Archives for March 2014

Why content is king and why your business should take an oath of alliance to the kingdom

By Kate Lee | 03/31/2014 | 10:53 PM

In the 1970s people were exposed to an average of 2,000 ads per day.  Today we are exposed to more than 5,000 ads per day.  The barrage of ads has resulted in buyers tuning them out. With buyers no longer paying attention to ads, businesses need to adjust how they find and engage new prospects, and how they establish and maintain long-term relationships with customers. 

The solution: content.  Content is king and if your business is going to attract and retain customers you need to take an oath of alliance to the kingdom.  That is, your business needs to create and distribute valuable content.

Content is inclusive of blogs, white papers, e-books, newsletters, infographics, podcasts, webinars, and video.  Creating and distributing valuable and relevant content in a strategic and consistent manner is what will drive profitable customer action.

Valuable and relevant content is not a sales pitch.  It is not content that pushes your products and services.  Rather, it is content that communicates valuable information to customers and prospects so that they have the knowledge to make better informed decisions.  Moreover, it is content that establishes your business as a reliable source of knowledge – as the thought-leader within the industry.

How does this translate into consumer acquisition and retention?  When the customer is ready to make a purchase they will reward your company with their business and with loyalty.

Skeptical?  B2B companies with an active blog generate 67 percent more leads per month than those who don’t.  A study by the Custom Content Council found that 72 percent of marketers think branded content is more effective than advertising in a magazine, 62 percent say it is more effective than advertising, and 69 percent say it is ‘superior’ to direct mail and PR.

Content that will move the needle for your business is valuable content.  It is content that is informative, educational, interesting, and speaks to your customer’s emotions and speaks to their pain points.  Furthermore, it is content that is delivered consistently over time and at the right time.

Before you start to create content for your business consider this sage advice offered by Arjun Basu: “Without strategy, content is just stuff, and the world has enough stuff.”

Research supports Basu.  Companies that have a documented content strategy are more likely to consider themselves effective than companies that don’t have a strategy in place (60 percent v. 11 percent).  Similarly, companies who put a person in charge of content marketing were more likely to be successful than those who did not (86 percent v. 46 percent).

How do companies put together and execute a content strategy?  Eight percent of B2B marketers outsource content planning and strategy.  Sixty-four percent of B2B marketers report that they outsource writing and thirty percent outsource distribution and syndication.  Diving down further,

72 percent of large B2B companies (1,000 employees or more) outsource content creation and 34 percent of small B2B companies (10 to 99 employees) outsource content creation.

Content is king.  By taking an oath of alliance to the kingdom, your company will attract and retain customers.  Your company will realize an increase in leads, short sales cycles, and more loyal customers.

How social media can make David a formidable challenge to Goliath

By Kate Lee | 03/24/2014 | 8:12 AM

3PL provider Coyote Logistics is one of the fastest growing companies in North America. The company’s incredible growth (five-year growth: 3,585 percent) and tenacious spirit has not gone unnoticed. Forbes included Coyote in its list of Most Promising American Companies; Supply & Demand Chain Executive listed Jeff Silver, Coyote CEO, as one of their “Pros to Know;” and the company was listed as one of the best places to work by the Chicago Tribune

There are undoubtedly many factors that have contributed to the success of the company.  Coyote’s approach to social media is likely one of the company’s keys to success.

Coyote is a customer-centric company that is creative and pushes boundaries in its effort to “offer the best 3PL experience ever.”  Go to Coyote’s webpage and you’ll see that it oozes the company’s culture and mission.  Likewise, the company’s LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube channel exemplify the company’s commitment to their culture, customers, and mission.

Coyote has leveraged social media.  The company uses social media to engage with customers, to provide information about the company and the industry, and to find great talent.  Coyote’s approach has personalized the company – making it stand out from competitors.  The level of engagement has also helped to create relationships – relationships that are essential to growth, especially in the B2B environment.

