B2B

Does Snapchat Fit Into a B2B Marketing Plan?

indexWith new platforms on the rise, you may be wondering if it’s worth jumping into new, untested waters.

While you’ve been posting, tweeting, and networking, Snapchat has been quietly booming. It now has more than 200 million users who share more than 800 million photos and videos every day, according to Business Insider. You can now find companies that vary in size, building their image and engaging with followers on a platform that can easily engage as many as a quarter of active followers. The content they’re sharing through stories and videos is unlike anything you can find on other platforms.

At launch, Snapchat was a way to share pictures and videos that would only live for about 10 seconds. Snapchat has since added a new functionality, stories, that extend the life of these snaps. Stories save multiple snaps from a 24-hour period and allow users to view those snaps within that day.

Snapchat is about sharing your personality and portraying your brand image. Use snaps to connect with users through humor, personal touches or time-sensitive information. Snaps are not supposed to be earth-shattering revelations, it’s a way to live in the moment and build on relationships. While it’s easy to think of ways a B2C brand could develop a strategy for this network, what does Snapchat for B2B brands look like? I’ve outlined a few examples.

Your Snapchat strategy is part of a larger, omni-channel campaign

Rather than planning a siloed Snapchat campaign, target audience members should be directed to subscribe to a brand’s snaps via Twitter, email or Instagram. Snapchats are not broadcasted and displayed publically in a feed for on-demand viewing like we’re used to seeing on other social channels. Paired with an inability to browse and explore other users and accounts, it’s imperative that users are reminded to subscribe to your snaps on a regular basis by way of traditional social media platforms. Snapchatting brands should look for opportunities to create content around a central idea or theme. Snapchat users either want a way to incorporate themselves into the content or special access to something.

It’s location specific

Capitalizing on location-specific content is key to successful B2B Snapchatting. It’s what makes average content fun, exciting and highly relevant. Geofilters (special overlays for snaps that can only be accessed in certain locations) are one of the app’s best features. They play in integral part of what makes our stories so fun and engaging. The functionality never changes, but fresh filters from new locations give Snapchat a daily refresh to keep users coming back for more.

The Ultimate Goal: Relationship Building

B2B selling hinges on relationships. If you’re not ready to dive in head first with a branded Snapchat account that utilizes geofilters and takes advantage of their ever-evolving advertising options, consider adding Snapchat to your sales and marketing team’s toolboxes. Behind every B is a C – this means that behind every business there is a human that is making the decisions.

Just as YouTube is no longer just for entertainment anymore, lookout as Snapchat is heading in a similar direction!

 

3 Ways to Leverage Instagram for Your B2B Business

1115_instagram_365_244colo-24-42-70-10Over 400 million people are on Instagram these days. This creative, visually led social network is rapidly becoming a place where people engage with brands and share content. Yet, many B2B companies dismiss Instagram as not being right for their brand. Instagram doesn’t immediately come to mind when you think of B2B marketing, but there are huge opportunities to promote your brand values.

Storytelling has become a great way to give B2B brands a personality. Storytelling is about connecting with your audience and moving away from the self-centred, sales-orientated advertising that just doesn’t work for B2B brands anymore. The key to leveraging Instagram as a marketing tool for B2B brands is to not think of it as a marketing tool at all.  Instead, you want to think about Instagram as a way of telling your story as part of a larger online marketing strategy. Here are three ways that Instagram can help you tell your brand’s story:

  1. Establish long-term connections

B2B brands need to embrace the fact that marketing on Instagram is less about selling the benefits of your products and services, and more about establishing deeper connections with people including industry thought-leaders, employers, and prospective clients. Instagram is about building and maintaining awareness of your brand. Think of Instagram as a way to grab the attention of industry influencers and potential clients at a time when they’re not really in work mode, as they’re not going to be interested in being sold to.  This is your chance to seamlessly integrate your brand values into their Instagram feed.

