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‘We’re all quite mad here, you’ll fit right in’

July 17, 2014 Categories: At the Barn

Last month we held our most successful charity event to date raising £11,600 for Naomi House and Jacksplace at our summer party.

Here’s a few of the highlights from the ‘Alice in Wonderland’ themed night…

To find out more about the great work Naomi House and Jacksplace do to support children, young adults and their families have a look at their website. If you’d like to make a donation please visit our justgiving page.

 

No comments | Posted by Claire Lund

Social selling and the power of the individual

July 17, 2014 Categories: Best Practice

Highlights from the recent S&M Forum

The top two influencers in the wine and beer market are individual bloggers. Not companies.

Is that surprising? I think so. I could write a separate blog here about the continuing debate on the declining power of brands. But the point for now is more about the ever-expanding reach of the individual across the whole sales process. And in B2B, that means Social Selling.

This was an interesting point made by Tim Hughes, Business Development Director at Oracle. Tim was joined by Andy Eustace from LinkedIn at our recent S&M Forum in discussing the impact of social practice within B2B sales, and the role marketing plays in supporting it.

Tim’s challenge is evidence of a couple of key points that came out of the evening:

  •  The power of Social Selling in B2B is all in the individual. Your social profiles are your ‘personal brand’ – and Social Selling is the means by which an organisation leverages that personal brand to create 1-2-1 connections with customers and prospects. As Paul Everett put it during his interlude – Social Selling means your people really can now be a differentiator.
  • There’s another side to Social Selling that isn’t talked about much: data. Social media are a mine of information – from contact details to behavioural trends and network connections. And that data can be leveraged by salespeople both online and offline through Social Selling.

There were 5 insider tips that I took from Tim, Andy and Paul as being the key to doing Social Selling well:

1)      Create. Content is the currency of Social Selling. Marketing can be responsible for developing the right content to support Social Selling, but the sellers themselves can also be a source of content – Tim’s blog being a great example.

2)      Relax. The key to being a good social seller is to be yourself. When you get over this hurdle and become comfortable tweeting, blogging and posting, you’ll find it comes naturally. It’s no longer something tagged onto the end of every day.

3)      Lead. Marketing’s role can be to act as leaders in this field. Everything from making sure their profiles are exemplary, through to using the corporate social media accounts to share what individuals are creating and posting to encourage them.

4)      Incentivise. LinkedIn’s Social Selling Index allows you to rank your sales people on how good they are at it. Alongside more traditional methods of tracking such as lead and nurture targets, you can make the most of the sales team’s competitive spirit and celebrate the most successful.

5)      Start. Don’t think about it too much – policies, rules and guidelines are always helpful, but there’s no reason you can’t start tomorrow by sorting out your LinkedIn profile and setting yourself some diary reminders to check for new connections and look for content to post.

 

For more detail about the speakers’ views, arguments and examples, have a look through the slides below:

No comments | Posted by Matt Harper

Winning with emotion in bid support

July 14, 2014 Categories: Best Practice

A lot of people are talking about the power of ‘emotion’ in B2B marketing (although it’s not exactly news that B2B buyers are people too!). It tends to be a discussion amongst marketers talking about brand campaigns. But at the critical point of bid support – when influencing just a few key people is more important than ever – it often gets forgotten.

So what’s the secret to winning the bid?

Of course, it’s important to understand the bid process thoroughly and respond with a suitable technical and commercial response. But you also need to understand how to make your response stand out amongst competitors. After all, they can likely offer similar solutions and similar commercials.

Supporting the technical requirements of your bid submission with effective marketing can make that crucial difference between standing out and getting lost in the crowd.

“Men decide far more problems by hate, love, lust, rage, sorrow, joy, hope, fear, illusion, or some other inward emotion, than by reality, authority, any legal standard, judicial precedent, or statute.”
Cicero

So whilst the ability to technically support your potential new partner with a viable solution and commercials is important, winning over hearts and minds can be the difference between success and failure.

Finding the right emotional angles is vital to a winning bid submission. What are the key decision-makers’ personal motivations for selecting a supplier?

  • Avoiding risk?
  • Looking good?
  • Doing something new?
  • Getting out of work on time?
  • Working with people they like?

