5 Pune Tech Companies That Are Rocking Content and Social Media Marketing

B2B Social Media and Content Marketing

Content and Social Media Marketing have got a bad name. Despite what the statistics say, most B2B companies still tend to believe that these incredible marketing platforms work only for those companies or brands that have an exciting product or service or a huge following of Gen Xers or Millennials (think B2C). However, for every exciting Go-Pro, there is an IBM that is leveraging social platforms and channels to connect with their audience (exciting or not)! If you are one of those who believes that it’s only fun brands that can rock social media, here’s a little something to break those assumptions.

Qualitia

Qualitia offers a one-of-its-kind scriptless test automation platform that promises not to put the testers to test. Their clients span high-growth businesses to large enterprises with names like ZS, Nuance, Whirlpool, Deloitte to their credit.  You can find Qualitia focusing heavily on their content marketing initiatives and aligning that with their social channels. They have a well-populated blog page that is informative and educational and showcases their strengths with precision -all while talking to their target segments directly.

They have a social presence on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. However, each channel is being used for a specific goal – Twitter for brand awareness and engagement, LinkedIn for discussions and Facebook for organizational engagement. A central value Qualitia seems to promote is the speed with which test automation can be accomplished with their product -so keep an eye out for their quirky creatives and posts about everything speed.

Calsoft

Calsoft, a leading software product engineering company that specializes in Storage, Networking, Virtualization, Cloud, IoT, and Analytics have been active in their social initiatives for many years now.

From connecting with influencers in their line of business, and improving the outcomes of the conferences they attend by connecting with speakers and influencers on Twitter, Calsoft has their social game sorted. They are also active on LinkedIn and use the platform efficiently to further recruitment drives, generate relevant conversations in their line of business and demonstrate product leadership through their content initiatives. Their blogs tend to be tech-focused and always topical. The company seems to be dipping into the video content stream -interviews with their leaders, complete with views on events, trends, and industry happenings are generating lots of interest.

Inteliment

Inteliment is an Information Technology, and Services company and a leading provider of Data-Driven Analytical Solutions & Services in Visual & Predictive Analytics, Data Science, IoT, Mobility & Artificial Intelligence.  Inteliment is using LinkedIn to showcase their product portfolio and their solutions expertise in their line of business. They have an eclectic content mix where they talk about how the technologies they use are having a real-world impact and how industries are using them.

They seem to use both LinkedIn and Twitter extensively to connect with their audience before specific conferences and events. Whether it is industry news or information regarding the universe of the technologies they work with, just log on to their social channels and get the complete lowdown! Their CEO’s content and social channels are particularly rich and varied and seem to be a key strategic focus.

ForgeAhead Solutions

ForgeAhead Solutions is also an Information Technology and Services company working in the domain of product development, mobility, UI/UX, and Specialized QA services. The company is very active on Twitter and LinkedIn and both their handles offer a wealth of knowledge.

This company is active in several places on LinkedIn and posts regular updates that seem to generate a lot of engagement. If you want to know why Java is The Most Popular Programming language or are interested in knowing The 7 (Less Obvious) Qualities of a Great Software Product Engineer, or The factors to Consider While Developing a Cloud Product, then just head to their LinkedIn Company Page and from there to their blog site. Their Twitter handle is also quite well populated with an eclectic mix of tweets that not only talk about their own areas of interest and services but also about what’s happening in the industry, trends, developments etc. They seem to be quite proficient in seeking out great-looking infographics in these tech areas -good to look at and easy to learn from.

eNyota Learning Pvt. Ltd.

eNyota Learning Pvt. Ltd. is an established company focused on providing learning solutions to organizations worldwide. eNyota leverages Twitter and LinkedIn with ninja-like precision. They proactively discuss industry development on both these social channels. They also have a robust content strategy and seem to publish a wealth of new blogs each month. These blogs seem to be engaging as well as educative. There is an interesting blend of strategic direction and tactical tips visible on their blog site. They use these channels to ensure that their content touches a large audience. They also seem to be able to leverage the content that they create for some very engaging conversations on LinkedIn. This is an organization that seems to believe that sharing is caring -many of the employees seem to have an eagle eye on the content shared from the company social properties and they then proceed to share it from their won handles as well. Employee advocacy never looked so easy.

These companies prove that the social and content game is not just for the snazzy consumer brands but also for the more cerebral and technical as well. It’s all about identifying the purpose of your messaging and finding the right platform to connect with your target audience.

(In the spirit of full disclosure – not all the companies named here are customers of Midas Touch. Some are just names that amaze and inspire us with their social skills!)

Would you like to get on to this list? Connect with us!

