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Four ways the Microsoft-Litmus partnership may shake up B2B email marketing

Categories: Best Practice

105346-022_TMP_Microsoft-Litmus-blog-image2.jpgIt was announced this week that Litmus and Microsoft are forming an official partnership to improve the email experience for their Outlook and Mail App users, and this is likely to have a big effect on B2B email marketing.

For years the rendering engine in Outlook has limited the functionality of emails, which has prevented Outlook from displaying things in the way that other email clients can. This means that our ability to use creative and impactful content has been limited by Outlook. The partnership with Litmus, the leading email rendering company, is therefore likely to drastically expand the functionality of the emails we can use in our marketing.

Email marketing is one of the most effective channels for B2B marketers, and the majority of B2B prospects use Outlook as their email client. Therefore, any improvements in Outlook are likely to be very useful for those B2B marketers who can capitalise on them. For example:

 

Embedded video in emails

Outlook doesn’t currently support videos hosted directly in the email, but that might be about to change. Research shows that emails with videos can improve click-through rate by as much as 300%.

 

GIF images and animations

GIFs only display the first frame in Outlook, whereas proper animated GIFs have been shown to improve email performance. For example, Dell ran an email campaign with GIFs a couple of years ago that saw a 42% increase in click-through rate, and a 103% increase in conversion rate.

 

Interactive elements (kinetic email)

Emails could be much more engaging if we could include interactive elements. Depending on a where a user clicked, the email would move and adapt in response. On a basic level this would allow features like image carousels or live Twitter feeds, but there is massive scope for creative use of this function.

 

Data capture forms within emails

This is a little more ambitious, but potentially Microsoft could even allow us to use input forms within Outlook, so that users wouldn’t need to be redirected to a landing page.

 

Any of these new features would significantly broaden the horizons for B2B marketers. Email has always been a powerful channel, and if the Microsoft-Litmus partnership helps to increase its versatility, email is likely to be even more central to the marketing mix in future.

 

Obviously all these benefits depend on how Microsoft evolves the Outlook and Mail App platforms, and it will be up to B2B marketers to experiment, assess and decide which tools are most appropriate for their audience. But the move hopefully shows that Microsoft is committed to improving the user experience in Outlook, and we will be eagerly watching to find out what’s in store.

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Posted by Nick Rowan | August 18, 2016

In-house vs outsourced: what B2B marketing agencies need to do better

Categories: Best Practice

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What’s the biggest threat to B2B marketing agencies’ continued success?

I’ve seen more and more articles recently on B2B news sites and blogs about companies intending to bring more of their marketing resource in-house. For example, a 2015 survey of client-side marketers found that by 2020:

  • 54% of marketers were expecting to reduce the number of agencies they work with
  • 73% of marketers expect to go directly to media owners instead of using media agencies
  • 60% expect to bring content development in-house or to alternative agencies

The reasons given for these decisions included better communication, closer proximity between delivery teams, and a marketing team who are 100% focused on the company they’re working for. Whether these are real benefits or just ‘grass is greener on the other side’-type logic is a matter for debate. But the proliferation of blogs and news articles on the topic shows that it has clearly struck a nerve with marketing agencies. Now that clients often have the expertise in-house – or believe they do – what’s the need for an agency anymore?

The recurring counterargument is this: you can’t get the breadth of perspective in-house that an external agency provides.

But if client-side marketing directors are shying away, it’s because that breadth of perspective is no longer enough to justify the investment in hiring an agency. To show the value of investing in agencies, they need to make themselves not just an outside perspective, but indispensable to business. That means:

 

They need to be a lot more client-centric than most are now

This is very easy to say, but much harder to execute. It’s very comfortable for agencies to repeat a formula they know has delivered success for them in the past. But every client is different, and a pre-packaged solution will never be a perfect fit. Client challenges take longer to understand and plan for, especially compared to the easy option of repurposing a campaign the agency is already familiar with.

