4 Places To Find The Cash For Your Upcoming (But Necessary) Marketing Campaigns

Even during a worldwide crisis, your business must grow. You have your priorities right, and the need is immediate.

But even as the importance of increasing your visibility on digital platforms grows more obvious by the day, you may wonder, ‘How will I fund a meaningful marketing strategy?’

Let’s look at where you can find the cash to fund your necessary marketing endeavours. 

The expenses of flagship events

You may have planned your event calendar at the beginning of the year and allocated substantial funds there. Be it becoming sponsors of the mega-events of your product principals or arranging for your own events, exhibitions, and launches, none of these stand much chance of coming around for the next 12-18 months. Of course, you’re not alone in this. Many industry biggies like, Apple, Dell World, Atlassian, DrupalCon, NVidia, Oracle, Microsoft, and others have been forced to cancel their flagship events because of the pandemic. These companies are moving online as a way to reach their audience and maintain visibility. 

So, what will happen to all those funds that you had allocated for your event plans? Use them online. Add bandwidth to create content, liven up your social media presence, and build an impactful personal brand for your CxOs. Use the online medium to establish your brand identity and reach a relevant audience. When the time is ripe, this enhanced visibility will drive an inevitable increase in your customer base. 

Savings from canceled business trips

Have you depended on a chain of business trips to meet your clients, or your international partners each year? If so, there’s little chance of that happening for a while now. Even when lockdowns are lifted, the costs of travel will increase by leaps and bounds and remain so for quite some time. Mandatory quarantine, more expensive flights, and more reluctance in accepting invites for face to face meetings are here to stay. They will increase the cost of travel and reduce its impact. This is not a wise way to spend your cash any longer. 

You can easily use your travel budget on your structured marketing efforts to reach out to more people and enhance your visibility. Of course, reduced travel also adds time to the credit column! Beside developing blogs, newsletters, infographics, and research papers, you can also create interactive videos, podcasts, and customer success stories online to help people know your value proposition better. These strategies won’t cost you a fortune but pay huge dividends without you or your employees having to risk their lives by travelling. 

Expenses for client/customer entertainment

According to a survey by Cvent in 2018 with about 3000 corporate event planners, 52% said that their event budgets keep increasing every year. Another report by the event manager blog revealed that big corporate meetings spend about $1,294 per participant on average. Further, international visitors (potential clients or stakeholders), who are invited to these events generate about 21.8% of the spending in travel expenses, 24.6% in shopping and recreation, and 26.5% in entertainment. 

So, you see how much you spend on holding those parties, corporate gatherings, and for entertaining your visitors, who may or may not turn into potential clients? As you can imagine, no travel cuts both ways. Just like you’re likely to cut travel back, your customers and prospects are also likely to cut back on travel to visit you. While you focus on creating meaningful connections with these people in other ways, remember that you can now use these funds effectively and enhance your marketing strategies, a smart move to establish your brand presence online. It’s the smart thing to do. 

Office infrastructural development 

Did you think about redoing the interiors of your office or of shifting to a new office this year? Well, as most of your employees are working from home, what chance of that happening? Large IT companies like TCS and Tech Mahindra have announced that they intend for overwhelming numbers of their employees to work from home. When the employees are happy (no travel, more work-life balance) and they are uber-productive from home, why get them back into an office at all?

Save on that swanky office. Invest the resources that you had kept aside for the same in your marketing efforts to help your business survive and thrive. 

There is no longer any doubt that digital channels like content marketing, social media, and personal branding of the CxOs are the only way to become and stay visible in the eye-line of your target audience. Until now. if your key objection was the budget, then that should no longer be the case. 

Choosing Between Creating an In-house Team, Hiring an Agency or a Freelancer for B2B Marketing

Photo by Raphael Schaller on Unsplash

“The only way to consistently grow in B2B is to be better than very good.” – Seth Godin

But, how can you be better than good with your existing B2B marketing strategies?

