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Is Your Small Business Ready to Hire a Digital Marketing Expert?

Starting out, entrepreneurs have many things to worry about and try to wear as many hats as possible. As your business grows in scale, the inevitable “letting go” must begin so that you can focus on growth. You’ve been a “do-it-yourself” person for so long, it may seem counter-intuitive to contract out services that you

B2B Marketing: Sponsoring a Video Contest

Video plays an increasingly important role in B2B marketing as a content strategy. If your B2B marketing plans include a video contest to: Engage your followers, and Supplement your content strategy, this article outlines the roadblocks that you will need to overcome. What’s the Worst Thing That Could Happen? During the first brainstorming session for

Blog Marketing: Inbound Writer and Search Engine Optimization

As a blog marketing consultant and blogger, it’s my job to stay on top of solutions that save time and money for clients. When I spotted the news about InboundWriter from EightFold Logic, my interest as a blogger was peaked and I installed the free version of the plug-in to my WordPress blog to take

Trade Show Marketing: Jim Scott of Nielsen Expositions (part 2)

This is part two of my conversation with Jim Scott, Managing Director of the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS) for Nielsen Expositions to gain insights on trade show marketing opportunities from an exhibition company’s perspective. You can read Part One here. PM: Do you feel that KBIS exhibitors set realistic exhibition objectives? Have you

The StartUp Company Business Plan and Middle Market Financing

In writing about the current status of financing available to middle market companies. I will highlight some of my recent experience with financing such companies seeking capital in the range of $3MM – $100MM+. Before we start, you should ask yourself a few basic questions: What growth “stage” is my company? What is my growth

Is Your Small Business Ready to Hire a Digital Marketing Expert?

Starting out, entrepreneurs have many things to worry about and try to wear as many hats as possible. As your business grows in scale, the inevitable “letting go” must begin so that you can focus on growth. You’ve been a “do-it-yourself” person for so long, it may seem counter-intuitive to contract out services that you know how to do well enough to get by. Accounting and digital marketing are two technical areas, where you will eventually shop for services.

As a small business owner myself, I am guilty of hanging on to accounting for too long. My accountants paid for themselves within the first months – a classic case of believing that I was on top of a discipline in which I had no formal training. Live and learn, right?

At some point in their growth, small business owners have to cross a potentially dangerous abyss. You can’t wait until you can ‘afford’ a full-time marketing staffer and you’ve always been smart enough to know what you don’t know – in this case it’s digital marketing.

Digital marketing pervades communicationsYou know the time to outsource is here, but you are not sure that your business is right for it. Here are some tips from the other side of the table; here are the 5 things that tell me, the digital marketer sitting opposite you, whether or not your business has potential to be a good client for me.

Five Signs You’re Ready to Hire a Digital Marketing Expert:
  1. Your business has over $300K in revenue,
  2. You are a business-to-consumer (B2C) company,
  3. Your average (sales) ticket is $700+ (per transaction),
  4. You are already investing money in marketing, and
  5. Your website is not mobile friendly

I thought that this perspective might help you, the small business owner, understand in what situations digital marketing consultants can offer the greatest value.

Some quick thoughts on the list:

#1 If your business is bringing in less than $300K per year, an SEO/SEM program is a likely ‘first order of business’. These run an average of $800 per month and it’s likely you will perceive this as very expensive. If your business is in a crowded marketplace (i.e., major metro), it will be more difficult to stand out in organic search without a good local search or social media program as well.

#2 B2C companies stand to gain the greatest benefit from digital marketing, which is not to say B2B companies don’t. Every company situation is different. This is why the best digital marketing professionals will want to learn more about your business before making recommendations.

#3 The average ticket is not as important as the profit dollars from each sale. Part of the profit from incremental sales will be used for the ROI model justifying the incremental marketing investment.

#4 If you are already investing in marketing, you see the value in marketing. Your consultant doesn’t need to explain the value and necessity of marketing to you.

#5 If your business does not have a mobile-friendly website, a digital marketing expert can perhaps double your organic traffic by implementing mobile friendliness.

