Enter social media advocacy
In my last blog post, I listed 12 content ideas for knowledge-intensive companies e.g. engineering and manufacturing. Engaging an audience through content is one of the main strategies for driving B2B sales. Social media advocacy is another strategy. Do this by empowering employees to develop good behaviours such as listening and sharing online.
Rackspace is the #1 managed cloud company based in San Antonio, Texas. It has engineers, scientists and researchers, helping businesses to tap into cloud computing without having to manage it on their own. There is also great content at Rackspace. Employees get involved in a number of ways. Last November, I caught up with Elizabeth Jurewicz (call her Liz!), Social Enablement Strategist at Rackspace. She created and delivers the social media advocacy programme. I ‘met’ Liz online and started following her tweets and comments on the topic. We are now in regular contact and I’m learning a lot from her. Here is my 16-minute podcast interview with Liz.
Podcast with Elizabeth Jurewicz
If you’re short of time, here are some key takeaways from the podcast:
- Establish formal training social listening as a way to engage employees who don’t want to share content directly.
- Measure your performance internally first e.g. Are employees engaged? Is the messages you are sending being received and understood?
- When leaders get involved, you know you are on the right track.
- As a new company, start at the beginning to cultivate a culture of knowledge sharing.
- Give yourself to develop the right culture in your company.
Elizabeth Jurewicz is Social Enablement Strategist at Rackspace. She helps professionals find the words to express not only what they do, but why they do it. You can follow her on Twitter @CreatingLiz.
Even in so-called boring industries, there is great content. But finding new content ideas can be a real problem for marketing teams. Particularly in engineering companies, getting fresh content often means being creative.
Photo credit: unsplash.com
For instance, any content must be technically sound and easily digestible on online platforms. But as engineers usually don’t like to create content, it is often up to the marketing person or team to do it. I have found a camera phone and a listening ear could be all you need to develop great content. Take notes as your engineer discusses his product. Record a one to two minute video about the launch of a new product feature. Ask your customer support team to answer one frequently asked question by customers and expand on it in an online blog. These are just some of the ways to generate content. Here are 12 content ideas – one a month for 2017!
1. Primary research on topical issues in your industry.
Have you done a survey? Do you have data that you could use to show preliminary findings? If confidentiality is a concern, strip out client names and anything that can identify them. Ensure your client knows they’ll have anonymity
2. Video interviews with experts.
Ask your Chief Engineer or technical expert to discuss an engineering challenge he is solving. These days, a camera phone is enough to record short, great content at work
3. Secondary research for various sources.
An article that collates multiple viewpoints could be powerful. It allows you to look outside your company for other research and perspectives on the same issue. Don’t worry if you find conflicting opinions – that’s actually a good thing. Put out thoughts for your customers to engage with and respond
4. How-to articles.
Your customers probably struggle with a gazillion things. Create an article that teaches how to do something in a step-by-step guide. Point to additional resources on your website such as a video, case study or white paper.
5. Price comparison.
Think about how grateful you are when you find a price comparison article when you are trying to make a decision on a purchase. Your customers will appreciate this too. Write an article that compares the overall costs of a technical solution across similar products. Review the cost of a bespoke solution versus off-the-shelf options, for instance.
6. Ways to complete a task.
Show your customers a number of ways to complete a complex task. Highlight the pros and cons of each approach. Link to more resources and offer to answer further questions via an email address or discussion thread.
7. Podcast series.
You can build a strong audience with a regular podcast series. People listen to podcasts at work, more so than video because they can keep working, with earphones in. It could be the same guests each time (discussing a different topic) or you could ask different people to feature each time. Consider bringing in partners, suppliers and even customers to feature
These can be downloaded from your website or made into hard copies for your customers to take away. Use e-books to provide more detailed guidance on a complex subject, product or service
9. Case studies.
Showing who else you have done work for, and the outcome is a good idea in B2B sectors such as industrial engineering and manufacturing. Case studies are one way of advertising your success on a past customer project. You can describe the situation, benefits and outcome of your solution to the customer.
10. Photo with quote.
We can’t always develop elaborate content. Photos are a good way to be brief and still have impact. They also work well across all social media channels. But photos need to be meaningful. Capture what it is like to work at your organisation. Pick a great quote from your CEO or Product Engineer and put it on a great photo. Avoid stock photos as they appear unauthentic. Take your own.
11. Article inviting opinion.
People love to be asked what they think. Write an article that raises key issues around an emerging trend or technology. Ask for opinions and other viewpoints. Then watch the magic happen.
12. Slides explaining an idea.
A slide deck is a great way to distil complex information. This style of presenting information forces you to focus on simplicity and conciseness. Use platforms like Slideshare to showcase your content or create a document that customers can download from your website. Remember to put your company logo, website and contact details. This way, your brand follows the content wherever it goes, signposting all that read it back to you.
Here are some of my favourite articles of 2016 about the likely future of marketing.