You have to always be on your A-game in your marketing department so that you do not lose ground to the competition. This involves cash -B2B companies invest about 25% of their budget in their marketing. The effort is also high – founders and CEOs worry themselves sick to come up with ideas that will improve the age-old ways of promoting their business on social media platforms.

The question arises,

Do you really need to spend that time and effort to market your business or you should hire someone with the expertise and experience to handle that department?

Given that you are a founder or the CEO of a company, you will have a lot on your plate. You do need help.

So, should you hire an in-house team? Or appoint a reliable social media agency to take care of your marketing endeavours? Nowadays, when telecommuting or remote working has become quite a trend, you could also opt for freelancers to manage specific elements of your B2B marketing.

This post may help you determine the best possible choice by carefully evaluating the pros and cons of each.

Creating an In-House Marketing Department

In many cases, creating an in-house marketing department to handle your B2B marketing needs seems to be the best possible option you have.

Why is it so?

The main reason for hiring an in-house marketing team is sustained accessibility. You can turn to them as and when you please, get updates regularly, issue suggestions and hold discussions without any difficulty. While these are the ready advantages of an in-house team, some of the cons of hiring one are given below:

  • Hiring expert marketers and building a team of skilled people requires a lot of time and investment.
  • You have to take care of their needs and demands, manage them, sustain them, and keep them challenged and engaged. Most importantly, you will have to keep them busy at all times.
  • The amount of financial investment will increase when you expand the team and include senior executives.
  • The cost will keep escalating as from time and again, you have to think about promotions and increments, especially if your team turns out to be the best and are successful in taking the business to the next level.
  • Hiring an in-house marketing team will increase the operating expenses.
  • Lastly, there’s no real guarantee that you will be able to hire the best in each functional area. That means your marketing efforts may end up being only as good as the weakest link.

If you think you can manage the time and financial investment of building your own marketing team, and that you will always have enough work to keep those dedicated people well and good! However, if you have your doubts, you can always hire the best social media marketing agency instead.

Hiring a Social Media Marketing Agency

Now, if you hire a social media agency, you will not have to deal with the issues highlighted above. You can tap into their specific areas of expertise, according to your unique B2B marketing requirements. You can take their help to define a robust strategy that includes the latest and most innovative methods. Once you agree on the way forward, you can leave the rest of the task to them. However, you do need to maintain a regular connect with the agency to keep track of progress.

The Pros

  • When you appoint a social media agency to take care of your B2B marketing needs, you will rest assured that your business is in expert hands.
  • If you think that a marketing agency is not being able to deliver according to your expectations, you can always opt for the next best one in the industry. It is way easier than dissolving your entire in-house marketing department to create a new one.
  • Most of the time, outsourcing your marketing endeavours results in pulling together a group of experienced people, who are experts in their fields and are capable of improving areas you may never have thought of.
  • No training is required to make them understand your needs. Their discovery processes will ensure they capture the most relevant information.
  • The best social media marketing agencies have the latest tools at their own disposal, which they will use while handling your B2B marketing

The Cons

  • You have to hunt down the best possible social media agency from among the various options available. It’s sometimes hard to know which agency has real skills and which is just talking a good game.
  • It may not always be possible to build a partner relationship within your budget.
  • You will need to give the agency some time to understand your specific needs as well as your market niche.
  • Accessibility becomes an issue at times when you need to make an urgent connection but you find that you are unable to reach your partner.

In the case of hiring a reliable social media agency to handle your company’s marketing responsibilities, the inherent benefits, of course, outweigh the cons if your need is to drive a contained but high-quality and sustained marketing strategy.

Hiring a Freelancer for Your B2B Marketing Needs

Most of the time, a company will hire a freelancer to handle specific elements of B2B marketing, if it is new and in no condition to invest realistically in promotion and marketing. Hiring freelancers is often more inexpensive than hiring a social media marketing agency. Generally, start-ups and mid-level organisations will opt for a freelancer, or a group of individuals working as freelancers, to handle their marketing needs -often to get things off the ground.

