Tag Archives: online marketing

How to earn trust to initiate offline engagement using B2B online marketing

BHKXXE Businessmen signing up a contract

In my article titled What you should be doing online to attract new business opportunities, one of the points I raise relates to building trust with prospective clients. People ask for advice or make purchasing decisions from trusted advisors, and trust has to be earned and takes time to develop. Once trust is lost, it is exceedingly difficult to regain, if at all.

A good comparison that I will use for the purpose of this article is that of the dating game. I have listed five stages in a human relationship and equated these with B2B online marketing, in order to demonstrate how you gain trust by treating prospective clients as you would your first date, and your ongoing relationship thereafter.

1. The introduction

Introductions are generally facilitated by mutually known friends, colleagues or family members. In most cases, the introducer knows you well. This generally occurs in business too. A client, colleague or business partner who can vouch for your honesty, credibility and trustworthiness will introduce you to prospective clients without prompting or upon your request. If trust has not been earned, there is little or no chance of this happening.

2. The first date

The first date either makes or breaks a potential relationship. There are many determining factors which include similar interests, shared values and the all important “chemistry”. When asked what is important most people do not talk about looks. They want the person to be themselves (i.e. genuine), they should display an interest in the other person and they should make the other person laugh.

When we equate dating with online marketing, you should focus your efforts on “being genuine” with no hidden agenda, display an understanding and interest in the potential client’s industry and the typical business challenges they have to deal with. I suggest that you DO NOT talk about yourself in terms of your company’s products, services and solutions. This information should be available on your website and the prospect will have a look at this information when the time is right.

3. Subsequent dates

If you follow the rules there is a good chance that there will be a second, third and fourth date and your relationship will grow and strengthen. During this process you are getting to know each other more and more which will result in a mutual knowledge of each other’s good points and flaws. Generally compromise and understanding comes into play because no-one is perfect. If at any point trust is broken, this could end the relationship for good.

To get the second (and subsequent) dates, B2B online marketers have to present the potential client with a compelling reason to continue the relationship. This is best achieved by generating value-adding, interesting, compelling business-related content which the prospect will have access to through an email or blog subscription or engagement and interaction on social media.

4. The proposal

If all goes well with your dating, at some point, the question of a more permanent arrangement will be initiated. The process normally involves “going steady” followed by a marriage proposal. This will either be accepted or rejected.

B2B online marketing, if executed properly, is an ideal way to build credibility and trust over time, and in so doing, you will be seen as a trusted advisor who will stay “top of mind” through continuous value-adding online interaction. If the content and interaction with prospective clients resonates with them, there is a good chance they will contact you should they require assistance or advice and request a proposal. If you are using the appropriate tools to monitor online interaction, you will be able to identify individuals who are consuming your content and you can request a meeting.

5. The wedding

The wedding or close may take place online or offline, depending on whether you are selling products, services and solutions online or not. This article is aimed at companies that sell professional services, products and solutions that are not sold online. You can build a certain level of credibility and trust online using B2B online marketing however the relationship needs to be taken offline in order to meet your prospective client face-to-face.

If you use B2B online marketing effectively, this will assist you in initiating offline engagement. The plus factor is that when you have the first offline meeting, credibility and trust has been developed already.

Summary

B2B online marketing can be a very effective tool to build credibility, stay top of mind with prospective clients and to initiate offline engagement, if executed correctly. Remember that you are interacting with human beings with whom you need to develop a relationship and an emotional connection. Remember to be genuine, share content regularly that resonates with the prospect, do not talk about yourself and be patient.

This article was written by David Graham, Digital Engagement Leader at Deloitte Digital

David is a thought leader in the Business to Business (B2B) digital marketing, relationship marketing and content marketing space and is the “go-to” person at Deloitte Digital for businesses who wish to connect, interact and influence business decision makers online, in order to initiate offline engagement. David has more than 20 years in sales and marketing roles at leading global software and management consulting organisations, engaging with executive decision makers and providing them with solutions to business challenges.

