Category: B2B Marketing


How to Generate Speaking Opportunities at a Trade Show or Conference

Speaking opportunities are an inexpensive and targeted way to get a strong ROI from trade shows and conferences. It's always possible that attendees who hear you speak will become your clients. Here are ten techniques to get these opportunities.

Join a special interest group

Groups dedicated to the industry you serve are plentiful. The local chamber of commerce, groups of financial planners, IT VARs, and manufacturers are common. Build your speaking resume by starting small.
 

Nurture the person responsible for choosing speakers

Choose your venue, find out who is responsible for selecting speakers, and create a plan to keep your name and qualifications in front of that person.
 

Develop a catchy title

A catchy title will attract the attention of the conference organizers and increase the likelihood of getting chosen as a speaker. Remember that it's important to both inform and entertain.
 

Choose a client pain point for your proposal

Conference organizers use your topics in their ads to attract people to attend. Design your speech to supply solutions for typical pain points of your clients and prospects.
 

Look at the event website 9 to 12 months in advance

It's not unusual for next year's conference planning to start at the current year's conference. Look at the conference website and get your speaking proposal in early. Consider multiple topics.
 

Target events that your clients attend

Ask your clients what magazines they read, what associations they belong to, and what conferences they attend. Organizers are very interested in speakers who can draw attendees.
 

Pay

When exhibiting, take advantage of product showcases and sponsorships that give you the opportunity to get in front of an audience, even if it costs some money.
 

Offer to speak at a regional event

Many conferences have local regional events throughout the year. Offer to speak at one of these events and it can lead to a speaking opportunity at the main event.
 

Offer to speak with a named client

Ask one of your clients to join you on the podium and present a joint case study or white paper solution. Conference organizers are more likely to choose a named client presenting a real life situation than a vendor/consultant alone.
 

Join the association that sponsors the event and become active

Joining an association isn't enough -- become active by volunteering to be on a committee. As an insider, you'll know about speaking opportunities and be given an advantage compared to the people that the association doesn't know.


David's blog

B2B Social Media: Finding the Right Marketing Mix

Social media doesn’t succeed in a vacuum. Successful B2B marketing continues to be a combination of inbound and outbound marketing. So what's the right mix?

There's no right answer to this question -- it's unique to each business and the equation must include factors such as budget, resources, and expertise.

In general, social media is not a direct response medium. Limited-time offers still perform best in a push environment. While social media does nurture customer relationships and encourages referrals, it requires consistency and frequency in the messages that you send.

The actual spend will depend on how much you're able to do with your internal resources versus what you have to spend on outsourcing.

Creating a successful inbound marketing strategy

Do your research
  • Check out your competitors. Where are they? Do they have business pages on Facebook? Do they participate in LinkedIn groups?
  • Fish where the fish are. Look for customers at the contact level. Do an online search on your contacts and those you want to be your contacts.
  • Search for industry-specific forums and sites to join and participate in.
Plan and align resources

Possibly the biggest myth about social media is that it's free. Social media costs in both soft and hard dollars. These costs should be factored into your marketing budget with additional consideration to how these costs might impact your organization.

Hard dollar costs can include:

  • Content creation (writers, video development, a revamped website)
  • Subscription costs (services such as LinkedIn)
  • Measurement and analysis tools

Soft dollar costs should include time and labor for all employees active in your social program to:

  • Research sites and communities
  • Write and manage content
  • "Listen" or monitor activity and conversations
  • Stay current on new trends, tools, and topics
     

David's blog

Why B2B Companies Should Embrace Social Media

Many B2B companies have been slow to move beyond the traditional outbound marketing tactics to a more inbound strategy that utilizes social media.

If used correctly, social media can be effectively integrated into a B2B marketing plan. The key is sharing expertise without asking for anything in return, while keeping your brand top-of-mind. By offering useful information, you provide value and build trust with prospects and customers.

Such a strategy isn't necessarily easy. Many organizations find themselves committing to a social media plan on short-term basis, then pulling back when there aren't immediate results. Effective social media marketing requires consistency over an extended period of time.

