But Why Can’t My Website Be A Brochure?

Or, how your website should be “The Amazing Hub of Your B2B Digital Marketing!
In the current age of online marketing, it is vital that any B2B company has a compelling web presence, highlighting with ease, the depth and breadth of their expertise. Any competitive firm, with a little “marketing” effort can produce sales talk as to the detailed specifics of their service lines, and harp on about how technically skilled they are to meet their clients needs. Lesser companies, are often tempted into in depth service descriptions, in case a potential client, thinks they’re not capable of what they see their peers working on. Far better are engaging stories or case studies highlighting those capabilities! Search #storytelling on Twitter!

In web2.0 – the truly successful companies will be those that can express their opinions, become thought leaders and be acknowledged by their peers. In web talk: loads of visits, retweets, mentions, quotes and links back to the content.

To do this, websites should be easy to navigate, tagged and indexed in a format that regardless of the term that a client types into google, they are in the results they’re after. Your web presence becomes the most effective tool for finding thought leadership, that clients, experts and employees can share with the world. Articles come in easy to share formats. HTML pages, videos, podcast and interactive presentations that can be viewed on a mobile or desktop. Large publications are segmented into more frequent topical updates on issues that matter the most to clients.

User driven topics, drive the shape of the website, and service or product descriptions become short asides to a stream of content, case studies, webinars and scheduled events, laid out in an easy to digest format. The website becomes less brochure, and more online newspaper in both look and feel. Suggested reading both, from the company’s perspective and based on the users browsing history, are offered at the end of each article. The experience is custom, shooing you know what your client is about.

EVERY page has a high value conversion goal. Be that the ultimate, contact us or more involving, subscribe to updates on this topic, or attend the next webinar or event. Communications become PULL based, with these subscriptions to topics. As the client or user, subscribes themselves to specific issues or topics they are interested in. Eliminating the threat of “spamming” clients.

The website, should be as topical as possible. Responsive to clients needs and comments, engaging with them via forums and comments areas. Addressing the various types of buyers involved in a B2B purchase, is an avenue to be explored, so long as in doing so, no mass group of potential clients is alienated. So for larger legislative updates or full product or software descriptions, a C-Suite summary should be included. Managers may be decision makers in the buying process, but let’s give them a deck they can take to “leadership”.

The online marketing team develop a hub, but the role of each consultant, salesperson and employee will be the dissemination and amplification of content posted in this hub. LinkedIn status updates mentioning the latest article you wrote, Twitter posts, Facebook likes, and mentioning in your blog or online presence, will shortly be a given. It’s already so in many sectors.

I may be slightly web centric, but any cold call I have results in google search for that company. If I cannot find mention of their so called thought leader, or cutting edge service, the call is ended.

The Back End

To approach real time marketing, learn, and adapt your web presence to suit.

A WCMS or web content management tool, that allows decentralized, easy to use content creation is a must. Press releases, web pages, and event invites, should all be created by those closest to the market. Web specialists, should be advising on methods and techniques for reaching the required conversion goal. Helping with syndication and the spreading of the content online once posted. Ensuring it is optimised for search, and that you’re paying for ads in the right places to drive qualified traffic to this content.

Once created, click thrus, views, and comparative analysis should be easily available for content creators to learn and improve their online marketing. Creating a database of best practice case studies…

Wow, that would be nice!

Quest for Seamless Collaboration – Enterprise 2.0

Struck by an Oatmeal Cartoon this week on what not to do with emails, http://theoatmeal.com/comics/email I thought I’d post my dream work based collaboration scenario. 
Being in online marketing, I’ll focus this around simple content creation and posting to the web. Now that I’ve written it, this seems like a simple task. And perhaps the rest of this post is overkill but here’s the steps I would love to see technology help me with. 

It’d be shaped a little like this:
  1. You’d open up a new document to collaborate on in a central web based platform. 
  2. Select a type of end document that you’re aiming to create – A collection of case studies for our UK site on Social ROI
  3. This choice offers up a number of pre-set values and has a DUPLICATE LAST button, cause I do this every day! The wizard begins:
    1. Draft name
    2. Launch date _5 days time 
    3. Hard date – Yes/No
    4. Priority – low/med/high
    5. Legal need to review this – Yes/No
    6. Peer review – Yes/No
    7. The project is for – (select cost center) 
    8. Collaborators are – (colleague x, y) – its predictive based off the global org chart – and has a “usual crew” button
    9. From a central taxonomy – enter tags and keywords to describe this job. [Marketing, Case Studies, Nokia, Apple, Social ROI, Social Media, UK]
    10. It creates a unique ID and the record begins

From here the collaboration tool helps you with your document creation and behind the scenes. As a next phase, it recommends help in two ways.