Contrecoup Creative will help you achieve your sales goalsAs an entrepreneur, there are people in line outside your door ready to steal or take your hard-earned money for things you don’t need. Just ask my friend David Rogenmoser, Founder & CEO of Market Results and Author of Beyond the Grind about ‘ruts’. He will also tell you to ‘vet’ the consultants that you DO let in the door.

Marketing Toolkit: Facebook Advertising

Facebook Ads Manager

If your business has a Facebook business page, you have likely seen Facebook’s “Boost Post” and “Promote Page” calls-to-action. Instead of boosting a post or promoting your page directly from the timeline, you can harness the true power of Facebook advertising by taking a detour into Facebook’s Ads Manager instead.

The Ads Manager panel isn’t easily found if you haven’t used it before. In the upper right of your page, there is a Build Audience pull-down menu:


Click on “Use Ads Manager” and you will be taken the Ads Manager home page. The first time that you visit here, there will be some Facebook housekeeping of which to take care (i.e., Billing), but you can soon be on your way.

Before moving on to create your first Facebook ad using Ads Manager, I recommend that you complete one task that will help your company’s Facebook ad program:

Facebook-Ads-ManagerFacebook Conversion Tracking

If you already use Google Analytics, you are no stranger to Conversion Tracking. Conversion Tracking is a tool that shows you what happens after a customer clicks on your ad (i.e., purchase, sign up or form completion). For each landing or conversion page to which your ads on Facebook will send visitors, you should implement conversion tracking. The system categories from which you can choose are:

  • Checkouts
  • Registrations
  • Leads
  • Key Page Views
  • Adds to Cart
  • Other Website Conversions

You will receive a snippet of code (a pixel) to install on the page (or confirmation page) for your ads. For each landing page and/or advertising goals, create a separate pixel. In the interest of full disclosure, there is a Facebook tracking pixel installed on this blog post.

You may want to check that your company’s privacy policy is updated to address the use of Conversion Tracking. Once you have had the conversion code in place for a while, you will be collecting data on visitors who clicked on an ad. While you won’t be able to learn the names individuals have responded to your ad, you will be able to create audience profiles based on who did – whther they follow you or not – and deploy Facebooks Ads targetting them. Just as with Google AdWords, Conversion Tracking is a powerful marketing tool with which you can target Ads to defined audiences.

Creating Your First Facebook Ad in Ads Manager

Consider your Facebook advertising objectives: What do you want people who see your ad to do? Facebook has created the following categories to guide their advertisers:

  • Clicks to Website: Get people to visit your website.
  • Website Conversions: Promote specific conversions for your website. (You’ll need a conversion pixel before you can create this ad.)
  • Page Post Engagement: Promote your Page posts.
  • Page Likes: Get Page likes to grow your audience & build your brand.
  • App Installs: Get people to install your mobile or desktop app.
  • App Engagement: Get people to use your desktop app.
  • Offer Claims: Create offers for people to redeem in your store.
  • Event Responses: Increase attendance at your event.
  • Video Views: Create ads that get more people to view a video.

If you have created a Post on your Facebook Page with a link to your website, you may wish to select “Page Post Engagement.” People who see the ad and click on it will be directed to a page on your website.

Targeting Your Audience in Ads Manager

Once you have selected the post that you would like to “promote,” Ads Manager allows for targeting that is on par with, but different than, Google AdWords. There is great debate in the advertising world whether Google (search and behavioral targeting) can predict purchase intent better than Facebook (authenticated demographics and Likes).

The targeting options that you will need to decide based on your knowledge are:

  1. Location (e.g. my usual choices for the Contrecoup account are United States, Illinois, Elburn + 50 mi) You will specify a country, state/province, city or ZIP code)
  2. Age (select a range starting at 18 through 65+)
  3. Gender (select All, Men or Women)
  4. Language(s)
  5. Other Demographics
  6. Interests (you can search interests)
  7. Behaviors (you can search behaviors)
  8. Connections
    1. All
    2. Only people connected to your company
    3. Only people not connected to your company
    4. Advanced connection targeting

The last and final decision is your budget.

