Caffeine anyone … ?

Caffeine is my shepherd; I shall not doze.
It maketh me to wake in green pastures:
It leadeth me beyond the sleeping masses.
It restoreth my buzz:
It leadeth me in the paths of consciousness for my employments sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of addiction,
I will fear no crash
For thou art with me; thy Keurig and thy KCup they comfort me.
Thou preparest a carafe before me in the presence of Juan Valdez:
Thou annointest my day with pep; my mug runneth over.
Surely richness and taste shall follow me all the days of my life: and
I will dwell in the House of Starbucks forever.

10 Essential Social Media Tips for B2B Marketers

When we write about how companies or individuals are using social media in their marketing strategies, it’s usually in the context of a business to consumer relationship. However, business-to-business (B2B) marketing is really getting a boost from social media as well. According to a recent study, 60% of B2B marketers plan to increase social media marketing spending this year.

 Non-B2B-centric services like Twitter and Facebook can still offer great opportunities for B2B shops. Sometimes, the approach is the same as it would be in non-B2B marketing, sometimes it can be very different.

 Figuring out how to best implement and harness social media in the course of B2B marketing can be difficult but we’ve put together ten tips to help get you on the right track!

 1. Use Twitter Effectively

This may seem like a no-brainer, but plenty of businesses and even B2B marketers aren’t on Twitter. Get an account on Twitter and start engaging. While having profiles on other social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn can be equally important, Twitter remains one of the best ways to find and engage with others.

How do you do that? Start by searching for phrases relevant to your business and by monitoring those searches regularly. Look at what people are saying and join in the conversation. If people aren’t necessarily looking for your business offerings right away, start joining other conversations of interest. The more you build bridges, the more likely you are to be noticed.

 Second, use hashtags. The #B2B hashtag, for example, will connect you with several other like-minded businesses who are also trying to leverage Twitter to build an online presence. Don’t overdo it, though. There are some people #who #tweet #like #this.

We’ll discuss this in the next point, but consider Twitter to be an informal medium. With social media, businesses can (and should) be human again. That’s why it’s safe to use Twitter not just for pure self promotion but to build a meaningful relationships with those who you are likely to do business with you in the future. If you feel comfortable using your business Twitter feed to talk about what makes you tick (versus purely promoting your business), you might be pleasantly surprised to see that your audience might very well be receptive to that messaging.

What’s great about Twitter, especially from a B2B perspective, is that you can follow just about everyone. Take advantage of the opportunity to follow your industry influencers, connect with potential customers, and keep a heads up on the competition.

A great example of Twitter usage from a B2B perspective is @salesforce. Salesforce has used its Twitter feed to share relevant news, to empower current customers, and to offer customer support.

2. Figure Out Your ‘Social Voice’

Social media works best when it is personal and authentic, and thus, it’s important to make sure that the way you communicate when using social media tools comes from a personal and authentic place.

Kevin Dugan, the Director of Social Marketing for Empower MediaMarketing recently wrote a blog post about finding your social voice. I spoke with Dugan about establishing a social voice, and he had this to say:

“It is critical that brands understand a social voice is different from brand voice. Social voice reinforces the brand voice indirectly. Social voice doesn’t follow communication guidelines or identity standards. That’s because a social voice equates to a person. A brand voice is anonymous while a social voice can be found on Google. They must also have an understanding of the brand and a passion for it.”

Social networks are now helping to put the “human” back in businesses again. The traditional messaging of yore has been replaced by businesses who actually appear to show that they care about their customers. With a social voice, informal is perfectly acceptable. Having a social voice, as opposed to just a generic “brand voice,” is an important step when connecting with potential customers. Prospective customers want to connect with businesses who think just like them.

Just because your clients are other businesses doesn’t mean that the “social” aspect of social media needs to disappear.

3. Take Advantage of Opportunities on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is continuing to get bigger and bigger and it continues to be a great resource for businesses and employees to connect with one another.

One of the best things about LinkedIn is the Shared Connections feature. This feature makes it possible to find people like potential clients and then see what connections you have in common. Shared Connections then makes getting a virtual introduction that much easier.

building up a strong LinkedIn network and being willing to introduce others (in good faith, of course always use your best judgment) can also increase what opportunities you can get in the future.