If you would like to have a more detailed B2B online marketing discussion with David Graham, connect on LinkedIn, follow on Twitter or email at davgraham@deloitte.co.za

Follow Deloitte Digital on Twitter or visit the Deloitte Digital website to get a taste of how Deloitte Digital can help digitise your brand

What you should be doing online to attract new business opportunities

 

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by David Graham – Digital Engagement Leader at Deloitte Digital

Getting business-to-business (B2B) online marketing right is an art and a science, a combination of multiple factors which involve people, process and technology. The analogy we like to use is that of an orchestra. The B2B online marketer is the conductor and the orchestra are the instruments (i.e. people, content, process and technology).

We have been approached by many companies, asking how they should engage, interact and influence clients and potential clients online in order to generate new business opportunities. Based on the experience and insights we have gained with our business-to-business (B2B) online marketing activities to date, here are five areas where you should focus your B2B online marketing efforts.

  1. DO NOT SELL

The biggest mistake businesses make is they talk about their products, services and solutions. Focus on building trust and confidence first. How do you do this? Equate your initial engagement and interaction with a new prospect or client with that of a first date. Your first date will fail miserably if you spend all the time talking about yourself (i.e. your products, services and solutions). If you talk knowledgably and competently about a subject that resonates with the prospect, and continue to do so over time, you will earn trust will be seen as a thought leader. Thought leaders are approached by people who need help or assistance. They say a good salesman does not sell but rather encourages the purchaser to make a buying decision.

  1. Content is the most important ingredient

Without the regular production of good content, your B2B online marketing efforts will fail dismally. Online content comes in many guises. This could be web copy, a thought piece, an article or opinion piece, the results of a survey, a blog post, a Facebook or LinkedIn update, tweet or the content of an email. Each one of these serves a different purpose and needs to be worded, structured and formatted differently. Images in the form of photos and video also fall within this category and must be used appropriately on the relevant online platforms. Your content will serve many purposes such as educating, informing and influencing but also “humanising” your business in order to create an emotional connection with your target audience.

  1. Find out where your target market is online and their preferences

The big difference between business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing and business-to-business (B2B) marketing is that with B2B marketing, you know your target market. If you are operating within a specific territory you will be able to identify a finite number of businesses you would like to sell your products, services, solutions (and people) to. You will also know who the typical decision makers are within the organisation. Armed with this information and insight, it is a simple case of reaching out to these individuals and asking them how they prefer to consume content online. Once you have this information, you can then develop a strategy to engage and interact with these individuals on their preferred platforms. While you conduct this exercise, you may want to ask which online publications they read because you ell then know which editors and journalists to interact with. Once you know where your target market is online, focus all your B2B online marketing efforts on these platforms.

  1. Educate your staff

Gone are the days when all marketing was done by one department. Nowadays everyone has access to websites, blogs, mobile apps, email and social media. It has been proven statistically that if only 20% of your staff members actively engage and share your business content online, the will be a significant positive impact on your bottom line. Many marketing specialists now use the P2P or Person-to-Person marketing phrase. As with any change in an organisation, this behaviour won’t just happen. Your executive management must own this and cascade it down to operational level within your organisation. This will require a formal education and change management programme. If need be, motivate staff members to connect and share your business content by building it into their key performance indicators.

  1. Measure, measure, measure

There are a plethora of tools available which you must use to enhance and fine tune your B2B online marketing, which must be used throughout your B2B online marketing process. Some example I can cite are listening tools which enable to identify what your clients, prospects, media and competitors are talking about online (e.g. conversations relating to your products, services, solution, your company and industry). Depending on the online platforms you decide to use, there are analytics provided with all of these platforms which enable you to measure the success of your campaigns and online interaction. Before you embark on your B2B marketing process, obtain agreement from your management in terms of critical success factors and ensure that the analytics you extract can be used to measure your success against the CSFs.

Conclusion

To conclude, the top five things you must focus on when it comes to B2B online marketing is to build trust and confidence (i.e. DO NOT SELL), develop a sound content strategy, find out where your target market and the media are and go to them, educate your staff and become a “social business” and use all the measurement tools that are at your disposal.

Please note that these are the most important areas to focus however there are many other factors that you need to take cognisance of which we can discuss at your request.