Creation

Possibly related documents
From the tags supplied, the wizard provides
  • A list of marketing materials your organisation has created in the past on topics and related topics, you can add them for collaborators to view. Request use, or just add to the case studies. Those that are already on the website, have rankings out of 10 for visitors, and conversions.     
  • Templates are offered, appropriate to the content. 
  • Related imagery, stored in high res is offered in order of license, then relevance, and by least used. 
  • Anything you review, has a linkage recorded. Anything you ultimately use in entirety, is hard linked. 
Possible collaborators
Scouring your ultra fancy Active Directory come internal profiles store, and micro-blogging tool – the wizard recommends additional collaborators with snippets for reference:
  • John, {Consultant} is …lead consultant with one of the clients mentioned.
  • Paul, {Marketing Executive} is currently creating Asia Pacific case studies on the value of Social Media. 
  • Ringo, {Boilermaker} used to work for FaceBook Analytics
  • George, {Lawyer} has experience with Social Media Governance

Behind the scenes

Admin
For “cost synergies”, a number of connections are made to various facets of the company.
  • Once the record is created, and the due date set, an alert is sent to all involved, that its in the pipeline.
  • As a phase is completed, the document is passed on to the next associate.
  • Your time is allocated as you work on these documents.
  • The launch date is set in the content stream and logged in marketing calendars, in case something else is due to launch that day. 
  • The project sponsor is alerted, and asked to give a simple final review of the job – (maintains constant feedback stream for appraisals) 
Dashboard and alerts
To round this out and provide the seamless collaboration.
  • Associates have a customisable dashboard from which you can pipe an RSS feed of all widgets, or set custom Daily, weekly or task based email alerts. 
  • So I’m imagining co-collaborators see 3 or 4 documents, and the days until launch for all. They also see their personal work-flow, and can prioritise accordingly. 
  • They can set reminders for themselves, arrange review meetings, but never have status updates, as they KNOW where the doc is at. 
  • Manager can see what there team are focusing on, and allocate time off accordingly, hire in temps, and analyse performance.
  • As managers have information at their fingertips and are freed up from administration, they can focus on coaching and being mentors.  
Cherry on the top
Oh, and I forgot to mention the final document, is stored with its original taxonomy and tags as an XML based file. Ripe for converting into web content, piping to your iPad or web app, or feeding into a PDF template for printing. 
NOT, an 80MB email, with low res bitmap image attached, fax copied and scanned to PDF. With illegible scribble from three others who haven’t seen >  case-studies-for-UK-web-NA-draft-final-final-2-amended-V.80_JL2.doc   
🙂 

 

Twitter and GroupTweet

Something I’m exploring at the moment is the idea of coordinating colleagues to amplify messages to their twitter followers.

DM seeding posts to colleagues and CC ing within tweets, works well. I’ve also come across GroupTweet, which seems to be a good option for sharing tweet ideas to a closed group. Was painless to set up, and has some good options.

I know this seems a little anti the ethos of twitter and sharing what you feel has value. Yet if a group has the same opinions, but can’t keep up with who said what, this may help.

To set it up you:

  1. Grab a new twitter account PLEASE don’t use your own account as it has to be set to private.
  2. Set it private before the spam bots follow you
  3. In Group Tweet, select that twitter handle.
  4. Choose a prefix for all DM messages it receives
  5. Give it a test.

So once set up, any DM to that account becomes a tweet, with your chosen prefix.

I send a DM:

DM @groupaccountforsharing “hi, here’s a test tweet”

<!–

–>

and that DM gets converted to a tweet in the @groupaccountforsharing account

Like:

“via @nickwallen “hi, here’s a test tweet”

I think its a great way to share more personal tweets, like “Dan grab me a coffee” or “lets all get behind X presenting at Y tomorrow night”. Things that you want to say to a select group, but not to everyone on twitter. And things you don’t want to have to DM everyone individually about. Keeping it in twitter saves the effort too of hafting to go out to emails or look for email distribution lists etc.

As you get more advanced, you could send options for RTs to those subscribed to the locked account. So they’d see this tweet, and choose a hashtag and title they like.

“via @nickwallen Post: Twitter and GroupTweet [URL] #twitter OR Post: GroupTweet, just great [URL] #socialmedia

Have you guys used anything like this and for what?

B2B Events – Leveraging Web2.0 & Social Media

I was thinking about how best to leverage events in the current web 2.0 world.

Gone are the days of cold mass emails, faxes or letters to hundreds of potential attendees to fill a small room.