If you haven’t advertised on Facebook before, I think you will appreciate the differences from Google. You should experiment with Interests and Behaviors to find an optimized audience that is broad enough, but specific enough to create value for your campaign. If you have “Boosted” posts or “Promoted” your page from the timeline, you will find that Facebook Ads Manager gives you control that you did not possess before.

Conclusion: Testing required for your business.

Facebook is its own eco-system with a ‘captive audience.’ Despite a few false starts in the advertising world, Facebook has developed chops and now controls a big slice of the $140 billion digital ad market. If your customers use mobile often, you should know that Facebook has been doing very well in the $30 billion mobile segment. With the pending launch of Atlas, Facebook seems that it is prepared to make a serious run at Google’s DoubleClick franchise.

Contact Contrecoup Creative today!


Marketing Toolkit: Social Media Metrics

As publishers lament their traditional media audiences’ transition to online advertising, B2B marketing pros need to focus on making wise choices across outlets and channels with the best marketing data that they can acquire. In the realm of social media, B2B marketing should be held to the same ROI standards as their B2C counterparts. Unfortunately, neither have a clearly defined set of social media metrics.


Copyright NASA

The Big Picture: Improve ALL Your Marketing Metrics

As your marketing audience transitions from offline to online marketing, larger brands have stepped back and redefined their traditional media channels into three categories:

  1. Paid media – any media for which you target and buy impressions among an audience. This includes print, broadcast and pay-per-click advertising
  2. Owned media – your branded website, social platforms and content
  3. Earned media – the unpaid ‘sharing’ of your branded content within social channels.

The key take-aways here are:

  1. You marketing budget should invest in all three categories, and
  2. Your social channel initiatives should transition from building a following to enabling engagement via social sharing.

Ramsey McGrory, CEO of AddThis, stated in Advertising Age:

Brands need to use data to create consistent experiences and engage consumers anywhere on the web – on their domains, on social platforms and within ads.

If your enthusiasm for advertising in traditional media has waned in recent years, it’s because your target audiences are no longer collecting information offline.

How Do you Measure the Impact of Social Media?

If traditional media advertising seeks changes in consumer behavior (to build awareness, interest, then trial), social media marketing can result in or more of several possible outcomes:

  1. Post Impressions: viewing a post.
  2. Page Impressions: viewing an owner’s social platform.
  3. Personal Actions: consuming content such as photos, videos or links.
  4. Public Actions: sharing content with their network.

These outcomes are ranked from good (viewing a post) to great (sharing content). Each of these has a monetary value that should be considered when calculating your B2B marketing social media ROI. Forbes Magazine recently published an outstanding case study of Tourism Ireland’s effort to calculate return on investment versus traditional media spending.

Social Media Data is Difficult to Compile Manually

It is simple to track social media referrals to your website and whether these are resulting in conversions. B2B marketing pros are already using the advanced features of Google Analytics to map their social graph as earned media efforts bring prospects closer to the bottom of the sales funnel. SocialMediaExaminer covers this topic at length in a post here.

Social media activity at the top of the sales funnel is much harder to track, but it may hold the greatest value. B2B marketing pros have a broad array of tools to choose from that help automate the collection of data for this important effort, but below are video introductions to two services (I prefer AddThis) that can assist you.


The value of a “share” will be counter-intuitive to some traditional marketing thinkers since the ‘sharer’ him/herself may not be a qualified lead. If we use conversion logic, the ‘sharer’ is providing only additional reach for your content. His/her follower audience may (or may not) include individuals that are part of your audience target, BUT the ‘share’ activity is important on two levels:

  1. The ‘share’ drives additional traffic to your website or social platform that may:
    1. Include qualified prospects for your business, and/or
    2. Be referring other authoritative ‘sharers’ to review your content and forward to their followers.
  2. The share is a ‘social signal’ to search engines that your content is relevant for particular topics. Don’t underestimate (or undervalue) the importance of these actions, which are becoming increasingly important to search engine marketing.

