single cookie into four equal parts for my family was not easy, we certainly appreciated the message and your employees, co-workers and especially your customers will, too.

So as we start the holiday season, I want to, along with the entire ER Marketing team, say thanks to you – our friends, our suppliers, our employees, our readers and especially our clients.

 

 

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Social Influencers for Every Industry

17 Nov

Try These Tips for Selecting the Right Social Influencer

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Social media influencers can play a critical role in your marketing strategy. Partnering with the right one can give you access to the influencer’s blog and social media channels, and connect you to a precise audience segment that your business otherwise may not be able to reach.

However, there’s a misperception that collaborating with social media influencers is only for consumer brands – fitness, fashion, video games – not B2B industries such as building products.

Partnering with the right social influencer can amplify your message with key audiences – regardless of industry. So how can your business identify the right social influencer? Try these tips:

Ask for Analytics

All major social media sites have robust analytics programs that social influencers can access. Before you commit to an influencer based on their subscriber count, have a conversation about their audience. Serious social influencers regularly review their stats to focus their efforts on top demographics. They know who’s visiting, what they like and how they respond. In the same way you request a report from a TV station before an ad buy, ask for a similar report from a social influencer. Not only will their response show a true mastery of their audience, it also will showcase a business sense that will help reach your target audience.

Look for Consistency

The size of the audience that follows a social influencer is one thing – reach is quite another. For instance, the YouTube view count to subscriber ratio is an important metric that shows the difference between a live marketing channel and one that may be too general. Look for social influencers who maintain a consistent view count for all posts, not influencers who seem to lose their audience and gain it back intermittently.

Find Subject Matter Experts

You’ll find your niche in the world of social influence by looking for people who’ve mastered their craft. Social influencers usually connect their rates to the audience size. If you find someone who’s early in their platform development but knowledgeable about the subject matter, you may be able to secure a discount for their services.

Material on the internet stays forever, so as an early influencer builds their audience, your sponsored content would continue to reach new followers. Subject matter mastery drives new followers to an influencer. In fact, if your brand is somewhat established, you may give a social influencer the boost they need to attract new audience members, which would benefit you both.

B2B or consumer, there’s a social influencer who can help connect you with your audience. The right one will amplify your message with precise audience segments your business otherwise may not be able to reach.

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Tesla: Innovation in the Driver’s Seat

18 Oct

The Building Materials Industry Can and Must Continue to Innovate

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I recently attended the inaugural Housing Innovation Vision Economics (HIVE) conference in LA. Kudos to Hanley Wood for a successful first-time event.

The opening keynote was JB Straubel, co-founder of Tesla. Arguably one of the more innovative companies right now, Tesla is doing more than just making a beautiful electric car.

When Tesla brainstorms, they start with the problem they’re trying to solve. Their team wanted to reduce harmful emissions. How could they do that? By making an electric car that people would actually buy.

JB and his team looked at how established companies were building cars. Tesla realized how inefficient the process was and created a new way.

During HIVE, two consistent problems kept bubbling up: the housing industry’s labor shortage and the increasing challenge of affordable housing.

How do we create a new way?

How do we build a better process for attracting, hiring and retaining labor? How do we hack and disrupt and innovate to make homes more affordable?

How do we follow Tesla’s lead?

Innovation isn’t industry specific. You don’t have to be Tesla to push the boundaries. A mature industry like ours can continue to innovate – in fact, we have to.

Better design. Better space planning. Better land management. All are important to meet the needs of shifting demographics, sustainability measures and first-time homebuyers.

HIVE was definitely not the typical building materials and housing industry conference. But the conversation about how our industry innovates can’t be limited to an annual event.

What “blue sky” idea is our industry pursuing today that will be mainstream tomorrow?

 

 

 

 

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Damn you B2C Advertisers

13 Oct

You Make Our Life a Living Hell

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No offense, I love being tricked into thinking a Twinkie will make my day better, or that breakfast at Taco Bell really is a good decision, but you still get to live in a carefree life of old school advertising.  Simply tell enough people and somebody will respond. It’s media math. Get that cost per thousand down and hope that some of us zombies will follow. Easy (assuming the company has enough media budget) and no one is getting fired because someone ordered a pizza and didn’t like the cheese-stuffed-crust. The customer will move on or try another option. Easy.