 

Women and the Women’s Day Tamasha

Women's Day

So Women’s Day came and went. And with it, we witnessed the regular, mainstream flurry of offers…20% discounts between 11.00 A.M to 6.00 PM, free meals etc. etc. Along with this was the barrage of appreciation messages on all social media channels and of course, who can forget WhatsApp? While all is great about this hype around Women’s Day, I strongly feel that we have now reduced this movement to a Hallmark event. The United Nations adopted 8th of March as International Women’s Day because they realized that women needed equal representation and opportunities in the workplace as their male counterparts. This was back in 1977. In 2018, isn’t it sad to see that we are still standing in the same place?

Let’s talk about what Women’s Day is not about – It’s not about discounts and freebies. It is definitely not about the hollow appreciation messages that we forward to each and every woman on our contact list. It is not about showing your appreciation to the women figures in your life in roles defined by patriarchy for that one day in the entire 365 days of the year.

What Women’s Day is about is equality and opportunity. Seems repetitive? Well, we need to keep repeating this until our patriarchal society realizes one gender is grossly misrepresented and exploited. Women’s Day is a reminder that we still need an enabling environment to prosper and succeed. It is about realizing that gender diversity is important. According to a study conducted by Deloitte of 6000 companies across 49 countries only 12% of board seats were held by women. Given that we are in 2018, isn’t this number shameful? Should women across the globe feel content with the fact that today nearly three-quarters of boards globally have ‘at least’ one woman?

Since it is assumed that numbers speak louder let us take a look at two simple statistics:

  • According to a research by Catalyst, companies with more women on the Board of Directors have a 16% higher Return on Sales
  • MSCI discovered that organizations with strong women leadership were correlated with higher Return on Equity
  • And yet, the fight for equality…for equal pay and equal opportunities, continues. A report from the World Economic Forum clearly elucidates that it will take over a hundred years to close this global gender pay gap!

Quite honestly, today, we shouldn’t even be talking about why organizations need to take a close and hard look at their hiring and promotion policies. Do we really belong to the Dark Ages? Haven’t women across the globe proved that when enabled, they can achieve anything? Why insult us by asking us to give you reasons as to why we are employable? Yes, marriage and motherhood are a part of our life’s plan (at least for many of us), but we don’t get married to ourselves right? So when these life changes do not feature when you are interviewing a man, why should they present themselves in the case of a woman?

I’m not going to validate why hiring a woman is a good idea because of XYZ reasons because that leads to the automatic assumption that they’re not good at something else. If we can balance the precarious burden of ‘everything’ that falls on us, we are quite as capable of managing a job.

Hire more women because of their merit. To make it simpler, there is one half of the world’s population that is qualified, skilled, experienced and eager to work. Why look away from this workforce just because of their gender?

The good news is that there are organizations who are willing to be forward thinking and base their hiring on the basis of merit over gender. Companies like Pink Lemonade and Midas Touch amongst many others are all about enabling women to remain in the workforce. Since I have been associated with Midas Touch for over half a decade, I can strongly say that Midas Touch is definitely one of them. With 90% women on the team and a woman CEO to boast about, this agency is breaking the stereotypes that we have grown up with. Their hiring policy is simple. Are you qualified? Are you the best fit for the job? Simple, straightforward common sense. And yes, they provide an enabling environment to work in.

I think if we just learn to empathize a little with women, the bane of their everyday existence owing to patriarchy and just open up our minds…just a little bit, we won’t be needing an International Women’s Day. Because then, truly, every day will be Women’s Day.

So until then, Happy Women’s Day to us and for the rest, may good sense prevail!

Top 4 Types of B2B Content You Must Pay Attention To

B2B Content Marketing

As someone who has been in the field of Digital Marketing for the past 15 years, I have seen the evolution of marketing – especially B2B marketing. Content marketing has taken center stage. It is the key element which helps marketers capture the attention of their target audience.

One of the most common questions asked to us is: “I have a killer product. Do I still need to invest in content marketing? Won’t my product sell itself”. Today, with the proliferation of new and emerging technologies, a lot of innovative products are coming in the market every single day. But look at it this way – if your target audience does not find the solution to their problems (aka your product), then they are not going to come to you. In fact, content marketing helps tremendously in concept selling.

So once you are convinced that you do want to start your content marketing efforts, the next obvious question is, what type of content. Contrary to the common belief, blog is just one type of content which you can create.

Let us look at the four most popular types of content which you can benefit from –

Types of B2B Content

Blogs/ Articles

A blog is an easy way to keep your target audience engaged with information and educational content. As we all know, search engines love fresh content and blog is an excellent way to keep your website updated with new content. Remember that your blog should NOT be about your product or service – you have the other pages of the site for that. The blog should have articles which provide answers to the questions of your target audience. It should provide solutions.

B2B Blogging Tips

  • Keep the articles in the range of 800-1000 words
  • Include at least one image in each article
  • Your articles can be technical or non-technical – depending on the needs of your target audience. In any case, again, the articles should provide answers to the questions of your audience.
  • Start with a frequency which you can maintain. There is no point in writing five articles in one month and none for the next 3 months.
  • Involve your subject matter experts in providing the content and have the B2B content writers translate that into a promotable and publishable format.

