Sometimes it’s essential to step back from everyday marketing tactics to ask the bigger questions: not just “how do we get more people to `like’ us on Facebook?” or “what apps should we be adding to our Facebook page?” but: why do we even have a corporate Facebook page? What are our key objectives for social media marketing? What conceptual models are we basing our marketing assumptions and practices on, and what new models should we be thinking about? Which emerging trends do we need to keep an eye on? Do we really understand why our customers buy from us? As we shift resources from traditional outbound marketing to inbound attraction marketing, how should we (re)organize to support that? As we rely more on all of our employees (not just marketing and PR) to represent our company through social media, how do we train and motivate them to do so effectively?
While you won’t find much in the way of “tips and tricks” in this post, you will find guidance on answers to these big-picture marketing questions and more here in some the best marketing strategy guides and insights of the past year.
5 principles of breakthrough success in the “Relationship Era” by iMedia Connection
Doug Levy contends that marketing has passed into its third major era—as we’ve moved from the primacy of product information through consumer persuasion to a new focus on sustainable relationships—and lays out five principles for success in this new realm.
Big Ed’s Top 10 B2B Marketing Trends For 2010 by Marketing-Gimbal
C. Edward Brice pretty much nailed the significant b2b marketing developments for 2010 (e.g. mass adoption of social media, but no clear way to measure ROI from it) in this predictive post. Was he prescient or just playing it safe? You decide.
2010: Social Network Advertising and Marketing Outlook by Brian Solis
Citing research from eMarketer, Brian Solis documents the continuing shift from interruption-based advertising to earned media engagement as the primary mode of marketing, as well as shifts within the social media landscape (e.g. from MySpace to Facebook). Remember when Facebook had “only” 350 million users? Yeah, that was one year ago.
Why Content is King No More… by Webfadds
Scott Frangos believes that content is no longer the “king” in online marketing strategy, but rather is now more like the “queen” with social media connection—your ability to share content and interact with readers—now playing the role of king.
The 3 Reasons That Motivate B2B Buyers to Buy by The Marketing Melange
Mike Frichol notes the disconnect between b2b technology vendor messages focused on features, innovation, technology leadership or competitive advantages and the three factors that actually motivate b2b buyers to make a purchase.
3 must-have marketing tools for small businesses by iMedia Connection
Eric Groves explains why low-cost, easy-to-use email marketing, online survey and social networking tools are essential marketing components for smaller companies.
“Sales organisations are reporting extended sales cycles, declining win rates, and that a growing number of apparently promising opportunities are ending in ‘no decision.’ At the same time, they observe that their prospects’ budgets appear to be shrinking, that more players are involved in the decision making process, and that their buyers are exhibiting increasingly risk-averse behavior.” What’s a sales executive to do? Bob Apollo suggests a three-phase plan to re-architect the sales and marketing process to better reflect today’s business buying process.
The Truth About Inbound Marketing vs Outbound Marketing by Kuno Creative
John McTigue presents four reasons why both inbound and outbound tactics should be included in any b2b marketing strategy. For example: “unless you already have a well-known brand, it can take many months to build up a loyal following (in social media)…blending targeted outbound marketing into social media marketing campaigns can accelerate awareness and growth.”
According to Holger Schulze, “major shifts are taking place in B2B marketing…buyers and decision makers don’t want to get interrupted by a product promo email or a cold call that likely doesn’t come at the exact time they have a specific problem the caller can help with. And today’s customers are busier than ever. They want to be able to engage with a vendor when they are ready and actively seek out advice, often very late in the buying cycle, and have the vendor guide them through a complex buying and problem solving process.” He offers five steps, from understanding your buyers to investing in marketing automation systems to address this new reality.
Best Practices Produce Mediocre Results by iMedia Connection
***** 5 Stars
In this must-read strategy guide for 2011, the brilliant Rob Rose argues that “We follow ‘best practices’ because they’re safe. These are maps for us to follow to get the same results as those that went before us. In short, they are the marketing equivalent of sitting down at the restaurant and saying ‘I’ll have what she’s having.'” Making the case for valuing bold experimentation over the tried-and-true, he concludes: “We need to blow some shit up.”