B2B marketing is often built through trust and word of mouth. Having a shared connection is a great way to start establishing some of that trust from the very beginning.

LinkedIn also has a community of active participants. LinkedIn Answers serves as a knowledge base where business representatives can establish authority and expertise by participating in the ongoing discussions. LinkedIn Groups is an opportunity for business professionals to interact with other topics relevant to his/her interests. One business successfully used LinkedIn Groups as a way to build business leads. This business opted to engage in relevant industry discussion and offered business services when requests were made, thereby bringing in a highly targeted business lead. Actively participating in LinkedIn is often one of the best ways to not only help people out, but also to make a connection for your service and even generate leads.

Answering questions across LinkedIn Answers and LinkedIn Groups doesn’t mean to simply put out the marketing blurb, but to really engage and offer feedback and solutions. Again, social media is most effective when it is genuine.

4. Start a Blog

Social media provides the opportunity for companies to promote themselves but also to welcome commentary from a community of peers. By starting a blog, you give your readers an opportunity to see you with your social voice outside the typical corporate website’s newsroom. Blogs become platforms where you can announce new product releases, share personal company stories, answer any specific questions from your customers, and empower customers to achieve success with your products and service offerings. Blogging can also establish business professionals as thought leaders in their field, thereby aiding with client acquisition.

Blogs can build up qualified prospects through search engine rankings too. Be sure to update your blog regularly with valuable content and follow up with the comments written on each individual post.

5. Monitor Your Industry

Social media means that content is being posted everywhere, and businesses have a unique opportunity to gather intelligence to make well-educated and informed business decisions. Google Alerts is a great tool to keep up with what’s happening in relation to your company, your industry and your competitors. You can get updates via e-mail or in RSS (and even in real-time) about new search results or news stories for a certain query or topic.

Further, free tools like Social Mention and YackTrack will monitor the social sphere for other mentions of your business on social sites, especially. BackType will take that a step further and monitor phrases in comments on blog posts. All of these aforementioned services can be emailed to you in a daily digest format which your team can evaluate to find opportunities.

If you don’t already have alerts set up on these services for your company name, do it now. Also set up a more generic alert for your industry as a whole to see what people are talking about. If you want to see what your competition or other big industry players are doing, add those to the mix as well.

Monitoring can also be useful because you can then highlight the big stories on your own social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Google Buzz, etc. 

6. Be Consistent and Don’t Be Afraid to Follow Up

While you don’t want to be creepy, it’s important to not let potential opportunities slip by when using social media. If you’ve answered someone’s question on LinkedIn or on Twitter, don’t be afraid to reach back out to that person to ask if they have any follow-up questions or if you can send them more information. There’s an abundance of opportunity to strengthen a business relationship but it starts by initiating and then making sure that your business is fresh in your prospects’ minds.

Staying engaged and staying communicative is really important. Social media is not about setting it and forgetting it. It’s about being social, so don’t be afraid to reach out and check back in with potential leads you meet using social media. Similarly, don’t be afraid to direct message your followers on Twitter when an opportunity presents itself. They followed you because they want to hear from you. Use that opportunity to your advantage but don’t overdo it. Auto-DMs are a no-no.

If you’re going to blog, don’t leave that blog stagnant. Provide valuable content on a regular basis. Give employees of your company an opportunity to help build your brand. You can get a lot of great blog content by involving many company employees in the process. Similarly, get many employees of your company to utilize the social networks and to be continually responsive to customer inquiries. Remember, the more visible you are on the social networks, the more likely you are to be remembered when another business actually needs to utilize your services.

7. Leverage Your Analytics for Business Metric Measurement

After you’re involved enough in the social space, you’ll likely see tweets, retweets, traffic, and social network links that point to various parts of your company website. Take a look at your website analytics and start seeing where you’re making a difference, especially as it relates to ROI measurement. Don’t lose sight of your business metrics and start considering practical social media measurement to assess clickthroughs, popularity of links, and other important metrics.

