I have read a couple of statistics recently that made me think Firstly, as reported in the Wall Street Journal recently, in the age of mobile, the desktop is still an important force. And secondly, despite the fact that e-commerce is THE current fashion, in retailing 90% of revenues are still generated offline. In the age of the internet and on-line marketing, statistics like these can often be forgotten and companies can get stuck the mindset the on-line is everything, but these numbers suggest that this is not the case. In-fact the key to good online marketing is the integration of both an and offline media into one joined-up marketing approach. With this in mind, I though it would be good to revisit a few of the posts we have done on the subject of Joined-up Marketing over recent times.
The importance of reputation
If you are interested in a new product or service, or a particular supplier or customer and want to find out more, what do you do? You visit Google. (other internet search engines are available!) The internet means that if you want to find out about pretty much anything, you can; and that means people can find out about you and your business too! It has never been more important that your core presence on the internet – and for most businesses that means your website – truly reflects your business now – and not your business as it was 2 or 3 years ago when your site was launched! Many modern websites include sophisticated content management systems (CMS) (our favourite website platform – WordPress – can deliver phenomenal levels of easy to use CMS functionality at surprisingly modest budgets) but it is important that the CMS is used! By keeping your website up to date, regularly adding new, relevant content (and removing out of date material) you are demonstrating your business is active and progressive and delivering current products, services and information. all good for your reputation. Having an up to date website is important in building a strong reputation for your business, but there is a problem:
You control your website and what goes on it
Your can say pretty much what you like on your website and there are numerous cases of businesses pushing the positives about what they do while gently sweeping the negatives under the carpet. This doesn’t help anyone as whenever we hear about the ‘bad-guys’ some of the negativity can rub off on the rest of us.
Can we trust a company reputation based on what we read on their website?
The rise of the review
Review websites are everywhere. Sometimes it is a business looking to build it’s own reputation as ‘Honest John’ giving truthful opinions of products and services and in other cases a website is set up to allow anyone to write a review (Trip Advisor is perhaps one of the best known names in this area). More and more, sites are also allowing customers to write their own comments about products and services (Amazon positively encourages this). Reviews have their own issues as people with malicious intent can write ‘false negative’ reviews on a site though most have a process of moderation where review are checked by independent specialist before they are published (no one wants to face a libel claim!) But what if my business receives a legitimate negative review? This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You should have the right of reply so that your side of the story appears alongside the review. All reviews tell you how customers view you and your offering. Maybe a negative review highlights an unknown issue you need to deal with? As with anything on the internet, you need to learn to read reviews. A handful of poor reviews in a sea of praise may not be too significant. If you are seeing more negative comments maybe you have some work to do.
The power of case studies
It’s perhaps not surprising that the vast majority of reviewing goes on in the retail/consumer market where typical web traffic is so much higher than in B2B – which is where case studies come in. I said earlier that an issue with your website is that you control the content. Your own words about how great you are can have a bit of a hollow ring! It is so much better if you can get someone else to sing your praises – and who better than a client where you have delivered your exceptional service! It is possible to write a case study using only your words and your point of view but it is so much more powerful if it includes a quote from your client as a testimonial which supports and reinforces what you are saying
More than just a testimonial
A testimonial is great, it is always good to have someone saying how good you are, but a case study can put the praise in context of particular products or services which can demonstrate your particular expertise – showing not only that you deliver but that you deliver in a particular field – and if that is what your reader is looking for…..
The anatomy of a case study
Case studies can be written in many different ways but I always start with 3 headings:
- Issue – What was the problem faced by your customer?
- Solution – How did you solve that problem?
- Benefit – How did they really benefit? – This is where the testimonial works best.
If you can write a paragraph or 2 under each heading and round off with a testimonial from your customer you have the basis of a strong case study – and some great new content for your website A final idea: If they are willing, video your client giving a verbal testimonial (phone video is fine) You can either use this as part of a video testimionial or embed it as part of a written post. – Both work well.
