Information Marketing for Profit in Industry

The internet has forced companies to rethink ways in which they deliver their products, services and pricing.  Although many high value service providers do not post their pricing as a matter of strategy; most don’t do so because their services are tailored to the specific needs of a project. But what happens when you introduce information marketing to that service provider who can then begin charging for the exact reason they don’t post pricing; Specialized knowledge.

Businesswoman drawing diagram on a natural background.

However, in most cases due to the vast numbers of service providers available, it is very difficult for a company to differentiate what they can offer.   Competitors that do not have the necessary skills in-house can very easily freelance the expertise in order to provide or match the service offerings of others in their market or industry.  Established companies can experience a ceiling on their pricing as a result.

Put Your Network in Place

However, businesses that have an industrial marketing network in place are at a distinct advantage in managing through pricing challenges.  Marketing for manufacturing, in some cases, works no different than any other business in that there are individuals who cannot afford to work with a particular business although they might want to.  Depending on the nature of the business that a company is in, opportunity routinely exists to take the expertise that companies cannot sell to businesses in project work completion, and instead package it and sell it as education/training. (Dramatic Music) Enter Information Marketing.

The existing industrial marketing network mentioned above that might be interested in training and information will consist of:

  1. An active (SEO) search engine optimized campaign to attract those who are interested in what the company offers,
  2. A following of industry related contacts from conferences, trade publications and educational content delivery
  3. A contact database of prospects, former clients and current clients
  4. A following based on social media platforms of Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn

Companies with this framework in place already have a potential client base for their information products.

Why is this important?

Why is this aspect of business worth pursing? Knowledge and expertise more than service delivery is the chief component of a business that providing a true sustainable competitive advantage.  It is the unique character of the knowledge pool within a company is what sets it apart from others.  While it can be to the company’s advantage to give a fair amount of this knowledge away so that a company and its executives can be positioned as experts in the industry; it can also be lucrative to take some aspect of the knowledge and provide it to companies that need information more than they need service.

Thinking in this vein is very important because it provides access to a competitor’s client base without necessarily having to offer the same bundle of services.  Additionally, while training is easy for others to copy and offer through their own venue, the expertise isn’t easy to duplicate.  There will always be some aspect of information that can be offered that is unique to the talent pool of a company’s staff that cannot be offered elsewhere.  How then can a company cost effectively bundle this information together without taking their focus away from their core product and service offerings?

Companies can offer the following information bundles and packages for sale to interested buyers:

  1. Self Published/Commercially Published Books
  2. Audio/Video Training (Online/Offline)
  3. Conferences (Online and Offline)

In effect, information marketing provides companies with the option of being able to make an offer of some kind to everyone in their marketing funnel.  While offering information products should not preclude a company from providing free training, it can supplement their earning capability by positioning themselves as consultants in addition to service providers.  This will help them to offset some of the lag time between a project’s start and its corresponding compensation.
So then how does a company begin building a structure to package information to market to its network?

  1. Take note of the expertise that the company has
  2. Survey the network to find out what they want to learn and what training they are already paying for
  3. Based on this information determine if the expertise can be offered with existing staff
  4. Add industry expertise from outside of the company, freelancers for pay, industry professionals for exposure
  5. With this information, decide on the most cost effective way to deliver the information
  6. Test the product on a segment of the company’s network and gather feedback
  7. Make suggested changes and offer the product to the entire database
  8. Recreate the information in the two additional forms from Step 3
  9. Offer the other forms to the company’s network
  10. Repeat the process for those problems that industry managers and executives are willing to pay for be trained for.
  11. Develop a referral and affiliate system offering sales commissions to those who bring new clients to this part of the business

The key component in the process is to survey those who are already purchasing information and follow the trend to figure out what can be immediately offered.  This method is advantageous because it can provide visibility in markets that the company was unable to compete in otherwise.  It will also provide new visibility to the business in areas where their pricing was too high for those who may have wanted to work with them.
Most importantly, information products offer an excellent opportunity for companies to showcase their expertise to future clients. Often those who experience a business’ philosophy in training will come to understand that their best course of action is to hire the authors of the information to carry out the process instead of trying to implement it themselves.

Is your business being paid for its expertise or only paying for it?

