Just a few short weeks ago I joined OptiMine Software as the first director of marketing. OptiMine is a 3 yr old technology company that develops and sells bid optimization software for companies engaged in large (+$30K monthly spend) paid search campaigns. As their first member of the marketing department I walked into what is, for all intents and purposes, a blank slate. That is why the 1o marketing lessons in this article from Mark Suster was a welcomed find.
I’ve been involved in technology marketing for most of the last decade and spent much of that time in a start-up-like division of a company with annual sales of $100 million. OptiMine is a true start up and the marketing plan I presented to senior management today is the first in our short history. Thanks to Mark Suster’s article, I will benefit from his experience and his 10 lessons.
Timing is everything.
A couple of posts ago I discussed bringing traditional and social media tactics together in marketing campaigns. I was prompted to broach the subject for a few reasons. First, I’ve been marrying traditional and social to drive sales leads for a number of years all while being told – here’s the second reason – that social media and marketing do not mix. The third reason came as a result of several discussions I’ve had with local agencies and their concern that social business will take revenue away from traditional. They are looking at it as an either/or proposition. Big mistake.
As I’ve said before…social media is simply a toolbox filled with lots of wonderful gadgets that will help your customer communicate effectively with their market. As with traditional tactics, they are to be deployed as part of a strategy that is designed to meet a set of objectives. Nothing more, nothing less.
Rather than looking at traditional v. social as an either/or proposition, consider how social tactics will complement your marketing activities. Here’s a case in point.
In October of 2008, I executed a marketing campaign designed to drive leads from small and mid-sized food and beverage manufacturers. To drive registrations we used a combination of direct mail, email and telemarketing. For the event we streamed live video via ooVoo and bounced it through ustream.tv. A pretty good mix, if I do say so myself. I didn’t stop there, however. We took the social one step more by focusing the discussion on how SME food and beverage companies can maintain high standards of quality and keep their margins – not an easy task. We also discussed strategies SME’s can put in place to assure survival in the event of a product recall – an even more difficult task.
A traditional webcast would have focused on a couple of issues and then presented a demonstration showing how our software overcomes such challenges. A traditional webcast would have attracted 15-20 prospects, ours resulted in 50 new sales leads.
Done properly, traditional + social is a marriage made in marketing heaven.
I originally asked this question in the B2B Social Media group at LinkedIn and got some great responses. I figured I’d throw it out to a, hopefully, wider audience.
I was meeting with a representative from an ad agency that deals primarily with consumer packaged goods and, in a grass is always greener moment, he said they are struggling to implement social media tactics for their customers. He said it – social media – seems a much better fit for B2B. I found his comments interesting because I’ve sat on a couple panels, and attended others, where the main question has been whether there is a place for SM in the B2B world.
So I’d like you to put on your hats of objectivity and give your thoughts on which is a more natural couple: B2B and social media or B2C and social media.
I’d love to hear your opinion.
Earlier this week I met with a representative of an ad agency in Minneapolis. His work is primarily in the world of consumer packaged goods. We were discussing the agency’s exploration of social media and whether it made business sense for them to go that direction. Why it would even be a question was a mystery until he commented that using SM tactics seemed a natural fit in the B2B space (where I’ve been for the better part of a decade), but not so in B2C.
In the past 12 months I’ve sat on panels dedicated to discussing the value of using social tactics in B2B and the starting point has always been that B2C is the natural.
Talk about your grass-is-always-greener moments.
Having had the opportunity to give it more thought, I can see where new-found friend is coming from. The products he markets are ones you come across everyday at your local supermarket. If he can prove that a facebook fan will drive sales of butter he has a shot at getting the customer to take a look at it.
This is not to say I don’t think SM and B2C don’t mix. On the contrary, I think it they can live together quite nicely. However, in B2B the sales cycles are much different.
Unlike consumer products, most B2B sales are more complex and carry more risk – professional and personal – for the buyer. For this, and other reasons it is critical that the buyer believes the supplier is credible and trustworthy. Social media tactics are exceptionally well suited to do just that. But social tactics alone will not accomplish the goal. In fact, they are but one piece of a much larger marketing communications puzzle that one must build.