After 40 odd years of giving employment law advice, I reckon I knew my stuff. However, when I retired, and decided to start up for myself, I soon realised how little I knew about marketing my business idea. I knew how to advise clients, and (if I say so myself) I’m personable enough and present a mature image, (important if you’re giving legal advice). Nonetheless, I had no idea how to “plug in” to the modern world, I came from an office with mahogany filing cabinets and we were the first to install a facsimile machine! Then I was introduced to David Wright of BSA Marketing at a “networking event” (another strange concept), and David was able to introduce me to the work that he did. What an eye opener! I’ve long been an advocate of letting a professional do the important things, my mechanic mends my car, my decorator does my house etc, and David clearly was experienced and knowledgeable in the field of presenting your business to the world. In other words he helped me to understand the “concept” of marketing, To coin a phrase:
“Marketing is a process, not an event!“
You start modestly, depending on your budget, and build on your framework over time. It’s about letting people know that you’re there, if you have a good proposition and it is well presented, clients will come to you – as long as they know how to find you. BSA Marketing was able to help me understand the best way to present my business. They took a personal interest in what I did. It mattered to them that I succeeded. They were generous with their time, and patient in explanations to my seemingly endless questions. they even supported me with the IT aspect of my presentation. It’s not only marketing. They know their stuff technically too. All in all, I’m just about to present my 4th year accounts, and I’m still here, profitable, still finding new clients and enjoying a successful new career Not bad, for a (so-called) retired person eh! Thank you David, Paul Murray … and thank you Paul. Visit paulmurrayhr.co.uk for the most personal HR support
Make no mistake exhibitions are expensive, so why is it that many companies don’t make the most of exhibitions where they take space? This fact was brought home recently when we attended very typical trade show. We went with a shopping list. We wanted to buy, either on the day or once we had done our research amongst potential suppliers and considered our options. The thing that really struck me was that although we had in-depth conversations with exhibitors on many stands offering the things we were interested in, it was remarkable how few of the people we spoke to asked for contact details, or showed any interest in keeping in touch. To put the numbers into context, we visited over 30 stands. In all cases we were interested enough to spend time finding out more about their offering, and in most cases explained that our key objective was to do research prior to making a purchase. Of the 30 stands we visited, only 1 took contact details and asked if we were OK for them to keep in touch! As most of the stands were actually taking orders on the day, I must assume that they were only interested if you were actually going to buy then and there, but what a wasted opportunity! In the age of email and social media, real “opted in” contacts are like gold dust. For each of those exhibitors, we were an opportunity:
- That we were at the show suggests that we are in their target market
- We had taken the time to stop and speak to them
- We had explained that we were researching prior to a purchase – (i.e. we had a requirement and a budget)
- We would have been more than willing to give them an email address (Had they been bothered to ask!)
These exhibitors were viewing the show as an event. They would prepare for it, take as many orders on the day as possible, and then move on to the next event. By switching their thinking to the marketing process, they would see that the long term objective was to build relationships with people who wanted what they are selling, on the basis that these people would then buy when they were ready. The show then becomes just one part of a joined-up process, and a great opportunity to build their contact lists. Lists that could then be used post-show to continue to develop relationships and ultimately to turn them into customers! Sales on the day could almost be seen as a bonus. Treating the exhibition as a direct sales opportunity means the maths is simple:
Value=Gross profit on the day – Cost of attending
Value of the event is directly related to orders taken but no value is placed on enquirers who don’t buy there and then – a big missed opportunity in a joined-up marketing world
Treat the event as part of the marketing process, and the equation becomes slightly more complex:
Value=Gross profit on the day + Future value of all additional well-qualified contacts
Given that most people do not buy on the day but do buy in the coming weeks and months, this second approach gives a significantly enhanced valued, much less dependent on people making the snap decision to buy on the day.
It also creates a significantly better platform for building your business.
Follow up is important too…
“But I already take contact details.”, I hear you cry! If you do, that’s wonderful, but what you then do with that information? In the Business to Business world, exhibitions are usually more about contacts than direct sales, and a core focus of exhibitions identifying potential sales leads, but the value then comes from what you do with them. Let me take you through a scenario: You take a stand at an exhibition and at the end you have a database of 200 people who you have spoken to on the day. These are then divided up and passed on to the “sales team” to follow up. The sales team then ‘cherry pick’ those where they think they can get a quick sale (after all, sales teams tend to be measured on revenue). The rest will probably wither and die. A better solution might be to let the sales team cherry pick and handle the short term opportunities, then feed the rest into a longer term communications process using a mix of direct marketing tools that will ensure that they are not forgotten, and are developed into the short-term opportunities of the future. Take this approach, and whilst exhibitions may be expensive, they also become a valuable part of a joined-up marketing process, that can deliver real, long term return on investment. If any of this has struck a chord with you, we would be delighted to talk to you about how we can help you get the most out of your investment in exhibitions & events.