In this must-read strategy guide for 2011, Rob Rose takes a hard look at “best practices” and concludes that “We need to blow some shit up.”
Framework and Matrix: The Five Ways Companies Organize for Social Business by Web Strategy by Jeremiah Owyang
Jeremiah–the only social media guru popular enough to achieve single-name status–presents five models of organization for social business (Organic, Centralized, Coordinated, Dandelion, and Honeycomb), along with the advantages and drawbacks of each, then asks executives to identify where their organization is today, and where they’d like it to be.
4 ROI Myths by Digital Tonto
Greg Satell identifies the four most damaging ways in which companies try to measure marketing ROI, then suggests an alternative approach that is more complex but also more comprehensive.
Abracadabra Moments, the Opening Line You Should Never Use, and 10 More Ways to Sell Ideas by Fast Company
***** 5 Stars
Sam Harrison offers eight smart tips for selling your ideas to any audience, among them: truly collaborating with your clients (team, co-workers, customers or whomever), one opening line to never use and ditching the handouts—”people follow handouts about as well as cats follow tour guides.”
Marketing ROI Should RIP by iMedia Connection
Another outstanding piece from Rob Rose, this one demonstrating why software tools and marketing tactics, important as they are, don’t deliver value in and of themselves—it’s the marketing people and processes that make these things work (or not). Accountability, yes, but ROI is hard to apply to marketing investments. “Have you EVER gone back after purchasing a piece of software and calculated whether or not you generated more money from that tool than what you spent on it? No, of course not.”
10 tiny signs of great leadership by My Venture Pad
***** 5 Stars
This very concise (<250 words) post should be required reading, and re-reading, for every executive. Les McKeown briefly yet brilliantly contrasts the attributes of great leaders with those of “tiny” leaders, e.g., “(great leaders) want to find the smartest person in the room. Tiny leaders want to be the smartest person in the room.”
Crucial Components for B2B Social Media Success by acSellerant
Bob Leonard details 14 key factors for developing an effective b2b social media plan, among them: include input from sales, develop target personas, have a realistic content development plan, and build in analytics.
Are B2B Marketers Missing the Point? by Marketing Interactions
Ardath Albee reacts to MarketingSherpa research indicating that a third or more of b2b marketers assign basic lead management processes like having systems in place for lead scoring and nurturing non-sales-ready leads to the “back burner.” It’s crucial, she writes, for marketing to align its processes with sales to agree on the definition of a “sales ready” lead and hand leads back and forth based on where the prospect is in their buying cycle.
8 marketing blunders to avoid by iMedia Connection
Jim Nichols delightfully details marketing blunders to avoid, richly illustrated with graphics and examples, such as trying to outcool Apple, vowing to make up for it in volume, and marketing on attributes versus benefits.
The Best TED Talks To Make Use Of Social Media by MakeUseOf
Angela Alcorn presents 10 of the best TED videos from leading thinkers in social media, including Seth Godin on “Tribes,” James Surowiecki on social media news gathering and the wisdom of crowds, Matt Ridley (“When Ideas Have Sex”), and Gordon Brown (yes, as in the former British Prime Minister).
B2B marketing without creative has no punch by The Social CMO Blog
Defining “creative” broadly, Billy Mitchell asks and answers a series of questions that demonstrate the importance of creativity in b2b marketing processes, that it is most definitely not simply “fluff,” and concludes with 10 ways to inject creativity into b2b marketing programs.
Remember, Sometimes The Choir Can Use Some Preachin by iMedia Connction
One more from Rob Rose, this time reminding marketers that one of their most important audiences is the coworkers inside the organization: “Employees want to be motivated—and they desperately want to be on your side.” Just as with external marketing campaigns, it’s imperative do things like speaking the right language for your audience (even if your topic is the same, it’s important to use different words when talking about marketing with the IT group than with finance types), setting goals, and measuring results.