  1. Humanize your brand

Another way you can give people an insight into your company culture is to use Instagram to offer a behind-the-scenes look, as people love seeing what goes on in other offices. It can be as simple as snapping a quick photo at your company’s event, or taking a photo of one of your employees to publicly wish them happy birthday. B2C brand’s social media channels thrive on being relatable and yours should be too.

  1. Contribute to the conversation and be part of the community

As well as interacting with clients’ photos and comments, responding to big news stories, industry developments and trending hashtags can be a great way to engage your followers and show the world that you have your fingers on the pulse. Give your brand a personality through comments and thoughtful posts in the public space.

Take the time to understand the benefits of using Instagram to communicate your brand’s values to potential clients and industry influencers, if you’re looking for new ways to engage with your B2B community.

This visually led social channel might have its roots in B2C marketing but, with over 400 million subscribers, you might want to take a look to see if this platform is right for your B2B business.

5 Tips to Evaluate Whether an App Adds Value to Your Brand

CWM_Sept 22When we talk about apps, we often focus on the consumer application. Without a doubt, apps have provided a lot of value in the B2C market, but as a business owner who deals mainly with B2B clients, I wanted to address the value of utilizing an app for the B2B market.

If you’re a B2B owner thinking of creating an app for your business, in addition to asking yourself if there is something specific that you can accomplish with a mobile app that you can’t with your website, you’ll want to evaluate the need for an app in terms of adding value to your brand.

I’ve outlined below a few areas to consider when evaluating whether an app will bring value to your brand:

  1. Provide a direct marketing channel

A mobile app essentially narrows the gap between you and your customer. It reduces the steps that your customer has to go through to reach you. You can use an app to make it easier for customers to pay bills, place orders, book meetings, or get rewards.

  1. Showcase products and services

You can use an app to showcase your products and services. This would be especially useful if you have a comprehensive product offering. Customers can shop for parts, accessories, and features through the app. The great thing about apps is the ability to send notifications to the user’s smartphone or tablet device. The benefit of that is that you can increase the likelihood of your customers discovering featured products and services.

  1. Customer service and support

An app can also be used to provide customer service and support directly to your customers. You can build a messaging feature that allows customers to reach you directly. You can also offer resources, such as instruction manuals or help guides, which can help your customers access your products or services.

  1. Brand extension

Increasingly, mobile phones and tablets are becoming the primary tools for accessing the Internet. The change has been most profound in the consumer market, but as these mobile computers become more powerful, businesses are increasingly relying on them to do work. An app can extend the reach of your brand by making it easier for these mobile users to access your business.

  1. Stand out from the competition

Mobile apps at the small business level are still rare. If you can add value through the app, then the app can be leveraged as a point of differentiation from your competitors.

The greatest benefit of an app in the B2B space is the ability for customers to engage with your brand by offering them a benefit that they then tie to your value proposition. An example of this is through reward apps. Reward apps allow businesses to know more about the buying habits of their customers by giving them reward points towards free merchandise or services. If there is a perceived value of your app by the customer (i.e. reward points), then there is a greater likelihood that it will succeed!

Do you see the value of creating an app for your business? If so, will you take the next steps to creating one? If not, what is holding you back?

Digital Collateral – To Go Paperless or Not To Go Paperless?

Business concept of flat design smartphone with handPrint media has taken a backseat in the last decade to make room for digital. However, even in this digital age, print isn’t expected to go away any time soon. We’ve seen a large shift in businesses using available technology to transfer print collateral into more meaningful, interactive and engaging material.

Business materials that have traditionally been printed – like brochures, business cards, newsletters, flyers, sell sheets and catalogues (to name a few) – are all considered “Marketing Collateral”.

Business owners frequently ask me if they should go paperless with their marketing collateral and I see the benefits to both, though I’d say a large part depends on the size of your company, your strategy, and whether you’re B2B or B2C. Let’s examine the benefits of going paperless.

Benefits of Going Paperless

Excessive use of paper is bad for our planet, and can also be bad for business by draining your time and money. When thinking about going paperless, here are a couple things to consider.