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This article was written by David Graham, Digital Engagement Leader at Deloitte Digital

David is a thought leader in the Business to Business (B2B) digital marketing, relationship marketing and content marketing space and is the “go-to” person at Deloitte Digital for businesses who wish to connect, interact and influence business decision makers online, in order to initiate offline engagement. David has more than 20 years in sales and marketing roles at leading global software and management consulting organisations, engaging with executive decision makers and providing them with solutions to business challenges.

If you would like to have a more detailed B2B online marketing discussion with David Graham, connect on LinkedIn, follow on Twitter or email at davgraham@deloitte.co.za

Follow Deloitte Digital on Twitter or visit the Deloitte Digital website to get a taste of how Deloitte Digital can help digitise your brand

 

Online marketing and how it influences your sales pipeline

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To assist me in articulating to my clients how online marketing aligns with a typical sales process, I produced a diagram which shows the different stages in the marketing and sales process and how online marketing is used to drive leads, prospects and sales opportunites down the sales funnel.

online marketing pipeline

1. Awareness

Using a combination of your company website, search engine optimisation, search engine marketing, content marketing, your personal or company blog, social media marketing and smart phone and tablet apps, you create awareness and build credibility and encourage people to follow, connect, join your groups and subscribe to your blog and newsletter and interact with you.

2. Nurturing subscribers

People who have subscribed to your newsletter have given you permission to communicate with them on a regular basis. This is where you continue to build credibility and stay top of mind. Producing good content is crucial in order to retain subscribers and to encourage them to continue consuming your content and sharing your content with their respective communities.

3. Offline sales activity

This is where you make the transition from an online to an offline engagement and where the online channel can still play a part in building credibility. This is where you meet face-to-face with prospective clients, build relationships and present proposals.

4. Closing business

The is the last phase of the sales process and the start of an ongoing relationship with your new client. This is still an important element of your online marketing process because new and existing clients will (hopefully) provide favourable references online and can potentially allow you to publish case studies and testimonials on your website.

 

8 C’s to get the best bang for the buck from your B2B online marketing

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Based on my digital marketing efforts and experience to date, I have identified eight areas where you need to focus your efforts to optimise the effectiveness and return on investment from the business-to-business online marketing process within your organisation.

If you would like to continue this conversation in more detail, I welcome your comments at the end of the blog post or interact with me on LinkedIn and Twitter

1. Content

Adequate production of suitable thought ware across your relevant service lines and industries is an absolutely essential.  The content you create must “showcase” the products, solutions and services your organisation provides. The content you produce should be suited for the different channels you manage. For an email introducing an article, the article in question should be quite detailed, content for a blog post should be shorter and to the point. If you are using YouTube, arrange to have a short video clip produced where the thought leader discusses the specific content.    

2. Channels

Constantly review your processes to optimise the digital channels you are utilising. Remember that you are dependent on the channels your prospective clients choose to use. Monitor the market on a regular basis. Try new things. Poll your prospects and clients and ask them what they prefer. Marketers who anticipated Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube as future channels of choice for their prospects and clients will have benefitted from this foresight.

3. Change Management

You cannot manage B2B digital marketing in isolation. It has to be owned by the entire business.  Develop a change management strategy to educate the relevant persons within your business on the positive effects they will experience by utilising the digital channels effectively. Showing them how to create a Twitter account and how to tweet is not enough. Take them through the full process from cradle to grave and show some examples of business meetings being created, proposals being requested and business deals won.  Make B2B Digital marketing part of your organisation’s DNA!

4. Communities

The products, services and solutions you provide will determine how your market will prefer to interact with you. Figure this out and build your communities accordingly. Once you have acquired a Like, Follow, Connection, subscription, make sure you nurture this audience appropriately. If you are targeting a finite, known market, do the research and identify who you are connecting with and devise a strategy to develop an online relationship with the rest.  Don’t worry about quantities but rather on the quality of the conversations you are having. Identify social media influencers, relevant people in the media and brand advocates and look after them.

5. CVs

If you are using digital effectively, it is a good idea to create online resumes for all your thought leaders. If you share a thought piece and include the name of the thought leader, you should also provide a link to the person’s LinkedIn profile. Their LinkedIn profile should contain a decent photograph, a good summary explaining their personal value proposition and adequate connections, endorsements and recommendations.