Written on the THINK Marketing IBM blog, this article discusses how analytics could give marketers deeper understanding of their customer’s path to purchase. Here’s a summary of the three steps:
- Have a clear vision of the path you are tracking
- Identify trends and key metrics, online and in-store
- Create key customer groups based on trends and data
Read the article here
This article is for CEOs but it is also for marketers who want to gain the confidence of their CEO by clarifying the role of marketing within the organisation. It is not enough for the CEO to understand the product and services. The issue of brand story is crucial too. [pb_blockquote]Is the brand story being perceived positively and accurately by customers?[/pb_blockquote] The article bursts these four myths that CEOs believe about marketing:
- Marketing is responsible for a company’s brand
- It’s not necessary for execs to be involved with social media
- Good marketing means sales leads will close by themselves
- Marketing alone can fix a damaged brand
Read the article here
One of the best pieces I read this year, this article discusses the conflict that many marketing face – the balance between being a good citizen and being a good marketer. Marketing helped create a number of societal ills ranging from debt, body image issues and even smoking. It is no wonder that consumers don’t trust advertising. Marketing lies at the bottom of the trust spectrum with politicians and civil servants. [pb_blockquote]A 2012 Adobe survey showed that 68% of people found advertising to be “annoying and distracting,” with 53% reporting “most marketing is a bunch of bullshit[/pb_blockquote] We struggle with the balance to maintain good citizenship and still be amazing at our jobs. But the future of marketing might depend on us finding this balance. The article describes a movie, Deep Impact, where the earth will be hit by an asteroid. Doctors, scientists and engineers are amongst the saved, sheltered inside a mountain but no marketers… How do we work as marketers to be one of the saved? Thought-provoking indeed. Read the article here
Inspired by the annual Stackies awards, Andrew Nguyen discusses the most common types of marketing technology stacks that companies use as part of their go-to market strategies and revenue generation. Here are four martech stacks which he outlines:
- one direction martech stack – Strictly adheres to the sales and marketing funnel e.g. awareness/discovery, lead generation, opportunities and success/advocacy
- core thinker martech stack – Revolves around a single entity e.g. the customer, content or revenue
- data flow martech stack – Focuses on the flow of data for creating analytical processes that support decision making
- tetris style stack – Resembles the one direction stack but considers that a single marketing technology spans into multiple parts of the funnel
Read the article here
Interviews with experts provide great insight. This interview with John Lilly, a partner at Greylock Partners is no exception. When asked about the lessons he learned early on in leadership, he cites simplicity and messaging. I believe this is every marketer’s goal. Make the message clear and simple. John also emphasises the need to repeat the message, “say it the same way over and over.” He gives more career advice:
- Find your tribe, identify those teams you want to be part of and build a relationship with them
- Stay close to professions that create and make things, as they are becoming increasingly powerful in our society
Read the article here
Digital technology caused a reduction in the cost of search and communication. This led to more search, more communication and more of its associated activities. This article describes a similar revolution with machine intelligence, an area that is bound to influence the future of marketing. Simply put, machine learning is prediction technology and it is likely to cause an economic shift in the cost of prediction as well as the cost of goods and services. The article makes the following predictions about the future of machine intelligence:
- Lots of tasks will be reframed as prediction problems
- Judgement will become more valuable
Read the article here
Account-based marketing has been around for a while and appears to be in the future of marketing, particularly for B2B. Those that use it swear by it, and those that don’t really should consider it. Lena Robinson of Kiwi Gray, an agency for agencies writes about the disconnect between marketing strategy and business strategy in marketing agencies.
This disconnect appears in many industries, not just in agencies. Therefore, this article is useful for any marketer or business developer that seeks to create stronger ties between business growth aspirations and marketing. This often leads to more effective, focused sales efforts.
Enter Account-based marketing (ABM). This approach to marketing requires companies to be more selective about the accounts they go after, and more deliberate. Collaboration is key, and a stronger brand reputation. This article has an extensive list of steps to make ABM work in the B2B space. A great read to begin the new year’s account planning.
Read the article here
Agile in marketing refers to using data analytics to continuously find opportunities or solutions to problems in real time. Marketing teams do this by experimenting and testing ideas, evaluating the results and pivoting as necessary. This article explains agile marketing clearly, providing a detailed step-by-step guide for marketing teams. In summary, the article outlines these steps for how an agile marketing team works:
- Aligns with leadership
- Sets team expectations
- Analyses the data
- Identifies opportunities
- Designs tests
- Prioritises tests
- Runs tests
- Iterates the idea based on test results
- Scale across the organisation
Read the article here
Nearly six in 10 CEOs think that within the next five years, companies will need to compete in the artificial intelligence (AI) space to succeed. Yet, people’s understanding of AI is that it is something to worry about. Think robots and self-aware computers. In this article, Leslie Hancock, Founder & CEO of CreativeCafeHQ.com explains the role of AI in marketing. AI are cognitive computing systems that learn at scale and reason for a purpose. They make predictive and anticipatory modelling possible using large amounts of customer information and other inputs. These inputs help intelligent systems to make educated guesses about what customers are likely to do, and want next based on their past behaviours and the decisions of other buyers similar to them. In B2B marketing, these systems take massive amounts of customer data:
- To identify and target companies entering different product and business life cycle stages
- Predict buying behaviours
- Monitor and react to social media chatter
- Look for patterns
Yet, the article explains that the role of human marketers is still important – but requires a different mindset. As to whether AI is friend or foe to the future of marketing, you can make up your own mind. Read the article here
Another article discussing likely customer behaviours, but with an interesting twist. This article predicts the end of function-based targeting, and suggests that mobiliser targeting is the future of marketing.
Mobilisers are customers or stakeholders who are especially good at driving change and building consensus within their organisations. Until now, B2B marketers target certain functions e.g. IT or Procurement or job titles e.g. “Director” or “VP”. These efforts often come to nothing in closing the deal.
This article describes a new marketing technology where marketers can use psychographic “signatures” of potential customers who are likely to mobilise and not just talk. This exciting idea involves examining social profiles, language, phrases etc to identify prospects who are likely to be mobilisers based on subtleties in their online/social media activities. Such technology combined with content created to help these mobilisers drive change, could really transform B2B demand generation – and the future of marketing. Read this article here
YO! Marketing is a progressive strategic marketing consultancy. We work mainly with technology companies to align marketing activities with business growth aspirations. Contact us here to learn more about how we might be able to add value to your organisation.