The Pros

  • The freelancers are always on their toes to impress you and get your feedback, which they may be able to use to expand their network.
  • They are way less expensive than reputable marketing agencies
  • In the case of a single freelancer, communication gets easier, as you have to contact only one person for all your needs.
  • If there is any issue, only one person will be accountable for the same, and amendment will be easier.

The Cons

  • Freelancers are not bound to anyone or any particular company. They have a number of clients to attend to, and you may not be their only focus area.
  • You cannot blame a freelancer entirely, as they have no contractual agreement with you. They are sometimes hard to pin down and it’s not unknown for freelancers to vanish halfway through the effort.
  • Communication can get difficult if the particular individual is unprofessional, ill-equipped or dishonest. They may only concentrate on taking your money without providing results.

Therefore, if you wish to hire a freelancer, you should do considerable background research on the person before letting him/her in on your marketing team. That will help you filter out cheats and frauds to some extent.

Conclusion

In short, the choice that you have to make solely depends on your business needs, and your budget. Of course, if marketing is strategic for your organisation, you should probably hire a social media agency to handle all business to business marketing needs of your company. In case you are an early-stage start-up, get a freelancer to work for your initial needs. However, if you believe that the volume of work will be large enough, you can create an in-house marketing team. It’s what works for you that matters!

The 5 Essential Traits Of A Specialist B2B Social Media Agency

This post is for you if you are responsible for delivering the big numbers in a B2B-focused company. Yes, you -the sales leaders, the marketing heads, and everyone who feels the pressure of carrying a sales target, either directly or indirectly.

Chances are that if pay heed to the data, you would almost certainly have altered your marketing mix over the last few years to add more content, more social channels, and more of everything digital. It’s also possible that after starting down this B2B Social Media path, you may have wondered if you have the people or the time, or the strategic depth to be able to do all this on your own. At times like this, you may start considering engaging a social media agency –that’s where this post may come in handy. This is my attempt to outline the 5 defining characteristics of a B2B specialist agency. This could help you determine if the agency pitching to you has serious B2B chops or not!

  1. Understanding of the sales process: A true B2B specialist agency must have a deep understanding of just how the B2B Sales process is different. These agencies know that this is more complex, involves more decision makers, takes much longer, and is driven by logic more than by emotion. Such a complex sales process demands a more complex content and social strategy. Can your agency under consideration convey how the strategy will change to address the nuances of the different decision makers and the various sales stages?
  2. Focus on business outcomes: Branding is important, no doubt about that, but the B2B specialist agency will almost certainly focus the conversation on delivering some other, more tangible business outcomes. They will talk about numbers, they will showcase the reports they generate, they will explain at length what they measure and how those measures are relevant to the specific business objectives you are driving for. They may surprise you by their interpretation of some traditional metrics. For eg., they may well claim that reach/impressions are more important than the number of fans or followers. They may focus more on the clicks going back to the website than on the number of “likes” and so on.
  3. Channel focus: Most in the B2B game now agree that LinkedIn is the most important channel, with Twitter to follow, and your agency would know that too. The real expertise lies beneath the surface. What experience do they have of working with LinkedIn groups? What stories do they have to tell of the impact their clients got from Linkedin groups? On Twitter, beyond RTs, what is their plan for engaging with Influencers? B2B Influencers are acknowledged experts in their space and it takes skill to build and nurture a relationship with them that is based on mutual trust and respect. Does your agency give a sense of knowing how to do that?
  4. Expertise in “professional” content: B2B content is just different. This is professional content consumed by professionals. The focus is on being informative, showing thought leadership, and projecting expertise. Different objectives demand different types of content written differently. No doubt the content has to be readable but in many ways the depth of the content is even more important than the language. Can the agency point to their work that is available online? I submit that samples have relevance only if they have made an impact in the real-world.
  5. The right evidence: The proof of the pudding is in the eating and that’s where references or testimonials come in. Most agencies can provide references on request but to my mind, not all references or testimonials are equal. Does your agency have references they can share from companies similar to yours? Again, like content samples, I submit that the best testimonials are those that are in the public domain. Do the clients of your agency under consideration care enough about them to say so to the whole world?

