Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Four Cutting Edge B2B Social Media Marketing Best Practices

Tuesday morning in Chicago, I was perched atop a 38 story building listening to four top corporate marketers talk about how they have responded to the twin challenges of a recession and the impact of social media. No, I didn't parachute in to some secret industry confab- I was attending the BtoB Magazine NetMarketer breakfast being held at the Hotel 71.

And lucky for you, I took some notes...

Belinda Hudmon- Director, Interactive Marketing, Broadband Mobility Solutions, Motorola

60% of sales for the Broadband Mobility Solutions group are in the government, enterprise and telecom markets. That's a heavy B2B focus. And like any good B2B marketer, she says that her main focus is to accelerate the sales cycle and support the customer relationship lifecycle. I couldn't agree more.

In order to do this, she and her team have spent a great deal of effort modeling the interactive experience and developing content for each stage of the buying cycle. Motorola's strategic planning even includes developing personas for each market segment at various stages of the buying cycle.

Based on data Motorola collects from their web analytics and surveys, Belinda says that:

  • 68% of decision makers go to vendor sites for buying information
  • 66% of decision makers go to search engines for buying information
  • 69% of decision makers go to social networks for buying information

She points out that unlike in the past, they have been tracking and optimizing "off-corporate site" content to develop links and traffic.

As an example of this, they created an "shared experience" website to support event marketing that aggregated content related to a trade show along with corporate info and online product demos. The online demos drew 50% more activity than the in person demos at the show.

Belinda also gave a informative presentation at the Boston NetMarketing Breakfast, as profiled by my colleague Marc Hausman.

Steve Norman- Marketing Leader, Private Company Services, PriceWaterhouseCoopers

Steve presented a case study of his work. The recent financial crisis and recession has created a market for distressed banks, called FDIC assisted transactions. These transactions occur when medium sized healthy banks buy all or parts of bad banks that have gone into receivership at the FDIC (which is the government bank regulator). PWC is very interested in providing consulting and accounting services to the banks doing the buying.

The challenge is that PWC hasn't traditionally marketed to mid-sized banks and the transactions in question tend to coalesce rapidly and move quickly to completion. Speed is important. Identifying leads and moving them ASAP into a sales environment is the key to capturing these deals and driving revenue.

Stripping out any superfluous activity, Steve designed a lead generation program by creating and distributing content on American Banker magazine, in house webinars, a microsite/landing page along with a Google AdWords program and an keyword optimized section on He can now identify hot leads by the number of hits across those sites and by driving traffic via email and Google to the landing page.

Recently, he had 500 attendees to a webinar, of which 50% were individuals not previously known to PWC. Using polls and surveys during the session, he was able to qualify those most likely to buy and pass them along to the sales team internally. The ROI? Due to the high fees involved, closing one deal pays for the entire program.

Kristin Bockius- SLG Relationship Marketing Manager, Microsoft

In the interest of openness and transparency, it's probably worth pointing out that Microsoft is a client of Strategic Communications Group and we worked with Kristin from the beginning to develop, execute and improve the program she presented.

The challenge when marketing to state and local governments is varied and disparate nature of the market. Although 40% of Microsoft's revenues come from the big four states of California, Texas, Florida and New York, that leaves a massive amount of clients and prospects to be communicated with across 46 states.

Due to the challenge of reaching out to this market, it became clear that social media was going to be a central part of any marketing plan. Rather than attempt to build a complicated social media platform right off the bat or just tactically start "doing stuff", she began by developing the strategy that all activity had to support one main brand, "Bright Side of Government." Due to the sheer number of products Microsoft offers, its important to give government IT professionals an organizing idea and position Microsoft as helping them interact with their peers, share best practices and learn how to better support their government entities' missions.

As Kristin rolled out the social media program, the following channels were created...