Whitepapers

Whitepapers are more in-depth and more authoritative reports than blogs. The difference between a blog article and a whitepaper is that a whitepaper addresses a specific business issue in detail. From the organization’s perspective, these are great resources for demonstrating in-depth technical and business knowledge.

B2B Whitepaper Writing Tips

  • You need to involve the subject matter experts at a deeper level for writing a B2B whitepaper – from the content writers perspective, they need to do a more in-depth study of the topic, prepare the outline, and then have a detailed conversation with the SMEs.
  • You can, by all means, include a section in the whitepaper which highlights your expertise in the area. It is a great place to position yourself as an expert in the field but don’t make the complete paper a sales pitch.
  • Be sure to present proofs and references to your claims.
  • Make the whitepapers and eBooks available on request and use these in your lead generation campaigns. This requires you have a landing page for the whitepaper which outlines key benefits of downloading the paper.
  • Feel free to reuse the content in the whitepaper and create more detailed blog posts for each section in the paper.

Infographics

I see that many people are big fans of infographics. Infographics are highly visual in nature and are great for showcasing a complex topic in an easy to comprehend manner. These are great for sharing on social media (although one needs to zoom in to see most of the infographics completely). Infographics are great for creating awareness about your brand and also to drive traffic to your website.

B2B Infographic Tips

  • Infographics are much more complex and well researched than simple graphics. These require a deep understanding of subject matter and design. Don’t attempt adding this as a part of your social strategy unless you have access to both these talents.
  • Finalize the promotion plan before creating an infographic. Most of the social platforms do not render infographics well.
  • You can always reuse the infographics by converting it into a blog or a video.

Webinars

If you haven’t tried webinars as a part of your B2B social media strategy, I would highly recommend you venture into it in the coming year. Since webinars offer a great opportunity to learn from the experts, B2B buyers prefer these during their research phase. Webinars can also help in generating qualified leads and moving the prospects up in the interest ladder.

B2B Webinar Tips

  • The success of the webinar heavily depends on the speaker and the webinar topic. Make sure that you not only have a great topic but also have an equally wonderful, established, expert speaker to deliver the webinar.
  • Have a concrete promotion plan in place – leverage the network of your employees, partners, and customers to promote the webinars.
  • It’s a good idea to give away a whitepaper or eBook on a related topic as a part of the webinar giveaway.
  • Make the webinar recording available post the webinar for those who miss attending it
  • For more tips of making the webinars successful, here is a more detailed post.

What does this mean for your content strategy?

Apart from the content types mentioned above, there are also other types of content which you can create such as case studies, videos, presentations, eBooks, testimonials, emails, social updates etc. When it comes to creating your content strategy and deciding the type of content to create, honestly there is no one answer. It totally depends on who your potential buyers are, on which platforms they are searching for information, and what types of content they are consuming.

If you are just starting with content marketing and social media, possibly blogs are the easiest to start with. Videos, although very impactful, are difficult to produce. Case studies and presentations are something which you will require irrespective of your strategy. Get into Whitepapers and eBooks once you have a strong blogging strategy and execution in place.

Lastly, do remember that just creating content is not enough. You need to promote it too. So when you plan for your content creation efforts, don’t forget to have a strong content promotion plan in place!

Our Experience of Hosting the First of its Kind B2B Sales and Marketing Event and Making It Super Successful

As a B2B specialist social media agency, we get many opportunities to interact with several business owners and marketers to discuss about how the dynamics of sales are changing, what is the impact of social media and content marketing on that, how are companies adapting to the new ways of selling, and so on. During our conversations, we realized that while there is lack of understanding in this area and a lot of curiosity about it, there is no common platform where people can come together, discuss, and learn from each other.

At Midas Touch, we had been contemplating creating such platform since a long time and finally we decided to take the first step towards it by organizing the first of its kind event. The event was titledWhy B2B Sales Must Harness the Power of ‘Digital Marketing’ to Go International” and we decided to have it on 24th Nov, 2017.

The Speakers and The Program

We knew that the key highlight of any event is the panel of speakers. We decided that the speakers have to be the industry experts who have “been there done that”. The people who have seen the revolution themselves and have adapted it. The people who truly “understand” B2B sales and marketing from their own experiences. We also wanted the attendees to not only understand the concept but also leave with some practical key takeaways which they can start implementing immediately. The whole program was then defined keeping in mind these objectives.

We are very thankful to Vishwas Mahajan and Ashutosh Parasnis, who came and presented their views at this event, outlined the evolution, the changing face of B2B marketing, and the importance of strong strategy and flawless execution.

Next was a panel discussion moderated by Sanjeev with Shivesh, Avani, and Ashutosh Saitwal as the panellists. The panellists very honestly shared their experiences – not only the success stories but also their failures and the lessons learned from those. Filled with lots of examples and practical tips, the panel discussion gave extremely good insights into the B2B sales and marketing process. Our sincere thanks to all these experts.