This is a new space with potentially vast opportunity and a number of agencies are making their play there. But being a specialist B2B social media agency is hard. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea and so choosing the right agency could make or break your own B2B Sales effort. I hope this post will help you make that choice. Or you could make it easy on yourself and just call Midas Touch Consultants.

A Practical Guide For CEOs On Using Social Media – B2B Edition

“Some CEOs say they’re too busy for social media. I say it’s part of the job.” Jack Salzwedel – CEO of American Family Mutual Insurance Company

Salzwadel’s advice seems to be falling on deaf ears if a Domo and CEO.com study is to be believed. The report, published earlier this year, found that fully 61% of CEOs of the Fortune 500 had no presence on any social channel and the usage of social media by even the other 39% is underwhelming. No one is saying this is a good thing, though, and digging deeper into the “why” of such low CEO participation reveals that many of the reasons are internal to them rather than business-driven. Apart from a belief that social media is a young person’s game and a fear of repercussions from sharing something inappropriate, among the chief causes cited by CEOs was a lack of understanding of what to do on social platforms. At Midas Touch, we work with a bunch of B2B clients. As we go about getting their company on the social media wagon, the question of how the CEOs in these companies should use social channels often comes up. Let me use this post to share the recommendations we usually end up giving.

First some caveats. In keeping with the “practical” nature of this guide – this is a “nuts and bolts” set of suggestions intended for CEOs of mid-sized companies looking to leverage social media to help their business get ahead. We are not really addressing loftier goals like branding or creating thought leadership. Using social media for personal branding is also a story that will have to wait for another day.

LinkedIn

A TrackMaven analysis of content shared by B2B brands across the leading social media networks over a 12-month period starting mid-2015, revealed that across several measures LinkedIn was the most popular and effective platform. That’s reason enough to have it front-and-center in our plans too. Here’s what the time-strapped CEO should do on LinkedIn.

  1. Networking really is LinkedIn’s primary raison d’être. As soon as the, hero of our blog, CEO connects (meet, emeet etc.) with a customer, prospect or influencer, we recommend connecting on LinkedIn as well. As a matter of practice, the connect should occur very soon after the meeting so the interaction is still fresh in their minds. This also means that the LinkedIn profile of the CEO should be complete, with a professional head-shot and the relevant amount of information about the organization they represent.
  2. This CEO should post occasional, but regular LinkedIn status updates from their profiles. Except to share significant news, preferably the updates should be to about the industry at large rather than about their own company. This is to get into the eye line of a wider audience, positioned as someone with an interest in and a contribution to make to the space.
  3. Our, now emerging from social exile, CEO should follow the company’s LinkedIn company page and like and share the content being posted there, especially if it leads back to the company website. This will help the visibility of the posts.
  4. Keeping in mind that the CEO, who is the subject of our post, is time-strapped, having a regular blog may remain an ambition only. That being the case, blogs from the company blog absolutely can be posted from the personal profile of the CEO (with attribution). The topic of the blog, their tone and message and even the frequency of posting has to fit in with the overall positioning and network of the CEO. This helps to showcase the thought leadership of the company.

Twitter

Last year Social Media Today reported that B2B Marketers who used Twitter generated twice as many leads as compared to those who didn’t. Most B2B Marketers rate Twitter as the 2nd most effective social platform behind LinkedIn. Here’s how the CEO can work Twitter like a (near) pro.