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What Does Mobile Marketing Mean for B2B?

B2B companies don’t have to rush to embrace mobile marketing until their customers demand it.  However, that day may not be too far away, if it hasn’t already arrived.  There is evidence that mobile technology has been fully adopted as the single one device that individuals desire to carry.  According to Microsoft, we are a few years away from the day when mobile internet usage takes over desktop internet usage.  However, closing the B2B sales process typically doesn’t depend on internet connectivity, although it does accommodate; therefore to say it is urgent to may be overstating the case. Nonetheless, mobile marketing is on the the b2b rise.

mobile marketing
However, there are certain statistics that may surprise B2B managers before they want to conclude that nothing in the immediate future needs to be done to their internet presence:

1) The Gomez corporation states that over 70% of those who use Mobile browsers have the expectation that web pages should load as fast as those on their personal computer.
2) 50% of searches conducted in local areas were completed on mobile devices.

3) Over 100 million users use a mobile device to connect with Facebook

These statistics should state clearly that if a company intends to market through search, their visitors are likely to eventually be mobile users therefore demanding a mobile marketing strategy.  If companies intend to market using social media, they can expect that their prospects will be there. If you are conducting educational programs, professionals will probably want to be able to follow along on their mobile device, not necessarily their PC.

Position Your B2B Mobile Marketing for Success

Given the reality of B2B sales process and the growing necessity of mobile marketing, what should companies do immediately to keep themselves from missing opportunities

  1. Executives and staff should visit their site with a mobile device.  They should attempt to take all of the important actions: find research, opt-in, find telephone numbers, search the site.  If these things are not easily completed during the test, managers have just placed themselves in the position of their prospective customers.  If company personnel cannot take actions favorable to the company, they will need to do everything that they can to make it so that these steps are made possible.
  1. Executives and staff should also attempt to consume content on the site and then to take note of whether it is easy to read and navigate. If it is not, steps should be taken to optimize content for mobile devices.   Some content should be created conducive to short attention spans and small screens.  Long paragraphs may be important, but also may not be practical to read while on a mobile device.
  1. Executives and staff should take note of how long it takes for pages to load.  It is estimated by the Gomez Corporation that almost three quarters of consumers wait 5 seconds for a page to load on their site before giving up altogether.  Recognizing that statistic applies to B2C marketers, there is definitely some evidence that site visitors find it distasteful when a B2B page doesn’t load quickly.

While B2B marketers are not dependent (yet) on mobile marketing to close deals, it is quite possible that traffic and engagement opportunities can be missed by not being ready to receive mobile visitors. Starting with the staff’s general analysis their own a site visit companies should begin making changes that are common sense in orientation.  Checking to see if basic objectives are easy or difficult in navigating the site will give executives a good start on figuring out what needs to be done.

What do you find when you visit your site from a mobile device?

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Don’t be so Quick to Jump Into Social Media

There’s a common theme in small business today. Be on social media. Utilize Social Media. Love Social Media. It is flooding business strategy as if the day you sign up, an instantaneous growth of revenue will occur (it won’t). Companies are flocking to Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn to get their piece of the pie. As I meet with clients, I can almost be certain that at some point, a question regarding social media will arise. The remarks of “we need to get on Facebook” or “we want to connect with our customers on Twitter” are common modern day client recommendations. And let’s be honest with ourselves here. Is not accurate to say that just about every marketing agency recommends to their clients that they have a social media presence? I completely disagree. There was a point in time where I, too, felt that every business operating in today’s modern business atmosphere would be stupid not to be present on social media. Because of people’s ability to piss others off online, this has changed for me.

don't jump into social media

We All Understand Social Media is a Good Thing

First, let me disclose that I fully understand and support the advantages that social media brings to a business. Social media brings a wealth of benefits to a business. It allows you to more personally connect with your customers. Engage them in ways they have not been engaged. It allows your business to learn more about your customers than ever before and put that data to very good use. It allows you to take advantage of better search results by satisfying the search engines’ new found importance on social media. And of course we could pour in about 1,000 other checkmate arguments to be “where the customer is” on social media. I get it. It makes sense. It’s logical. It’s beneficial. It differentiates future sustained companies from slowing dying ones. Again, I get it. However, it doesn’t change the fact that I feel social media can absolutely hurt a company who’s not ready for it.