To deliver disruptive, challenging marketing on a massive scale, you need to have a deep, detailed knowledge of your proposition and your industry – and your agency should too. It’s that commitment to research and planning that sets apart an agency that is committed to putting the client’s challenges, not their own, first.

 

They need to be aligned to commercial and business priorities

Data management, proposition development, sales integration, the reputation of marketing within the wider business – these are the kind of issues that can make or break a marketing department. And they are big, tough challenges to crack.

Laying solid foundations might not be quick, glamorous above-the-line work, but it reaps dividends in the end because it allows you to start your programmes on the right tracks, and to effectively measure the results of your campaigns. If the success of a marketing programme can’t be proven to someone in Sales, Procurement, or to the CEO, then it isn’t really doing anything to solve the client’s commercial challenges.

 

So there you go. Being client-centric and commercially focused: that’s what allows an agency to create effective marketing programmes that deliver the best results for the client. And no-one should settle for anything less.

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Posted by Dan Squire | August 3, 2016

Social selling shouldn’t belong to the sales team. Here’s why

Categories: Best Practice

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Google “social selling training for sales” and you get 136 million results. That’s a lot of people offering to turn your sales reps into social sellers. They’ll promise that LinkedIn updates can be written in between calls. New prospects can be found during “downtime”. Those people are mistaken.


Social selling, when it’s done properly, takes time and a specific set of skills. And like any sales or marketing programme you roll out, you’re going to want your efforts to be scalable.

The core activities of a social selling programme include researching prospects, writing compelling posts and messages, planning and managing the campaign and analysing what is and isn’t working.

I’m not saying your sales reps can’t do those things. I’m sure they can.

I am saying it probably isn’t the best use of their time or skills.

Take writing as an example. Some of the most charismatic speakers I know tense up when they come to put pen to paper. For the majority of us, writing just doesn’t feel like a natural continuation of speaking. It’s outside of our comfort zone. That’s likely to be true for your sales team too.

With a significant amount of training, you might be able to change that. Or, if you’re lucky, you might have some sales reps who are already keen writers. However, anomalies aside, you’ve got a full-time job on your hands.

The same logic applies to your writers – imagine asking your best copywriters to meet a prospect and close the deal. It’s not what gets them out of bed in the morning. It’s not why they decided to work for you.

Another way of looking at it is to compare social selling to email campaigns.

You wouldn’t make sales responsible for planning, executing and reporting on a series of email sends. However, sending emails is part of their daily routine and you’d certainly need their input on any emails you were sending out in their name.

Social selling should be no different.

Sales reps who are active on social are a brilliant asset. And the vast majority of them are; The Sales Management Association found that 96% of sales professionals use LinkedIn every week. Making new connections, sending InMails, posting updates and commenting on blog posts – those things all help to raise their profile and can often be the difference between a social selling programme succeeding or not.

But that’s not the same as making the programme their responsibility. Any centrally driven, coordinated social selling efforts belong to marketing. I’ve seen this work time and time again; in a recent demand generation project we saw a 20% increase in leads after marketing introduced a social selling programme.

InMails are a great example of this approach in action. The premise is very similar to emails, but the response rate tends to be better. Marketing can create a messaging matrix to run an InMail campaign that strikes a balance between personalisation and scalability. The matrix groups prospects by specific challenges they are facing, their market position, their industry, or their function – whatever makes the most sense for the campaign.

Once marketing have divided the contacts into categories they can write InMail templates for each group, rather than creating them on a one-by-one basis. Insights can be gathered from annual reports, LinkedIn profiles or online articles. This information needs to inform the templates.

Marketing will need the sales team’s input into the brief, approval on the templates and feedback on the response. Our Inside Sales team often make tweaks to these templates before they send them, adding a line of text that’s personalised to the individual they’re contacting.

Social listening is another example of how a marketing-led approach to social selling can pay off. Researchers can plough through the information on social channels to pick out bite-sized pieces of information about prospects and what they’re most interested in. They can then hand this over to the Sales team to inform the next phone call with that person.