Think about the one thing you want people to think, say, or feel once your bid team leaves the presentation. This should help you formalise these things – and give your advocates a message they can use to fight your corner.

Running a creative theme throughout all bid collateral can help communicate this emotion to your key audience. Use videos with messages from your core team. Or write sections of the proposal from real people. Touches like this can help make an emotional connection to you and your company.

Simply making sure your brand is showing up when they’re out and about (anywhere from outside their office to their LinkedIn homepage) can make sure they see you as more credible and trustworthy.

Aligning your brand with theirs is important. No matter how strict your brand guidelines are, always remember this is an internal document likely to be seen by fewer than 20 people outside  your business. Making sure your bid submission has a clear marketing theme can deliver the following benefits:

  • An instant visual cue of your ability to work in partnership with them.
  • Finding a unified message delivered across the bid that consistently aligns to the client’s culture.
  • Consistency across all collateral from word and power-point templates, executive summaries, animations and bid delivery technology.
  • Gaining insight and awareness within your target group can be key for keeping your brand top of mind throughout the process. This can include social profiling as well as targeted awareness activity both on and offline.
  • Finding new and innovative technology to deliver your message can enthral an audience already bogged down in the small print of the submission itself.

Of course there are exceptions to every rule. Local government and public sector organisations may be put off if you appear to be spending vast amounts of budget on over the top creative and technology. However, they are still likely to be impressed if your knowledge of the brand, identity, and key stakeholder challenges have been investigated and resolved as part of your submission.

So yes, your technical responses and commercials need to be up to scratch. But your marketing needs to be highly defined and targeted to make sure you stand head and shoulders above the rest.

No comments | Posted by Katya Hill

Social Selling round-up: The S&M Forum highlights in 140 characters

July 8, 2014 Categories: Best Practice, Experiments

Our latest S&M Forum was the most social yet. Maybe that’s what you’d expect, as the theme was Social Selling and the role of Marketing.

Here’s our Storify of the evening – a round-up of the best tweets. So you’ve got the low-down of the most important views, facts and commentary from the night.

No comments | Posted by Matt Harper

Thinking of applying for a job at TMP? Read this first.

July 8, 2014 Categories: At the Barn

By Joanna Marlowe, HR & Recruitment Coordinator, The Marketing Practice 

As you can imagine, working in HR means that I’ve read more CVs than you’ve had hot dinners. The sheer volume that crosses my desk means that you – as a potential employee – have to perform something of a circus trick. A tightrope walk, to be precise. On the one hand, your CV has to conform to a very strict formula. On the other, it must stand out and grab my attention.

If you’re thinking about applying for one of our vacancies, I’ve got some advice that might help you out.

HURRY UP

If you’re interested in our grad day, there’s really not much time left to apply. Get a move on.

Do your research

Understand the job inside out and make sure it’s right for you. I’ve had people apply for every vacancy in a company! Those people don’t make the final cut. Jobs are serious things – they require commitment on both sides. Doing your research shows that you’re interested in us as a business, and tells us a lot about your professional approach.

Get social

Connect with us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. We love that. One of our aims is to improve our social footprint and we’re always interested in who is following us. It’s likely that we’ll be interested in you if you’re interested in us (see above). And when your CV lands, it’ll stand out that much more.

Location

We’re based in sunny South Oxfordshire. Is it somewhere you’re willing to commute to? When we offer you a job, we want you to stay. We want to make sure you are happy, so put some serious thought into why you want to work here and if it fits with your life ambitions.

Make your CV personal

Your CV is a checklist for the role. Personalise it for the job you’re applying for and only include information that’s relevant for the job.

I’ve got a short attention span

So don’t go over two pages. Summarise qualifications and experience into a bullet list and only expand on those relevant to the role. Put important points at the top. Try to avoid big blocks of text – consider how many CVs I go through on a daily basis. If you’ve got a lot of relevant previous jobs only expand on the latest two – keep the rest as headlines.

The opening paragraph

It’s vital (first impressions and all that). If you can, use the kind of language that we use on our website to show you’d be a good fit. Oh, and be concise.