#PuneB2BSocial Panel Discussion

The best part of the program was that all the sessions were very interactive – the audience not only asked questions but also shared their experiences. Lot of attendees also learned where they are failing and what could be the reasons.

The Ecosystem Support

#PuneB2BSocial-Ecosystem Partners
We approached various associations and bodies for their support for this event. TiE Pune, Pune Open Coffee Club, HeadStart Pune, Indo American Chamber of Commerce, Software Exporters Association of Pune, Pune Digital Marketers, and GLOW – Global Organization for Women – all of these were our ecosystem partners who helped us in spreading the word about the event. After all, when you are creating such unique platform, you need all the support from the existing associations and bodies.

The Social Buzz

As a social media agency, we have a strong belief in the power of social media. After the event was conceptualized and announced, we had one month till the date of the event. The social platforms started buzzing with the hashtag #PuneB2BSocial – we started talking about the event, the speakers, what to expect, some interesting insights into how B2B marketing is changing, etc. Registrations started coming in through this buzz and before we knew it, we had a full house!

We prepared a list of potential attendees who we thought will benefit from this event and reached out to them through one-on-one messages on LinkedIn.

We created an event on Facebook and specifically invited people to join in.

Our learning – Twitter worked extremely well in driving traffic to the event page. Facebook helped in creating the awareness and LinkedIn helped in reaching out to specific individually on a one-on-one basis.

During the event, we covered the event live on Twitter through live tweets and photos and Facebook through Live videos. The attendees also shared their views by joining in the conversations and within the first two hours of the start of the event, it was trending on top on Twitter.PuneB2BSocial Twitter Trending

The Team with the Midas TouchTeam Midas Touch

The Midas Touch team worked really hard to ensure that the event was successful – right from managing the registration counter, handling the venue arrangements, managing the Q & A rounds, and most importantly, covering the event live on social platforms – the team did it all! Kudos to everyone!

PuneB2BSocial - Midas Touch Team

The Result

A full house. An extremely interactive audience. Loads of learning. Event hashtag trending on Twitter for over 6 hours. And most importantly, a validation of our belief that a common platform for B2B sales and marketing was needed and we have been able to establish that. We aim to host more such events in the future. Hope to see those who missed it this time!

The 3 Changes B2B Sales Veterans MUST Embrace To Stay Relevant

“What about the good leads?…. But these leads are s**t. They’re old…I’ve seen them 100 times…..What about the new leads, huh? The new leads, the Glengarry leads.” – Shelley (The Machine) Levene (the Jack Lemmon character in Glengarry Glenross)

You can almost sense the rank desperation of the aging sales pro in that exchange, and after 25 years in B2B Sales perhaps it’s time for me to start identifying more with him and his challenges. In fact, why just me? My advice to all fellow veterans of the B2B Sales trenches is to start getting desperate. The fact is, the way we have been selling is rapidly going out of fashion and the sooner we recognize that the sooner we will start doing something about it. And make no mistake, if we don’t do something soon it will hurt us.

My agency is in the midst of putting together an event focused on how B2B Sales has changed in the modern age (more details here for those interested: http://www.i-midastouch.com/event/why-b2b-sales-must-harness-the-power-of-digital-marketing-to-go-international/) and this has given me an opportunity to have many conversations with business leaders as well as sales pros. The problems they highlight seem to be remarkably consistent. Most of them report:

  • A dramatic drop in conversations with “new” prospects
  • Sharply lower responses to cold phone calls and email campaigns
  • Unpredictable sales cycles – some are really short, others seem to drag on with endless tyre-kicking

Do you see something similar happening? Are you finding yourself searching for those elusive “Glengarry leads” hoping to break a dry spell? Does that sound familiar? If it does, I’m here to tell you that the malaise runs deeper. Let me elaborate.The

Good Ol’ Days

Us grizzled veterans of the B2B Sales game have traditionally relied on getting into business conversations early. Our hard-working inside sales or cold-calling teams set up a steady stream of new meetings or calls driven by the campaign of the moment. Then we swing into action, directing the progress of the discussion with a reasoned, planned, and consultative approach that takes shape over many discussions. We have always been the primary source of information for our prospect. We have helped them define their problem, map the impact of not addressing it, and then built up to a “hey presto” moment where we unveil a solution that is specifically addresses all these problems with a spend tailored just right. Our ability to shape the landscape in our client accounts was reflected in what we called ourselves. We did “Demand Generation” – as if we miraculously made a need appear where none existed previously. We were “Client Partners” – fighting the good fight on behalf of the client. The truth is that today this way will just not work – some fundamental things have changed.

What Has Changed?