Follow this approach and you don’t need to hire more sales reps to sell socially. You don’t need to retrain the ones you already have. You just need to let the people you already employ do what they do best.

For practical suggestions on how to get marketing and sales working together on a social selling programme, take a look through our social selling playbook.

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Posted by Monika Lazarowicz | July 29, 2016

The role of Inbound in B2B marketing: highlights from our Sales & Marketing Forum

Categories: Best Practice

This month’s S&M Forum welcomed three key speakers on the topic of inbound marketing: our very own David van Schaick (The Marketing Practice’s CDO), Graham Wylie (App Nexus) and Jon Moger (Aruba). Here, our Head of Inbound shares nine nuggets of insight gained from the evening.

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1. What’s in a journey? And what is the journey?
Whenever we hear the words ‘customer journey’, we also hear a stat. But here’s one from Graham that actually resonated: 19% of B2B decisions are based around brand, 19% around product; 53% are on purchase experience. To bring it to life, Graham visited a Ford garage after being inspired by their ‘Unlearn’ campaign. Whilst he was more window-shopping than intending to buy, he enquired about a specific Ford model featured in the ad. Their response? “Oh no, you can’t test drive that one – it has an eight-month waiting list”. Customer lost.

2. “All that glitters is not gold” – expunge yourself of the magpie behaviour
The discussion centred around marketing technology and the infamous phrase “We thought we needed it”. The conclusion? Shiny new pieces of tech often either sit unused or are used without processes being aligned to deliver results. Before buying, make sure that you consider what you’re trying to achieve first.

3. Getting inbound “in” to your organisation doesn’t have to take years
Jon shared that Aruba are 85% of the way to bringing inbound into their marketing mix after just half a year. It’s a great achievement, and one that he achieved by adopting a ‘lowest common denominator’ approach across Aruba's regional markets, before enabling each market to build from this solid base.

4. Return of the Ps
The Ps, in all their different guises, were referenced several times during the course of the evening. We heard about the 7 Ps [price, promotion, physical evidence, people, product, process, place], the 3 Ps [people, process, physical evidence] and even an adaptation with a 2 P and 1 T model [people, process, technology]. Which featured the most? People. “Attitude over skills” was the conclusion when it comes to selecting a team that can deliver results from inbound marketing.

5. Peering above the parapet
Standing out from the crowd is increasingly difficult in a sea of information overload. So how do you create that differentiation? Through marrying deep audience insight with market insight, and not being constrained by channel norms. This also provides a great opportunity to maximise your inbound marketing.

6. Inbound driving pipeline velocity
We shared some recent research that showed that inbound not only increased the velocity of leads coming in, but also closed leads considerably faster. This helps to both deliver incremental volume in its own right and get value into businesses at a faster rate.

7. The power to challenge
Jon talked about the number of times he has heard “corporate says this is what we need to market”. His response? “OK, that’s great, let’s see the business case and then we’ll review it”. If you don’t have clear rationale around why it’s this proposition vs another, then it may well be doomed to fail.

8. Enable teams for longer-term success
Jon referenced upskilling the sales team in his organisation and the considerable benefits it will have in the longer term. Whether this be training, or thinking differently about the proposition, the gains will be felt for years to come.

9. Be prepared to fail and fail fast
There is only so much you can plan for. When trying something new, always remember: You can seek forgiveness later. As long as you have plans in place to learn, optimise and adapt, not getting it right first time should not be seen as a disaster.


But, if I had to narrow it down to one key takeaway? Make sure your approach is fully integrated. It’s not about inbound or outbound working in isolation – it’s how the two can work together.

Interested in seeing what fully integrated demand generation looks like? Have a look at our platform model.

