iQ by Intel Takes the Food Cart Viral: A B2B Demand Gen Case Study

August 28, 2012

I was checking out one of my favorite foodie blogs, Eater 38, when I came across the iQ by Intel series on Mobile Food. These videos investigate how popular food carts in New York and Portland are using technology to succeed. The first, “Starting the Food Cart,” shows mobile restaurant owners discussing how technology shapes the industry. Next, “Powering the Food Cart” looks at how these businesses use the latest payment technologies. And the third, “Promoting the Food Cart,” will show how they use social media to connect with customers. I think these are great examples of how smart content becomes discoverable—by revealing something people want to know and are excited to share.

A colleague of mine knows Bryan Rhoads, iQ Editor-in-Chief, and he gave her the inside scoop about this project. “iQ is designed to feed a content-hungry 24/7 cycle. It may sound cliché, but content is the currency of the modern web…and social shares are the transactions in this market place for eyeballs and exposure.”

How has iQ been effective in grabbing eyeballs? “As consumers of information, we still Google or search for information, but content discovery has changed. I’m much more likely to discover interesting items, news and product offerings in my social news feeds like Facebook, Twitter and Google+. An additional and very pleasant surprise for us is how often we’re seeing our content in news aggregation sites, magazines and apps like FlipBoard or Zite. That’s effective modern marketing. That’s how the game is now played: getting one’s content to appear organically in these new tools and apps. Seeing an iQ story, including the Foodcart series in FlipBoard and Zite, is what it’s all about.”

How can businesses increase exposure? “It’s a 24/7 on-demand market place. Brands need to think more like publishers, i.e. cater to what the audience needs, wants or wants to share. iQ’s content strategy is ‘demand-side’ economics, not the ‘supply-side’ where brands have traditionally focused. Brands historically want to supply content and messages that they want to push out. However, in this on-demand world, messages and content will fall helplessly flat if there is no demand.”

The Mobile Food series is a great reminder that we can increase awareness and credibility without being salesy. One of my social gurus, Carmen Hill, agrees that these guys have knocked it out of the park. “I love what Intel is doing with the iQ site. Bryan and his team have truly blazed a trail with their social and content marketing practice. It’s so easy to fall back on the bad habit of always talking about ourselves. What Intel is doing—and what we should all aspire to do—is to create content about things our audience cares about. Talking about our products is boring. Talking about how our products help get your lunch paid for and ready to eat faster is much more interesting.”

The takeaway? When B2B demand gen efforts are aligned just right with what’s hot, content can become not just relevant but magnetic.

How are you delivering the content your audiences are hungry for in ways that reveal your true value—and get you the eyeballs you want?


The Single LinkedIn Tip Busy B2B Demand Generation Marketers Need

March 18, 2011

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Here’s the one thing you need to do to get more out of LinkedIn.

Whether you have a free or premium LinkedIn account, there’s plenty you can do to promote yourself and your business. A wealth of third-party applications for sharing your other online content and the advent of open groups have made LinkedIn even more of a one-stop shop for online business networking. Now, consider:

LinkedIn features 90m+ professionals around the world, and counts executives from all 2010 Fortune 500 companies as members (Details correct as of January 2011).

And that’s the problem. There’s so much to do, and so many influential people to tap and respond to (or not). Like most demand generation marketers, I’m incredibly busy. I don’t have much time to focus on things that don’t make a direct impact I can quantify.

But: I count LinkedIn participation as my most worthwhile social media endeavor. (It was also my first venture into social media of any kind.) My top tip may not be everyone’s, but it’s paid off for me in:

  • Shaping my targeted accounts lists
  • Recruitment of great candidates for my agency
  • Keeping me in the know about what my target audience really cares about

Here it is: In all of your LinkedIn activities, be very selective.

Did you just deflate a little bit? Let me explain why this selectivity is so key and how it plays out.

The big temptations of LinkedIn are to connect with as many influential people as possible, and fatten up your profile with as much evidence of your superior experience as you can. But when you feel that itch to overconnect, ask yourself these three questions:

  • Wouldn’t you rather build up a highly targeted base of contacts that you know will be of value to you?
  • Do you want prospective connections to read several fantastic recommendations from key leaders and colleagues who really know you, or balk at wading through tens of testimonials from everyone you could get to exchange recs with you?
  • Reality check: can you truly contribute valuable input to (and take it in from) more than 10 groups?