Assigning value to social media interactionsAssigning Monetary Value to Social Media Activity

Anyone working on a Ph.D. in Marketing could write a dissertation on this topic (and likely has). Just for the benefit for search engine marketing, we know that the value of an interaction is greater than $0, but the best approach is to begin with some values that make sense based on rates that you pay for similar actions for each target audience.

  1. Reach: $1/M (example: $0.001 for each Twitter impression earned)
  2. Post Impressions: $10/M (example: $0.01 for each Facebook post impression)
  3. Page Impressions: $100/M (example: LinkedIn company profile view)
  4. Personal Actions: $1 each (or your average PPC cost for clicks to your branded content from a social source)
  5. Public Actions: $10 each (sharing a link to your blog post)

The exceptions based on individuals will skew these numbers greatly. A press release that is picked-up by print media as a result of the effort in social media can drive the value of a click (personal action) through the roof based on its advertising value (in square inches), so, as always, we need exceptions upon which to base our rules.

Marketers need to stop taking it on the chin when the ROI discussion begins and are asked to work instead on “value-add activities.” Present your estimates and remember that social media marketing is “non-linear” in nature. The upside opportunity of B2B marketing success is much greater than in traditional media.

Contact Contrecoup Creative to improve your social media metrics!

More about Peter Muiznieks on Google.

Technorati token: HXEDHTT2N5PB D4P4BYFQE64E

Social Media Marketing Tools: A Review of SproutSocial

SproutSocial is a social media management toolIn the world of social media marketing, there are numerous applications that facilitate social media management. While SproutSocial may not be free, I have found that this SaaS platform offers value greater than its cost.

Equilibrium and Balance in Social Media Marketing

Everyone working social media management has experienced the feeling of being overwhelmed regardless whether you are a small business owner trying to run things yourself, a marketing agency managing client accounts or a large enterprise trying to integrate social media and customer service. SproutSocial offers solutions that will save you precious time. D4P4BYFQE64E

I am 21 days into a 30-day free trial and have found that SproutSocial is a social media management tool that I would be reluctant to abandon. The features and UX design work together brilliantly to provide subscribers:

  • A single tool to monitor brand and manage conversations across social media platforms;
  • A clean and intuitive desktop and mobile interface to publish and schedule updates across social channels;
  • A multi-user platform designed to manage teams, social channels, delegate tasks and assignments;
  • Reporting and Analytics to measure and quantify social media marketing efforts.

If other platforms, such as HootSuite or TweetDeck, have left you frustrated, I encourage you to start a trial to see if SproutSocial eliminates some of the frustration and puts back some of the excitement you felt when entering the world of social media management.

SproutSocial Features that Benefit Everyone

The design features that I have found to be most compelling and that benefit all users are:

SproutSocial uses groups to organize social channelsGroups: Categories of accounts that are used to organize social profiles together, and help to manage/report on social media efforts. What I appreciate are the ‘walls’ built between groups of accounts (personal vs. business, or among clients) on the desktop and mobile versions of SproutSocial. It would be difficult to inadvertently send a message or post from the wrong account. This is one of SproutSocial’s best differentiators for me.

The SproutSocial Smart InBox saves marketers time!Smart InBox: I found this to be a great time-saver. It’s a combination of Twitter’s Interactions panel, but across channels. It also lists your outbound communication that shows your posts/tweets.

Dashboard:Your homepage lets you see your activity in a nice summary view:

The SproutSocial dashboard aggregates reporting for different channels

SproutSocial may be right for your business

At the risk of generalizing, here are some scenarios and needs that SproutSocial can address:

Business owner

  • Saves time
  • Intuitive interface provides clarity
  • Reporting

Marketing, advertising and PR agencies

  • Groups for different clients
  • Multi-user functionality with delegation
  • Reporting by group (i.e., client)
  • Google Analytics integration (varies by plan)
  • Affiliate program

Large enterprise

  • ZenDesk integration for support
  • Training via webinar

I have barely scratched the surface here. I encourage you to see for yourself and let the folks at SproutSocial give you a proper walk-through. Sign up for a free 30 day trial of Sprout Social.