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Posted by Rachael Clark | July 4, 2016

3 reasons the Microsoft-LinkedIn buyout should be on your radar

Categories: Uncategorized

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You’ve probably heard the news by now – Microsoft are buying Linkedin. There have been countless opinion pieces on what the acquisition means for those two businesses. But what could the repercussions be for B2B marketing? We at The Marketing Practice are particularly interested in what it could mean for three core areas – inbound, social and data – and decided to ask the experts for their opinions:

 

“The opportunity exists to provide predictive business solutions based on behaviour and content consumption”
– Rachael Clark, Head of Inbound

 

“More and more businesses use Microsoft’s cloud propositions each day, providing Microsoft with increasing volumes of insight that they can leverage. They will be building a wealth of valuable data into what businesses consume and how they behave. Marry this with LinkedIn’s insight into decision makers’ behaviour, and this could provide Microsoft with the opportunity to predict and recommend business solutions that are bespoke and delivered at the optimum juncture.

 

If B2B marketers are also provided access to this insight, they too can get their propositions in front of potential customers at a point when it will be most pertinent to them. This would unlock huge opportunities for B2B inbound marketing if it were to happen. Once a user has been identified and a proposition married to them, Microsoft will then have the option of reaching them via their vast ecosystem: the Office suite, Skype, search, Windows devices, and now of course Linkedin too.

 

On a more basic level, we are likely to see Microsoft Dynamics go on a feature enhancement drive, integrating information from LinkedIn to deliver ever more personalised communications. I’d like to see Microsoft thinking about how this data could be used to personalise the user’s experience across the full bought, owned and earned ecosystem.

 

The biggest challenges? How they grow LinkedIn’s user base to deliver these opportunities and ensure users feel comfortable about the use of their data. For me, it has to come back to the value exchange for the user. Get that right, and businesses have much more reason to buy in.”

 

“For social, and in particular social selling, the obvious opportunity lies in improving the quality of communication” – Monika Lazarowicz, Social Media Manager

 

“Satya Nadella aims to create a ‘connected professional world’ but in its current state LinkedIn will struggle to deliver this. InMail struggles with spam, the news feed serves up irrelevant inspirational posts, not to mention the pushy yet untargeted recruitment messages. Of course, this is not always the case but I hope that this acquisition will see Microsoft utilise their product suite and engineering capability to improve the overall experience.  For social selling specifically I’d like to see InMail evolve through richer designs, in addition to taking advantage of Microsoft’s network to target individuals (such as Skype chat).

 

LinkedIn provides advertisers with a unique audience, a large percentage of whom are not active on other social media platforms. In order to maintain this unique user base, Microsoft need to ensure that they elevate and evolve what is currently working to provide value to their audience. From our own social listening we know that while marketers are excited about the opportunities this acquisition could bring, many LinkedIn users are worried about how their data will be used across the network.”

 

“We expect to see richer contact insights aggregated within Dynamics” – Dave Kershaw, Head of Data

 

“The acquisition of LinkedIn will be a big boost for Microsoft Dynamics, automating the aggregation of insights across the database. For example, we know that contact X is discussing digital transformation and has engaged with person Y on several occasions (this data could also enrich the Microsoft Cortana AI).

 

LinkedIn have existing integrations with Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics. With the acquisition we hope to see this integration evolve at pace. One such example would be to refine the LinkedIn Discovery feature by overlaying Microsoft’s behavioural data, providing businesses with users who not only fit the profile but have shown cues that they are actively in market for a given product.

 

Whilst there are some obvious benefits for Dynamics, it does beg the question of whether they’ll maintain the Salesforce integration (or to what extent). I don’t expect them to remove this integration entirely as it would create substantial discord but I can envisage limited features versus those experienced by Dynamics customers. If this were to be the case, it could increase the footprint of Microsoft Dynamics across businesses in the UK who want to make use of these extra features.”

 

Whatever happens, we’ll be keeping an eye on the repercussions of this acquisition. What do you think? Are you excited for the possibilities from the deal? Or are you concerned about the use of data? Let us know!

