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Oh Snap!

30 Jun

Is Snapchat the Next B2B Marketing Tool for Your Brand?

Snapchat-large

For those who aren’t familiar with the mobile app, Snapchat, it is a multimedia app with more than 100 million users, that allows you to send brief digital content for in-the-moment experiences.

The challenge that marketers face today, whether it be B2B or B2C, is that you have to be involved with all of the different social media platforms in order to evolve. Many people fail to see how Snapchat can be another tool for B2B marketers, or do not take it seriously as a mainstream content contender, but they could be seriously missing out. Snapchat is not likely going away anytime soon, so to simply ignore it and say “well, that’s not where my customers are,” is simply an oversight, because whether they are on Snapchat for business or personal reasons, they are still there engaging with your brand. I recently heard the Global CMO for GE, Linda Boff, speak at #BMA16 and loved her point that:

     “Customers don’t log on to a different internet at night.”

With Snapchat being one of the fastest growing platforms out there, it provides your company the opportunity to better understand your audiences’ changing needs and desires and to get a summary on what has happened in the last 24 hours. Just this month, the app released a new API that will not only enable brands to purchase 10-second video slots, but will also allow your business to track who is coming into contact with your brand’s experience on Snapchat.

Now, what can B2B companies utilize it for? Most of the time social media platforms all get lumped together and treated as the same, when in reality, they accomplish and approach things in very different ways. How you communicate on Facebook is different from Pinterest, which is different from Snapchat—and people go to those channels for a different purpose. Facebook is more of a browsing, news and social outlet whereas Pinterest is very purposeful and very niche for different individual interests. Snapchat is a different way for you to communicate who your brand is through creation of stories that will add value to your audience. Understanding how to use the platform will make it easier for you to create appropriate content.

People no longer want bullet points from companies on the features and benefits of your product and why it’s so amazing. With so much parody in products and price, you cannot break through to customers without providing something different and showing that you are a brand that can engage with them.

It is important to recognize that with platforms such as Snapchat, Vine, and Instagram, B2B marketers need to start acting like media companies. Snapchat really isn’t a space for traditional and glossy advertisements, it is a source for creating awareness and experience for your brand because your audience has become more savvy and are aware when they are being “sold to.”

Snapchat is very experiential, very in the moment and therein lies the major opportunity. So, if you’re at a tradeshow, or a conference, or you are doing a demo, you can post behind-the-scene videos and pictures to invite your audience into that experience.

How do people interact with your product? B2B has a lot of manufacturing involved; if you are in that space, seeing how a machine works, how it provides a solution, how it makes somebody’s life easier—you can show that visually with a video, a picture, you could time stamp it, or you could create your own geofilter. If you’re a larger corporation and seeking to humanize your brand, then you can find ways to further build on a relationship with your audience. Is the CEO going to engage in a 10-second Snap that will resonate with who your brand is and create personality for your brand? The options are limitless and the rule book is out the window.

While Snapchat may not be the end-all-be-all for your marketing approach, its strong digital profile can organically create a sense of content urgency like no other platform. Because of the way content disappears after 24 hours, and keeps the length of stories very short, consumers are more likely to keep coming back for more.

Lastly, the assumption that Snapchat is primarily for millennial entertainment purposes does not discount the app’s value from a business standpoint. Millennials are becoming more and more active in the industry and they will continue to seek information and entertainment through channels that they know. A recent survey found that Snapchat is more popular than Facebook among 72 percent of millennials. It is important to play the long-game and plan for the future, because while Millennials may not be your biggest customer segment, they will become that in the future, and what they’ll remember is how your brand’s experience made them feel through its social presence.

Whether your B2B brand is geared toward the building industry, healthcare professionals, or something else entirely, developing and utilizing a consistent Snapchat strategy will create brand loyalty and can generate awareness through engaging your audience with unique content.

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Content Marketing & SEM: Stats Any B2B CMO Should See

5 May

Why Content Marketing Should Be Part of Your Digital Strategy

SEO and Content

Content marketing. Heard of it? If not, you probably haven’t been reading much Navigate-the-Channel. We’ve spoken a lot about how content is an incredibly effective B2B strategy to provide more information to customers at the early stages of their buyer’s journey, establish companies’ trust and expertise, and ultimately, drive more sales.

That’s all well and good, but there are other issues that B2B companies need to consider when it comes to their content strategies. Issues like Google’s Panda and Penguin updates, in which major search algorithm updates will affect the way search engines deliver the highest-quality results to their users. If your website can’t offer relevant content to those users, you can bet that your website will literally be bumped down the page, hidden under a pile of search results from companies that were just a little smarter than you about integrating content marketing into their strategies.