Don’t make the mistake of throwing traditional media out the window in favor of social media. Those who have are finding they regret the move and are scrambling to reassemble a media mix that will achieve their goals.
The new media mix – traditional + social – is an area that deserves deeper exploration and I plan to do exactly that in the coming weeks.
Traditional marketing uses campaigns to build brand awareness: Coke – “The Real Thing”, Pepsi – “The Choice of a New Generation”, BASF – “we don’t make the products you buy; we make the products we buy better”. Each is recognizable and each company invested millions of dollars to reach consumers.
I’m gonna take a stab in the dark, but I’m betting you, like me, are working with budgets that are substantially smaller than Coke, Pepsi or BASF. Guess what, it doesn’t matter because we all have access to the great leveler in the branding battle: the Internet.
OK, it’s not a perfect one-to-one exchange, but the power that lies within the worldwide web is boundless and with a little imagination and hard work you can leverage that power to create a brand for your product.
Until now, marketing and social media have been treated as separate and distinct and, truth be told, there’s argument that can be made for keeping them as such. But that doesn’t mean the latter can’t support the former.
Boiling it down to its simplest form, branding campaigns are designed to leave a mark, an impression on the mind. It is an impression you create and communicate, but the impression is only a perception, an opinion based on the message you provided.
As consumers, B2C and B2B became more sophisticated, their response to the bombardment of advertising became, “I’ll be the judge of that.” In other words, they wouldn’t accept what you have to say until they buy it, try it and make up their own mind. Your ads may get someone to buy once, but if reality doesn’t live up to the perception your advertising created they won’t buy again.
The power of the Internet makes it possible for all of us to turn perception into reality before they buy.
When you use social media tactics to promote the thought leadership in your company, when you expose the subject matter experts within to the market you are building credibility, you are building awareness. You are showing customers, potential and current, that there are people behind the brand. People who know the industry, people who know their customers and understand the business issues they face and are trying to solve daily.
In short, you are branding reality for your company, its products and services.
Wednesday morning was a great morning at the St. Paul Pool & Yacht club.
A small group convened to hear Provident Partners’ Albert Maruggi and me speak on the ways of integrating social media tactics to one’s traditional marcomm efforts. Keeping the group small allowed us to drill down into the attendees specific issues and objectives and they walked away, not with a laundry list of what tools are available, but with concrete ideas of how to develop a social media strategy that will help them achieve those objectives.
Our goal was to give people a different type of seminar. We wanted them to forget about the shiny new objects – all the tools and toys that are used and developed everyday – and ask themselves a few questions:
- What are our marcomm objectives.
- How can we leverage social media to help us me.et those objectives.
- How do we determine which tool is appropriate for the given job.
Content, credible content, being king, we also asked them to look inside their company and consider resources – the human kind – they could tap to play the role of subject matter expert and how they could best be leveraged; audio, video and/or text.
We packed a lot of information into a two hour semianr, and in the end everyone left with a solid foundation on which to begin building the strategies they came in search of. I’m going to enjoy watching as the companies represented build out their plans and begin executing on them.
It was a very satisfying and gratifying to help fellow professionals who are in the same position I was just a few short years ago.
August 14, 2009 Posted by Mark Palony | Journalism, Marketing, Public Relations, Social Media | Albert Maruggi, B2B, Blogging, Lead Generation, Marketing Edge Podcast, Podcasting, Provident Partners, Setting Objectives, Strategy, Twitter | Leave a Comment
My journey into the world of Digital Communications started in 2004 with the idea that I could use video testimonials to drive leads for the enterprise software company I was working for. It worked and, along with my good friends Albert Maruggi and Mike Keliher, I expanded into blogging, podcasting and Twitter. With each step we experienced more and more success. In early 2010 I moved from the client side to the agency side doing the same kind of work for a number of vertical industries.
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