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Posted by Rachael Clark | June 22, 2016

What is inbound marketing? A quick intro to the hottest topic in B2B

Categories: Best Practice

What is inbound?

Frankly, a word that tends to cause more confusion than it explains. A word that is often seen as the complete opposite of outbound. What if the inbound definition looked like this:

 

Any marketing activity that gets your audience actively coming to you and in the process shifts their mental dial at least some way from ‘I don’t give a monkeys’ towards ‘I’d love to know more’.

 

This means the audience are making the initial choice of whether to engage with you as a brand. But what would that mean about outbound? Is it the opposite?

No.

We believe there is greater value in speaking predominantly in these terms when looking at the customer journey, that joins inbound and outbound and connects them into one seamless journey. Think of it like this:

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So, how do you get people ‘in’?

  • Through marketing that effectively marries deep audience understanding with market insight
  • Is not constrained by channel norms
  • And starts with “What is the problem we’re trying to solve?”

Fundamentally it’s about doing great marketing. Much of the debate around inbound focuses on channel strategies but our belief is it’s wrong to lead with channels. Lead with a core strategy that answers a business challenge and marries this with deep audience insight. How you use channels should ladder back up to this core strategy.

So who is doing it really well? Here’s one of our favourite examples:

 

IBM: “Let’s Build a Smarter Planet”

IBM no longer wanted to be seen purely as a large blue-chip tech organisation but as an innovator. Smarter Planet unified this ambition, highlighting how businesses, governments and society can capture the potential of smarter systems to achieve huge gains (both economic and societal). Here, inbound is being used as part of, not independent of, a core strategy.

 

Why I like it:

  1. It was a single unified idea (core strategy) which everything filtered down from
  2. It is not constrained by B2B environments. IBM recognised that to become synonymous with innovation, they needed to be ‘famous’ for it
  3. They haven’t forgotten that to be seen as an innovative brand, they also need to behave innovatively. They are in the ‘traditional’ inbound environments (e.g. strong search presence) but they pepper disruptive communications that actively bring people in. A great example of this is their use of Watson. IBM Watson is a tech platform that uses natural language processing and machine learning to reveal insights from large amounts of unstructured data (source: IBM.com). From instigating a 1-2-1 with Bob Dylan to test his conversational skills to putting Watson head-to-head with gameshow contestants, these unusual and compelling scenarios draw users in and trigger new conversations in the art of the possible. These hooks were followed up with tangible examples via Watson at Work which highlighted how Watson could be applied in environments such as Finance and Healthcare

What you can learn from it:

  1. Focus on one core strategy, not individual channel strategies
  2. It’s a perfect example of ‘show, don’t tell’ communications. If you want people to ‘feel’ a certain way about your brand, telling them to do so is just not going to cut it
  3. Don’t be constrained by channel norms. Combine a strong core strategy with audience insight and almost any channel can be used to deliver your objectives. You may even find a new ‘channel’, e.g. what if Watson infiltrated dating websites with his own profile? “I’m Watson, a great conversationalist and listener”
  4. Don’t forget business decision-makers are people too. They consume mass media and if something is compelling enough, they will end up hearing about it
  5. Think about longer-term gains. This example would have taken time to build. I am sure they continued short-term tactics but they recognised that in order to deliver substantial growth, they needed to think longer term

 

The IBM example shows brilliantly that inbound marketing is not just digital. Fundamentally, inbound is a way of bringing people in to your brand by earning their interest. This could just as easily be an event stand as it could a sponsored update on LinkedIn.

Interested in finding out more? Join us for our Sales & Marketing Forum where we will be discussing inbound and the many questions that surround it.

 

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Posted by Rachael Clark | June 14, 2016

4 steps to maximising your inbound marketing

Categories: Best Practice

Inbound marketing is never easy to tackle. It’s a hot topic in B2B marketing, which is why our upcoming Sales & Marketing Forum on 16 June will be focused on it exclusively. Here, our Head of Inbound shares some expert advice on how to keep on top of it, and maximise its value. For further discussion on the subject, make sure to register for the Forum today.