In the B2B world, our decisions have to be a bit more calculated.

For example, we have a client who is a large multi-national manufacturer.  They sell into several industries. Our task: launch a product that cost around $10 million dollars and is an optional product to the buyer. Bonus points – there’s only about 100 people who could actually buy the product (heavily regulated industry) and we already know who they are. Now that’s a challenge. And one where your margin for error is pretty small.

I don’t mean to diminish those Twinkies ads – given my waistline, they must work, along with running to the border. But as a longtime B2B marketer (and converted CPG advertiser), I think it’s time we stand up and be proud of the incredibly challenging and rewarding work of B2B.

In B2B, we work to educate and inform businesses about solutions to problems that our clients’ products or services could solve for them. Real solutions to real business problems.

I challenge us as an industry to remember those business buyers with real problems are also real people. The same people buying Twinkies, tacos and pizzas.

They order a $50 item off Amazon and in most cases they can have it tomorrow. And they can track the process at every step on their phone. They bring that experience to work with them, so let’s talk to them as real people who don’t want to hear why you can’t deliver on time or with a quality customer experience for that $50,000 purchase.

I call this the consumerization of B2B and its rapidly changing the expectations of clients and customers alike. Are you ready for this? Just remember that B2B can’t be boring to boring and it has to be people to people. And remember, it’s all the B2C advertisers’ fault.

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Visiting New York on 9/11: A Note on Perspective

15 Sep

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Don’t Lose Sight of What Really Matters

I recently had the unique experience of traveling to New York City for a Business Marketing Association (BMA) meeting that coincided with the 15th anniversary of 9/11. Consequently, this year was a little different than past BMA meetings in that my trip was an opportunity not only to talk about the B2B marketing industry with some of the leading companies and agencies in the country, but also to gain some important and much needed perspective.

This year, I arrived on the day of September 11 and decided to visit the memorial and see the lights, which are illuminated only a couple of nights a year. As I walked around Ground Zero, I saw firemen in dress blues from Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Antonio, Las Vegas, Miami, and many other cities. These men and women had been at Ground Zero in the weeks and months after the attack, lending a hand with the recovery, clean up, and other support efforts for their brothers and sisters in the NYFD.

As I walked from the reflecting pools where the Twin Towers once stood, I saw a big crowd around the Irish pub next to the fire station. Approaching the pub, I realized this was the place to be for all the firemen and women. I wasn’t sure if I could even go in, but as I entered, I realized I was more than welcome.

The firemen and women in the pub and the streets surrounding it were all talking, hugging, laughing, and sometimes even crying with their brothers and sisters who work to serve so many Americans in different cities across the country. Several times I attempted to buy these amazing, everyday heroes a beer or a drink. But every time, they replied with, “No, let me buy you a drink.”

“What? You’re buying me a drink? I should be thanking you.”

But because of their honor and pride, they wouldn’t allow me to buy them one.

We don’t always value the relationships with the people we serve, or who serve us. If you were offered something by the very people you serve, would you accept—or refuse and offer them one instead? Do you say thank you enough to the people who work for you? How about the people you work for?

From the memorial itself to the people I met in the city on this day, the experience of being in New York on the anniversary of 9/11 is something I wish everyone could experience. While a somber reminder of the worst attack on American soil, it’s also the location where thousands of people perished on what should have been just another typical Tuesday at the office.

As marketers, we have lots of “typical days” in the office. They tend to involve helping our companies or clients sell their products and services—they don’t tend to involve saving lives.

For us, making a mistake means a painful meeting or a brutal phone call—it doesn’t mean life or death.

When every project is rushed, we say it’s hot—but it’s not actually on fire.

We might run into a crazy meeting—but it’s not a burning building.

There is always another “typical day” at the office. But as we recognize and recall the events that forever changed our world, let’s also keep our perspective and remember that we can always be more humble, more thankful, and more appreciative of the opportunities we have. In short, more kind.

Appreciate the people you work with and work for, and those who work for you.

Do good work, but remember that your work isn’t the only thing that matters.

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