Life in the Fast Lane (Eagles, 1976)

Social media management for exceptional companies
Social media management can “surely make you lose your mind.” If you think that social media marketing should be easier, it can. SproutSocial is worth a test drive, because it simplifies the task of managing the complex social media relationships for which you are responsible. You can decide in 30 days whether you have found enough value to share your credit card details. After a three week test drive, my ear worm is “Shut Up and Drive” (Rihanna, 2007).

Contact Contrecoup to help manage your social media initiatives.More about Peter Muiznieks on Google.

Marketing Positioning: Measuring and Monitoring Perceptions

One often hears that “perception is reality,” but how in B2B marketing does one measure and monitor perceptions about their company, brand, products and services?

Thou Shalt Realize That Perception is Reality

Earlier this year, Advertising Age (April 9, 2012) presented the “10 Commandments of Marketing” in an article penned by Jack Trout. He writes:

The only reality that counts is what’s already in the prospect’s mind. It’s what “positioning” is about. Do not create something new and different, but manipulate what’s already in the mind and retie the connections that already exist. Retying those connections must result in a point of differentiation vs. your competitors.

In marketing, perceptions are reality.Marketers and non-marketers alike understand this ‘commandment’ intuitively. The difficulty arises in the practical implementation of the measurement and monitoring of marketing positioning. This post will demonstrate that with a little foresight and perseverance, you can easily measure and track the perceptions of customers and prospects, and use that information for marketing positioning.

This important research can be completed on a budget using MS Excel and a third-party survey tool. We recommend ConstantContact or Zoomerang, because of the ability to introduce some ‘logic’ that helps skip irrelevant questions and to increase the ‘usability’ of your survey.

The Value Proposition and Business Value Frameworks

The science of copywriting to marketing perceptionsB2B marketing requires an understanding of what customers and prospects find important or relevant. In B2B marketing, you will have anecdotal evidence of what your industry participants consider important. Formal measurement will help rank the relative importance of product/service attributes, such as price, features, benefits, performance elements, availability, etc. By formally ranking the top 10 “dimensions” or attributes,  you can discredit the ‘red herrings’, such as price, that are usually principal negotiation points, but are less important within customers’ value frameworks than anecdotal evidence would suggest.

The Effectiveness of Your Marketing Positioning

We supplement the ranking or rating of primary dimensions (or attributes) by insisting that the survey participant select one (and only one) attribute as the one that “they could not live without.” Most clients are surprised to learn that while price is usually thought to be “the one,” its importance may be overshadowed by another dimension.

In the example above, the reputation of the company edged out total cost as ‘the one’, most important dimension. Today, both marketing and sales overcome objections to total cost by emphasizing the excellent reputation that their company has earned in the market.

B2B Marketing Positioning: Response vs Behavior

No matter what the survey results, you need to ensure that the survey data is consistent with the actual behaviors in the marketplace. You will receive answers to precisely the questions that you have asked. Survey results from frequent customers may be biased in favor of any question that you ask, so be sure to do a sanity check, before breaking down any boardroom doors.

In B2B marketing, the perceptions of your product/service are reality. If your customers don’t recognize that your company’s order fill rate IS 100% for the past three years, talk about it more often – the message isn’t getting through. Your marketing communications should take credit for the work you have done.

Above all, ensure that your measurements capture market perceptions accurately and take into account behavior as well, because in the end, that is what marketers seek to change. Use surveys to improve the ways in which B2B marketing communications delivers value to your company.

Contact Contrecoup for marketing positioning of your products and services.More about Peter Muiznieks on Google.

B2B Marketing, Social Media and Lead Conversion

As an inbound marketing agency, one of our objectives is to lower cost per lead. There has been considerable discussion on the interwebs this year on the use of social media to generate leads. Our position for B2B marketing is that it should be introduced systematically as part of your lead conversion process.