  1. Identify the broken links in your customer journey

Why: Broken links are all too common between the sales and marketing processes – and it takes just one to sabotage all of your hard work. Picture it as trying to fill a leaky bucket. Yes, you’re getting great opportunities through your inbound marketing efforts. But, an opportunity will be all it ever is if you haven’t captured their details on your website because the form is too cumbersome.

How you make this happen: Take a look at the four key stages in the customer journey outlined below. Inbound fits in to the first stage, but its effectiveness is dependent on the stages that follow. Identify which stage is causing an issue, and make any relevant alterations.

 

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  1. Make your reporting actionable

Why: Too often reports are churned out without the ‘so what’ being considered. We’ve had this many views on a blog… but so what? What do we want to do with this information? Does it match our objectives? The abundance of available data perpetuates this issue – and wastes huge amounts of time and resource pulling in stats that won’t deliver business gains.

How you make this happen: Keep it simple. Think about the objectives of your activity. What do you need to know to find out if it’s on track?

Take this example. Your business has an objective to deliver £10 million in pipeline in the next six months. To succeed, you firstly need to identify the marketing objectives that will get you there and plan your activity accordingly (see below for an idea of how to do this). 

 

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Next, consider what ‘good’ looks like against each of those metrics and set benchmarks for success.

Finally, look at how you need to set up the report to demonstrate this. This may involve tracking your most visited pages for insight on what your audience are consuming on your website. You can then use this knowledge to turn these interested visitors into known users by gating the content to these pages. 


  

  1. Start with the business challenge and audience insight

Why: Always remember, “There is nothing so terrible as activity without insight” (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe). Having a channel or content strategy is a sure-fire way to do a lot of ‘stuff’, but half of it won’t be needed. Do you need a content strategy? A social strategy? A search strategy? No. You need a single core strategy. How you use content or channels can, and should, all align to this.

How you make this happen: Start in the same way you would anything else – articulate the business challenge. Research and develop your audience personas and their core responsibilities through the likes of social listening or market research. Consider how you will address the business challenge, and build a strategy from there. Don’t think of your inbound strategy as a selection of channels or feel constrained by what you think a channel can do. If you understand the audience well enough, almost any channel can be used in a way to deliver your objectives. However, also realise that you don’t need to be on every channel to deliver your objectives. Avoid diving head-first into creating a presence for yourself on new platforms without a complete audience understanding. Like these guys.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sr_EtMhM3fg

 

  1. Focus on integration

Why: Like any other activity, inbound needs to be part of an integrated journey. By relying too heavily on one area (e.g. calling), you are opening yourself up to risk.

How you make this happen: Look at your marketing mix from a 70:20:10 point of view. Focus 70% on what has worked well to date, 20% to optimise that activity (e.g. different methods of targeting within an existing programme) and 10% to entirely new testing (which may be introducing inbound, but could just as easily be something else).

105432_TMP_SM_Social-Graphics_Blog_70-20-10.jpgThis really just scratches the surface of the possibilities and misconceptions about inbound marketing – if you’d like to dive further into the subject along with other senior sales and marketing professionals, remember to register for the Forum while spaces still remain.

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Posted by Rachael Clark | June 7, 2016

B2B marketing in Germany: a unique opportunity

Categories: At the Barn

In February 2016, The Marketing Practice opened a new office in Munich, Germany. The office is headed up by TMP Germany’s Managing Director Andreas Bernhard, former Head of Product Marketing at a TMP client. We caught up with him to get some of his insights.

Andreas Bernhard

Why did you decide to start TMP Germany?

I saw a big opportunity for the German market. There are specialised agencies in Germany for telemarketing, direct marketing or creative services. When I was working with TMP as a client I realised that there is no agency in the German market that can offer the same breadth and depth: running a demand generation programme end to end, from the business case calculation, data development, direct mailings and social media, all the way to inside sales. We can take responsibility for the entire value chain to the ultimate outcome of qualified sales opportunities in the pipeline.


