Nine Expert Marketing Strategy Guides

January is a great time to take a step back from day-to-day tactics and ask the Big Questions; or in cliché form, to look at the forest rather than the trees.

Who are (really) your best customers? Why do they (really) buy from you? How has the way buyers in your market make procurement decisions changed? How can your organization utilize social networking principals and tools to improve operations across departments? What is the secret to success (really!)?

Find the answers to those Big Questions and more here in nine expert marketing strategy guides from the past year.

Why Social Is So Disruptive to Traditional Marketing by Social Media Today

Judy ShapiroIn the spring of 2009, the notion that digital would account for the majority of marketing budgets within just a few years seemed like a laughable proposition. Traditional media still accounted for more than 90% of spending at that point. Yet just 30 months later, IDG reported that the shift was official, and digital would account for more than 50% of marketing spending in 2012.

Judy Shapiro points out this rapid shift and explains what fundamental changes in marketing practices she believes are required for success in this new realm, writing that “It’s clear we can’t simply apply new social technology to the old marketing mix and expect it to work anymore than we can apply wings to a car and expect it to fly.”

Why You Should Ignore Your Competition (And How You’ll Still Win) by FixCourse

Brad SmithBrad Smith contends that marketers should ignore best practices, competitors, popular platforms and the like, and instead find and capitalize on untapped and underutilized tactics and opportunities. He then lays out a 5-step formula for “arbitrage marketing” to help identify and implement such tactics.

7 Burning Questions for B2B Marketers in 2012 by iMediaConnection

Tony ZambitoWriting that “good questions help you to focus and to get to the heart of what matters most,” Tony Zambito presents seven key questions marketers need to ask in order to hold onto and attract new customers, among them “How Do We Create A Better Buying Experience? With distinctive differences between products and services narrowing substantially, experience-centered marketing and relationships will be the coveted playing field to win on. When was the last time your organization reviewed processes, systems, departments, and the likes to determine whether they added value to the buying experience?”

Stop Talking About Social and Do It by Nilofer Merchant

Nilofer MerchantNilofer Merchant explains how social media has affected all areas of the enterprise, not only marketing and PR but also product development, supply chain management, finance, sales, service, and HR (“‘Human Resources’ have changed when most of the people who create value for your organization are neither hired nor paid by you”). She presents a quick visual model of social business along with three three thought-provoking exercises to help corporate leaders think strategically about this transition.

5 Ways New Buyer Behaviors Are Impacting B2B Sales by iMedia Connection

Tony Zambito (again) argues that, contrary to the “buyers are in control and don’t need sales” mantra, b2b sales professionals are still quite essential. However, buyers’ expectations are changing and therefore the way sales people do their jobs needs to change as well, for example: “Buyers already know about your ready-made solutions found in their researching. What they seek is skills and knowledge in advising them on how solutions—modified, customized, and most definitely altered—will help them to achieve the specific goals and outcomes they seek.”

Is happiness the secret of success? by CNN

Shawn AchorShawn Achor demonstrates how happiness not only correlates with positive life and business outcomes (which one might expect), but can actually produce such outcomes. Writing that “A decade of research in the business world proves that happiness raises nearly every business and educational outcome: raising sales by 37%, productivity by 31%, and accuracy on tasks by 19%,” he also provides a practical series of steps anyone can use to retrain their brain to be happier–and quite possibly more successful as well.

Who is Your Ideal Client? Do you know? by Bourn Creative

Jennifer BournAny effective marketing message or content development program starts with the target audience in mind. A common exercise is creating personas, or conceptual representations of an ideal sales prospect, reader, subscriber, repeat customer, etc. But such personas often aren’t created effectively or completely; Jennifer Bourn here explains how to do it right, and how doing it right leads to higher growth, easier sales cycles, and higher profitability.

Why Media Buyers Are Switching to a Smarter Planning Framework by iMedia Connection

John Manoogian IIIContending that “P.O.E.M., or Paid (vs) Owned (vs) Earned Media, is a strategy framework that buyers and planners use to segment campaigns and channels…but (today), thinking in terms of Paid / Owned / Earned will break the back of your media team and send money leaking out of your strategy,” John Manoogian presents an alternative model he calls “M.A.S.S.” media, for channels that are Measurable, Authentic, Scalable and Social.

6 Steps to Inbound Marketing Success [Infographic] by B2B Marketing Insider

Michael BrennerMichael Brenner presents a six-step guide for inbound marketing, starting with strategy creation and the recognition that content marketing is an investment, not an expense and progressing through generating “more (website) traffic through effective blogging, social media, SEO and paid search, effectively converting that traffic into leads, and perhaps most important, measuring everything to support continuous improvement.

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