The Social Media ‘Situation’ for B2B Marketing

Social media has got off to a bad start in some industriesSocial media marketing for B2B marketers got off to a bad start. Here are some of the obstacles that must be tested and cleared before investing additional resources into your initiative:

  1. Decision makers project their personal social media usage onto that of customers and prospects. I resist editorializing here. The data do not support that position and marketers need to highlight examples from industry groups or competitors that ARE working.
  2. Decision makers use anecdotal evidence of the WORST social media tools and apply that to all social media opportunities. Not all social media tools are appropriate for all industries. LinkedIn and Twitter are the most effective B2B marketing platforms, so a cautious program will optimize these before attempting others.
  3. Decision makers need to understand that, unlike traditional outbound marketing, social media marketing is not a ‘linear’ process. You are expanding the reach of your message to an ‘audience of audiences’.
  4. Social media marketing continues to evolve. This may present an unacceptable level of ‘political risk’ to some, but understand that this river continues to flow whether or not you’ve put a boat in the water.

Assessment: Test and Collect Data; Repeat

In a perfect world, we would have a fully functional tool to measure and track our tests, but in most situations, Google Analytics will have to do the heavy lifting in the beginning. This will result in additional steps in marketing processes until we can justify full-featured marketing suites, such as Hubspot, Wildfire, etc.

Google has a great URL builder toolUntil a more sophisticated tracking suite is in place, Google Analytics is your tool to help track your data collection efforts. If you are new to this, Google has a great URL builder that will help Analytics identify the traffic sources attributable to your social media marketing efforts. Consistently adding a suffix to the links that you post to your LinkedIn and Twitter programs will help you identify:

  • Medium (e.g., social, cpc, banner, email, blog),
  • Source (e.g., Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, newsletter4, blogpost39),
  • Terms (for paid keywords),
  • Content (to different among PPC ads), and/or
  • Campaign (specific product, promo code or slogan).

The final link would look like this:


which can then be shortened by your favorite service, such as bitly.com. This will require you to build several links (one for each source), but this is how you will collect bullet proof data.  URL tracking is an important piece of the social media marketing puzzle whether your starting a pilot project or have a full-time team of marketers working on it.

Measuring Marketing Response

A social media like/follow/+1 is more a prospective lead than a lead.  We know that there is someone in near-earth-orbit that is interested in your company or product, but these are ‘top of the funnel’ leads that need to be brought further down into the sales funnel if possible.

In the B2B world, your objectives for a ‘social’ lead will require a different message than the hard-sell at the bottom of the funnel. A possible objective may be to collect their email address (on your website or at a trade show) via exclusive content, such as a white paper or other ‘exclusive’ content.

Google Analytics can be used to track visits, goal completions or ecommerce conversions of ‘top-of-the-funnel’ social leads. The updated Google Analytics dashboard has a new section for “Social” that should be monitored. Use the “Goals” function to track progress through paths designed to convert soft social leads into leads that sales can work with.

Social Media Marketing in Lead Conversion Metrics

Top-of-the-funnel leads needs to be a section in your lead generation and lead conversion metrics. Earlier this week, Social Media Examiner posted a great list of metrics to demonstrate success through the sales funnel:

  • Lead conversion metrics in B2B marketing in social mediaCost per impression
  • Cost per engagement
  • Cost per soft lead
  • Cost per hard lead
  • Cost per sale

Initially these costs will be higher than for your legacy marketing programs, but they will decrease over time and eventually show a savings. My suggestions may seem to be a lot of effort for a few leads, but your efforts will prove that, as a marketer, you are on top of your lead conversion game.

Contrecoup is always ready to help…

Contact Contrecoup to help monitor perceptions of your company products.
More about Peter Muiznieks on Google Plus.

Social Media Marketing in B2B Manufacturing

Social media is an important part of the marketing mix for B2B manufacturingWith only a third of B2B manufacturers planning to increase social media marketing spending in 2012, it seems that even those who have adapted are not committing more resources.

The good news is that only a few platforms matter. It is likely that your competitors have not devoted any resources either, but should shareholders and executive management be satisfied being “least worst?”.