6. Call back

Successful B2B digital marketing models have a golden thread from start to finish. At a specific point in the B2B marketing process, you may have to pass leads onto your sales team or someone responsible for taking the process to the next step.  As a follow up to all B2B digital marketing campaigns, the relevant persons need to follow up timeously and ask for appointments, set up meetings, ask if the person requires additional information, etc.

7. Closing the loop

Obtaining adequate feedback from the business in terms of meetings, requests for proposals and business won is very important. Make of point of asking the “business” on a regular basis on what happened with the leads you sent them. File this information away so that you can report back to the business on a later stage on all the successes as a result of your B2B didgital marketing activities.

8. Compliance

There are all kinds of legislation already out there and proposed amendments that may be passed soon. Consult with a digital communication legal specialist, get them to assess your existing environment and to provide you with feedback in terms of where you do not comply with existing legislation, what you need to do in order to comply and what plans you should be putting in place now in order to comply with legislation that is coming soon. This can be a big differentiator for you if your competitors are not doing anything about it.

I hope these eight points will be of assistance to you. Do you have any comments? Have I left something out? Do you agree or disagree with some of the points?  I would love to hear from you. 

Five tips to drastically improve your online marketing efforts

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So many organisations are missing the trick completely in the online space because they are incapable of ridding themselves of dated marketing behaviour of the past. I have listed five things you should do to derive tangible benefit from your online marketing activities.

1.     Provide value at all costs

Good content marketers keep harping on about this but so many do not listen. The Internet was developed all those years ago for people to find information that would add value to their lives. The emphasis here is on the recipient, not the person developing and sharing content. Online marketers that want to truly see notable results must produce information that is interesting, insightful, value-adding, intriguing and sharable. The more content you share that carries these attributes, the more people will continue to listen to you.

2.     Change the “I” to “you”

Go on a first date and talk about yourself all the time and see how well you fair. Generally, your will not make it to the second date. Online marketers that want to get noticed must talk about the customer, not themselves. Lose words like “I”, “we”, “us” and “our” and replace with “you” and “your”. The more you place the emphasis on the recipient, the more you instill a feeling that you actually care about them.

3.     Give away content

Ensure that at all times, that you give away content without ever expecting anything in return. It may take some time for recipients to realise that you are not going to ask them for anything in return, and when it does, you are on the road to developing some good online relationships. What happens during this process is that people continue to listen to you, but you are building credibility along the way and being viewed as a trusted adviser. As you are communicating regularly with your community, you are staying top of mind, and there is a greater propensity for your subscribers to contact you when they have a business challenge or a requirement that may be addressed by the services you provide.

4.     Never mention the products, services and solutions 

If you are an opportunistic salesperson or marketer, then mention all the products, services and solutions you sell, but remember this will be a once off exercise. You may land a few orders, but you will also upset a great deal of people who will report you for spamming them or who will unsubscribe from any future communication.

5.     Focus on subtle promotion

Online marketers who employ best practice techniques will:

  • Focus on the clients challenges and problems
  • Offer solutions, methodologies, approaches, tips, advice and guidance to resolve problems
  • Not talk about themself, their company, their products, services and solutions
  • Give selflessly without expecting anything in return

but this does not mean they will not include links to:

  • Their website where they talk about their company, products and solutions
  • Their LinkedIn profile and company page where they showcase their skills and qualifications
  • Invitations to meet to discuss specific business topics in more detail
  • Business events which they are hosting or attending

This advice is based on our past experience and results we have achieved through the adoption of this approach. Do you have any anything to add?

Online marketing is a full time job? Really?

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I participated in a conference call earlier today with colleagues in another region where I was describing my role and what I do on a daily basis. After going through all my daily responsibilities I was somewhat bemused when one of the persons on the call said “But that sounds like a full-time job”. After hearing this I thought it may be a good idea to explain a “day in the life of an online marketer”

Preparation of content

Any online marketer is dead in the water without good content to fuel their online marketing fire. In order to source good content, you need to meet with thought leaders on a regular basis to encourage them and assist with the creation of content. Any good content marketer will know that content has to be fit for purpose, depending on the channel they are using.

Publishing the daily blog post

There are no hard rules around the frequency of blog posts but the general rule is not too many, not too few and focus on quality. I attempt to schedule one blog post per day, preferably first thing in the morning.