The specific tasks that drive valuable connections will vary with your background and experience, but here are two mini-case studies to draw inspiration from.

Naturally, I’d love to know your own simple Linkedin tips for busy demand generation marketers. Please share your gems in the comments.

90m+ professionals around the world as of January 2011

Five Takeaways From SiriusDecisions’ B2B Demand Creation Planning Assumptions

January 25, 2011

I’ve got a treat for you: a free download from SiriusDecisions that can help you prioritize your B2B demand generation activities.

But just in case you’re as overloaded as I am with brilliant PDFs to read, here are the top five takeaways from the SiriusDecisions Research Brief “Demand Creation: Planning Assumptions 2011.”

  1. Treat lead sourcing as one part of the process, not the process. Focusing too narrowly on delivering leads ignores the help that sales needs and the contributions marketing can make throughout the demand waterfall.
  2. Up your inbound marketing now.“By 2015, SiriusDecisions estimates that as much as 75 percent of b-to-b demand will come from the Web. To capture these prospects, you must have a good feel for the sources that buyers go to get information; place content on these sources that entices buyers and provides value; and create a series of on-ramps to move prospects onto a Web site or landing page.”
  3. Mind the skills gap. “The fact that there are now so many different demand creation jobs to do fundamentally challenges the idea of a one-size-fits-all demand marketer…Identify where your organization must augment the skills of current employees, and define how it will find new ones to fill key gaps.”
  4. Redirect field marketing. “Many field marketers have been pulled to spend more time on deal closing, simply because of their proximity to sales…What they tend to be particularly adept at are jobs such as pipeline acceleration and account-based marketing, both of which require significant collaboration with sales in order to succeed…Focus field marketing’s role on end-of-the-waterfall activities, where it will have the greatest impact.”
  5. Make content creation and management a priority, not an afterthought. “Hire or appoint a content strategist with deep experience in content creation and management, who will act as a senior leader within the demand center with responsibility for meeting the needs of your buyers and your organization with high-value content.”

It’s been predicted that marketing will change as much in the next 5 years as it has in the last 50, so I for one am happy to take some change navigation tips from proven experts! If you feel the same, download the entire Planning Assumptions Research Brief, with my compliments.

And if you have a thought to spare on these trends, do comment.


Tell Me: Do you think B2B Demand Generation is a Risky Business?

January 17, 2011

Skydive Vietnam, BFR above Nha Trang

“What are the three most valuable things a client needs to do for you to have a successful partnership and engagement?”

That was one of the final questions asked in an RFP I responded to last week, and I’d really like to know what your response would be. I’m especially curious as to whether your answer would be very different from mine.

In my 15+ years of B2B marketing experience, my most compatible clients are those who:

  • Want to go the extra mile with us.
  • Want to experiment.
  • Are up for a considered risk.

That last one has always proven critical for me. Taking considered risks—and testing “what we know works” (the benchmark) against “what could be even better” (the potential)—is how best practices are born. Of course, it helps to have proof at hand; no client wants to feel like the guinea pig for our big ideas. Here’s the kind of evidence for considered risk I share with my clients:

A large technology communications client needed help to break through to their targeted accounts. Their tactics typically revolved around email blasts that pointed to the very large, very informative, and very intimidating corporate website.

When we recommended an integrated approach that included high-value direct mail and a microsite as well as email follow-up, they hesitated. Direct mail, especially, had not been successful for them in the past. We took a considered risk ourselves in pointing out the targeting flaws of their previous program. They agreed to try a pilot program using our approach.

The pilot program results were outstanding:

  • From Sales: “This is the best marketing program I’ve seen in my 15 years in this business.”
  • 50% penetration of the targeted accounts (penetration meaning Sales was successfully able to meet with these companies).
  • 25+% of the total set of companies we targeted are now in the client’s pipeline.
  • ROI trajectory is 10-1…and growing. Deals have closed….and many more look promising.
  • The program is so successful it is being expanded to hundreds of additional targeted companies and contacts.