According to Ron Faris, co-founder and CEO of a new Virgin start-up company, “Social conversation is the only way small brands can get an edge on the big boys.”  Why?  Faris points to the three ingredients of brand affinity: rational, cultural, and emotional.  According to Faris, the rational space is where the big boys play, and the he cultural and emotional space is where there is opportunity for the small brands.  More specifically, when a company focuses on the cultural and emotional it is able to capture a customer’s interest not because of what is on sale, but by being bold and engaging.

Faris writes: “Goliath will always have the luxury of being omni-present in the consumer’s field of vision. But Goliath is not nimble. And to truly win a crowd, you need to pivot to tell the right stories they want to hear at the right time.” 

Coyote is a great example of how playing in the cultural and emotional space and telling the right stories at the right time can make a David a formidable challenge.

Use demand generation to grow sales

By Kate Lee | 03/17/2014 | 10:20 PM

Rather than focus sales efforts on seeking out prospects and making cold calls re-focus your efforts so that the emphasis is on demand generation. Why?  Demand generation shortens the sales cycle and increases sales opportunities by nurturing and engaging potential customers.  Moreover, demand generation is a commitment to long-term customer relationships.

Demand generation builds and nurtures prospect and customer relationships for the long-term.  To do this effectively, companies need to do things like host webinars, create a blog, and promote blog posts through social media.  Companies need to create and disseminate content-driven resources that establish themselves as a thought leader and as an industry influencer, and which engage prospects and customers alike.

Demand generation is not a sprint.  It takes time to build and implement a successful strategy.  However, once a strategy is in place and is consistently and continuously implemented, there will be positive results.  Specifically, website traffic will increase and, by extension, so will the number of prospects.  These prospects are warm leads.  These prospects are ones which your sales team should focus on as they are more likely to convert to customers than the cold call prospect.  In fact, prospects that come to you via a successful demand generation strategy are five times more likely to become your customers.

To grow sales through demand generation it is important to identify your target customers and their needs.  In short, get to know your target customer and identify how your company can anticipate and respond to their needs.  Furthermore, take the time to choose the right content and choose the right place to disseminate content. 

Shorten your sales cycles and increase your sales opportunities by focusing time and effort on creating and implementing a demand generation strategy instead of on cold calls.

Get smart: 4 things Google Analytics can tell you

By Kate Lee | 03/10/2014 | 8:27 PM

How people access your website and navigate your website can provide you with a lot of information not only about your website’s visitors, but also about your company and the products and services you provide.  Unfortunately, many companies don’t know that this information exists and therefore they leave a wealth of strategic data unexamined.  The data does exist – and it is free and easily accessible. 

This goldmine of strategic data is available via a tool called Google Analytics.  Google Analytics provides users with powerful data about website traffic.  The amount of data available through Google Analytics is massive.  Likewise the knowledge one can learn from the data is massive.  Here are just four things Google Analytics can tell you:

How many customers actually look at your website

Having a website is essential.  However, a website does your company no good if customers are not finding your website and are not accessing the site.  Google Analytics provides you with data on the total number of visitors to your site as well as the number of unique visitors and the number of new visitors. 

How visitors use your website

Google Analytics provides data on the path each visitor takes when they visit your site.  You can follow the path of each visitor – from the first page they looked at, to the last page they looked at.  This information give you information on what drew the visitor to your site, what they were looking for, what they were interested in once they arrived, and provide you with information on why they left the site.  For example, did they leave once they made a purchase?  Or did they not find what they were looking for and leave your site immediately? 

What visitors like and what they don’t like

Google Analytics provides data on the number of visitors per page.  By looking at this information you can tell what products or services are most popular and what are the least popular.  From this you can make strategic decisions about your company’s products and services.  For example, is it time to revamp your product line?  Or do you just need to revamp your website content?

How do visitors view your website

What technology do visitors use when viewing your site?  Do they use a mobile device, a tablet, or a computer?  Knowing this information will help you to optimize your site so as to cater to your visitors.  For example, if you find that the majority of visitors are accessing your website via a tablet or mobile device you want to make sure that your website is friendly to this technology.