Attention to detail

Make sure you get my name right! I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been called Joanne (I’m Joanna). Make sure you run a spell check, and if you can, get someone with a fresh pair of eyes to proof your CV and cover letter to be double sure. Oh, and make sure your font and font sizing is consistent throughout, and that dates are in the same format (12th March / 30-Jun etc.) – something like that can cause a real distraction when you’ve got a pile of CVs to go through.

Stick with the facts

As I won’t be interviewing you, there’s no point trying to impress me with your lifestyle choices or opinions. So don’t include hobbies, your current salary, or even your date of birth. And no sob stories! (You’d be surprised what I’ve read…) none of it’s going to get you the job. Your skills and experience will do that. And don’t put a picture on your CV either – just add your LinkedIn profile so people can find out more that way.

Go digital

Your CV is always best in a digital format unless there’s a very good reason not to, i.e. if you’re a designer you might decide to hand deliver a beautifully bound portfolio of your work with the CV inserted. There are lots of good digital formats for your application too – we recruited one grad after he sent us a series of short, self-filmed videos explaining why he suited the role.

If you’re asked for a cover letter

Stick to the rules you’re given. If you don’t know what they are – ask. Your cover letter should never duplicate your CV. It’s a chance to explain why you’re the best person for the role. Good writing is a sign of good thinking – so run it past a few people and get their feedback before it lands on my virtual desk.

If you’re not asked for a cover letter

Write a brief paragraph explaining why you’re the right person for the job in your email or alongside your application. Don’t just write “Please find my CV attached.” I hate that!

Follow up

Don’t be scared to call or email me to check on the progress of your application. Try to keep it to one call – enough to show you’re keen, but not so much as to be an annoyance!

If you think you have what it takes and want to apply for any of our vacancies – and you’ve checked your application against this list of pointers – then send it over to me at careers@themarketingpractice.com. Good luck! 

No comments | Posted by Claire Lund

Not our campaign of the month: PwC ‘World in Beta’

June 29, 2014 Categories: Best Practice

The latest in a very occasional series reviewing some great current marketing campaigns…

PwC’s “World in Beta” campaign: at the minute, it’s mainly centred on this microsite - www.worldinbeta.com – but it is definitely the best-looking microsite I’ve seen in a while!

The use of background video (on the laptop version of the site), interactivity as you scroll through the page, and the constantly updating stats (patents filed, emails sent, online purchases etc) since you joined the site: all of these are great touches that create an instant ‘digital’ credibility for PwC.

worldinbeta

Whether it performs as well against whatever metrics have been set is another question (‘next steps’ are light on the ground and not very well promoted – for example you hit a registration page with no clear explanation of what you’re registering for). But if it’s here to create an impression then it does that very well.

Yes, I think some of the content could do with more action-oriented value to the audience (a bit more ‘challenger selling’ thinking). And some treads close to the trap of overly-simplistic ‘Digital Native’ thought leadership I was ranting against recently.

But the overall effect is very positive – it starts the job of repositioning PwC as a business that you could imagine supporting or consulting on some radical business model changes. That repositioning may be a long journey for the firm, but this feels like the right first step (provided of course it’s backed up by the internal resources to deliver on the promise).

There are also some really nice messages that encapsulate the PwC position. My favourite: “You don’t need a digital strategy to succeed in this world, you need a business strategy for the digital age.” Very true, and you could say exactly the same thing about marketing.

No comments | Posted by Paul Everett

Grads – don’t get caught in the rat race!

June 17, 2014 Categories: At the Barn

We’ve started accepting applications for this year’s graduate recruitment scheme. I remember my own experience of job hunting last year, so I wanted to share some thoughts for current applicants.

One thing I felt when looking for my first job is that I wouldn’t have much in the way of choice.

You probably think you have to move to a city. Wear a suit every day. And put up with ‘doing the tea run’ for the first six months.

But you do have a choice. And if I’d known that great companies with huge brands can be found outside big cities it would have saved me a lot of angst.

You could argue that these well-hidden gems nestled in beautiful villages in the countryside offer better opportunities too. With a more ‘outside the box’ approach, they’re more likely to have a flatter structure and potentially better benefits for those willing to work in a rural location.

I was looking for a career in marketing and now I’m working with some of the biggest brands in business, including O2 and AXA Wealth. And yet I don’t even have to journey into the centre of London to do it. I just skip (drive my Clio) into glorious East Hendred in rural Oxfordshire each day to our beautifully converted Tythe barn.

