The Age of the Customer – Optimising Content and Conversation for 21st Century Sales Success

lego men and computer

On Thursday 16th January I had the opportunity to listen to Forrester analysts Peter O’Neill and Ryan Skinner at the Forrester breakfast briefing, “Optimising Content and Conversation for 21st Century Sales success”.

The agenda focused on the changes B2B businesses must make to satisfy changing buyers.  Organisations must transform their current siloed, product-focused content and conversation approaches to a holistic, customer focused messaging strategy.

This blog post explores the following topics which were covered at the event:

  • The Age of the Customer
  • Customer reference programs in the age of consumer advocacy
  • The buyer is in control
  • What is lead-to-revenue management?
  • How to create your content marketing strategy
  • Effective content marketing examples

The Age of the Customer

Peter O’Neill spoke first and stated that we have moved from “The Age of Information” (1990) and entered “The Age of the Customer” (2010).  There are four market imperatives that companies must focus on:

  1. Transform the customer experience
  2. Embrace the mobile mind shift
  3. Become a digital disruptor
  4. Turn big data into insights

Continue reading “The Age of the Customer – Optimising Content and Conversation for 21st Century Sales Success”

Advertisements

What can Twitter’s Vine offer B2B content marketing?

kitten gif

Twitter’s launch of video sharing service Vine offers an opportunity for B2B marketers to create visually appealing content that can be posted on Twitter and Facebook.  In a similar way that Instagram operates for photos, Vine provides a platform for creating and sharing animated GIFs.

However, for a services organisation the use of photo sharing sites can sometimes be a bit of a stretch.  Yes we’ve all heard the mantra to “show” not “tell” people about our products and services, but the truth is, this can be difficult in a services environment.  Whilst we churn out a lot of printed material, little of it is visually engaging and packaging it in such a way that it can be easily published and shared on social sites can prove difficult.

So what are the options? Continue reading “What can Twitter’s Vine offer B2B content marketing?”

Generating marketing responses: is it a numbers game?

The implementation of a marketing dashboard built using Cognos (a plug for what’s proving to be an indispensable tool) has meant that, for the first time EVER, we’ve had a single view (almost real-time) of all the responses generated from our marketing activity.  I’m building a scorecard for my team to ensure we generate sufficient web responses (i.e. someone has given us their contact details) to meet our targets…

And the data is giving me a headache.

I’d like to say that my headache is caused by analysis paralysis.  But no – the data is giving me a headache because the numbers DO NOT STACK UP.  In a B2B environment we don’t have the luxury of generating thousands of responses.  Current conversion rates for web responses are low, in part because of the complex solutions we sell and the lengthy sales cycles involved.  It’s almost impossible to attribute a white paper download to a deal worth thousands (hundreds of thousands/millions) of GBP£.  (How we’re able to attribute the same opportunity to a customer attending an event has me shaking my head in exasperation…)

In fact, current measurement systems make it very difficult to justify the investment in digital tactics FULL STOP.  And the measurement issue drives self-perpetuating behaviour.  Tactics are chosen because they are easier to measure, not necessarily because they are the right thing to do.

So I look at my lead targets, the number of responses required to meet these, and the lovely Cognos cut of what the web is generating, and a couple of things become clear: Continue reading “Generating marketing responses: is it a numbers game?”

Digital eminence – building your personal brand online

I’ve had a number of conversations recently about running internal workshops to help some of our consultants build their digital eminence, and I thought I’d put together some of my ideas.

First things first, let’s take a definition of eminence:

1. a position of superiority, distinction, high rank, or fame

And digital eminence?  I came across the following definition on an IBM internal community:

“Digital Eminence is a term that describes/defines the digital contributions that a user makes that add value to others.

Users with high digital eminence publish high quality articles, blog entries, and add value to key online business discussions.  These individuals not only produce/publish information, they also consume existing information and contribute by rating that content.  Evidence of their eminence is supported by others who have rated their contributions as valuable and have tagged them for reuse by others.”

What are some of the steps you can take to build your brand online? Continue reading “Digital eminence – building your personal brand online”

Web Strategy: (Try to!) focus on the customer

On Tuesday I’m leading a workshop to develop the web strategy for our Demand Programs organisation – something which, to be honest, is completely DAUNTING.

In a large, complex organisation the web is also large and complex.  Each business unit has a vested interest in their own portion of the site, with different objectives and strategies.  The closest I came to finding a single strategy document was an architectural strategy and technical blueprint – god bless IBM and its engineering background!

With so many conflicting interests, the corporate website does start to represent what Jeremiah Owyang stated as:

“… an unbelievable collection of hyperbole, artificial branding, and pro-corporate content.”

In order to take a step back and approach the web with a fresh pair of eyes, I’m adopting the following approach: Continue reading “Web Strategy: (Try to!) focus on the customer”

B2B Marketing Awards: Best lead nurturing initiative

Looking forward to tonight’s B2B Marketing Awards where we, along with our telemarketing agency Slipstream, have been shortlisted for an award.

Nurturing has been an increasing focus for B2B marketers to combat the challenge of the “leaky funnel”.  Whether this be email nuturing or tele nurturing, there was a recognition that responses early in the sales stage were not followed up by sales and opportunities were being missed.

Over the past couple of years, we have been working with Slipstream to develop and hone a nurturing process, based on an approach that looks to replicate a sales call and the buying cycle of the prospect.  Known as “Learn, Scope, Select” the process flow attempts to map relevant material, assets, marketing events, etc. to the buying cycle for a particular IT issue.

The IT journey is mapped out in three stages: Continue reading “B2B Marketing Awards: Best lead nurturing initiative”