Just when the last thing you needed was another potential online advertising outlet, along comes more interesting advertising on Twitter. Now, I’m probably as skeptical as you are about the relevance of this “opportunity” to B2B marketing, but others think differently; as an example, read Why Twitter’s New Keyword Advertising Makes it a B2B Powerhouse on the B2B Insights Blog. Twitter now offers the opportunity to target your advertising by keyword, so the first thing to look at is whether your products are actually being discussed on Twitter. As an example, if you supply peristaltic pumps, you’ll be able to see (below) that there are at least some mentions online, even if it’s hardly a “trending topic”. Take a look at the “followers” for those accounts, and you’ll get an idea of how many people might be seeing those Tweets, and whether it’s worth targeting them. For now, I suspect that for most companies, there’ll be more effective outlets for their time.
When we study marketing at college, we’re taught how marketing is a service for the sales department and a driver for product development, feeding back the research from the real world which should define the next generation of products. That’s great in theory, but I’d guess that for the vast majority of you, the idea of having an input into product development is about as likely as having the casting vote on the chairman’s salary for next year. However, understanding the prospect and customer base is still an essential role for marketing, because without it, how can we know which promotional buttons to press? For too many companies, the choice of where and when to advertise seems to be based on the fact that “it looked nice, the last time we did it”, or even “the sales rep was convincing”. With the tools available to us nowadays, this is absurd. It really isn’t that hard to take a sample of a few hundred customers or prospects and ask them what you could do which would have an impact. They can reply in seconds, and enough of them will do so if you keep it simple enough. With that in mind, here’s a nice set of tips for use when surveying your prospects or customers. The Art and Science of the Ideal B2B Survey on the B2B Insights Blog looks at, er, the science and the art of the survey, and emphasises that it’s always “important to take a step back and try to look at the survey from the point of view of someone whos just received it.” Well worth a read.
The most common sentiment I hear nowadays from companies which don’t do email newsletters for customers and prospects is along the lines of “well, we’ve never done one”, implying that “we wish we had, but it’s too late now”. That makes no sense whatsoever. You’re not in competition with anyone!
Look at it this way. Do you wish that you (or your predecessors) had set up an email newsletter for customers and prospects years ago, so it would have built up a really nice circulation by now? Well, if you do nothing, in 2019 you (or your successors) will look back and wish you’d set one up in 2009. And as I’ve pointed out before, a huge chunk of the circulation turns over each year anyway, so there’d be very little circulation left from 1999 now, even if you’d had the foresight to set a newsletter up back then.
Once you get an email newsletter going, the circulation will start to build itself, as long as you take every opportunity to promote it. In E-newsletters – Maintaining Awareness. Building Base on the B2B Insights Blog the importance of updating your web site to include standard links to sign up for the newsletter is emphasised. You probably get dozens of anonymous potential customers visiting your website each day – a good email newsletter may be the hook some of them need to reveal themselves to you.
Where do you turn for email marketing lists? I hope you have developed your own “opt-in” customer and prospect list over the years, but what if you want to reach a wider base? In Choosing the Right B-to-B Direct Mail List on the B2B Insights Blog, some of the best options are discussed, including trade association lists, exhibition attendees and magazine circulations, all of which are often available for hire. What have you found useful in the past? We’ve heard some good things about the list rental offerings from trade publisher IML, which publishes magazines covering several vertical sectors (contact Neil Whitaker on 01732 359990) but I’d like to hear any recommendations you may have. Then of course there are the circulations held by online publishers such as Pro-Talk* which aren’t available for rental for your own mailings, but which do their own regular mailings which you can take space in. These are easy to work with, and can have an impressive reach.
* Disclosure: Pro-Talk is the company I founded in 2000 and which I left amicably last year!
Are you going to be cutting back on your press releases and article writing this year? With budgets tight, it’s an obvious candidate for reduced expenditure, as PR in general is hard to get an accurate return on investment for. But if you want to defend this part of your marketing budget, there are a couple of good arguments in Should You Preserve Your PR Budget? on the B2B Insights Blog. You may find them useful.
I reckon that generating content for the media is as valuable as ever – but only if it’s done with a view to effective online publication. I read an article the other day which began: “Obviously every press release you write begins with using a keyword tool…” and went on from there. And I wondered: how many press releases issued in the UK are written without any thought whatsoever to scoring well on important search terms? Most, I’ll bet.
If you use a PR company, ask them if they think online coverage of their press releases is important. They’ll answer yes. Then ask them if they write them to work well online. They’ll answer yes again. Then ask them how they do that. See if they mention keyword research. If they don’t, ask them if they’ve ever heard of it. Oh, I’m just being mischievous now. But it’s your money.