Some statistics:

  • Nearly 555 million people are active registered users on Twitter (with 135,000 new users signing up each day)
  • 1.15 billion people are registered on Facebook
  • Over 260 million people have visited a Wordpress blog
  • 30 million monthly visits to Slide Share

Social media is more than just Twitter and Facebook. It's a collection of web, mobile, and other tools that help people share information. Sites like LinkedIn, for example, allow businesses and professionals to stay in touch, exchange best practices, and find potential employees.

Using social media can help you connect with your audience, build credibility, gather information about your market, and ultimately drive sales. Next week, we'll look at specific tactics for creating a successful inbound marketing plan focused on social media.
 

David's blog

Credibility Tips and Tricks - Part 3

To market effectively, a company must connect with its audience. This connection has very little to do with the size of company, and everything to do with the credibility of the company.

This week we're looking at more tactics you can use to boost your company's credibility.

Take stock of your appearance

If you're committed to invest the time in the message, pay attention to the way you're presenting it.
 

Poor Packaging = Poor Credibility

A website in desperate need of updating, amateur design or writing, and poorly executed campaigns all take away from the credibility you have invested so much to achieve.

Make a list of all your marketing collateral and take a hard look at your presentation. Consider updating or enhancing these pieces and start tackling them one by one. Work on unifying your message and brand.


Use public relations

It's difficult for most businesses to make the news. Customer wins don't attract much attention, nor do new hires, new offices, or certifications. While these accomplishments certainly have their place in search engine marketing, major publications or news outlets are less likely to pay attention.

To secure your spot in the media, look for existing opportunities that attract PR such as speaking opportunities, awards, and events.

The book Get Slightly Famous by Steven Van Yoder is an excellent resource on the topic, full of great tips on attracting powerful, positive PR.
 

Join associations

Associations can give you both validity and access.Before you invest in an association you should have an objective and do your research. Are you looking for an association with speaking opportunities? A place to publish your content online or in newsletters? Would you like events to attend or sponsor? Even the largest associations may not meet your needs, so it's important to find those that do.

To help secure opportunities, create a portfolio listing speeches you've made, topics you can lend your expertise to, and articles you've written.
 

Produce multimedia

Multimedia is an excellent way to allow your audience to connect with you through audio and visual methods. Using tools such as videos, podcasts, and webinars enhances your online presence and credibility.
 

Be helpful

Credibility aside, we should be as helpful as possible in all areas of our lives -- personally and professionally. But since we're talking about credibility in business here, highlight your activities in the media and in your own marketing whenever possible.

How can you share expertise? You could provide free business builder seminars to local roundtables, mentor students, help non-profits in your community, and offer advice on social media. Whether you search for existing opportunities or create your own, just be sure to enjoy spreading a little goodwill when you get the chance.
 

David's blog

Credibility Tips and Tricks - Part 2

Credibility: it's the reason your customers and prospects listen to you. This week we're looking at additional specific ways you can build credibility for your business.

The "Non-Newsletter"

Arguably, the most widely-used (and often, poorly used) credibility vehicle is the newsletter. Meeting the need for multiple relevant topics on a regular basis is a challenge for most small marketing teams. As a result, these teams produce quick "filler" content which isn't relevant to the audience.

The solution: switch your newsletter to a "Non-Newsletter" and send a single-topic business bulletin. Create one powerful article each month and stop there. Put any specific info you want to share -- offers, seminars, whitepapers, etc. -- in a sidebar or callout area.
 

Affiliations and Awards

Affiliations and awards are strong elements to have in your credibility portfolio. They include:

  • Industry associations
  • Relevant partnerships
  • Chambers of commerce

Make sure your affiliations or memberships are listed in as many places as possible (for example, your email footer or your home page). Have a separate page on your site to list all partnerships and affiliations and make sure you're cross-linking to each of them.

Business awards take a little work, but they can add tremendous credibility and bring media attention to your company. Research your opportunities in advance so you're not scrambling to meet submission deadlines.

To find award opportunities:

  • Search online for phrases such as "local business awards" or industry-name awards.
  • Search association sites for awards.
  • Check your competition to see if they've won any awards.
     

Experts - the Halo Effect

You don't have to be an expert to add credibility to your marketing. It's perfectly acceptable to find materials from outside experts to make your point, address a customer challenge, or help your prospect make an educated decision. You can share a book, a blog post, an article from a business magazine -- anything that brings value to your recipient.