Why did you think the TMP offering would fit with the German market? How is it different?

We deliver programmes with our clients that focus on their outcomes: pipeline, closed business, developing new opportunities in existing accounts. This is the big differentiator – we consider the full picture, not solely the creative or some part of the value chain.


This is what marketing leaders really need – at the moment, they are either working with many specialised agencies, or they are bringing some functions in-house but still outsourcing others. Nobody wants to work with too many agencies: they want to focus on the marketing strategy and accomplish their objectives, not spend their time coordinating. TMP is solving that challenge in the UK, but no agency was yet offering that kind of end-to-end support in the German market.


What do you see as being the key benefits of a Munich office for TMP’s UK clients?

The big advantage for UK clients is that they can now drive not only a UK agenda but also a far more effective European agenda. You have the local competence, coupled with the consistent methodology from the UK. Plus, from the Munich office we are not only seeing business in Germany, but also in the Netherlands and France. So this base gives us the opportunity to take the same approach into further European markets and drive the same standard of outcomes.


What has been the most interesting project so far for TMP Germany?

That would probably be our demand generation work with Salesforce. Salesforce had huge growth objectives in the Mittelstand market, which covers more than 50,000 companies. It’s traditionally been a very difficult market for companies to break into, especially from the US. We needed to get an effective programme up and running in a very short space of time, which had the right tone and positioning for a unique audience, and could deliver hefty pipeline targets. We developed a programme to deliver end-to-end nurture from the first interaction all the way to an outcome. This covered target group segmentation, data management, content, campaigning, and much more.


Could you explain what you mean by the Mittelstand market?

The Mittelstand would be called the SME market in the UK or the USA. But even the Americans refer to the German SME market as the Mittelstand, because it is not only the size of the companies, but also a very specific mindset. These companies are the engine of the German economy. They are innovators but at the same time very mindful of their investments, so you have to make a strong case to convince them that you can sell to them. And that makes the Mittelstand fun to work with.


What has been the most interesting lesson for you so far about setting up TMP Germany?

When you are working across various locations you have to really think about how you are integrating your business functions. It is almost like business process outsourcing delivery, where we have certain functions in the UK and others in Germany. To orchestrate all of that is challenging. However, because the UK office acts as a knowledge hub, we can take advantage of that in Munich to deliver better outcomes than we could in isolation.


Secondly, in Germany we benefit from being much closer to our clients. I spend around 80% of my time in front of my clients, and that kind of intimacy bears a lot of potential for both the client and the agency. We’re expecting to see the same kind of benefits for UK clients from our new London office.


What do you see as the biggest differences between the UK and German markets for B2B?

I think that the UK is slightly ahead in applying modern marketing methodologies, while German marketers are more concerned with technology processes. There’s also a lot more competition in the UK, and that creates new knowledge and approaches. In Germany, where everyone is so specialised, that knowledge-sharing community is somewhat disconnected.


And finally, what would be your key advice for anyone considering expanding in Germany?

Get a native speaker with international experience. As silly as it may sound, I have seen so many UK businesses without native skills, and it just doesn’t work out. You need to build up trust, and language builds up trust. There are cultural differences between the UK and Germany, and you have to make sure this doesn’t become a sticking point.
The personal element must not be underestimated. Overcoming the cultural differences is the key thing to consider when you’re expanding internationally.

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Posted by Dan Squire | May 31, 2016

Culture shock: how I learnt to stop freelancing and love the job

Categories: At the Barn

When I moved to the UK from South Africa, I was convinced that I wouldn’t trade in my freewheeling, freelance lifestyle for anything (except, maybe, large sums of money). But time, boredom and an unkind Rand-to-Pound exchange rate forced me to revise my outlook, so I got a copywriting job in a large company. I should have been happy about finding a real day job, in my chosen field. There was a killer canteen with a whole counter just for cake, spacious parking, and even a swanky staff shop. I was spoilt. And I stuck it out for one whole week.