Sharing blog post across online channels

Depending on the social networks you are participating on, you may want to introduce your published article differently. As you know, Twitter has a 140 character limitation so you want to be brief but still attempt to attract attention. In terms of Twitter I try to attract the attention of social media influencers and journalists and editors from popular business publications. In some cases I will contact certain individuals through a Direct Message (DM) and email or mention their Twitter handle in my tweet.

When sharing on LinkedIn and Google+ you are able to prepare a longer introduction to the content and ask your community for their comments, opinion and feedback. Besides the LinkedIn update, I also share the article on the relevant LinkedIn groups I manage and other groups I have joined. I also include specific people I am connected with on LinkedIn. In the LinkedIn groups I manage I will also use my weekly announcements feature on the groups to send an announcement to group members.

After creating updates on all the relevant social networks I then add a scheduled update on Socialoomph for Twitter and LinkedIn.

Preparation of email campaigns

For our email subscribers, we will identify specific content and determine which roles within organisations and which industries we should be targeting. I then need to prepare the templates for the relevant emails, create the filters, insert links, send a test to check that all is in order and then schedule the email.

Dialogue with community

Any online marketer or community manager has to ensure that all comments on blog posts, DMs on Twitter, shout outs on Twitter, replies to email campaigns, requests for information, CVs sent, comments on LinkedIn updates, comments on LinkedIn groups, requests to connect on LinkedIn, requests to join LinkedIn groups, discussions submitted on LinkedIn groups which require authorisation (I will end it there) are attended to and responded to timeously. This is an all day task and depending on what campaigns you are busy with, varies in intensity.

Measurement and feedback

This has to be done on a regular basis so that the relevant stakeholders within the organisation are kept abreast of all online marketing activities, understand the effectiveness of the channel and are able to react quickly to sales leads that are generated through my efforts.

Writing articles and supporting other influencers

I also need to find time to identify suitable subject matter to write about for subscribers to my personal blog and for sites where I am a guest blogger. Over and above that, I need to spend time reading, commenting on and sharing articles written by thought leaders.

So if you are looking for someone to manage your online marketing, I can assure you that if you want to do it properly and get results, then budget for a full time person.

Is there anything I have missed out? Please add to my list.

Where does a CIO fit in with online marketing?

by Jonathan Houston, online marketing manager at Talooma (@Jingo27 on Twitter)

Where does a CIO fit in with online marketing?

The generic answer that you get when you ask someone what a CIO does is, “oh, he is the chief IT guy”…

Now while this is partially true, a CIO is more involved in the strategic alignment of the business objectives, process management and revenue generation as well as revenue growth of specific business units through the strategic implementation of IT strategies and IT best practices. (that is a bit of a mouthful, but it sums up the strategic importance of the roll.)

In addition to this, there is still another area where the CIO can add a tremendous amount of value. Due to the fact that the CIO role is first and foremost a role concerned with the generation of revenue and the utilization of interdepartmental information through technology; the CIO role is becoming more and more concerned with the online environment.

Business is being forced increasingly more towards the online environment. With technological developments happening at a rapid rate of knots; the new CIO is having to ensure that their businesses are geared towards taking advantage of this digital revolution.

The successful CIO is one who is able to ensure that the systems that are being put in place are able to grow and develop with the changes not only internally, but externally as well.

A major debate which constantly surrounds the role of a successful CIO is that of whether or not a CIO can be successful without IT knowledge or experience… I would like to add another dynamic to that…

Can a CIO be successful without a sounds backing digital marketing and ultimately user experience?

Granted the CIO has a vast array of professionals within each specific department on whose experience he can draw; but with the rapid move to a technology driven and virtually connected world, a successful CIO is one who can understand and plan for the user experience that the consumer (both internally and externally) is demanding; whilst still ensuring that the organisation is able to operate more efficiently on systems which are “future proof” and able to ensure interdepartmental business intelligence to allow the C level executives in the organisation to better understand and plan for the future.

I am not suggesting that a CIO needs to be a digital marketer at heart, but rather that successful CIOs of the future, and even of the present day, need to be aware of digital marketing best practices and theories to ensure continued success.

I will welcome your feedback and comments and PLEASE share !!!!