  1. Cold outreach, if not dead, is on the deathbed. There are some truly scary stats out there on how many cold calls it takes to connect with a prospect now – and those numbers will continue their southward slide. The same is true of unsolicited email campaigns. Making more calls and sending more emails is not really going to solve the problem – especially in the B2B Sales game when the target universe is smaller. You’ll just run out of people to connect with sooner.
  2. A significant part of the buyer journey is no longer accessible to us sales folks. Reports are that anywhere from 50% to 80% of the sales process is complete by the time “prospects” deign to connect with us poor vendors. That means that we cannot get in early – something that was central to our “demand generation” way of life.
  3. The buyer is now uber-informed and no longer dependent solely on the information we provide. The WWW is a far richer source of information than a single vendor will ever be. Decision-makers are turning to content available online to define their problems, identify possible solutions, evaluate their relative value, and making a shortlist of vendors they think it fit to engage with – all on their own. If this is denied to us, how do we go about building the relationship (the “Client Partnership”) that is key to our ability to drive the process forward?                                                                                                                    The Change Begins Now

B2B Sales pros who wish to stay relevant must recognize, no embrace these changes. The “What should I do now” list offers enough material for a follow up post to this one but let me offer a couple of suggestions here as first steps.

  1. Get social. Use channels like LinkedIn and Twitter to get in the eye line of key decision-makers at your target companies. The key is to be “social” not to “connect and pitch”. Be visible, engage, comment on the content they share, offer reasoned opinions – you know, all those things you used to do while building a relationship earlier. Building warmer connections on social platforms is more likely to get you into relevant conversations than the efforts of the cold-calling team.
  2. Leverage content. Your company’s content has to play a key role here – show who you are, what problem you solve, who do you do that for, how you are different, what specific unique value you bring to the table, and all this while not being overtly salesy. Turn to your content often to inform and educate, and use that as a means to perhaps drive the thinking of the right audience in the direction you want it to go.

The best B2B Sales pros are driven super-achievers who have built successful careers after facing down challenge after challenge –surely you are the same. If that is so, then it’s time to face down the challenge the digital world has thrown at you – and the first step to take is to embrace the change.

The Proof Of The Pudding – A Content Marketer’s Rant

“The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” Miguel de Cervantes

Maybe, like Cervantes’ most abiding creation, I am tilting at windmills here but indulge me please. I have taken to this forum to try and understand the “Proof of Concept” phenomenon in Content Marketing and yes, to share the pain with other content marketing agencies out there similarly afflicted.

This has happened to my agency on a couple of occasions now and I wanted to vent or alternately get better informed in case this is the vanguard of an inevitable but undesirable trend. The way the story goes in a couple of prospect discussions close to the sharp end of the sales cycle after the usual rounds of “hoop jumping” the prospect suddenly asked us to work on what they called a “proof of concept”, essentially an obligation-free exercise to create some custom content specifically for them. If this hit the mark we could hope to be engaged for more remunerative work. Am I the only one who thinks this is wrong?

First let me say to prospects that I understand, sort-of, where you are coming from. I know that the quality of a service is only apparent after it is consumed so prior to doing anything irreversible you are looking to re-assure yourselves that the people you are considering engaging have got what it takes. To accomplish that the advice you seem to have paid heed to is Cervantes’.

That being said, to my mind, there are so many better ways to get that assurance. In each of these instances we have happily provided several examples of content created by us already out there in the public domain, we have provided written references from clients who have used similar services from us and we have also given contact information for live references for the prospect to engage with more deeply or to address any specific concerns. Despite all that how does one justify the need for more custom content creation? Perhaps the prospect is a disciple of Thales of Miletus who said “A multitude of words is no proof of a prudent mind.”

The logic the prospect usually presents is that what they have to offer is so path-breaking or so unique that they need to first validate our capacity to understand it well enough to be able to create and promote appropriate content. Without even getting into how thin on the ground truly innovative and unique business models or offerings are, this poses a conundrum.

  1. If the offering truly is unique then before churning out any meaningful content an agency would have to put in, presumably, long hours of study and substantial research. This being the case how appropriate is it then to expect the agency to commit that kind of bandwidth before any deals are inked
  2. The alternative seems incomprehensible as superficial study will lead to shallow content – an unacceptable outcome. Presumably the objective would be to put your best foot forward so no compromise would be acceptable right?
  3. On the other hand if the prospect is looking for content that is not so specific to them or, as is entirely likely, their offering is not really so unique after-all then why go through the exercise at all? Would it not be easier and faster to check references and / or review the content already presented.

That’s a Helleresque Catch 22 for Content Marketers – doing something you would rather not do, in a manner that doesn’t satisfy you, for someone who doesn’t know really what to do with it for an unclear purpose. I’m looking for answers – from agencies that have faced and dealt with the issue or have become convinced of the value of this additional stage in the sales cycle or from prospects who have a reason for the “proof of concept” demand that may have escaped my own attentions. Till I get them though I would like to leave with an anonymous quote that pretty much sums up my own feeling on the subject “If you believe in something, no proof is necessary. If you don’t, none is sufficient.”

The Content Marketing Q – Your Content Is Outstanding But Is It Standing Out?