A recent article from Search Engine Land drew my attention because of its insights regarding content marketing and SEM. Here are a few standout facts that B2B companies should read before planning their content strategy:

  • More than 60-70% of content goes unused, meaning companies need to work to better understand who they’re writing for and why by conducting an audit of buyer personas and journeys.
  • B2B companies should prioritize utilizing a Content Management System (CMS) that integrates authors, topics, and keywords. For Adobe, switching to an SEO-friendly CMS resulted in a 307% increase in organic traffic within a year and a 287% increase in rankings on Page 1.
  • Don’t forget design—content needs to capture attention to be effective. Images, video, website design, and aesthetics are important contributing factors when it comes to “moving the needle” and shouldn’t be underestimated.

As Google continues to demand more and more from websites, it will become critically important that B2B companies fill their sites with the high-quality, relevant content users are searching for. You need to make sure that you’ve not only done the research to find out what your audience is looking for online, but that your content is written and created to deliver to those needs. SEO, therefore, is a critical component of your content marketing strategy.

Or it’s not. But if it’s not, you better enjoy Page 2.

 

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Learn Something New from These B2B Marketing Accounts

15 Mar

Follow on Twitter

Your B2B Crash Course Is Just a Follow Away

Guest Contributor:
Jenee Meyer, Office Administrator

After 15 years building my career in advertising and account service, I took 14 years off to be a stay-at-home mom. Needless to say, my focus changed dramatically. Snacks and play dates became much more important to me than Facebook, Twitter, search engine optimization, and blogs.

Now I’m back in the advertising world as an office administrator at ER Marketing, and it can sometimes be scary teaching myself new things. But in marketing—and especially in ever-changing industries like building—it’s important to always strive to learn and try new things.

While I was a stay-at-home mom, I took my daughter and son to a Google® event called CoderDojo. The kids would sit at long tables and the mentors would write a few words on the whiteboard stating what the goal was for the day. Maybe it was creating a weather page or maybe it was making a simple game. The beginners had some on-line lessons they could work through to get started while the more advanced kids just started working on their projects, asking questions of mentors when they were needed. At the end of three hours, two or three kids would come up to the front and show what they had created.

No elaborate instructions were given. No one was “taught” anything by listening to an instructor standing up front. It was up to kids who were 10+ years old to figure out how they were going to create something. It was amazing to watch how kids aren’t afraid to teach themselves new skills. So why, as adults, are we often afraid to learn new skills ourselves? More importantly—what can we do to learn them?

For me, I’ve turned to content: blogs, tweets, whitepapers, studies—anything I can get my hands on. Admittedly, the amount of content there is on the web can be intimidating. It can feel like everyone is talking and no one is listening. If I want to listen, how do I find the blogs and posts that will nurture my career and mind vs. ones that will leave me feeling like I’ve eaten too much candy? It’s a conundrum.

Here are a few of the Twitter accounts I’ve followed that help teach me new things and give me the B2B marketing information I need to get back in the game:

  • @ERMarketing, @EltonMayfield, @RenaeGonner: Okay, so it’s a bit of a shameless plug, but the founders of ER Marketing, Elton and Renae, are all over this stuff. Their accounts are focused on B2B marketing, with a slant towards the building products industry—but the insights are applicable for any industry.
  • @MarketingB2B: Not only does this account keep you up-to-date with helpful articles and trends, it also tweets helpful news roundups of the latest in B2B marketing.
  • @B2Community: Business 2 Community is all content, all the time. They have an open community of contributors, meaning that you’re getting insights collected from people across industries, careers, and experiences.
  • @MarketingProfs: Run by Ann Handley of Marketing Profs, this account is all about content. What I like about it is that it doesn’t just grab any random article—it’s carefully curated so no matter what you click, you get good, useful content.
  • @CMIContent: This account is great because it gives you a breadth of topics—everything from social media to search engine marketing to paid search. For someone like me, trying to jump in and give myself a crash course on what’s current in the marketing game, it’s very helpful.

Whether you’re new to B2B marketing, trying to jump back in, or just trying to stay current on the latest industry trends, it’s important to remind yourself that there is no right or wrong way to go about this. Just start following blogs and Twitter accounts, and if something isn’t working for you, you can always unsubscribe or unfollow with a simple click.

After taking 14 years to raise my family, I’m back in—and my game plan is to follow more people on Twitter and subscribe to more blogs. But most importantly, I’m going to actually take time to read those tweets and blogs. I can subscribe to everything in the world, but if I’m not reading it, it does me no good.

That’s my game plan. What’s yours?

 

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IBS 2016: Innovation Starts at the End of the Channel

4 Feb

Why I’m Demanding a Disruption in Building Products Development

Trendsetters

It seems like every meeting I have been in over the last few months has the same common theme. When asking any building materials manufacturer what they want to be famous for, the one word I hear over and over is “innovation,” or being an “innovator,” or being “innovative.”

No matter the iteration of the word, they’re saying the same thing: they want to come to market with products that chart the path for the industry. The question is: what is anybody doing to really accomplish that? Just stating the word does not change the product development process or disrupt the industry with new and truly innovative products.