But then I grew up in Shropshire and went to university in Aberystwyth, so I would choose rambling countryside over rush hour in Piccadilly.

Kick-start your career and consider what life could be like here at The Marketing Practice. I’ve never looked back.

Watch our video to see why I’m raving about life at The Marketing Practice. And contact our superb HR and Recruitment Coordinator, Joanna Marlowe, if you fancy a career in B2B marketing. In the countryside.

No comments | Posted by Matt Jones

What are your favourite three examples of content marketing?

June 13, 2014 Categories: Best Practice

It’s funny you should ask… that’s exactly the question someone put to me earlier today.

Given that part of the success of content marketing lies in being memorable and positioning the brand as front-of-mind, it’s an interesting test to ask what springs to mind first.

So anyway, here are my examples (some recent, some older). By chance, they fall into three different categories that illustrate what I see as the 3 archetypes of content marketing.

 

1. Great storytelling

Here, the goal is all around creating memorable and emotional stories that make people pay attention to your point of view/proposition. Often part of a wider brand campaign, as in this example of  GE’s “My mom creates wonder” content.

2. The content engine

My award for best content engine goes to Eloqua’s blog: http://blog.eloqua.com. It’s a great mix of all the things we know work well in content marketing (downloads, infographics, top 5 lists, event reports, quizzes…).

They also seem to agree with my rule that any list-based blog post should have a prime number in the title (3 measures, 5 tips, 7 ugly truths, 11 secrets…). People love prime numbers. There were a couple of lists with 4, 18 and 16 that I spotted, which is lazy marketing because you can usually add or subtract a couple of tips to get to a prime number (at least when you’re under 20).

And you can see how the content engine feeds their various channels like Twitter and LinkedIn as well as search engine results to drive inbound leads.

 

3. ‘Doing something that’s actually worth talking about’ 

I really need to come up with a better name for this kind of content marketing, because it’s my favourite kind. Maybe try to reclaim ‘experiential’?

The idea here is to actually do something as a business that is worth talking about, or create something that is more useful for your audience than just basic ‘content’.

I’ve picked out the example of IBM’s Watson (particularly its appearance on Jeopardy a few years ago), which is particularly interesting given where this has gone for IBM in the following years. Watson is now it’s own business unit.

I could equally well have picked out O2′s “Local Government Digital Future Fund”, putting £250k up for grabs for local councils with big ideas. Or Flexiday, where they closed their HQ for a day to bring flexible working to life.

 

What can we learn from all this?

Other than sharing some interesting examples, I wanted to start making a point that marketing content doesn’t all come from a ‘content marketing’ programme. We were creating content long before ‘content marketing’ was a thing, and we’ll be doing it long after that bandwagon has become business as usual.

Getting a content engine up and running (example 2 above) is often exactly the right thing for a business to do.

But it doesn’t have to be the only source of content – and often it won’t be the source of the most ‘inspiring’ content your business creates. That’s where you should also be looking at examples 1 and 3. Content that gets created as a result of putting other BIG marketing ideas into practice.

So we shouldn’t just be thinking “How can we create enough content to keep twitter busy and stay top of the Google search results?” We should also be thinking “What’s the next brilliant marketing programme we should run?” Then your most effective content will come naturally.

Probably a topic for another blog.

No comments | Posted by Paul Everett

Ten tips for marketing automation success

May 30, 2014 Categories: Best Practice

The March S&M Forum, hosted by TMP, highlighted some key points to consider when planning your approach to marketing automation. Paul Smith, Vice President, EMEA, at Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Paul Everett, Director of Marketing Strategy at The Marketing Practice, and Paul Stevenson, Head of Enterprise Marketing Services at O2 (henceforward known as the Three Pauls), shared their ideas and experiences as pioneers of marketing automation.