Companies hear this battle cry for social media and naturally they are drawn into the big 3 (or 4 depending on your business); Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and in many b2b cases, LinkedIn. They set up their profiles, upload a logo, send out a couple quick updates to give the appearance they’ve been here before and generate a buzz around their offices that they are currently now on social media. The strategy then becomes fairly consistent for most. Put a link to our Facebook page here. Mention our Twitter handle there. Stream the feeds to our website and ensure there is a link to every social media network so it appears we’re “well connected” to our customer. After a few days of posting press releases and updates on the fact that your CEO is speaking at the ‘No one gives a damn’ Conference in Egypt, you notice your revenue hasn’t improved at all. Social media has failed you. You now realize that your social media campaign requires constant attention and the 8 spamming followers you now have on Twitter are lower than worthless. Well, you tried. It was a good run. You laughed while creating the profile, you cried when it didn’t work, and can now confidently say that social media is not right for the company.

But What we Don’t Understand is Social Media is NOT ALWAYS A GOOD THING

Here’s the problem. As social media continues to grow, more and more of your customers will become part of it. So in a year when your customers finally decide to reach out to connect you on social media, there’s a problem. Your profile is dated, you haven’t posted anything in 8 months and the 5 comments that were sent to your company from prospects or customers went completely unanswered. Your social media presence that was once such a hopeful and glorified asset to your company, has just made you look worthless. The real question is; “would it have been better to have not been there at all, than to look like you’ve been there and failed? Was it worth the trial and error that was nailed into your mind by agencies and social media “experts”? I can answer that one myself, it wasn’t.

Start Small and Decide if Social Media is Truly For You

Social media is a very visible piece of the marketplace and if you’re not truly ready to dedicate the resources to dive in, don’t. It’s not a small investment of time. It’s not instantaneous. It requires time and resources to be effective. If you don’t have these things spare, don’t dive in. Companies are so consumed with just “being there” that they lose sight of what really goes into social media. Social media isn’t a marketing tool, it’s a method of communication. It’s a way to give your customers access to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and if you’re not willing to make that commitment, take the highroad and don’t get involved and certainly don’t get involved on EVERY single platform available to start. Learn the ropes. If you’re starting out on social media, take some time to evaluate the different and choose the one that works best for your business.

Facebook – Are you a consumer based business? Do your customers come in all sorts of shapes and sizes? If so, this could be a great place to start.

Twitter – Are you customers ahead of the game? Edgy? Are extremely into the “now”? You notice a common trend about Twitter users. Mr. Smith, your 54 year old industrial engineer may not fit that trend.

LinkedIn – Are you business to business based? Do you focus on executives and management for your business. Are your credentials a big reason that b2b customers buy from you? Try it out.

Google+ – Are your customers early adopting or a younger generation? Google+ is new and fresh. When you utilize words such as “hangouts” and “circles” to describe key features of your service, you get a sense that your audience base will certainly have that “cool factor”.

Closing Thoughts

Choose one and get started. Test out the waters. Give it time to develop and don’t overwhelm yourself. Take it slow and understand the features of your social platform and begin to introduce it piece by piece into your business model. This will eliminate the possibility of looking like a complete jackass down the road if you do get fed up with social media and can’t seem to adopt it. It happens. It will continue to happen. Even with the majority of society screaming for you to get on social media, keep one thing in mind; It’s sometimes better to not show up the party, than to show up and suck. Am I wrong?

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Today’s Marketing Channels (And the Choice to Interact)

The internet is progressing into a social medium.

That doesn’t mean that the web is ALL social.  Of course, the internet will always be used to find information.  It was invented for research and will always have that as its core, an open window toward needed or desired knowledge.  It will also always be a place for commerce, as buyers and sellers will meet in a world-wide marketplace for goods and services.  But over and above commerce and research, it has become a place for real time (or close to real time) interaction. Even if an entity’s primary function is to sell things or to provide information, both are impacted by people’s desire to interact.