  • Content Marketing is now A “Thing”: Digital collateral is ready to take center stage with marketing moving towards a more content-based approach. Creating digital collateral for your business that has original content and is easily shared means you’ve got original resources on hand!
  • Digital is Agile: Easily transferable and shareable, digital collateral and digital publications can be updated quickly and used to share any type of collateral online (including brochures, catalogues, magazines, direct mail, newsletters, reports, postcards, and other business documents).
  • Cost Efficient: In short, digital collateral means lower production costs, and increased reach (hello social media!).
  • Leverage Your Social Media Presence: A PDF posted on a static page of your website isn’t going to stir up excitement in a potential customer. Digital collateral on the other hand, provides you with original, user-friendly resources, which can also be shared through other platforms to help spread your mission and message.
  • It’s Green: You save paper when you use digital collateral. You can also avoid having boxes and boxes of unused and/or out-of-date materials laying around and cluttering up your workspace.

Should You Go Digital?

In my experience, business owners can get a little nervous if they don’t have tangible marketing collateral (because as a business owner you want people to believe and trust you as a real company, not just a virtual one). So why not have both, digital collateral and traditional print collateral?

Digital and print mix well together – it’s all about finding the right balance. Traditional marketing tools have a longer life span, however in some cases (like for smaller businesses) digital collateral, when done right, can save the day!

Refer back to your marketing strategy (if you don’t have one then have one created – it is imperative!) to see what’s appropriate for your business. One thing to remember when making your decision is “paperless” means less paper, not no paper. If you choose to go paperless, like any major change you should start small. Here are tips that can make the transition easier:

  • Keep business cards in the traditional printed format: Business cards aren’t going away any time soon! I believe printed business cards are a staple for all key employees, and are necessary for networking.
  • Create a digital version of your main piece of collateral: Be it a brochure, postcard, sell sheet, or flyer – it will be beneficial to you and your business to have a digital copy on hand that you can send off or post on the fly!
  • Start an E-Newsletter: this is a great way to communicate online with your customers and get the online conversation going!

What do you think about going paperless? What is your biggest concern with going paperless? Do you have a marketing strategy that speaks to having digital collateral?

Share your thoughts and stories with me in the comment section! 

A Strategy for a Blog? Really?

BloggingBusiness owners ask me all the time whether they should have a business blog. My answer is always the same, let’s explore why.

Starting a blog is serious business that requires a huge time commitment, particularly if you are writing it yourself, so unless it is spelled out in your marketing strategy, you’ll need to create a separate blog strategy to determine its purpose and destiny before you start writing. In some industries you are only as good as your last blog entry, so make sure you can “commit” to this long term marketing tool.

I understand that many may feel a strategy for a blog is a bit “over the top”, but in fact by writing down your plan, you are more likely to commit to it, but also to see its value in the growth of your brand.

With over five years of experience writing various blog strategies for my clients, I have outlined a few key tips to consider when creating a strategy for your blog:

  1. Create a goal for your blog.

In other words, why do you want to have a blog? Is it to position you or your brand within an industry? Is it to provide guidance to your audience, or insights into industry trends? Or is it simply to provide tips to show your knowledge. Make sure you are very clear about the “why”, as it will help you determine the outcomes and direction of your blog strategy.

  1. Decide who your audience is going to be.

Who do you want to engage with and speak to with your blog? Are you trying to target C-level individuals, front line staff, or middle management? The more narrowly you define your target audience, the easier it will be to identify those people, cater to their needs with your content, and reach them with your messages. This audience should tie in to your key audience for your brand, so look to your marketing or branding strategy to help you determine audience.

  1. Content is still king.

Your primary and ongoing goal should be to continuously develop innovative content and put a truly unique spin on whatever topic you’re blogging about. Make sure your blog highlights your unique knowledge, voice and personality. Having a unique voice is one of the easiest ways to set it apart from your competition. Try to incorporate proprietary information, facts or research. The more unique and innovative your content and the better you target your audience, the easier it will be to build a following.

  1. Create an editorial schedule, and stick to it.

To build and maintain a steady audience, you’ll need to commit to a regular schedule for your blog. It has to be frequent enough that your audience expects it yet is not overwhelmed by it, so knowing your audiences tolerance is key here. Make sure you don’t over promise and under deliver as your audience could simply move on.