First, the Bad News About Your Brand

In today’s marketing environment, the relationship is the brand. Can manufacturers deliver world-class customer experience without reaching out to their customers via social media? It’s possible, but less and less probable over time.

Industrial and B2B sales rely on their relationships within customer organizations. I’m on the same page, but there is a long list of conditions that must exist to create “ideal” circumstances in the long run:

  • no employee turnover at manufacturer,
  • low employee turnover at customer,
  • no supply chain disruptions,
  • consistently faster product development by the manufacturer,
  • slow adoption by the industry, and more.

The risk of these conditions being disrupted increases with time, and most are beyond your control. Given that product life cycles are being compressed, it is less and less likely that the status quo can remain in place.

The Good News for B2B Manufacturing

Manufacturers selling through two-step distribution have been witness to a slow evolution. Their channel partners, particularly big box retail, have focused on lowering transaction costs above all else. This is a subtle, but meaningful nuance for the manufacturer in a behavioral context.

Many manufacturers were reluctant to “concede power” to their channel partners. This meant smaller lots, EDI, lower net prices, slower payment – basically a disruption to the way their businesses were able to thrive since the late 1940’s.

Non-Linear Marketing Tools

Seasoned sales and marketing professionals have been reluctant to evolve their marketing programs based on ROI. If the same logic were applied to customer acquisition cost for their existing programs, they shouldn’t invest in those either.

Have you calculated cost per lead for a trade show? Calculating burdened labor and travel costs to apply to direct trade show expenses is not a simple matter to begin with, but I encourage you to create a pro-forma cost-per-lead for your most productive event. Take this exercise a step further and estimate your company’s:

  • Cost per lead
  • Cost per qualified lead
  • Cost per new customer

The averages will differ by industry, but most manufacturers can lower these costs by at least 50% with social media marketing. If the 50% assumption is true, why wouldn’t B2B manufacturing add social media to the marketing mix?

Since the linear models (e.g. direct mail, trade shows) are not performing, perhaps B2B marketers are reluctant to assume the ‘risks’ associated with non-linear approaches that MAY perform less effectively than what they have today. After all, some manufacturing organizations have abandoned marketing altogether.

Change Management and the Voice of the Customer

Apply Six Sigma principles to marketingIn a Six Sigma or ISO environment, the Voice of Customer is balanced against the Voice of the Business. The widespread adoption and use of social media platforms, such as LinkedIn and Twitter, among your channel partners is a clear indication to B2B marketers that social media belongs in the marketing mix.

The vital question in an increasingly competitive business world is

Is your organization truly prepared to commit to continuous improvement as well as revenue growth?

or are processes still out of alignment with dynamic market requirements – costing you business success?

The Six Sigma improvement methodology is divided into five phases:

  1. DMAIC should be applied to your social media marketing pilotDefine opportunity
  2. Measure performance
  3. Analyze opportunity
  4. Improve performance
  5. Control performance

Even a Green Belt will tell you, “If you know what the solution is, just implement it.” B2B manufacturing will see results in about six months, but if you want to take a cautious approach, you can create a social media Pilot Plan that formally outlines:

  1. Scope
  2. Pilot success criteria
  3. Potential problem analysis
  4. Contingency plans
  5. Training
  6. Data collection
  7. Verification plan
  8. Communication, and
  9. Schedule and work plan

Good pilot planning takes into account the challenges and barriers to success and addresses them before the failure occurs. The idea is to use social media marketing in addition to your traditional marketing mix, not to replace it.

In B2B manufacturing, the data drives decision-making. Social media marketing is largely an online endeavor and there will be data in abundance. Planning your Pilot carefully will ensure that your company and your channel partners will benefit from a branded relationship with your customers.

Contact Contrecoup to help monitor perceptions of your company products.
More about Peter Muiznieks on Google Plus.

Trade Show Marketing: We Don’t Need No Badges

We don't need no badges!When encountering a trade show that does not offer lead retrieval equipment, many marketers act as if Western Civilization were about to end. To quote a character from the classic Western film The Treasure of Sierra Madre, “Badges? We ain’t got no badges. We don’t need no badges! I don’t have to show you any stinkin’ badges!”