“Marketers always ask me how to make more or better content, and it’s almost always the wrong question. The right question is: “How do I get my content in front of the right people?”” Joe Chernov – VP of Content at HubSpot

You were among those that embraced Content Marketing early. You truly believe that high quality, well-written content that informs and educates is a great way to present your own expertise. You have also spent a considerable amount of time and energy in building a process internally that listens socially to identify issues that matter in your area and then captures your own unique point of view about those issues in an article. Despite all this, the nagging fear is something is not working out. Month on month the trend is clear – “views” and social shares are down and so is engagement. Does that sound like your story? If – so you are not alone.

In essence, the problem is one of plenty – the content marketing case is so strong that everyone is climbing onto this particular bandwagon. The result is 30 million items of content being shared online every single day. It’s asking a lot of your content to grab the eyeballs while buried in that dense a thicket. Is it time then, to hang up your content marketing boots – not by a long shot! Here are 5 types of content that will still stand out from the crowd.

Uber-Targeted Content

“The only way to win at content marketing is for the reader to say, ‘This was written specifically for me.’” : Jamie Turner, 60 Second Marketer

Something written for everyone makes sense to no-one. An ever-present temptation is to try to address the larger target segments with your content – in the current situation the reverse may well work better. Create more pieces of content – each piece specifically targeted at specific sub-segments or even smaller target groups. The fact is their needs are different in their own way – identify those differences , address them specifically and watch the small but highly targeted audience lap it up.

Visual Content

Research commissioned by 3M showed that nearly 90% of the information consumed by the brain is visual and as a result, visual information gets processed by the brain up to 60000 faster than text information. This gives a clue why in recent times the most shared content is all visual. In the context of the content of value to organizations, this suggests that the Content Marketing focus should be on creating Infographics, Process, or Flow Charts and text articles liberally supported by pictures and diagrams.

Audio / Video Content

The kind of videos actor Mike Henry had in mind when he said “We’re living in a world where one good video can lead to a massive social following” are perhaps not what most organizations would find useful. That being said one can no longer ignore the importance of audio / video content when YouTube is pushing to be the world’s 2nd largest search engine after Google. Bandwidths today are not a problem and creating webinars, podcasts, and animated or live action videos is no longer as challenging as used to be the case. The medium is still relatively underserved – a good opportunity for content you create to be viewed positively (pun intended).

Customer Generated Content

Surveys show that 51% of Americans trust user-generated content, 16% information on the company website and 14% news articles about the company – the numbers won’t be very different for other markets. While not the easiest to produce if you have a customer willing to lend their name and inputs to a piece of content this can swiftly become a magnet for similar organizations or for those with similar questions that need answering. You marketing team will also tell you that promoting content written by someone else has the ring of truth to it and is hence often easier to promote!

Storytelling

Randall Lane, editor of Forbes said – “Tell a relevant, targeted, transparent story, and the whole world will share it.” Attention spans are short and there is a lot of competition for the mental bandwidth of your target audience – a story told well that echoes the situation your own target audience is facing is thus more likely to strike a chord. Given a choice between a pedantic article and a story, the story will get picked each time. It’s obviously an easier read and the customers believe themselves smart enough to extract the right message from it.

This is a fast evolving space – everyone has bright ideas and the motivation to make their content better. My suggestion is, don’t be content if your outstanding content – the real value will be when it stands out!

(Note: This article first appeared in more or less the same shape in Social Samosa under my byline a while ago – I’m reposting it as it popped up in a recent discussion with a client.)

 

7 Reasons Why B2B Companies Fail at Social Media and Content Marketing

7 Reasons Why B2B Companies Fail at Social Media and Content Marketing

Through Midas Touch, the B2B specialist social media agency which I run, we have worked with several B2B organizations – especially in the technology space. We have strategized and executed several social media initiatives and have seen tremendous success.

We all know the stats as well –

  • 57% of purchase decisions are made before a customer ever talks to a supplier (Source)
  • 80% of business decision makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement. (Source)
  • 94 percent of B2B buyers conduct some form of online research before purchasing a business product (Source)

And yet, many B2B companies fail in their social media efforts or are not able to derive the desired results. What could be the reasons? Are they not serious about their efforts? Are they putting in efforts at the wrong place? Are they clueless about what to measure and what not to care about? Or there are some other reasons?

Here is my take on why the social media initiatives of B2B companies could fail –

No Strategy

“Strategy is thinking about a choice and choosing to stick with your thinking” —Jeroen De Flander

Strategy – probably the most overused word in the business space today. To me, the above quote summarizes the meaning of strategy. It helps you tie together your goals into plans and helps you achieve those goals. Organizations, when they start their B2B social media efforts, need to think hard and formulate a coherent strategy – what do they want to achieve, how do they plan to do it, what are the available resources, should it be done through in-house team or outside agency, how to engage the subject matter experts, how to monitor, and how to measure the ROI – all such aspects form the components of a solid strategy. Hiring an experienced marketing professional cannot be termed as the strategy 🙂

Lack of Consistency

“If you want to be taken seriously, be consistent.”