Some of these tactics have an associated "per touch" cost so reserve them for top prospects or in exchange for information. For example, if your visitor completes a survey, you could give them access to a whitepaper from Harvard Business Review.

The Internet offers multiple sources to find your experts. Since your goal is to establish your credibility, make sure your source is trusted. Check out news sites, major publications, or sites packed with industry-specific articles such as Harvard Business Review, or BNET.
 

Surveys

Surveys can help with credibility because they're exclusive, they're potentially valuable to the media, and they can position your company as an expert (e.g., "a survey conducted by...").

Try it out first. Consider a "lite" version of a survey in your newsletters or on your website. Ask a question or two and report the answers -- along with your thoughts or solutions -- the following month.
 

Next week, in part 3 of this post, we'll take a look at more credibility tactics, including PR and brand appearance.
 

David's blog

Credibility Tips and Tricks - Part 1

Without credibility, the best marketing campaign in the world won't make any difference. Last week we looked at the 'why' of credibility. This week, we look at the 'how' -- specific ways you can build trust with your prospects and customers.

Case Studies

Case studies are an effective marketing tool because much like other testimonial tactics, you're letting a third party prove your message for you. Case studies instantly produce more credibility than any marketing collateral you create yourself.

For the most powerful case studies, keep it simple and short. No more than 750 words is ideal. Use pull out quotes and bullet lists to make it easier to scan. Instead of stock photos or clipart, ask your client for images that highlight their product or service.
 

Quotes/Testimonials

They're concise, compelling and extremely useful. A simple quote from your customer is a direct and powerful statement of credibility. Don't be afraid to ask your customers, as most are happy to oblige. Let them speak for you.

Key questions to ask:

  • Who will you ask?
  • How will you ask?
  • Where will you put them?
  • Should you categorize them?

In every marketing activity -- from telemarketing to direct marketing, events, tradeshows, and online endeavors -- consider where a testimonial might fit.

For example, instead of using stock images for your tradeshow booth, print customer quotes on posters or directly on your backdrop. If you're planning an upgrade to your website, integrate quotes into all your pages, not just a running list of testimonials confined to one page.

Since most prospects start in skeptical mode, use testimonials to your advantage. Open a quote with something like "I didn't think we could actually decrease production line overhead until..."
 

Visuals

This is marketing after all, and visuals are important. Along with your own logo and images, utilize client logos and images. They don't need to be famous because they're already known to others in their industry -- your prospects. This, combined with testimonials and case studies, will increase the value of your third party references.
 

Articles

Well-written articles will position you as the expert in your prospect's industry and show how you can help them solve their challenges. Many marketers hesitate on this one, knowing that the experts in their company rarely have the the time or skills to create an effective piece.

Outsource is not a dirty word. Hiring a professional writer for your marketing pieces is an excellent solution to not only take the burden off your internal resources, but to impress your audience with a first-class presentation.

You'll need to gather your internal minds to decide on the topics and framework, then let your freelance writer interview, research and write.

Where do I get ideas for articles?
  • Most importantly -- from your own clients and prospects. What are they asking you? What are their concerns? Have conversations that clue you in to what your targets really want to know.
  • Look to industry groups and associations. What are they writing and blogging about? Check out First Research (www.firstresearch.com) for call preparation reports and great information on industry issues and challenges.
What should I write about?
  • Business-builder topics such as:
  • Managing your business
  • How-to articles (such as how to market in a down economy)
  • Book reviews. Check with the publisher to see if you can integrate some points from the book in your personal pieces
  • 'Tips and Tricks' pieces

And when you invest in professionally-written materials like articles or whitepapers, be sure to use them liberally.

Next week, part 2 of this post, where we look at more ways to boost credibility, including newsletters and multimedia.
 

David's blog

The Credibility Factor

Effective marketing involves much more than overpriced ads and flashy design. There's one important element that's so behind-the-scenes that many companies overlook it completely: the credibility factor.

Credibility Defined

  1. Capable of being believed; believable: a credible statement
  2. Corthy of belief or confidence; trustworthy: a credible witness

These are some powerful words -- capable, believable, confidence, trustworthy -- and all are necessary ingredients for a successful marketing recipe.
 

Credibility on Any Budget

To market effectively, a company must connect with its target audience. This connection has very little to do with how large or small the company is, and everything to do with the company's credibility.