That’s why while I was at the 2016 International Builders’ Shower (IBS) and Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS), I was delighted to run across a company doing exactly that. Cosentino® is a building products company that develops stunning quartz and stone options for kitchen and bathroom surfaces. One of their products, Silestone®, is a beautiful high-end surface made of 94% quartz.

But what makes this product so innovative is not just the advanced bacteriostatic technology or its incredible resistance and durability, or even its numerous designs; it’s the way Cosentino develops those designs.

Through the support of their Silestone Trendspotters, a diverse group of top designers from across the country, Cosentino creates new looks every year inspired by some of the most cutting-edge and forthcoming designs in the market. How do they accomplish this? Cosentino goes straight to the other end of the channel to talk to the people using their product (and, presumably, their competitors’ products), and then gets their insights to develop a product that will set the course for tomorrow’s trends.

Let’s be clear: these designers aren’t just choosing colors. Manufacturers everywhere bring in a designer or two to pick out colors; that’s nothing new. The Trendspotters is a team of designers from all different places across the country, from different points in their careers (some veterans, some up-and-comers), from different styles and backgrounds, from different philosophies and clienteles.

Cosentino made a bold move in picking them, flying them to Italy, and turning them loose to work with engineers, product developers, and others on the manufacturing team to create a product they collectively thought reflected where design is headed. The magic of this is in how fearless Cosentino was in being open to the opportunity of what could be made when this diverse team of forward-thinkers got access to their resources, intelligence, and the inspiration of Italy.

Here are two of the new looks from the Etchings collections created this year by the Trendspotters:

  • Ink EtchInk: This jet black design is a classic, clean, and simple showstopper in most decor. By complementing the boldness of the Etchings design with a timeless shade, homeowners can feel confident their choice won’t go out of style any time soon.
  • AquaTint EtchAquatint: Look familiar? Our Art Director, Stephanie Voss, wrote a blog last year about how calming blue hues like Pantone’s Serenity will influence the building products industry in 2016. Proof pudding.

This approach to product development and design is brilliant precisely because it seems so obvious—but it’s not. Not everyone in building products is doing this. In fact, a lot of manufacturers either base their designs on focus group input or simply create designs based on studies published through standard trade outlets. Both options have their place, but are also inherently reactive—not always the best option for companies who seek to be innovative.

But who better to tell building products manufacturers at the top of the channel where design is going than some of the top designers in the country? By using these designers’ “on the ground” knowledge, Cosentino’s Silestone product is poised to set the tone for other designers and consumers in the coming years.

It takes time, energy, patience, investment, and courage to utilize an approach like this—an approach that empowers someone outside of your company to not only influence product design, but to create it. But that is true innovation. It’s listening, it’s using resources, it’s collaborating, and it’s understanding the channel on every level and using those insights to better your product and better the entire industry. Using focus groups and studies is also necessary for understanding today’s trends, but setting tomorrow’s requires further channel insights—exactly what Cosentino is doing with its Trendspotters.

I’m certain that this new line is going to be a hit, but I’m even more certain that the process will open the building products world to even more innovative creations.

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Don’t Let Words Overpower the Message

21 Jan

Avoid These Marketing Buzzwords in 2016

Buzzwords

When I was at the B2B Marketing Forum this past year, we played a little game called “marketing bingo.” Some of you might be familiar with it. You play by creating a card of marketing lingo, slang, and overused words, and then you work to fill up your board as you hear these words used throughout the conference. And you’d be amazed to learn how quickly those bingo cards fill up.

Towards the end of last year, I wrote a blog post about how marketers need to focus on being classic rather than trendy. Reports show that as marketers are trying more and more to push the envelope to keep up with the latest trends, they’re missing some of the fundamentals of marketing. I believe that a lot of the time, marketers are too focused on who can throw out the most marketing buzzwords in a conversation rather than having a substantive discussion of the deeper issues at hand.

That’s why I was so excited to come across an article from Marketo last week discussing some of the top buzzwords that marketers should retire this year. I’ve picked out a few of my favorites:

  • Email Blast: A shotgun blasts, an email doesn’t. If anything, as marketers we should be looking for more and more ways to personalize our emails—not “blast” them out to the largest group possible.
  • Low Hanging Fruit: Aiming low is always a great way to get results, right? No. If you’re looking for low-hanging fruit, I can almost guarantee that you already have it—and it’s rotten.
  • Thought Leader: This one is tricky, because I use it myself. But the reason for not using it is strong—essentially, any content you produce should come from a place of leadership. Too often, though, this word comes from a promotional place. Aim to help, not sell.

As marketers, it’s easy to get caught up in whatever the latest buzzword is. And it’s not inherently bad to be aware of the concepts, but it is if it comes at the expense of actual deeper thinking. Don’t let the words overpower the message and don’t let fleeting trends override long-term strategy.

If you want to see the full list of marketing buzzwords to avoid in 2016, read the article.

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