If you’re with me on the need for considered risk, you may also be interested in Seth Godin’s very helpful list called, “Top ways to defend the status quo.” I review it from time to time, the better to keep these trigger statements connected to my risk-means-reward responses.

Enough about me. What are some of your most successful responses to status-quo defenses like, “That will never work” (#1 on Seth’s list)?


Why Microsites (Still) Matter for B2B Demand Generation

January 17, 2011


Consider this your cheat sheet for explaining how microsites serve an important role in the marketing mix—especially in initiatives that are demand generation-focused.

For both B2B buyers and B2B marketers, it comes down to three issues: relevance, access, and control.

Why Microsites Matter to B2B Buyers

Immediate access to relevant content: Whether they’re C-suite decision makers or rank-and-file influencers, B2B buyers don’t have time to deep-dive through corporate websites for content relevant to their pain points and position in the buying cycle. A microsite instantly aligns content to a visitor’s area of interest or persona.

Easy sharing: Rarely is a single person responsible for B2B purchases, so being able to share highly relevant content easily and quickly is a big plus. Sharing a single microsite URL and directing colleagues to one place (instead of collecting and sending bits and pieces) greatly streamlines the process.

Personal connection: Microsites that include a PURL (personal URL, e.g., http://www.sitename.com/jane) enable a completely tailored experience for each visitor. That could mean the B2B buyer not only receives content appropriate to their role, they may also have direct access to and information about their dedicated sales rep. A microsite could also include an area where information requested by the B2B buyer can be uploaded and archived.

Why Microsites Matter to B2B Marketers

You’ll capture more valuable leads with the microsite’s sharp hook than the corporate site’s wide net. (Naturally, you need to do testing and optimization to ensure this is done well.) A corporate website serves more successfully as the central repository for an organization’s traffic and complete content.

Pipeline profiling: Based on how B2B buyers interact with and consume content on the microsite, you can align them with business rules that will determine your next steps. Based on this pipeline profiling, you can decide whether to send them as leads to sales, or put them into a specific nurture program to receive additional content.

Control of content and production: Let’s face it, corporate websites often become battlegrounds for control; every department wants their content to take priority. Creating a microsite gives you control to do and choose what’s needed, so you can sidestep company politics and delays.

Now, the next time you hear, “Microsites are a dying breed. Corporate websites will reign supreme” (as I did recently from an esteemed analyst), come back to this post, see if their proposed alternatives address B2B demand generation needs, and let me know your views.

Of course, not every microsite is a good microsite. See 10 Best Practices for B2B Demand Generation Microsites for guidance.


Five Content Marketing Habits of Highly Effective B2B Demand Generators

January 5, 2011

Let’s review some research-backed secrets to effective content marketing in the B2B demand generation sphere.

The “B2B Content Marketing: 2010 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends” offers some excellent clues from the “41% of marketers [who] classify themselves as more effective in content marketing than their competitors.”

In this statistically significant study, the more effective B2B content marketers were found to:

  1. Earmark a much larger percentage of their marketing budget for content marketing: 30% vs. the 18% that less effective marketers allocate.
  2. Consider the “stage in the buying cycle” when developing content.
  3. Use eight tactics of content marketing on average, whereas less effective marketers use only six.
  4. Use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube more: 82% use at least one platform compared to 66% of their less effective peers.
  5. Have substantially more senior-level buy-in and support for their content marketing efforts.

And apparently, company size and industry don’t impact your ability to be a successful marketer; self-identified effective content marketers were present in every industry, in companies of all sizes.

All well and good. But most of us simply can’t do it all. Before we start investing more, doing more and strategizing more in the content marketing arena, let’s get a sense of which tactics might be most worthwhile.

I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t have guessed that in-person events would show “the highest level of alignment between adoption and effectiveness.” Or that social media (excluding blogs) would rate lower than, say, podcasts, especially since the more effective content marketers identified in the same study use at least one social media platform.

So which highly effective content marketing habits might be most worth adopting?

If you only choose one habit, I’d recommend this one: Consider the stage of the buying cycle your targets are in before developing content for them.

Relevance is key to getting and keeping buyer attention, and being able to target your content more tightly will surely help you build a better business case for your content marketing, too.

Need a refresher on the buying stages and how content and social media tactics match up? Start with these SiriusDecisions posts on the B2B buyer cycle.


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