Pretty hard-hitting, isn’t it? It, however, is absolutely true in case of B2B social media. If you start with an assumption that you want to “try” social media for three months and then decide whether you would like to continue or not – I would say don’t even start thinking. B2B social media requires influencing multiple decision makers (right from CFO to technology director), the sales cycles are long (something running into months) and the decisions are not taken based on one article (social media is part of the overall sales funnel and not the only channel) – considering all these aspects, it is extremely important that you start your initiatives with a long-term plan. Have a mechanism to monitor the response and results at regular intervals and do ongoing tweaks.

Too Much Focus on Technology

“Our business is about technology, yes. But it’s also about operations and customer relationships.” – Michael Dell

Sure, you are into technology business. Your team has technology ninjas who are extremely passionate about technology and can give an hour long talk on the latest tool. But do you know that not “all” of your target audience may be “always” interested in your technology understanding? Businesses need to understand that technology is just one of the many tools to solve business problems – businesses care about solutions to their business problems. I have seen that many time, technology companies go overboard with their passion for technology and talk only about that instead of focusing on how that technology is going to help in solving a business problem. The B2B content which the company publishes needs to focus on answering the questions of the target audience – it is less about you and your knowledge and more about customer questions and answers to those questions.

Incorrect Choice of Platforms

“Do what is right, not what is easy.”

The world’s most active social platform with the largest user base may not be right for you. B2B social media is more about education more than emotion. It is about building thought leadership than creating just another blog. It is about providing answers to the buyer’s questions than talking about the greatness of your product and service – all such things make B2B social media different than B2C. While you are still interacting with humans, the purpose is different and, hence, the choice of platforms also differs. It is not possible to send a “friend request” to your prospects but you can certainly “follow” or “connect with them” – getting the difference? The choice of social platforms can make or break your social strategy. You will end up doing a lot of “social activity” without any results. Talk to B2B social media experts or read up to understand and know which could be the right platforms for your business.

RoI Misconceptions

“When you say RoI, do you mean Return on Investment or Risk of Inaction.” – Paul Gillin

B2B companies often make the mistake of thinking that the R in RoI is always Revenue – actually the R in RoI is Returns. You will be able to achieve the RoI from your social media initiatives only if you know what to measure, how to measure, and when to measure. Enhanced awareness amongst your target audience, visits to your website, thought leadership, social conversations – all these are valid returns from your social efforts. When you measure the RoI, ensure that you look for qualitative as well as quantitative metrics. Qualitative metrics could include interactions with an influencer, valid product feedback, appreciation by your prospect on your content and so on. Quantitative metrics could include visits to your website, visibility on social platforms, the number of interactions, the number of downloads of your eBook or whitepaper, and so on. It is important to keep monitoring these metrics and tweaking the strategy based on the results.

Lack of Synergy with Sales

Stop trying to sell with marketing, instead use marketing to help customers buy.

B2B organizations need to ensure that there is a very tight integration between sales and marketing – these two teams HAVE TO work in alignment and not in isolation. The sales and marketing strategies need to work together for acquiring customers – essentially because the sales cycles are long, evaluation periods extend in months, building trust takes time, and building thought leadership takes even longer. Marketing needs to understand the sales campaigns and needs to align itself according to those – for example, if your sales team is focusing on a particular industry vertical in a particular quarter, your social media presence has to reinforce your knowledge and expertise in that sector through blog articles, webinars, eBooks, and social promotion. Similarly, the sales teams need to leverage marketing and the social channels to build connections and engage with prospects on social channels.

Completely Ignoring Executive Branding aka Personal Branding

“Your personal brand is a promise to your clients… a promise of quality, consistency, competency, and reliability.” – Jason Hartman

Be it B2B or B2C, finally, people connect with people and people trust other people. Thinking that you don’t need a “face” in the online world is one of the most common mistakes which most of the B2B companies make. Companies need to ensure that all the external facing profile – be it the CEO, your sales director, your marketing head, managers who interact with the client or sales execs who interact with the prospects – need to have a strong online presence. It is absolutely critical that the top management has a strong online brand – they need to demonstrate their values, the expertise of the company, and build trust in the minds of the prospects, customers, suppliers, or future and present employees. Unfortunately, this is often the most ignored aspect – especially by the top management of technology companies. Believe it or not, it has a strong impact on the overall company brand as well.

Hope this helps you in knowing what to avoid so that your B2B social media initiatives are successful. Do share your feedback and comments!