Working in a B2B I thought I’d lay out my ideal event – lapping up all the web has to offer, rather than taking people away from the world for a day or two of isolated thought.

Pre event

Well in advance and as part of the annual marketing plan, events are laid out, or scope is set for rapid response forums on topical revelations in the market. A plan is set to build hype around the event and create that must attend appeal.

For set date events:

  • Hash-tags are set in place at the same time as the email inbox is set up for communications and registrations
  • Keynote speakers are tweeting about their topic and forwarding out relevant reading material
  • A LinkedIn group or subgroup is established and is prominent, beside the hash-tag in all communications about the event (emails, DM, and company website)
  • A LinkedIn Event Listing is also created, and mentioned in the group.
  • keynote speakers and key consultants post questions to LinkedIn and solicit topics for “roundtable” or “expert panel”

At event

  • Attendees are encouraged to use event hash-tag for providing feedback, queries and to pose questions
  • Potentially, a “waterfall screen” in the break area, could be used to reach non-tweeters
  • An email address is also set up for more private concerns and both are monitored by staff at the event

Post event

  • Comments and queries are collated and aggregated to clients
  • Attendees are encouraged to continue on the Linked In group and consultants join, following up on materials
  • New thoughts and ideas are posed to the Linked In group members with the ultimate aim of forming a network for collaboration and product/service development
  • Follow up communications enforce the LinkedIn group and the continuing communication leveraged to promote the next event

Has anyone leveraged these two? Any great Case studies you’d like to share?

LinkedIn Groups vs. In House Forums

OR, “Why I’m bullish on LinkedIn”

LinkedIn welcomes you - Palo Alto office entrance
via – jerryluk

LinkedIn, well beyond an online cv storer, is the leading business networking website globally. No news there, and it’s peripheral services for building both a personal brand and to amplify your company brand are impressive.

Keeping up with their latest releases and to leverage them is an ongoing distraction. Forums and supportive technology for posting articles is well developed and will continue to develop, for LinkedIn Groups – one of their first release features.

One place I can see great future revenue for them is linkedin logins for member sites on B2B websites and company websites. Thus allowing professionals to keep one set of online info up to date. Hafting to re-enter this and maintain it separately is often annoying, and for may impossible to keep track of.
More about that here: linkedin-oauth

This does mean marketers will be tempted to start out on their own client forums in house, leveraging LinkedIn data, and collecting their own.

In-house

My main qualm with in-house forums is that it forces the client into another login, and another place to visit for web interactions.

Fish Where The Fish Are

It’s Sales and Marketing 101, that when there’s a source of members, technology, and a medium to promote you forum to a new user every second (latest stats), why would you hide your forum out of reach?

Sure, but what if it’s an ultra elite group, that you’ll never open to the public I hear you say.
Then does it warrant the huge IT commitment to keep that forum at a level of style and sophistication your CSUITE clients expect? Can you keep up with the developers at LinkedIn, do you also want to own that security risk?

And comparative analytics would be difficult. How do stats on users in my in-house forum compare, demographics, usage etc. This is something else a locked away community has difficulties with. Let alone it’s ability to re-purposed this data, or it’s value for reselling, one of FaceBook’s biggest future revenue streams.

A possible sore point is linking to sensitive docs and project calendars, something that needs to be addressed, possibly via linkedin-oauth?

What are your thoughts, does anyone have a great B2B forum running in their website or members area?

Twitter 101 – Using Twitter to Support Your Brand

With so many sources on how to get started in Twitter with intermediate level tips on how to brand, coodinate and even automate your presence, it feels wrong to try and rewrite the common best practices.

So: My favourite, and most definitive guidebook to Twitter is the collection on Mashable. (http://mashable.com/guidebook/twitter/)
Having been shared over 14,000 times on Twitter, the guide is a great place to explore tactics and tools to manage your Twitter presence.

I will take a shot though at summarising some B2B (and B2P remember) practices that I believe are key.