The work wasn’t particularly difficult, the schedule wasn’t exceptionally punishing, and the people were actually quite nice – my manager was like a Disney Princess in skinny jeans. But it wasn’t right for me. By the third day of driving into work, in tears, I realised that I wasn’t doing myself, or my new colleagues, any favours by pretending I wanted to be there.

 

Born free(lance)

In the aftermath that followed, I convinced myself that I had simply worked alone for too long, and was no longer fit for office life. Like a house pet turned feral, too much time had passed for me to be safely reintroduced into polite society.

Fast forward a few months and I’m back in an office, working as a copywriter at The Marketing Practice. The work is challenging, the schedule is packed, the expectations are high, and I couldn’t be happier. There are the obvious perks: great coffee, free food, a charming pub next door and a bucolic village setting.

But the major differentiator comes down to something that gets the spotlight in corporate brochures, and yet is often lost in the shadow of looming deadlines and delivery pressures… culture.

 

Principles or profit?

Every effort has been made to ensure that I feel like part of the team here. Time has been spent making sure that I understand not only what the company does, and how, but also why. They’ve kindly accommodated my wanderlust and considered my working preferences – although I notice I am still waiting for my hammock-desk to be erected.

It’s the importance of this cultural fit that is also reflected in one of, what I think, is The Marketing Practice’s most attractive qualities: their fussiness.

One of the best (and worst) parts of being a freelancer is the freedom to say ‘no’ to clients and projects that are not compatible with your own beliefs and values. But ask any freelancer if they prefer principles to payment and you’ll see an expression I like to politely call ‘conflicted’. Creative freedom is all well and fine, but rent doesn’t pay itself.

During one of my induction sessions, Clive McNamara (TMP Founder and CEO) explained that The Marketing Practice’s approach to taking on new clients was as discerning as it was towards taking on new staff. Only companies who share TMP’s values and objectives make the cut. There are few agencies who have the luxury, or the gumption, to be so choosy about finding the right fit when it comes to clients, but the effect on the work and the environment is obvious.

Every word in every message, every action, and every meeting has a purpose and point. Nothing is done by halves. The employees here don’t just feel obliged to deliver results – they feel personally accountable for them. It’s a completely different mindset to ‘churning out’ work to meet deadlines and then fluffing the numbers come award season.

Company culture is so much more than some waffle on your website, or an abstract word cloud in a CI guide. It’s the energy and the essence of an organisation, it’s the meter by which big decisions are measured and hard asks are answered. Your company’s culture can’t be defined in a snappy campaign, a vision statement, or a cute photo montage at the back of internal newsletter. It has to be lived, by everyone, every day.

And hey, when it’s right, it’s right.

 

When it's right, it's right.

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Posted by Jade Mitchell | April 28, 2016

Social selling: beyond the hype

Categories: Best Practice

A short guide to starting the conversation with your prospects

 

Ever noticed that if you repeat a word enough it loses its meaning?

Well it’s happening to social selling. Social selling. Boastful selling. Social smelling.

Social selling is everywhere right now: from blogs to boardrooms. So does that mean it’s just another meaningless buzz phrase?

Certainly not. If you can understand and execute social selling, you’ll build a network of prospects that’ll turn your competitors green with envy. It’s just a question of knowing how.

 

What is social selling? Really?

Buyers are choosing to talk to sales people later in the buying process than ever before, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t talking about you. The conversation has simply relocated.

92% of B2B buyers start their search online.

Social selling is a way of making sure you’re still part of that conversation. Done well, it opens up the opportunity to influence prospects before they’ve even started doing their research.

 

How to use social selling to build your pipeline

Our step-by-step guide reveals how we’ve made social selling work in a B2B world. Discover how to develop social sellers within your business, engage C-suite executives and measure the ROI of your social activity. Get the free guide

 

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Posted by Fran Gibbons | April 11, 2016