B2B Social Media – Making a Case for Content Marketing

B2B Social Media – Making a Case for Content Marketing

Content marketing is all the marketing that’s left.” – Seth Godin

Well, when it comes from one of the most prominent names in marketing, you cannot ignore it. I am sure you have heard a lot about the importance and relevance of content marketing. Let us look at some holistic stats on content marketing –

  • If you create more customized content, 78% of consumers will trust your brand
  • According to DemandMetric, content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about 3 times as many leads.
  • As per the Content Marketing Institute, 70% of B2B marketers plan to create more content in 2017 compared to 2016.
  • 80% of business decision makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement. –Stratabeat

While all these stats look amazing and enough to convince any B2B business to adopt content marketing, more often than not, there is a bit of hesitance, ignorance, and skepticism – possibly because of the lack of understanding on how exactly to proceed on that. However, when done right, it can result in more traffic to your website, more conversions, and improved search rankings for your site.

In this blog post, I try to cover the why and how of B2B content marketing and also share some tips to help you make your B2B content marketing program more successful.

What is Content Marketing?

Content Marketing Institute gives a very nice definition of Content marketing –

“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

To understand content marketing better – let us understand the role it plays in the buying cycle. A typical buying cycle includes Awareness (Making the customers aware that a solution to their need exists), Consideration (Customer does the research and starts comparing different solutions), and Purchase (Customer makes the decision and the transaction happens).

Traditionally, all the stages were heavily driven by sales. Today, the buyer is more informed than before. The buyers do their own research, find the content that answers their questions, and if they find value in the content, they approach the vendor directly. Now, two things have changed here: one, the buyers are not engaging in any sales tactics since the beginning and two, they have already made up their mind before they even contact the vendor.

Content marketing, thus, plays a vital role in the awareness and consideration stages of the buying cycle.

How is B2B Content Marketing Different than B2C Content Marketing?

Now that we understand that content marketing is important and critical, let us understand how content marketing is different for B2B businesses –

  • B2B sales cycle is complex and involves multiple decision makers. Therefore, it becomes very important to create the content which talks to specific category of decision makers and answers their questions. This also means that you need to create various different types of content to address the questions of various decision makers.
  • B2B content requires understanding of the specific product and service. Therefore, the B2B content writers need to closely interact and work with the subject matter experts to create the valuable content.
  • The content you create cannot be about your product or service – it needs to provide answers to the questions of your target audience. Before writing the content, it, therefore, is important that you know their questions and needs.
  • One of the prime objectives of the B2B content is to build value and trust – hence, it cannot be promotional.
  • B2B content should help in building the thought leadership of the brand –therefore, the content needs to have a lot of maturity and depth.
  • B2B content marketing also requires a closer alignment with the sales and should help in generating leads for the sales teams.

Guide to Defining the Content Strategy

Your content marketing strategy should include the following steps

  • Define the target audiences, goals, and buying stages – your content needs to address all these points.
  • Identify the SEO keywords and phrases – if you want your content marketing strategy to help in your site ranking, it is advisable that you identify a list of keywords and phrases which are used by your buyers and use those judiciously within your content pieces. Of course, be careful about not stuffing your content pieces with keywords – that does not work anymore.
  • Define and stick to editorial calendars outlining the content pieces, objectives of those pieces, target audience, timelines, formats etc. This will help you streamline your efforts for maximum results. It will also help you in content reuse.

Traits of B2B Content Writer

Considering the fact that B2B content marketing is quite different than B2C content marketing, when you build your B2B content writing team, you need to look for specific traits. Apart from their writing talents, you need to also check their storytelling skills, they ability to connect and capture information from the subject matter experts, and their understanding of social media and various tools and technologies. I have written more in detail on this topic in a separate blog post.

Types of B2B Content

Here is a quick list of various types of content which you can create –

  •  Blog articles – Blog articles are the most common form of content which you can create. The articles reside on your website and help in enhancing the search ranking of the site. Typically, the articles should be in the range of 800-1000 words, should include images and provide answer to specific questions of your target audience. Blogs which provide educational content are excellent for establishing thought leadership.
  •  Whitepapers and eBooks – Whitepapers and eBooks are more in-depth form of content and more authoritative reports than blogs. Typically, whitepapers and eBooks address specific business issues in more depth. These are excellent resources for demonstrating technical or business knowledge. You can make these available on request and use these as weapons for your specific lead generation campaigns.
  •  Infographics – Since infographics are highly visual in nature and need to be very well researched, these form a good resource for establishing your thought leadership. You can use these to create awareness and drive traffic to your website.
  •  Webinar and Podcasts – I would term these as secret weapons of your marketing. Since webinars and podcasts offer a great opportunity to learn from experts, these are preferred a lot by various buyers during their research phase. You can use webinars to share your expertise and experiences. These are brilliant avenues to generate qualified leads and move the prospects up in the interest ladder.

I will soon write a more detailed post on various types of content to be used in B2B.

Closing Thoughts

Content marketing is a commitment, not a campaign” – Jon Buscall

I think this quote summarizes the essence of content marketing. You need to have a long-term strategy, meticulous planning, flawless execution, and continuous monitoring to make sure that your content marketing efforts are successful.