What are your website’s traffic sources

Google Analytics breaks down traffic sources into four categories: direct, referral, organic search, and social.  Once you know how traffic is coming to your website you can make necessary adjustments to your marketing and advertising strategies.  Furthermore, you can identify which strategies currently in place are working and which are not.

Setting up Google Analytics is free and is relatively easy.  Google provides a step by step guide, and there are also a number of YouTube videos available.  Once you have set up Google Analytics use it – and use it to your advantage.  The data provided is real time and will therefore enable you to understand what you need to do now in order to attract customers and engage customers.  

Innovate faster. Innovate better. Social media as an innovation engine

By Kate Lee | 03/04/2014 | 10:34 AM

Innovation is a powerful way to drive growth.  However, traditional approaches taken by companies to develop innovative products and services are increasingly being found to be unsuccessful in creating growth.  The traditional siloed approach to R&D is too insular for today’s rapidly changing economic environment.  Moreover a top-down approach to R&D no longer works given our consumer driven marketplace, and the instant gratification consumers now demand.  How then can your company successfully develop new products and services?  How can your company innovate faster? How can your company innovate better?  Harness social media as an innovation engine.

According to a March 2014 report by eBizMBA Facebook has an estimated 900 million unique users each month.  Twitter has an estimated 310 million unique users each month and LinkedIn sees an estimated 250 million users monthly.  Conversations are taking place on these social networks about companies and about specific products and services.  These conversations can provide your company with a wealth of information and can be a source of innovation – innovation that can drive growth.

You can leverage social media an as innovation engine by monitoring the conversations taking place about your company and your products and services.  What are customers saying?  What do customers like?  What do they dislike?  Are there questions that are repeatedly being asked by customers about your company and/or a specific product or service you offer?  Don’t dismiss feedback provided by customers via social media; embrace it and its honesty.  Learn from the feedback provided.  Engage with customers to learn more.  Use the intelligence that you gain from social media to fuel innovation. 

Turn to social media to learn about creative ways customers are using your products. Ikea products are constantly being “hacked” or used in ways that the company had not intended.  Learning “off-label” uses for your products can help you to identify needs within the marketplace, new marketing opportunities for your products, and can generally get your creative juices flowing.

Look at social media to identify trends.  Is there a way that your company can take advantage of specific trends?  Can you introduce a new product or service?  Can you repurpose a product or service to meet the demands of a specific trend?  Even more basic, if you already have a product or service that is trendy, make people aware that you have what they want.  How to do this?  One way is to engage with them on social media.

In addition to monitoring conversations focused on your company, monitor conversations that are taking place about your competitors.  What are customers saying about your competitor and their products and services?  What do customers like about your competitor’s products?  What do they not like?  Are your customers using your competitors products in an off-label way?  All of this information can be used to fuel innovative for your company.

David Burkus, founder of LDRLB and assistant professor of management at Oral Roberts University, wrote that “in most organizations, innovation isn’t hampered by a lack of ideas, but rather a lack of noticing the good ideas already there.”  The conversations taking place via social media offer a wealth of good ideas.  Your company can capitalize on the information and intelligence provided, or you can ignore it.  If you choose the former you can turn social media into an innovation engine for your company – one that will help your company grow not in spite of, but because of the current environment and customer demands.

The opinions expressed herein are those solely of the participants, and do not necessarily represent the views of Agile Business Media, LLC., its properties or its employees.

About Elizabeth Hines

Elizabeth Hines

Elizabeth is a content strategist with 12+ years of experience in content development, branding, marketing, and communications. As the creative/editorial director at Fronetics, she oversees all efforts related to content and creative assets, including strategy design and brand development.

She has written extensively about supply chain and logistics, and has developed content strategies across a number of verticals, including the B2B space. Prior to joining Fronetics, Elizabeth worked at Boston University, Prospectiv, and Cengage Learning.


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