In the age of digital, it is sometimes easy to forget the role of trade journals. Once the mainstay of Business to Business marketing, trade publications are still a valuable element in the marketing mix, and they can now be even easier to engage with.
Trade Journals are always looking for good content
Ultimately, most trade journals are supported by advertising. To sell advertising, they need readers, and readers demand good quality content. Combine this with the fact that magazines are increasingly working with fewer editorial staff, and you can see that they are always open to good content from outside. With this in mind, it is always worth engaging with relevant trade journals and offering them your (good quality) content. If you follow our blog on a regular basis, you will know that we believe content is king, and that any marketing programme should have the creation of high quality content at the centre. If you are effectively marketing your business it is likely you are already creating content that may be of interest to trade journals. Typically, editors of trade magazines are looking for articles that:
- Are of general or specific interest to their/your sector
- Convey useful information rather than a sales pitch
- Are well written so don’t require too much editing
- Are easy for them to use (but more of this later)
These points should be guiding principles for all your content anyway, so, in principal, creating content that may be of interest to trade journals should simply be a part of your day-to-day marketing activity!
Editors will use content from people they trust
I mentioned above that editors prefer content that is easy for them to use. Not least, this means content that does not require detailed reading and checking. As with all external content (on-line and off-line), trust is a key factor. Once you move away from paid content (advertorial), editors will tend to prefer content from people they can trust (normally from past experience) to deliver appropriate copy. If the journal has a good readership they can be bombarded with potential articles. Most of these they will reject out of hand, so the trick is to build a rapport which takes time.
It is not simply about sending a press release and hoping they will print it.
Enter social media
By its very nature, social media (especially Twitter & LinkedIn) are great tools for building connections with journalists and editors. Targeting, connecting and engaging with editors, journalists and writers on trade journals should be a key strand to your social media strategy.
- Build a list of target journals
- Research the name of the editor and key journalists – These will normally be printed somewhere within their pages, or listed on their website
- Find these journals/people on social media and follow them/encourage them to follow you
Once you have these connections you can use social media to make them aware of your content. For example, on Twitter you might tweet:
@tradejournal We have just added this to our blog, and thought it may be of interest to your readers <>
They are not going to use every post you suggest, but if your content is good & relevant, they will certainly take notice. LinkedIn is another place to raise your profile/reputation for producing good content. By regularly posting good content against your profile, intelligently commenting on the posts of others, and posting good content on the LinkedIn Pulse blog, you are continually re-enforcing your ability to produce good copy and thus enhancing your reputation.
The Role of Email
Email too has a role in this process. In addition to targeting customers and prospects directly, you should also include trade journal contacts in your email marketing programme. However, rather than simply sending them your newsletter, we would suggest re-formatting the content to make it trade journal friendly:
- Include only one story per email, and include the story in full
- Include links to high-resolution versions of logos and images that trade journals will need if they decide to print your story
- Include a link to an editable version (MS Word or similar) of the story to make it easy for them to use the copy
- Include a short biography of the company/author that they can use as a byline.
Finally, when emailing trade journals, take account of their deadlines and try to get a feel for their publishing timelines. There is little point in sending the email just as they are about to hit their print deadline. Much better to send it shortly after, when they are starting to think about future issues.
A Word about Trade Press Advertising
Ask any trade journal editor and they will tell you that editorial and advertising are not linked, that one does not depend on the other. In principle this is correct. If you provide good quality copy then it should have a chance of being printed irrespective of whether you advertise with a journal. However trade journals do rely on advertising revenue so if you value a journal in your marketplace, and you believe that relevant people are reading it, then it follows that advertising there can have value to you. if you are considering placing advertising then maybe that journal would be a good place to put it!
- In many markets there is little doubt that trade journals still have a valuable role to play in the marketing mix
- Email and social media make it cost-effective to engage with trade journals in a sustainable way
- Make sure you join-up this activity with your broader content marketing
- Take the long-term view and build relationships with key journals and their editors.
If you would like to explore the potential of trade journals in your marketing, drop me a line or call 01457 851111