Month: March 2015

Creating B2C sizzle with a B2B campaign

B2b_campaign

By now, you are probably aware of the power social media and the Internet have in the modern marketing and public relations landscape. Those in PR are no longer dependent on the traditional media to build awareness of a brand or to spread a brand’s message, as this 2012 Fast Company interview highlighting updated best practices for B2B PR explains.

While many B2B companies are launching social media and other campaigns to better reach and interact with their customers, a few obstacles stand in the way. One is that B2B products and services tend to be fairly commonplace, and thus not necessarily very exciting. Another is that B2B marketers often forget that they are talking to actual people, even though they are targeting their company and product to a business.

You might not be able to be as creative or casual with a B2B campaign as you would be with one for a B2C company, but that doesn’t mean you can’t borrow a few tricks from the B2C toolbox to spice things up.

Add Personality

There are two things to remember when working on a B2B campaign: you, a human, are creating it, and it will be looked at by other humans. Few, if any, people want to look at something that feels as if it has been created by a machine. If you’re trying to create something that is very formal and stiff, you’ll start to bore yourself, too.

You can add personality to a B2B campaign in a variety of ways. A look at successful campaigns from other major companies can give you an idea of what works and what doesn’t.

Olivia Perek over at the New Breed Marketing Blog highlights campaigns from General Electric, as well as one from American Express and another from a shipping company. As Perek notes, GE’s campaign focus on the people behind its products. A series of videos featured people using GE products for the first time, such as a pregnant woman in a remote location, receiving her first ultrasound. To promote its new smart air conditioner, the company focused on the man who came up with the concept, adding humanity to what would otherwise be a fairly dry topic.

Think of it this way: The people at the companies you are trying to reach might benefit from using your product or service. But, they might not be able to see the benefit of that product or service until you show how others who are similar to them use and take advantage of it.

Get Culturally Relevant

Should you make a pop culture reference in a B2B campaign? Absolutely, especially if you can tie that reference into what the company is offering. Stay on top of what’s going on in terms of breaking news and culture, and use what works with your company.

Along with borrowing cultural references from B2C campaigns, you can also look to a few to see what not to do. Some B2C companies have made major missteps when trying to work current memes or hashtags into their marketing (see: DiGiorno’s tweet from September of last year). Before you work anything that’s trending into a campaign, be sure that you know exactly what the trend is referencing.

Move Beyond Text

podcasts
B2B PR is traditionally very text based, from white papers to press releases. But, text isn’t the only way to convey a message, nor is it necessarily the best most effective way to reach your audience, as screens get smaller and attention spans shorter. Think beyond white papers, press releases, and blog posts and try experimenting with images, such as infographics, to get your message across. Podcasting, which is experiencing a bit of a renaissance, thanks to the popularity of Serial, can also be a great way to bring B2C techniques to a B2B campaign.

Perhaps the most important thing to remember when trying to add some B2C pizazz to a B2B campaign is that it’s all about balance. You don’t want to be stiff and formal, but you also don’t want to risk alienating the business community by being too relaxed and informal. Aim for funny and engaging, but stop short of looking as though you are trying too hard.

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Like a well-oiled machine: how to manage your blog

The best bloggers make it look all too easy. They consistently publish interesting and relevant posts and get people to talk about their posts, either in the comments section or on social media. They never seem at a loss for ideas. But, as with anything that looks easy to do on the surface, there’s a lot more that goes on with blogging behind the scenes.

It takes a lot of work to create an outstanding blog, more than simply having a few things to write about every now and then. Persistence and planning will help you create an exciting blog, one that you can use to measure your company’s success.

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Create a Calendar

The first step to managing your blog is creating an editorial calendar, which sets out the posting schedule for the week or month ahead. An editorial calendar helps you plan your posts and will give you an idea of where and when you might need more content. Most importantly, having a calendar and some sort of content strategy will help your blog be more effective, according to a 2014 survey conducted by the Content Marketing Institute.

Your blog’s editorial calendar can be as in depth or bare bones as you’d like it to be. For example, you can include the subject of the post, the date it’s due, and its publish date, and be done. Or, you can include more details about each post, such as keywords, how you’ll promote it, and the persona you’ll use when writing the post (more on that below). There are many free calendar templates available online, such as this one from HubSpot, or you can create your own in Excel or using Google Calendar.

Know Your Audience

Knowing who reads your blog and what their level of experience with your niche is will help you better tailor your posts to them. It’s also possible that a number of different demographics read your blog, meaning that you’ll want to tailor some posts to the experts among your audience and some to the beginners. Customizing your posts to specific audiences also can mean creating separate personas as content dictates.

Creating a persona is about more than just understanding what a particular reader is looking for. It also involves knowing when that reader might be more likely to click through to your blog. For example, if one of your blog personas is a busy professional, it’s more likely that readers you are attempting to target will read your blog on the weekend or in the evening. But, if another one of your personas is a stay-at-home parent, those targeted readers might be more likely to read your blog in during the day, when the kids are taking a nap.

If you assign each post a persona when putting it in your editorial calendar, you’ll have a much better idea of the tone to take with the post, the level of complexity to include, and when to schedule it.

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Keep the Ideas Flowing

As we discussed in our last post, a great blog needs great content that is both relevant to the widest possible audience and lets people take something away from the post. At the same time, your blog also has a constant need for new content.

Brainstorming ideas for posts can be a time consuming component of managing a blog. But, there are some ways to streamline the process. One way to is tie your post to something that is trending in social media or online at the time. For example, if you own a dress shop or fashion blog, the recent furor over “the dress” could have provided at least one post about ways to style a blue and black (or white and gold) dress.

You might also consider using a content generator when you’re really pressed for ideas. The title generator from Portent.com automatically creates a post title for you once you put in a subject or noun. Not all of the titles will work for you, but it can be a useful tool when you’re absolutely stumped and don’t know what you’ll write about next.

Analyze It

Analyzing your blog, using Google Analytics or another tool, helps you measure the areas that are doing well and getting a lot of traffic and see which areas aren’t as engaging. Looking at your blog’s statistics, you might realize that you need more posts on certain topic or posts that feature more images. Or, you might realize that one of your guest bloggers is incredibly popular, and might be worth working with on a more regular basis.

Like Rome, great blogs aren’t built in a day. It takes a lot of behind the scenes work to build your company’s blog and turn it into a well oiled, smoothly running machine.