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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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Millennials Want an Internal Communications Renovation

13 Sep

Effective B2B Marketing Starts from Within

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Guest Contributor:
Whitney Riker, Account Executive

Let’s face it: the building industry is in a rebuild phase. A shift in workforce demographics and the housing market is forcing even the largest corporations to take a second look at their business strategies to adjust. Marketing is a major player in your business strategy, but building product marketers who want to be effective in their marketing strategies need to take a look within. After all, effective marketing starts inside. Build your toolbox to execute a better plan.

Picture a Different Landscape Before You Break Ground

As a Millennial, I can say in true Gen-Y fashion, that I am sick of hearing about us. Nonetheless, my generation is the largest and the building industry will have to adjust.

  • In 2014, 28 million people entered the workforce
  • Survey says these workers have close to zero interest in LBM
  • Millennials have been assured from early age that their opinions matter (good luck ignoring them)

Is your organization prepared for the changing workforce? Start by building an internal communications plan.

  1. Envision: What do you want internal communications to do for your company?
  2. Strategize: Where does it stand right now, and what needs improvement?
  3. Evaluate: How soon would you like to reach your goals and how will you get there?

Use these questions to start building your strategy—simple or complex—so you can adapt to the changing workforce. Have a plan you can realistically stick to so you can track your progress and re-assess your approach.

Now That You Have a Plan, Fill Your Toolbox

A strategy can’t be executed without the right tools. So take a look inside and see what you have in your toolbox for communicating internally. Are they the right tools for your Gen-Y employees? Consider that Millennials value time and communication to be on their terms. Most of their day-to-day conversations take place digitally and that expectation won’t go away at work. There are many technology platforms that make it simple and easy to improve internal communication with this generation. Don’t be overwhelmed—just pick one and stick to it. Consistency is key here:

  1. Implement company chat software like, Slack, Yammer, or HipChat
  2. Use cloud tools like Google Drive for documents and spreadsheets
  3. Choose one platform where email, calendars, documents, processes can be shared

Ask your team for their feedback. How can we work together to make communicating with each other better? Trust me. This goes a very long way. Without these channels, brilliant ideas and helpful criticisms can go dark and that’s the last thing you need.

The Nuts and Bolts of Millennial Communications

Don’t lose sight of the big picture. If all else fails, remember the golden rule: Treat others how you would like to be treated and…

  • Make your communications engaging and fun
  • Use visuals to make what you’re communicating more entertaining and effective
  • Maintain transparency to establish trust
  • Avoid communication overload

It’s one thing to open effective communication channels internally and use them; in fact, it’s vital to your organization’s success in the changing environment. It’s another thing entirely, however, to really inspire greatness by leading your team. How you walk in the door everyday, how you speak to your employees, your tone…need I go on? All of this is a form of communication. Internal communications should involve, motivate, and inspire. Take a look at how you are communicating that with what you do, not always what you say.

Building Effective Marketing Starts from Within

So, while we’re all sick of the “Millennial talk”, you can’t avoid the effect they’re having on the workforce, and the building industry is not immune. Take this opportunity to renovate your internal communications so you are better equipped to handle a new kind of workforce. Once you have a plan, build up your toolbox and remember: you can’t just talk the talk—inspire leadership by communicating with your actions, too. Building effective marketing always starts from within. Execute a better plan today.

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Our Take From Cleveland: #CMWorld Day Two

9 Sep

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Corey and Kate spent two days at #CMWorld in Cleveland. This is the second of two posts sharing their quick takeaways from the event. If you haven’t seen the first, check it out

Our second and final day at #CMWorld. And, like day one, it was a whirlwind of fresh ideas, new friends and awesome swag. (No stress balls!)

Airborne to KC, we’re chatting about what stood out on our final day. Here’s what comes to mind.

First, a stat: For every $5 spent on content creation, marketers are spending just a buck on distribution.

Does that surprise you? It sure caught our eye. Seems like we should be investing more than four quarters to maximize ROI.

Day two gave Corey the opportunity to talk with Jeff Julian on the Enterprise Marketer podcast.

Jeff and Corey chatted about the efficiency of content being pushed through digital channels, rather than dictated by SEO. They also talked about Google updates and how the company continues to show it’s learning context, which is yielding better content as a whole.

We’ll be sure to share Corey’s interview once it’s live. So, stay tuned.

It’s easy to leave a conference like this brimming with new ideas but unsure where to start. Fortunately, Thursday’s opening panel gave some encouraging words on how to take your content strategy to the next level. Here’s a hint: start.

Stephanie Losee with Visa, fresh from Rio for the Olympics, said it just takes one piece of content to begin. Not a launch party. Not a seven-figure budget. Just one piece of content from one SME conversation.