Here are their top ten tips for success:

  • The Gates Principle – “The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” This is the Golden Rule for marketing automation; you need to have something worth automating.
  • Start small, scale up – You don’t have to commit to a full-scale deployment of a marketing automation system until you’ve worked out how it’s going to deliver value for you. Consider working with a specialist to run trials on small-scale projects. They can help you plan your roadmap too.
  • Dig into your data – Celebrate your inner geek and make data fun. You’re doomed to fail unless your data is rock solid and up to date. This where the Gates Principle really applies. Again, don’t try to do it all at once. Pick a promising area and see how it works.
  • Power to the people – Marketing automation is a key cultural step. As with all significant technological change, it’s important that all the stakeholders are onside. And marketing automation doesn’t mean fewer marketers – it actually means a bigger, more visible and accountable role for marketing.
  • Content is king – No, really, it is. As with newsletters, or any other form of direct marketing campaign, it’s vital to have a steady flow of content that is fresh, relevant and valuable to the audience. With the added power of marketing automation, that content can also be more personalised and timely.
  • Integrate your channels – Marketing Automation is about one-to-one dialogues conducted on a mass scale. Your websites, blogs, social feeds and any other channels need to be part of the plan. Landing pages can be personalised, recognising that the person visiting today is probably the same person who responded to an email last week.
  • Tame your Big Data – You’re going to generate much more data than you need, as well as data that you thought you didn’t need, but which turns out to be invaluable. You’ll need big buy-in from your IT people to help you work out how to get maximum practical value from the mighty flood of data you’re about to unleash. But they’ll probably recognise how much strategic value you’re assigning to them, so they should embrace the opportunity.
  • Pace yourself – What if it works, big time? You need to make sure your organisation can cope with a significant rise in opportunities, or demand for products, or registrations for events. In particular, make sure the sales team know what’s happening, what’s expected of them, and what they’ll need to know.
  • Get sales buy-in – In fact, of course, you’ll need to get the sales team on board from the very beginning. Marketing automation is a powerful driver for closer integration of sales and marketing teams. Any gaps between the two will be embarrassingly amplified by marketing automation, but it can help to create strong bonds between them as the results begin to flow.
  • It’s the marketing that matters, not the automation – Marketing automation really can be the Holy Grail for marketers, equipping them with the ability to prove the value of what they do and helping to embed marketing-led thinking across the organisation. But it’s not a quick, catch-all solution; as with any effective marketing, you need to plan carefully and monitor at every step to keep things on track.

Next steps

There’s more on marketing automation here.

No comments | Posted by Stuart Constable

Stats from our campaigns across 2013 – part 2

May 22, 2014 Categories: Best Practice

We’re continuing to compare data from our own campaigns in 2013 to those in previous years to illustrate how audience behaviour is changing and what that means for B2B marketing.

In part 1 we explored the shift to mobile and the number of touchpoints required to create a sales-ready opportunity. The next two stats show how traditional B2B channels are evolving.

Proof point one: What’s happening to email open rates?

e-mail open rates B2B marketing

Email will die out as a tool for mass reach. Not this year, and not the next. But soon, and for the rest of our lives. We need to do two things now if we’re going to survive:

First, we need to start using email more intelligently. More closely aligned to data segmentation, more carefully targeted, and built into long-term programmes where the audience actually wants and expects communications to continue through email. (We did exactly this with AXA Wealth and saw their click-through averages go from 1.6% to 4.4%.)

Second, accelerate our ‘shift from email’ strategies. Inbound marketing and social media (see the next proof point) have a big role to play here. But so do some of the more traditional channels.

For example, we’ve seen something changing with direct mail – people are remembering it better (recall rates up from 40% two years ago to 75% in 2013).

Proof point two: How many target decision-makers have active social media accounts?

Number of B2B decision makers on social media

We now gather social media contact details as a standard part of most data-building exercises. And the results are clear: it’s well past time to stop saying “our audience isn’t on social media”. Unless you’re targeting MI5 perhaps.

But if social media is going to pick up the slack from declining email response rates, we need to get better at managing social data and capitalising on the opportunities to engage.

This means making sure that Marketing Automation systems are used as much more than glorified email-sending tools. We should take advantage of all the social monitoring, analytics and content management functionality they can tap into.

And at the other end of the scale, social media gives us a chance to get back to having better 1-2-1 relationships. There’s a lot that marketers can be doing to support our colleagues in Sales as they move to ‘Social Selling’. And that’s a trend we’ll hear more and more about this year as both Sales and Marketing respond to changing buyer behaviour.

(Coincidentally, this is the topic we’ve pitched for our next S&M Forum)

No comments | Posted by Matt Hanks