  1. Track and measure your success.

Most blog sites have great analytics, so make sure that you are tracking which blogs are giving you the best engagement and maybe consider creating a few blogs on a similar topic, or a series on the same topic. Always try to give your audience what they want and one way of ensuring this is tracking your analytics.

Do you have a business blog? What is your blog doing or NOT doing for you that you wish it would? Have you ever considered writing a blog strategy? I look forward to your comments and discussion.

Brand Strategy Tips: Is Your Brand Having An Identity Crisis?

online-identity-crisis-300x243The most successful brands never fall victim to an identity crisis because they know who they are, and the responsibility they have to those who they serve.  Their innovations are consistently delivered, genuine and true.  They are focused on what matters most to their consumer (B2B or B2C) and on continuously making the experience better.

Today, we are constantly challenged to create a brand that customers want to identify and grow with, and one that earns their trust, reflects their values and makes them feel valued.

Whether you are a Fortune 500 company, business owner or entrepreneur, here are my top 3 tips to help you create and maintain a strong and differentiated brand:

  1. Create an Engagement Experience

Create an engagement experience that you want to have with your target audience. Be consistent, but at the same time mix it up, and don’t be too predictable. Your customers are reevaluating their needs more often than you might think, so instead of being reactive to your audience’s needs, be on the front end and help guide them.

  1. Establish an Identity That is Easily Relatable

Keep it simple. Your customers don’t have the time to figure out what your brand is trying to convey. Too often brands complicate their unique value proposition (UVP) to get attention.  In their efforts to reinvent and renew, they complicate things that frustrate their customers and shareholders.

A brand identity is most powerful when it evolves and its value proposition strengthens in alignment with the changing demands of its audience. Your customers want a brand to be deliberate with their identity – straightforward while at the same time forward thinking.

  1. Educate and Inspire

Even for B2B businesses, it is important to make sure your brand educates, communicates and inspires your audience about the totality of your brand – what it represents and what it stands for.

Your brand’s value proposition must come to life and have an impact on your audience with messaging that is educational and innovative.

A winning branding strategy must be ambitious in its commitment to knowing your audience inside and out.  Always be accountable to the needs of your audience and take responsibility to keep the momentum of the relationship moving forward.

What experience you are attempting to leave behind for your brand, and what will your audience remember most about how it impacted them? I look forward to your comments below.

A case for Instagram for Business

instagram2

What kind of social media tools do you utilize for your business? Many companies use a combination of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and even Pinterest as platforms to communicate their message and each of these social mediums have their distinct benefits and unique audience niches.

If you have been keeping yourself up-to-date on social media trends, you would have noticed that Facebook recently admitted that 2013 saw a loss of a significant amount of active daily users in the 13-24-age bracket. While most of your direct consumers would not fall in this demographic, this age group will grow into your target audience in the coming years and are big influencers of the older generation.

If you’re looking for a new and fresh outlet for your company to engage with your audience, perhaps Instragram, a newer platform which launched in 2010, is the answer! With over 200 million users, Instagram is a photo-sharing application where users share their up-to-the-minute activities with their followers. B2C companies have used the app to feature their products, new arrivals and even used the video function to share 15-second demonstrations.

You might be asking how you would use Instagram as a B2B enterprise, and so you might be surprised to discover there are interesting ways to use this tool in your business:

  • Highlight your brand’s history by posting old photos and facts (Pro tip: Engage with a popular hashtag on Instragram #TBT or “ThrowBack Thursday” where users post old photos of favourite memories and past moments)
  • Text and graphics: use text and graphics to create short and snappy messages to your followers, like how to enter a contest or an interesting fact.
  • Blog posts: Reference your company blog with your Instragram account with a photo and a link
  • News: Post pictures of industry or corporate news that your followers will find interesting

Which of the above suggestions would work well for your business? Have you seen Instagram used in any other creative ways for businesses? I look forward to your thoughts below.