1. Government Star YouTube channel for user generated content
2. @Microsoft_gov twitter account for information distribution and stakeholder engagement
3. Bright Side of Government blog as a platform for more thought leadership type content
4. Bright Side of Government digital dashboard to aggregate content from various social media channels into one entry point
5. Bright Side of Government Facebook page to distribute content into this important social network

Lastly, in an announcement picked up by several news organizations, Kristen unveiled Gov2Social, a Web site where visitors can find state and local government officials using social media. Here is a clip from Government Technology magazine:

Microsoft is counting on users to input their government's social media usage on the website in order to populate it. It's been seeded with as many as 500 pieces of information and is now open for visitors to add more or edit existing entries.

Kristin Bockius, social media marketing manager for Microsoft SLG, said the company believes the website will fill a niche for those who are seeking a directory of social media activity in the state and local government. "We really want to use this site to show how many SLG agencies as well as individuals are using social to reach out to citizens," she told Government Technology on Tuesday.

When the website is populated with enough data, it will be possible to analyze what the top 10 states and cities are for social media, and so forth, Bockius said, "so you can start to figure out what sort of agencies it does and doesn't work for as well as who's the best at it."

In future weeks, the website will add podcasts, analytics, examples of highlighted case studies and best practices, Bockius added. The company may also add data on social media usage to the website for the federal government and worldwide governments.

And to be included on the site, a government doesn't have to be a Microsoft customer. "It doesn't matter what tools they're using," she said. "We're just trying to get the word out and trying to get people to use the social media and highlight some of these cool ways they're doing it."

Jody Yeganeh- Senior Director of Marketing, Lawson

Lawson is a distributor of maintenance and repair supplies. Yes, like fasteners and screws. But with $400MM in revenue and publicly traded on the NASDAQ, Lawson is a very successful distributor. Judy's role is to support a massive cadre of 1300 independent sales representatives. These sales reps are generally deep in the trenches, meeting with buyers on loading docks, shop floors and repair departments.

While objectives like brand presence, web traffic and engagement across a variety of channels is important, supporting the sales force (and the huge catalog of products available) with engaging content is a key challenge. Customer videos, product demos, etc are routinely created that are valuable content to the buyer while supporting Lawson's main messaging of "Smarter Maintenance" and "Think Beyond the Bin."

Segmentation is a key part of the process to make sure the right kind of content goes to specific sub-groups of buyers. Jody says listening is important- Analyzing web traffic, Google alerts and email response rates tell her how successful a video is doing.

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Little Housekeeping...

I've been thinking about the layout of my blog for a while and I've decided to make a few minor adjustments.

1. I've added a picture of myself- when I first set up this blog, I worried about the privacy aspect of having such a public forum. Now, it's clear that a simple search will turn up any number of photos of me. I might as well put one up here just to make it easier. It's not the greatest photo- but I think it matches the color scheme...don't ask me, I'm not a graphic designer. :)

2. I changed the subheadline in the header to "A Collection of Thoughts on B2B Social Media Marketing."

Obviously, I don't spend a whole lot of time talking about public relations in the traditional sense anymore. The impact of social media on the discipline of marketing, and how to integrate it into the function of selling, has become my professional focus and the prime concern of my agency's clients. Should I still go by the moniker of The PR Guy...?? What do you think?

Monday, April 12, 2010

What Happens if the Healthcare Industry Misses Its Appointment with Social Media?

As we showed in our two healthcare surveys, the healthcare industry hasn't exactly rushed to embrace social media as a platform for various business applications. This regrettable fact has been shown time and time again. Government regulation, fear of liability, and culture seem to have stifled innovation.

The latest data point is an article from Joan Voight at ClickZ, "Health Marketers Drag Feet as Patients Flock to Social Media." Once again, the jarring fact that patients have enthusiastically joined health related social networks and industry is remarkably passive and hesitant.

With health care reform capturing the national agenda and health-related blogs booming, health information sites and sponsorships are making a sharp turn into social media. Users are increasingly sharing medical experiences with each other and are seeking advice from other patients, and potentially from brands. Online health communities give people what they can't get from experts: support, personal experiences, and direct answers from other people. But while patients seem to easily gravitate to DIY health education, marketers have been less enthusiastic.

My question is, by time medical professionals and organizations start to integrate social media will anyone still be listening? Or will their credibility be shot as patients look to family members and peers for advice?