  • Stick with that relevant consistent handle across your web presence – I use nickwallen, as it’s just that little more unique than Nick Allen for SEO, but easily associated.
  • Build out a relevant Bio, link to your LinkedIn account or blog/website. SEO optimise it.
  • Use your Bio as an insight into your persona on Twitter, potential followers will aprpeciate it.
  • RT – use traditional retweet annotation or “via” to share ideas with your followers, it’s easier for the originator of the tweet to spot. When you’re RTed, thank the person, you’d do it in real life, so do it on Twitter.
  • #Hashtags – choose these relevant to your topic, and set up a twitter search to follow that topic. This is great for RT opportunities, and also allows you to ensure you’re up to date on the topic, find gaps, and add your opinion – show you’re an expert. I’ve got #iStrategy2010 and #E2.0 in my canned searches, which cover key topics I mention in my bio. Remember to join search words, #nick #allen is a totally different search to #nickwallen.
    For exploring #hashtags and websites with info on #hashtags try mashable’s content again.
  • Lists – some say pointless, I say lifesaver. Being able to group my friends into manageable sub feeds, means I can be on top when there’s a good nugget to RT – alerts making some suspect I’m on Twitter all day long…
    Try Listorious  http://listorious.com/ to find one that suits you, and to promote your own lists.
  • If you’ve got close friends on Twitter, they may be comfortable working with you on idea spreading, at a more formal level. Something I’m exploring at the moment is DM seeding posts to colleagues and CC within tweets, with some success. Or the good old fashion dlist and emailing a RT to colleagues.
    I’ll let you know what I think of http://www.grouptweet.com/ for sharing tweet ideas to a closed group soon.
  • Once you’ve got a basic group following you, leverage Follow Fridays #FF, and event #hashtags to let people know of a good colleague to follow, or what a colleague is saying at an event.
  • Finally, if your following starts to get too overwhelming or you want to really leverage your key followers, you may consider checking out Friend or Follow – to see who’s not following you back.
    Then to see who’s got the most pull – use Twitter Grader and Klout.

What else would you add?

Social Media – Supporting your B2B brand

As “social media” shapes the internet over the coming years, businesses and employees alike cannot ignore the amplification that it will provide to traditional word of mouth, marketing and sales.

As a hub, corporate social media accounts in sites like Twitter, FaceBook, YouTube and LinkedIn will do their best to promote the latest thoughts, products and services from a company.  But its hard for B2Bs and large companies to get personal with clients in these mediums, whilst maintaining that professionalism, and stream of thought pieces. Sure, a dedicated person, who knows EVERYTHING about the company could be Chief Social Officer, but how many companies can dedicate a VP / senior person to do this?

What about decentralising the duties

I think if a corporate web presence is about getting thoughts out into the marketplace, then employees needs to be rallying around their brand, using their web presence to support it.

Retweet that corporate post. Sharing links. “Like”ing that article. And what about creating their own content?

Building your online personal brand

I think everyone in business should be looking to create a web presence that supports their claims to being “the best at”. If you claim to be a thought leader, why not share your thoughts. Social Media sites and networking tools make it all too simple these days to have your own web presence.  That’s sharing what you made for the company, your ideas, linking to things you’ve accomplished. Creating an online profile of support.

As a web marketer, I want to give indexed credibility to my consulting. Get recommendations from friends, acknowledgement that I know something about what I do, create a name for myself.
Online, that’s about featuring in search results for my name, people linking to my articles, sharing my thoughts, retweeting or quoting. 

If you’re an associate / employee in a B2B company here’s a start to your web presence.

Basic

LinkedIn Here’s the Facts:

  • LinkedIn has over 85 million members in over 200 countries.
  • A new member joins LinkedIn approximately every second, and about half of our members are outside the U.S.
  • Executives from all Fortune 500 companies are LinkedIn members.

If you’re not there with a profile, highlighting what you’ve accomplished, its like your office number being unlisted.

  • Create a good profile, explore the linking possibilities and ask for recommendations. Connect, and logically think about building a quality network.
  • Answer questions and engage in groups. But use common sense – the new web wont tolerate a hard sell, so offer advice or a link to your thoughts.  
  • Try to grab your name as a vanity URL.

Note: Using that same alias in twitter, blogs and any other social media sites, will amplify your chances of being found.

 

Phillip Jenkins from one of the biggest financial services recruitment company in the UK has a great guide to expanding you LinkedIn presence.

@PhillipJenkins 10 Ways to build a better Profile on #linkedin http://bit.ly/hXawAO

 

Intermediate

Link a blog into your Linked In profile. There are thousands of free blogging platforms: Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr, Posterous and all are surprisingly simple to get started with.  
My preferred are Posterous and WordPress. And I know, I need to explore the design of my sites, but they connect well.

Link a twitter account to your Linked In profile. Share ideas this way as well.

You’ve now created a space to express your opinions. Remember the corporate guidelines about sharing client data or things you’re working on that aren’t public. But if the corporate website just published your thoughts, tell people about it.

And remember:

What Happens in Vegas – Stays Online!

Advanced notes will come soon I hope.

No more B2B or B2C – Its B2P Business to People

With Social Media transforming the web more and more each day, the traditional Marketing techniques of shotgun advertising and shouting out hoping your clients will hear, are falling to the wayside. Gone are the days of faceless marketing where a “brand” hidden behind its logo could pump out thoughts or advertising and the masses would rush to purchase.