It's no secret that businesses and individuals buy from those they trust. If you've established your credibility, you've opened the door and given people a reason to listen to you. Without it, all the marketing money in the world can't save you.

Let's think big for a moment. Microsoft, Coca-Cola, and Wal-Mart are major players in their respective markets. When they talk, we take notice. Why? Because they've established the credibility it takes for people to instantly recognize their brand and feel safe buying their products or services.

Smaller companies may never reach this level of mass brand recognition and instead need to rely on credibility that comes through other messages, such as:

  • Your experience
  • Your expertise
  • Your service
  • Your customers

This is not a 'second best' effort to establish credibility. Within B2B marketing, the talking about the positive experiences of your customers is one of the strongest messages you can send.

To establish credibility in your marketing plan, make sure you:

Plan, plan, plan

Knowing precisely how you'll execute the credibility factor in your marketing is as important as the overall strategy itself.

Use it everywhere

Don't limit this valuable message to a page on your website. Use it wherever your customers might see it.

Without credibility, your marketing efforts are substantially weakened. Next week, we'll look at specific tips and tricks you can use to boost your company's credibility.
 

David's blog

Top Summer Marketing Strategies

A lot of people take vacations in July and August, but that doesn't mean your marketing activities have to slow down. Here are some tips for marketing in the summer.

Write a case study

The slower months of summer can be a great time to write up case studies for projects you've done this year but haven't had time to brag about. Showcase your expertise, promote your industry leadership, and attract new clients.
 

Keep in touch

Ensure your brand remains valuable and top-of-mind this summer. Keep prospects engaged by reaching out and saying hello, promoting new products, summer specials, and unique offers. You might even try a fun email survey or two.
 

Revisit your campaigns

What can you learn from past campaigns? Review what worked, what didn't, and why. Then use your findings to come up with new strategies for upcoming campaigns. If you haven't introduced yourself through social media, why not?
 

Update your website

Keeping content up-to-date can be a daunting task, but it's an important one. Update events, news, products, and services so clients and prospects can be kept current on your company. A great website is an excellent marketing tool.
 

Take your customers out

It's normal to do business on the golf course, but why not treat your customers just as royally with a grill out at a local park, a day at a winery, or charter a boat for an afternoon of fishing? Your customers will appreciate (and remember) the gesture.
 

Take your business on the road

Get your name out there. Participate in area events and festivals by sponsoring activities, renting a booth, and lending a hand. Not only will you feel good about helping your community, but your brand will be rewarded too.
 

Create webinar or video

Summer is a great time to work on a webinar or video showcasing your products or services. These hugely successful marketing vehicles will wow your clients, showcase your expertise, and provide an educational experience at the same time.
 

Clean up your marketing list

If you're like most marketers, maintaining your list isn't a top priority. However, the quality and accuracy of your list can make or break campaigns. Take the time to review and update your list -- it will save you time and money down the road.
 

Plan ahead

Counting down the days to your summer vacation? You've found someone to take care of your dog, but what about your marketing? Make sure your hard work continues to pay off while you're gone. Complete tasks and appoint a backup until you return.
 

Take a vacation!

You deserve it, don't you? Just remember to turn on your "out of office" email message and update your voicemail with when you'll return and how to get in touch with your backup person.
 

David's blog

Our 5-Year Journey to the Perfect Contact List

If you like to learn from the mistakes of others...have I got a story for you! As I was thinking through some tips for this month's NurtureNotes on lists, it reminded me of the project that led Nurture Marketing on the journey to figure out how to build a perfect contact list.

About five years ago, Nurture Marketing was given a major opportunity with a very large systems integrator. This project involved telemarketing, e-mail marketing and highly creative and original dimensional direct mail - and it could not have started any worse.

Our client wanted us to produce a list of large manufacturers in four U.S. regions. We approached a series of list consolidators to help. Some were well-known, some not so much. Our goal was to consolidate multiple list vendors into a single larger list. Each of the list vendors we approached promised a minimum 90% accuracy guarantee and annual verification of each contact in their database. Both of these guarantees proved to be worthless.