15 Inspirational Quotes About B2B Marketing by Modern B2B Blogs
Maria Pergolino shares a thoughtful collection of quotes from leaders like Valeria Maltoni (“Your writing doesn’t have to be boring just because it’s for other businesses. Businesses have people who read stuff.”) and Dave Jung: (“While an awareness of the customer’s use of your product is important, repeating what they already know obscures the real information they want. And that’s what B2B marketing thrives on … information.”).
The four engines of B2B marketing success by Reputation to Revenue
Rob Leavitt maps out and explains the four key “engines” that drive b2b marketing: content, relationships, lead development, and solutions development (combining products and services to produce “higher value solutions that respond more specifically to individual customer needs”).
Four takeaways from Marketing Sherpa’s B2B Summit by Marketing in a Downturn
Lawrence Mitchell shares lessons learned at MarketingSherpa’s October event about optimizing the marketing funnel, scoring and nurturing leads, and using advanced analytics to increase the ROI of marketing activities.
Six Secrets of Breakthrough Companies by The Six Disciplines Blog
Skip Reardon reports the key findings of Keith McFarland, a former Inc. 500 CEO who spent years researching thousands of private companies and interviewing their leaders in an attempt to identify the secrets of “breaking through.” Among the findings, which should come as no surprise but apparently do to a disturbing number of corporate executives today: Happy employees make successful companies. Money doesn’t solve everything. And “stick to the knitting” doesn’t always work; change matters.
Pam Moore advises businesses to avoid RAMMIES—”Random acts of marketing…that are not integrated, funded or properly planned.” She explains why they are bad, how to spot them, and how to deal with them (Step 1: “Get the RAMMIE planned, funded, measured and integrated. If this isn’t possible, then KILL IT!”)
Lead generation: Real-time, data-driven B2B marketing and sales by MarketingSherpa Blog
David Meerman Scott contends that marketers need to adopt real-time platforms and practices for lead generation, much like Wall Street traders have done in the financial markets. He explains how such systems can work and what marketers can do today to get started down this road.
The unique benefits of 5 marketing platforms by iMedia Connection
Gordon Plutsky describes how to use five marketing platforms–website, email, custom content, social media and mobile–in tandem to create an effective and comprehensive marketing media channel.
7 Steps to Creating a Sure-Fire Marketing System by American Express OPEN Forum
Contrary to the beliefs of business owners mystified by the “voodoo” of marketing, frequent best-of contributor John Jantsch argues that “marketing is not only a system, it may be the most important system in any business.” He then lays out a series of steps that lead to a “simple, effective and affordable approach to systematic marketing.”
7 Little Words That Sum Up the Entire Marketing Machine by Duct Tape Marketing
Following up on the post above, John Jantsch contends that “Marketing is essentially getting someone that has a need to know, like and trust you…the entire practice of marketing (can be) summed up in seven little words that make up what I call The Marketing Hourglass,” illustrated in this helpful diagram.
10 Marketing Blunders Many Small Businesses Still Make! by Masterful Marketing
Debra Murphy advises small business owners to avoid common pitfalls as they plan for 2011, among them not clearly defining the target market; delivering inconsistent marketing messages; and focusing too much on internal messages (OUR company, OUR capabilities) rather than on solving problems in the customers’ world.
50 Ways to Get Your Site Noticed by Nettuts+
Carl Heaton provides more than four dozen tips for building traffic to your website, ranging from the obvious (write fresh and catchy content, listen to your visitors, submit your site to online directories) to the obscure (send seasonal e-cards, sponsor a college project, or “Hide a Konami Code Easter Egg”).
David Edelman and Brian Salsberg write that “While traditional ‘paid’ media—such as television and radio commercials, print advertisements and roadside billboards—still play a major role, companies today can exploit many alternative forms of media,” and advise marketers to think in terms of paid, earned and owned media.