As part of measurement, consider using URL shorteners. Not only do they make links more manageable (and limit the number of characters in a Tweet or Facebook message), they also can be a great way to track data as many URL shorteners provide valuable statistics about the performance of each individual shortened URL. Monitor this data throughout the process with your main website analytics package to see if your message attached to the shortened URL resulted in conversions.

When looking at conversion trends or successful tools in building leads with social media, reviewing analytics data is crucial. It gives you insight into content that performs very well in the social space but also through other marketing techniques, such as search engine optimization. Use the data as an opportunity to improve your content or your social media/search marketing efforts. 

8. Find and Follow Industry Influencer 

B2B social media marketing is often about connecting with the right people and about building relationships. Social media makes both of these actions simple and painless. Being aware of who the influencers in your industry are and then following them, whether it’s on Twitter, Facebook or their own blogs, is the first step to building a connection with those influencers. With a genuine relationship, these influencers may be able to help you make your mark in the social media marketplace. This is especially true of influencers who may already have your target audience at their disposal. 

This doesn’t mean you need to retweet every tweet or share every blog post on Facebook, but it does mean that you should be aware of who the movers and shakers are. By following them and then reaching out when appropriate or just to get to know them further, you have a much better shot at getting some attention. 

Even if you’re not necessarily connecting to influencers, social media affords the opportunity to connect with other people in your industry and your customers. Use the various social media platforms as an opportunity to connect with these industry colleagues and peers and build upon each other. Consider celebrating your colleagues’ or customers’ success. Make it known that you’re here to help them not just yourself. Repeat this process with anyone of interest and you’re bound to attract eyeballs.

9. Use Social Media for Giveaways and Promotions

Sometimes, the hardest part of social media is sticking out from the sea of other users. Giveaways and promotions are a great way to help differentiate yourself and your business. Using Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, you can target your desired customer base and then let them know (if appropriate) about different promotions or giveaways related to your product. If you offer a service, consider giving a free year to a loyal customer. If you manufacture products, give some away.

Offer a coupon on your company’s Facebook Page and pair it with a lead-generation form for future contact. Let people know on Twitter about specials or contests that are going on and follow-up with those that show an interest. Perhaps you can have a retweet contest where you can monitor responses or host some trivia on your Facebook Page. You can also open an online survey to get feedback about your offerings and reward participants. The possibilities are endless. Creativity in this capacity breeds success.

Companies like Wildfire make it really easy to build these sorts of promotions directly inside your own social media channels.

10. Don’t Be Creepy

If you use social media like a keyword searching robot, you are going to come across as creepy and turn off potential clients. Don’t be creepy. 

Use best judgment and common sense when approaching people using social networks. If you wouldn’t want to be approached the way you are approaching another user, don’t use that approach. It’s as simple as that. Social media etiquette isn’t much different than real life relationships, so what won’t work in “real life” probably won’t work online.

Respecting boundaries doesn’t mean you can’t still answer questions, engage and follow-up with potential leads, it just means that if it’s clear that the other party isn’t interested, or more importantly, if the context of their communication really doesn’t involve or seek out input from your company, don’t do it. 

Context is really important in social media and it is something that is very, very easy to overlook. While we think that using keywords and Google Alerts are good methods for keeping atop of your field, that doesn’t mean you can automate your responses or just go into autopilot based on those alerts. 

By Christina Warren

How Do You View Cold Calling?


I wish there was an easy way like so many marketing plans are preaching.
I have found that even with the social media avenue for selling, it does not
have the direct results and time proven effectiveness of getting on the phone
and talking to people and meeting with them face to face.

The phone is still my most powerful sales tool. I wish it were not, because like
most people I don’t like fighting through the gatekeepers and dealing with the
rejection… but it does work. And when you have a problem to resolve or you
want to expand into other departments of a company. You have a real
relationship to build off of.

Second to calling, is sending hand crafted emails to individuals with specific subjects
and letters, that are mailed either before or after emails, and then the phone call.

I like the idea of putting a day and time period that I will be following up with a call.
Next is tracking all my activity and having it as part of a multi step process that
includes all the follow up activity, after a call a meeting and a proposal.