A great acronym I caught a few weeks back, tweeted around by my friend @KerryatDell was:

B2P – Business to People

Sure we function as B2B or B2C, but to survive in the coming years we need to recognise that our clients are real people and treat them like it!

Its now a two way stream. We need to be engaging with customers – talking and understanding their needs. United Breaks Guitars is a great case of where a corporation, who ignored its customer, is hit by the power of social media – amplifying word of mouth.

http://www.youtube.com/v/5YGc4zOqozo&hl=en&fs=1

People, our customers or clients, expect us to know a lot more than their name and profession – we all have a browser and Google search in front of us, there’s no excuse!

Likewise, they expect to know more about the people behind the logo. Sure corporate websites can feature their employees, but why stop there.

With a plethora of social and business networking sites at our fingertips, we should be building our own personal brand and supporting that of our workplace.

It is well overdue that I write some 101s on this. 

Notes: Alterian Alchemy and CM7 Launch event

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending the UK launch of Alterian Alchemy™ and Alterian Content Manager 7.

David Eldrige, CEO and founder opened the event with some great notes on the catch phrase shift to #engagement from open and close campaigns.

Although the terminology and systems we use will still focus on campaigns, marketers that “get it” will turn campaigns into micro projects, with an overall view to engaging clients and prospects – to ultimately turn them into brand evangelists.

There was a great snippet video shown:

Many discussing the true face of customised marketing. Moving from the mass broadcast to mass customisation.

Supporting materials are available at www.engagingtimes.com

And by engagement were not talking old school “dear client” “regards, consultant” but rather true customisation: more relevant and timely information to clients via email AND on your website.

That move from push to pull…

The Future Of Customer Engagement – Ashley Friedlein from eConsultancy

Here’s my rough notes from his presentation at the Alterian Alchemy launch yesterday. I’m hoping his slide deck is out soon! (hint)

Ashley broke out with what I thought was a gamification slide first which got me interested. Well I though he did, but just wanted to say the old game is over, here’s version 2.0.
Reiterating the classic “it’s all changing” the old ways of shouting at potential customers and BUYING fans are no longer effective he emphasised that the language, mediums and methods that clients want to be engaged through are constantly changing and evolving.

Constant engagement is now key, so here’s some before and after shots:

Email – used to be DNS registration, feedback loops and getting off blacklists.
It’s now about engagement, reputation, connectedness, trust and authority.

SEO – used to be keyword density, meta tags, directory and local business listings
Is now, about engagement, reputation, connectedness, trust and authority.

Ashley’s New rules of engagement

Kill multichannel!?!

Having attended #jump I sat up at this point. He’s saying this, but in reality Ashley believes as I do in Joined Up Multiple Platforms, JUMP.

Getting your head around multichannel is something that very few get right. Journey mapping helps to plot out where you want to be with clients.
The biggest challenges being connected software and people understanding where they are going, organisational structure, silos and the complexity of client touch points.

The marketplace is moving from:
Moving from ROPO Research Online Purchase Offline to Research Everywhere, Purchase Everywhere, REPE – a John Lewis ism.

Make marketing experiential
Digital is failing a little here, storytelling helps, but it links well to support truly experiential marketing. And for fun here’s some examples:

The AC Milan – Real Madrid prank by Heineken

The kids door into imaginarium stores

Imaginarium Doors

Jamie Oliver’s restaurants giving kids a view master to see the kids menu

Prismacolor - Viewmaster

So we still for most B2C brands, an Ogilvy or the like, helping with interactive engaging experiences.

It’s also funny that with so much data, we can’t create a manual like we can for store merchandising. As there’s such fragmentation, we can get a grip on a norm for what works on web.

New terms for “value proposition” and brand attributes

  • What do you believe
  • What do you stand for
  • How are you different

These are the new terms for “value proposition” and brand attributes.

Reknit were given as example of what they stand for being central to clients. Toms shoes springs to my mind.

Marketers as CEOs

Now this of course resonated well with me.More and more through digital, the chance for CMOs to move to CEO improves.

My job, and that of all heads in digital marketing requires:

  • People skills.
  • Emotional intelligence.
  • The ability to work in flux and change.
  • And deep insights into customers via social media and analytics.

Takeaway

  • Engagement is about behavioural change, and being involved is the best way to learn and change
  • Doing #customisation badly is not acceptable any more, our base level of what people should know about us a lot higher
  • And oh dear here comes the classic statement about IT issues – technical failure = customer failure. IT and marketing need to find a way to interbreed!!
  • Mobile, web and APP strategies are only as strong as your content strategy