After our first direct mail touch (at a $12.00 cost to the client) and coordinated telemarketing, we were hit with a 40% undelivered rate on our first direct mailing and over 25% of the telephone numbers were incorrect, deeply impacting the effectiveness of our telemarketing campaign. We contacted each of the list vendors who honored their guarantee by giving us “free” contact data to fulfill their 90% commitment. Of course, the guarantee did not make up for the $6,000 lost in postage and labor by Nurture and our understanding client. We also doubted the other 60% reached the right destination making their guarantee meaningless.

We needed a change and we needed it quickly since our next large and expensive mailing was just 30 days away. Since our list sources were reputable, we needed to suspect every list source and all contacts on our existing client mailing lists. Our first inclination was to get out of the mailing list business altogether. If our clients wanted us to do their marketing, we would ask them to supply us with their own lists. But our clients, and this client in particular, insisted we handle the lists for them.

We decided that every contact list Nurture would purchase on behalf of our clients would be verified before delivery. We hired a company to verify each name on the list and to verify the name, title, address, phone number, and e-mail. If the phone calls were not successful, we developed best practices for internet research verification. We invented a "Step 0" for e-mail verification where an e-mail from a senior executive is sent to each person on the list requesting permission to communicate.

Along with Erik Frantzen and Michael Naughton of B2B Contact  (www.b2bcontact.com) we took these best practices and automated them through a cloud-based application called B2BContacts.Info (www.b2bcontacts.info). We are able to achieve a true 90% accuracy rate on e-mail correspondences and a 95% accuracy rate on contact data appropriate for direct mail and telemarketing.

Our solution has given us the ability to run cleaner marketing campaigns resulting in more leads for our clients. We want to make sure lists are not a costly mistake for any business. Ever.

eric's blog

Back to the Future: Direct Mail is Alive!

Have you started to notice that the amount of junk mail (or solicitations as we say) you receive at your office has dramatically decreased? It's not unusual to receive only 1 or 2 pieces of direct mail a day where in the past few years it was more like 6 or 7 pieces. And, I read it. Admit it, you do too. In fact, you are probably more likely to read something in your mail pile than in your inbox these days. For marketers - this is a very good thing.

Many companies abandoned direct mail purely for budgetary reasons. E-mail seems so much cheaper to send mass marketing messages that many companies have abandoned direct mail entirely. BUT now we are bombarded with a bunch of e-mail and our good 'ole mailboxes are full of cobwebs just waiting for some fresh design, creative packaging and meaningful messages.

E-mail may seem inexpensive, but how much are you really saving if your e-mails aren't producing leads?

Direct mail is alive! Are you ready to take advantage of this opportunity to get your messages read again? Follow these steps to Direct Mail marketing bliss.

  • Integrate direct mail with your Inbound (SEO, PPC, Social Networking, Forms) and Outbound (E-Mail and Telemarketing) Marketing plan. Never engage in one tactic, shotgun marketing.
    • Know your clients by looking at common threads that tie your clients together. For example, does your company attract clients of a certain size? Is there a pattern in your buyer? A common industry? Invest in a direct mailer with targeted messaging to those prospects that show the best potential.
       
  • Locate companies. Look at size, location, and industry. Drill down to at least a 4-digit SIC code. Use Nurture Marketing’s B2BContacts.Info product that includes a free market sizing tool to determine the size of your market, adjust location, company size, and industry to build the perfect list for your direct mail campaign.
     
  • Make your direct mail standout on your prospect’s desk by including an enclosure in the envelope. 3D direct mail correspondences get noticed, opened, and read. Did you know that Nurture Marketing maintains a direct mail fulfillment center that specializes in 3D Dimensional mail?
     
  • Have a professional organization like Nurture Marketing to write creative letters and messaging for you.
     
  • Budget a minimum of $6.00 per contact to allow for the enclosure and extra postage.
     
  • When planning your campaign, start with direct mail, followed by e-Mail, and telemarketing follow ups throughout.
     
  • Get Creative! Want to send a postcard? Utilize giant postcards from ShipShape (www.shipshape.com) or if you are using an envelope, think clear and colored. There are tons of packaging options to make sure you stand out.
     

I recommend you slowly integrate direct mail into your existing campaigns, measure your success, and calculate your return on investment. You will find that your direct mail components improve your overall response rates - resulting in more leads, more business and more profit.
 

eric's blog

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