Marketing to different online channels

A Shift is Buying Culture

Businesses have recognized this and most have been successful in building and maintaining a company website.  In fact, new companies are often looking to see if their unique domain name is available before settling on a name for their company.  Customers have come to expect to be able to type in fragments of what they know about a company into a search engine and find their website to get more information.  All of that is old news. What is new is that customers, prospects and stakeholders have the expectation to dialogue with companies and they expect to do so directly.

Companies have options available to them in order to initiate and engage the dialogue.  Each tool has different characteristics and does not have to be launched simultaneously with the others..  However, each medium when used, provides an edge over competitors who choose not to use these tools.  It will always be to a company’s advantage to be every single place that their prospect might be.  Given that fact, a company’s marketers have to decide whether or not it is worth forgoing potential contact with prospects and customers, by using some of the tools and not others.   Assuming that a company has its website for official company news and factual information, here are some other weapons that a firm can employ to solidify its brand. Just a quick look at two of the hundreds:

Blogs

A blog is also a website that a company owns and maintains, but serves as a time stamped journal of their activities.  It differs from the corporate website in that it provides readers a way of interacting with the information.  The interaction between readers and writers forms a community for feedback and problem solving.  Construction and equipment manufacturer Caterpillar uses its blog to work with industry experts, customers and management to improve its products and processes.  It is an excellent example of what is possible when a company chooses to build and engage a community around its products and services.

Social Media Platform Sites: Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest

Social media platforms have inherent in them social dialogue, but their power comes in personal engagement in new projects and ventures.  Companies use these platforms to get “followers” or “likes” about the things that they are planning and doing.  These platforms work best when a company is doing things that are new (and ‘cool’), and if everyone knew about them, it would be of benefit to the company and those who found out about it. Companies effectively share the thoughts from their blog, website and other real time news in hopes that others will share it with their social network of friends.  Manufacturers such as Livescribe and Samsung use their social media platforms to expose new insights, products and services to their following as well as to engage in areas of customer service and research.

YouTube Video

Multimedia venues such as YouTube add the dimension of visual demonstration to a corporate brand.  Companies like Cisco, are able to engage those who want to see their research as it is happening as well as to envision what the new products and services may look like when they are launched. YouTube channels are at their best in building anticipation in those who have an interest in a company’s research.

Companies like Blendtec add a fun element to attract prospects into their marketing funnel.  How exactly does a company get someone excited about paying over $400 for a blender?  A look at the Blendtecs YouTube channel will offer some clues.

Because each social platform does something entirely different, a company that decides to use one but not another misses an opportunity to interact in a unique dialogue. Each one adds a very special dimension to the relationship building process.  Do you have a community for improvement built around your products and services?  Do you a way to let their friends know about the really cool things you have coming in the future?  Can you visually demonstrate what makes your product special amid all of the noise in media, television and the news?

The choice is yours to make.

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The 7 Deadly Sins of Marketing

7 Deadly Marketing Sins
The seven deadly sins were originally created as a educational tool to explain humanity’s tendency to sin in the early Christian times.? They were used to illustrate how a core group of negative emotions could become the stepping stones to further mishaps and bad decisions. In marketing, the concept and theory remains consistent and true.? We must ensure that we understand the foundational elements for ruing a marketing strategy in today’s highly accessible marketplace.

1.) Lust – A strong desire for your customers, but for all the wrong reasons.

People are getting very good at sniffing out sales-driven, impersonal marketing messages that focus on the quick sale.? Treating your customers like a number, or dollar sign, is one of the most critical steps backwards your marketing can take.? Call it junk, call it spam, call it what you will, the end result still remains the same.? Sending messages to a group of people in an effort to get their money, without any understanding of what the prospect truly needs is a detrimental step for your business.

The Answer: Always personalize your marketing messages. Remain genuine in your content and never make your target audience feel like they are just a number to you. And, perhaps most importantly, always take time to show appreciation to your existing customers.

2.) Gluttony – An excessive amount of contact, in a short period of time.

The easiest way to lose a sale is to overwhelm the buyer.? The easiest way to overwhelm a buyer is by forcing a series of pushed marketing messages on them very quickly.? Marketing today is engaging, its timing, its nurturing.? This is what’s expected and anticipated by your audience.? People need to have the ability to digest your messages before moving on to the next one, and make the decision to do so.