In the same vein, Jenifer Walsh with GE reminded us that content strategy is a marathon, not a sprint. And, that it takes time to build content traction. So, take a deep breath. You don’t have to have a community of a thousand followers on day one.

Finally, Raj Munusamy with Schneider Electric, told us the mind digests visual content six times faster than text. Six times.

What we heard: Goodbye 10-page white papers. Helloooo visual content that wows! (Apparently we should be drawing you a picture, not writing this post.)

So there you have it. Our initial take on two days of all content all the time.

Would we go again? Absolutely. Would Corey remember Cleveland is hot and humid? No doubt. Would Kate pack less? For sure. (Okay, that’s a lie.)

Keep an eye out for future posts from us. In the coming weeks, we’ll share more in-depth learnings from the show.

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Our Take From Cleveland: #CMWorld Day One

8 Sep

 

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Our #CMWorld day one is done. And, these two first-timers are energized by the networking, excited to leverage what we’ve learned, and, okay, maybe just a little tired.

Here’s what’s caught Corey and Kate’s attention in Cleveland.

First, content marketers as a whole are working more from assumptions than fact.

Consider:

  • 57 percent of B2B marketers say they use audience personas
  • However, a mere 20 percent of audiences being reached have the info and means to purchase

Eighty percent of those receiving marketing messages don’t have the interest or resources to make a buying decision. The takeaway is clear: Relying on assumptions is wasting time and our clients’ money. The importance of research can’t be overstated.

Next, a consistent theme heard across the show is marketers are great at providing clients with solutions … but maybe not-so-great at listening to clients’ problems.

Ian Altman summed it up in his session on how content can accelerate sales: If your product or service doesn’t solve the client’s problem, they don’t care about your features and benefits.

Ardath Albee stressed the importance of understanding client challenges. She said our solutions must meet audiences and their problems along every step of the buyer’s journey.

Seems like a good time to step back and ask: Are we truly addressing clients’ needs or are we just telling them what we think they want to hear?

Additionally, Jeff Julian and Andrea Fryrear delivered a strong message about not thinking about content as campaigns. They stressed failing and winning fast, and using learnings to guide strategy, instead of spending time and money on one-time campaigns.

Finally, Rick Wion shared lessons on transparency and trust from his time at Kellogg’s and McDonald’s. Wion referenced Al Golin’s Trust or Consequences book and reminded us that building trust is like insurance for future issues. Because we all know at some point, there will be an issue.

We’ll close this blog with a fun fact learned today: DYK there’s a McDonald’s employee responsible for tasting eight hamburgers an hour, for eight hours a day, five days a week? That’s a quality control job we’d like to have! And, no, his name is not “Big Mac.”

Bring it on, day two.

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Top 5 B2B Social Media Marketing Myths

26 Jul

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Social networking is a large part of most people’s lives. But we don’t always know how to make it a part of our lives as B2B marketers. If you are not on social media or if you are not having strong results, you may have fallen prey to one of these common social media myths.

  1. Social media marketing isn’t for B2B. 

There are social networks that are expressly for B2B communication, such as LinkedIn, SlideShare and, to a lesser extent, Quora. There are also social networks that you should consider just because they are a huge part of most people’s day-to-day lives, such as Facebook and Twitter. Remember that businesses are made up of people; go to the networks your people are most likely to be on and you will find a way to connect.

  1. You need to be on every network.

Joining every social network that comes up will lead to burnt out employees, too much money spent networking and not a lot to show for it. Every network is different and has a different audience. LinkedIn is a place where professionals gather. Quora is a good place to hang out if you have a lot of knowledge to share about your industry. YouTube and Instagram are great for sharing visual content. There are many customers for building materials on Pinterest. Pick two or three networks and work on building out robust presences there. Don’t worry about the rest.

  1. It’s never okay to automate.

Automation can give you a chance to connect with people who you might not otherwise reach. If you have an international customer base, automating a few posts to show up while you are in bed and your prospects are up and at the office or job site can mean access to people you might otherwise miss. Automation can also allow you to keep posting consistent even when you are away from the office or otherwise tied up with other tasks.

  1. Automate everything!

It’s easy to go too far in the other direction. Have you ever posted on Twitter and immediately been hit by an @ message from a Twitter bot triggered by a phrase you used? No one else likes this any more than you do.

  1. Social media marketing doesn’t work.

Every year, hundreds of think pieces come out claiming that social media just isn’t the place for business. The figures prove these people wrong. According to HubSpot, two out of three companies with a presence on LinkedIn have gotten a customer from there. Businesses that use Twitter have twice as many leads as those that don’t. The benefits of a social media presence are measurable and powerful.

Social media marketing success does not come overnight. It can take a while to find your niche and your audience on social media. When you have gotten into the groove, you will find that you have better relationships with customers, a better-known brand and more business by using social media well.

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