I know some say that the cold call puts you in a disadvantaged position because
you are perceived as “needing their business”. I have found that I close more
cold call opportunities than people who call us. Often because I am the first one who
has called, and that allows me to set the level of expectation in the evaluation process.

The perceived credibility gained by being the first one in the door is the main driver,
as I see it, behind more cold calling opportunities closing in relation to inbound leads.
When are the first in, you are in the driver’s seat and able to lead the decision makers
along in the buying process. With an inbound opportunity you’re hoping you are in the
passenger seat and not the back of the bus. The prospect has usually done his homework
knows what he wants, and your just coming along for the ride.

There are many who are ascribing to the “Never Cold Call Again” new social media
sales philosophy and I say … Good for you! Please do that, and make it easier for me
to reach your prospects who will be getting no phone calls from you.

If you would like to discover how TeleRep can help you in your sales process visit us at:
http://www.telerep.com/services.php

For ‘B-to-B’ Companies, Finding Facebook ‘Friends’ Can Be a Struggle

 

Bill.com Inc., a provider of bill-payment services, is trying to market itself on Facebook. But even though the venture-backed company has more than 10,000 clients, it has so far managed to secure only 67 “friends” on the social-networking site.

These days, even small “business-to-business” concerns like Bill.com are experimenting with social media, perceiving the popular online hangouts as low-cost, easy-to-use venues for attracting new customers and retaining existing ones. But unlike their consumer-focused counterparts—retailers that sell smartphones, jeans, games and other personal products—so-called B-to-B businesses seem to be having a harder time connecting with their target audience.

Facebook “is so consumer dominated that it takes time to find a voice that cuts through what’s already out there,” says René Lacerte, founder and chief executive of Bill.com, which is based in Palo Alto, Calif.

B2B

Brian Frank for The Wall Street JournalBill.com’s René Lacerte is trying to market B-to-B via social media

A survey released last month of 230 B-to-B companies shows that 24% are using Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc. and others for marketing, and another 36% plan to try them in the coming year. “It’s certainly something that has taken off in the last six months,” says Michael Greene, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc., which conducted the study.

In general, he says B-to-Bs tend to be slower to adopt new marketing technologies than business-to-consumer companies. But now that they’re catching up, it appears that many are having a tough time gaining followers. “B-2-B isn’t sexy,” says Mr. Greene. “It doesn’t have that same immediate attraction that consumer brands do.”

Bill.com so far has only about half the number of Facebook “friends” as the average user, and far fewer than many of its consumer-focused counterparts. For example, LegalZoom.com Inc., a small business that helps consumers file legal documents such as wills and divorce papers, has more than 10,000 Facebook friends.

Making fans of other businesses, as opposed to consumers (or actual friends), may seem counterintuitive to social networking. So B-to-Bs typically look to interact with workers who make buying decisions on behalf of the companies they target. Many attempt to acquire contacts by providing links to their social-media profiles from their websites and marketing materials.

“B-to-B buyers are people, which means they are on Facebook,” says Tim McLaughlin, president of Siteworx Inc., a small Web-strategy and design company based in Reston, Va., that is on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. “You need to be where they are.”

Some B-to-B owners say social networking is actually ideal for their demographic since it can take months for their kind of buyers to commit to a purchase. The products and services they sell tend to cost significant amounts and often several people are involved in the decision-making process.

For example, Eloqua Ltd., a marketing-software company in Vienna, Va., charges between $15,000 and $800,000 a year for its technology. Regularly posting status updates about industry trends and related topics to its Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn Corp. profiles helps it stay “top of mind” among clients, says Joe Payne, chief executive. “There’s no question what we do in the social world generates leads because it drives people to our website,” he says. “We can see where they’re coming from.”

Sharing information or advice on social-networking sites is also a way for B-to-Bs to show off their expertise, says John Lopez-Ona, president of Six Sigma Qualtec Inc., a business-consulting firm in Princeton, N.J., that uses Twitter and has its own blog. “It’s about building relationships,” he says.