  1. Well, of course, create a Twitter handle and tweet regularly. Yeah – we already agreed that the CEO doesn’t have a lot of time so this does not have to be a flood of tweets daily. Let’s start with a measured, steady, sustainable pace. Remember, the tweets cannot all be promotional. We suggest a mix of personal thoughts that relate to the business, company news and content and also relevant content from the industry at large. People will follow the CEO if they see the twitter channel as a worthy source of informative content.
  2. Something that should please the sales team – this is also a good way to connect with senior prospects, customers, and decision makers directly. I’m fond of saying that if you start a tweet with @BillGates, it will reach the man – he won’t react to it in all probability but really which channel gives you that kind of direct access? With such great power comes great responsibility, though – these connections are not to be milked too blatantly, be slow, be sure and don’t be salesy.
  3. This is also a great place for our, now socially-savvy, CEO to listen. The aim is to participate in ongoing conversations by searching for #s (sorry – I should explain that is this an easy way for those in the know to identify tweets across the Twitterverse that refer to a particular topic) that are relevant. This gives great insights into what others have to say about the area you work in, or even what customers, prospects, and competitors consider important at the time.
  4. Now that our CEO has become quite the social media pro let’s up the ante. Next on the agenda – live tweeting. Think of the many events and occasions CEOs attend. This is the time to make the handle more active – live tweeting the occasional relevant impression from the event floor is a great way to contribute to a larger conversation and gain some visibility for your own and your company’s point of view.

I think our CEO is now ready for the social world – right? In closing a word of advice. Not from me, but from Marketing and Customer Service thought-leader Jay Baer. He said, “Focus on how to be social, not how to do social.” That’s sound advice for all CEO’s looking to dive into social media.

 

 

Back to Basics – Where To Start With Marketing?

There’s a clear and present danger in all that we do as marketers – the danger that our day-to-day tasks will suck us so deep into frequent “rinse-repeat” cycles of activities that we will lose sight of the end objective. Tactics often overwhelm Strategy with volume – sometimes to get a better view of the end goal you need to take a step back to where it all started. Let’s call this post an attempt to focus some attention back to those first principles.

Segmentation

So, you have built the proverbial better mousetrap. You have also pored through all the available information in market research reports and on the web. You understand the universe of buyers that need mousetraps is broken up into groups based on the homogeneity in their specific needs, their criteria for making purchase decisions, the way they make their purchases and so on. Incidentally that is as good a definition of Segmentation as any. What do we do next?

Targeting

The next step is Targeting. Based on what you now know about the size, attractiveness and accessibility of each segment you need to carefully consider the specific segment that makes the most sense for you to try to sell your mousetrap to ? Each segment has different problems they want solved and different things they value and you want to find the one that is most likely to value the specific capabilities of your mousetrap. Incidentally marketing experts will tell you that you need to first find what the market wants and then put a product / service offering together for the segment you pick – but given that you have already built your better mousetrap we no longer have that option do we?

Buyer Persona

The modern marketer then calls for the police sketch artist – figuratively. The trend these days is to try to define a Buyer Persona. A kind of research based identikit portrait of a specific person representative of the wider buyer community. As an example for your mousetrap one persona could be Jill, a single mom with a 2 year old son who lives in a quiet suburban community. This persona helps marketing and sales in latter stages of the marketing / sales cycle concentrate the messaging and other activities – anything Jill is unlikely to respond to is probably not a great approach to take for all those buyers like her.

Positioning

Next up is Positioning – an attempt to define your mousetrap in terms that clearly identifies its specific place in the market especially with respect to all the other solutions out there designed to help Jill address her rodent problem. The final objective is to create a unique place for your mousetrap in the mind of buyers like Jill. Closely tied into this stage is the Messaging you use. The definitions, language, descriptions and terms that you use for your mousetrap has to be consistent with the positioning you have chosen and the buyer persona that you are communicating with. If Jill is believed to be technically inclined then she may value knowing the tensile strength and the gauge of steel wire used in the trap and in this case the product brochure should mention that – otherwise not.

 

The Handover

To my mind this is a good place to draw the line between Strategic Marketing and Tactics. I believe that a lot of what marketers do after the Messaging is defined is more tactical in nature – what content do you create to convey the messaging – today blogs, articles, whitepapers, video and many more types of content options are available each with its own place. What channels do you use to propagate this content is another tactical selection from among social media, ads – digital and real world, PR and so on. This principle holds true for the website, collateral, social media, emails and all other communication mechanisms you use as well. Consistent messaging is critical to prevent confusion and hence distraction but that apart many of the specific choices are dictated more by day-to-day considerations that a broad over-all strategic imperative. What do you think – is this the place where strategy morphs into tactics? Or do you perhaps believe making such a distinction is unnecessary?