The Answer: Allow your prospects to interact with your marketing before forcing the next message. Giving people the ability to control their engagement is crucial.? Always use tools that give you the ability to expand marketing campaigns based on user interaction, not by force feeding your messages daily.

3.) Greed – Keeping your unique knowledge and content entirely for yourself.

Content drives today’s marketplace.? And by content, I don’t mean fundamental points that lack value; I mean direct value based content that immediately impacts your audience.? Today, marketers are so reluctant to release the knowledge they have because they feel that its a trade secret worth keeping from everyone else.? Now, I understand not all information can be used, but everyone has valuable knowledge that they can share in a strategic way to increase marketing conversions.

The Answer: Create an asset library of content that you can frequently tap into.? Invest time in creating whitepapers, blog posts, e-books, videos, and anything else that can offer value to your audience.? Remember the golden rule of content: Good content will do one of result in either laughter, learning, or love.

4.) Sloth – Becoming physically and emotionally inactive in the social marketplace.

There’s a basic certainty in today’s marketplace; Any company can send a postcard, build a website, or send an e-mail.? That doesn’t take effort, it doesn’t take creativity, it doesn’t take passion for what you do.? If you want to stir up the marketplace you compete in, than you need to be present where your customers are.? Spend the time listening to them in the social web.? Learn their concerns, connect with them on a level other companies are not.? Don’t become lazy in your efforts.

The Answer: Dedicate time each week to social media.? Spend the time necessary to reach out to customers and don’t become frustrated when it’s not an immediate impact. Social media is a very powerful tool, but building loyalty through it takes determination.? You must earn your audience’s attention, not expect it.

5.) Wrath – Retaliating against customers through poor service.

One traditional business concept will always remain in place.? Value your customers.? Now, I’m not a firm believer of “the customer’s always right” because I feel that consumers have enough buying power in today’s market to choose their services/products wisely.? However, I do feel that not addressing negative experiences with customers because you don’t agree is detrimental.? Word spreads, and word spreads fast.? In today’s fast-paced, technological world, one customer can equal the reach of thousands.? Therefore, always keep in mind that no matter how much you disagree with something, the web is written in ink.

The Answer: Always take the time to address negative experiences openly and publicly.? Where there’s an elephant in the room, introduce it.? The same goes with marketing. Emphatically admit mistake, and never say “you’re wrong”.? When dealing with marketing, sales, and the web, always take a look from the other person’s viewpoint while remaining transparent in the process.

6.) Envy – Becoming consumed in social comparison and metrics. The infamous quantity over quality approach.

One thing is certain, you’re not Ashton Kutcher, and you’re not going to have millions of followers on Twitter.? However, still people become so obsessed with the quantity of their social media platforms that they will sometime go to extreme measures to improve them.? Buying followers or creating give-a-ways simply are wasted efforts.

The Answer: Spend your time wisely. Focus on your own strategy, create your own agenda and plan.? Create the content your target market wants and share it with them.? Don’t fall into the number envy trap.?

7.) Pride – Becoming so consumed in the greatness of your product/service and ignoring your audience’s needs.

Perhaps the most deadly marketing sin known.? This is also known as the ‘Look at me’ marketing strategy.? Pushing your product on people because of how great it is, doesn’t make it great.? Many companies today fail to address the true concerns and needs of their customer because they are so consumed with drilling the fact that they have a great product or service.? The short version is this; no one cares about you, they care about themselves.? People don’t want to hear how great you or your product are, they have their own problems, issues, and a thousand other things driving their focus each day.? Your audience craves attention. Your audience craves appreciation. Your audience wants to know how they can be helped and their lives made easier.

The Answer: Focus your marketing efforts on the needs of your audience.? Put more time understanding your audience and engaging with them to learn what truly consumes their valuable attention.? Then sculpt your marketing to meet these needs.? Become a resource to your audience.? Again, your audience’s attention is to be earned, not expected.

Closing Words

The marketplace is a vicious place.? Bad habits can turn great companies into a thing of the past and your customers control it.? This post was not meant to spark any religious insight, however, there’s a lot we can learn from history by just opening our eyes and absorbing the concepts around us.? Avoid the pitfalls that many companies fall into simply by not remaining consistent in their marketing ethics and determination.

 

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