B-to-Bs are also running special marketing campaigns on social-networking sites, such as contests that give away prizes to winners. OnTimeSupplies.com, an online office-supply retailer, launched an initiative earlier this month in which it promises to donate 25 cents to a breast-cancer charity every time someone posts an update on Facebook or Twitter mentioning it. “We’ve always depended a lot on word of mouth… whether it’s people trading stories in the cafeteria or on Facebook,” says Miles Young, chief executive and co-founder of the Atlanta firm.

Some small B-to-Bs say they prefer to market themselves on networking sites specifically designed for businesses and professionals such as LinkedIn.com.

“You have to pick the right tools, and sometimes the tools are dictated by the kind of company you are and the kind of prospects and clients you have,” says Kathy Scheessele, a partner at Mastering Business Development Inc., a Charlotte, N.C., business-consulting firm that recently started using LinkedIn.

“The type of people we’re trying to engage with are at a certain level. They’re not the typical kind of person who’s going to be twittering or have a Facebook page,” Ms. Scheessele says.

Like many other types of companies, small B-2-Bs are also using social media to find out what’s being said about them online, as well as gather competitive intelligence and keep up with industry trends. “The big advantage of social media is listening,” says Eric Bradlow, a professor at The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

But he adds that once a business creates a profile on a social-networking site, it needs to use it on a regular basis to avoid stoking the rumor mill. “People build up expectations around communication,” says Mr. Bradlow. “When expectations are violated, people will infer stuff that may not be true.”

If you would like to discover how TeleRep can make your B2B more effective. Visit us at: http://www.telerep.com/services.php

The Art of War and Modern Marketing

The lessons that Sun Tzu taught in 600 B.C. and which are still studied at West Point and in military schools to this day are simple, timeless and convert almost exactly for use as marketing

War and marketing have many similarities. Warfare is all about the successful control of ground. Marketing is all about the successful control of in-store (or media) ground: shelf space, location, display.

In warfare Sun Tzu stressed the importance of controlling the high ground. From a position of height, an army can look down on their enemy, target fire, hold ground with fewer soldiers and maintain cover while the enemy must expose themselves to come forward.

Robert E. Lee was arguably the greatest field commander ever produced in the United States (well, George Patton fans might argue this point). Lee performed remarkably in the Civil War with less manpower, less armaments and horrible logistic support. And yet, General Lee, a student of Sun Tzu, forgot the crucial importance of not fighting unless an army controlled the high ground as his Confederate force was routed at Gettysburg and the trajectory of the bloody conflict was irredeemably altered.

In marketing the high ground is taken when you offer a service or product that is honest in performance, presents value, offers new, exciting features and benefits and motivates consumers to choose your item and not the competitions. Do not be fooled, the craft of marketing and selling consumer products is a form of warfare. There is only so much shelf space in even the largest big box retail store. Advertising vehicles are limited by time (television, radio spots), space (newspaper, magazine ads), cost and frequency. The competition is always seeking to take the high ground and advance on your market share.

Sun Tzu said, “The winning general knows what is required for victory and then attacks. The losing general attacks; then seeks victory”. The same is true in marketing a business service or consumer product. A business plan, customized marketing strategy, Unique Selling Proposition and sales plan for successfully achieving distribution is essential to success. All too often, the over-confident or novice marketer attempts to penetrate a sales channel without conducting the proper due diligence and laying a groundwork that will support a campaign.

“Use the resources of others to your advantage”, is another theorem that Sun Tzu espoused. This is the basis of guerrilla warfare. It is equally applicable to guerrilla marketing.

“The winning general must think like a cobra”, wrote Sun Tzu. Cobras are fast, nimble, agile, ferocious and cunning. General Dwight Eisenhower is a perfect example of a military leader thinking and acting as a cobra. For the invasion of Normandy, D-Day, June 6, 1944 the Allied Commander continually feinted, used General Patton’s movements as a ruse, oversold false landing spots, and used deceit to confuse the Nazi’s about the date, place and strength of the landing force they would confront.

Successful marketers utilize as much secrecy, speed, agility and cunning as possible to outwit and out-hustle their competition. The cobra advantage is why new products continually penetrate large, established, often lethargic categories that are lead by sluggish, multi-national bureaucratic companies. In the beauty and cosmetic industry Bare Essentials and Philosophy has powered past many old line brands. Apple continually re-invents itself and energizes the technology sector. Jimmy Choo has become a generic label for the high-end footwear industry in the last decade. In 40 years WalMart has come to dominate and run off dozens of far older retail competitors. The Korean auto maker Hyundai has quickly become a top selling brand as price, quality and performance has provided the Company a keen Unique Selling Proposition.

If you would like to discover how TelRep can enhance your marketing campaign visit us at http://www.telerep.com/services.php

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Geoff_Ficke

Should Social Media Replace Cold-Calling?

People continue to say how cold-calling is dead and how in today’s environment, it no longer can be cost justified. Right? The answer in my book is both “yes” and “no.” Let me deal with the “no” first.

NO

In the past few months, I’ve watched numerous salespeople shift all of their prospecting efforts to developing social media with such vehicles as Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook. The problem with this is it becomes a giant time sucker. The payout of social media in terms of developing sales short-term is very poor.

To develop a social media strategy requires time, and I’m a firm believer it must be incremental time. You can’t allow it to take away from your current sales development strategy. Now, I’m astute enough to know that this may change, but we’re not there yet. Salespeople who spend their time dealing in the social media world at the expense of time spent on normal sales development do so at great expense.

YES

Now let me give you a “yes” response to the use of social media and cold-calling.

First, keep in mind that cold-calling is rarely as cold as the term implies. Unless you’re still living in the world of selling via a phone bank sweatshop, then you understand that cold-calling is really more about warm-calling. More often than not, you are contacting people who already have some sort of knowledge of you or relationship with you. In this context, social media is a great supplemental vehicle – one that must be handled in the context of a marketing strategy. To spend time tweeting away hour after hour or visiting everyone’s Facebook page is not going to get you anywhere but broke.

The solution exists in having a sound sales development strategy that is focused on your core prospects. As an incremental process (on your own time), develop a social media awareness with Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter.

A key part of your sales development strategy needs to include keeping your web presence tight and focused.   Don’t be easily swayed into believing that your best approach is to be part of every social media website available.   If you can’t be a strong presence, don’t go there.   What I mean by a “strong presence” is that you are an active player who can contribute or monitor the site at least four times per week.  For me, this means the only social media sites I use are Twitter, Linkedin, and Facebook.

One very strict rule to keep in mind is that social media should occupy no more than 15 minutes per day. Only in rare exceptions should you ever access Facebook or Linkedin during your normal workday. Twitter is an exception, but only to the degree that you can have a timely review and distribution of messages. Fortunately, there are plenty of apps you can use to automatically send out pre-loaded tweets during the workday.

Social media has a role in your sales strategy, but not to the abandonment of time-tested elements such as cold-calling and meeting face-to-face with customers.  Begin today to grasp this so that you do not jeopardize your sales success.

About the Author

Mark Hunter, “The Sales Hunter,” is a sales expert who speaks to thousands each year on how to increase their sales profitability 

To learn more about how TeleRep can increase your company’s profitability. Visit us at: http://www.telerep.com/services.php

Customer Service as a Strategic Weapon

It’s no secret. The effects of a bad customer experience can be far reaching. With dissatisfied customers telling up to 10 people about their bad experiences, such negative word of mouth can be devastating.

According to the new “Customer Experience Report North America 2010” from RightNow and Harris Interactive, the majority of customers-82 percent–will now stop doing business with companies that deliver negative experiences.

Additionally, 79 percent of the 2,217 consumers interviewed who had a negative experience told others about it, 85 percent wanted to warn others about the pitfalls of doing business with that company, 66 percent wanted to discourage others from buying from that company, and 76 percent said word of mouth influenced their purchasing decisions.

The most surprising results from the report are that many consumers said they would pay for better service. Seventy-six percent said they would pay 5 percent or more for a better experience, 55 percent would pay 10 percent or more, and 10 percent would pay 25 percent or more.

With 55 percent of respondents (up from 53 percent in 2009) saying that they recommend a company because of good service, it’s critical to focus training your workforce to deliver better experiences that are not only friendly, but tailored to customers’ needs and behaviors, as well as reengineering processes and strategies to enhance the customer experience. It could be the single most important element for a company’s survival going forward.