By relying on lead retrieval equipment, you may be compromising your lead generation efforts.

“You don’t know where I’ve been, Lou!”

Trade shows can be lively exchanges with prospects!Every marketer has heard countless excuses why, upon returning from a B2B trade show, sales people do not have any workable leads. Marketing can eliminate this ‘conundrum’ with a little preparation.

First, you should clearly define the minimum criteria for a lead, which for marketing automation purposes should be:

  1. Email address
  2. First and last name
  3. Company name

More information would be nice, but this is a back-stop for the minimum requirement.  A business card would be great. A simple sign-in sheet may sound old school, but you are paying top dollar for leads at a B2B trade show. You will need to add leads to your SFA or CRM manually, but lead generation is not always neat and simple.

Qualify Trade Show Leads

Your sales team intuitively qualifies sales-ready leads, because they want to close business. But more than half of the leads that you generate at a trade show will be neither qualified, nor sales-ready.

Don’t make lead qualification at a B2B trade show more complicated than it needs to be. Make sure sales understands how you (marketing) defines target segments for you business.  Qualification can be simple as learning whether trade show leads are:

  • Users of the product (they buy from a competitor), or
  • Demographically qualified (e.g., restaurant chain with more than 10 locations)

Again, this sort of qualification is an oversimplification, but consider it as your back-stop of minimum information. If sales understands your needs, they are more likely to deliver lead information that is actionable.

Lead Retrieval Equipment Is Not Your Friend

Lead retrieval makes the execution of qualified lead generation and lead fulfillment more difficult. The data that you will receive may need to be scrubbed. Whoever supplied data for the show may have provided one email for all contacts in attendance, and this is difficult to remedy on the floor of the show.

Also, how many attendees walk into your booth holding their badge expecting to be scanned just to “get it over with.” How many times have you engaged in a conversation only to hear “This isn’t really me” just before attempting to scan a badge. Lead retrieval just doesn’t contribute to the lead generation and lead qualification process.

Alternatives to Lead Retrieval Equipment

Industries will vary in their adoption of technology, but let’s get real – cell phones and (especially) smartphones are now mainstream. Attendees may object to having to text a keyword or scan a QR code for information, but the instant follow-up will be in their InBox and will not be discarded as attendees “de-bone” the bag filled with collateral on their way back to the airport.

QR codes are an efficient means to generate leadsConsider a simple counter card such as the one to the right (click to see full size) as the replacement to lead retrieval equipment. I urge you to test the results in conjunction with legacy lead retrieval systems before you take the plunge:

Text-to-Join: Attendees who do not yet have smartphones can text a keyword to a five digit phone number – it’s a two-step process, but you’ll have an email address! Try ours!

Scan-to-Join: Attendees with smartphones can scan a QR code to be taken to a mobile-friendly landing page to enter contact info and more into whichever SFA system that you have in place. See an example by scanning this code from your monitor, or click here to see a Contrecoup landing page on your desktop.

The QR bar:
For leads that are reluctant to “join” another email list, provide your trade show personnel with a page of QR codes so that attendees can scan and quickly join/follow/like your company on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, etc. Also consider using link-shortening programs that can track additions to your company’s social graph will become more and more useful in the future.

The Next Level: Location-Based Social Interaction

This post wouldn’t be complete without mentioning some location-based tools. Here are two ideas for trade show marketing:

  1. FourSquare check-ins: Have you sales team check-in at the trade show venue and leave ‘tips’ that contain links to your on-line lead gen landing pages.
  2. SCVNGR: Another popular location-based service offers the ability to create a scavenger hunt (perhaps with non-competing exhibitors) using QR codes to earn points, badges and prizes.

These may require downloading new applications and signing up, but marketing is about engaging your customer – not scanning sheep as they walk through your exhibition space.

Lead Generation In a Social World

The ways that we interact today are evolving faster than most companies ability to adapt. Clearly, some audiences are not yet ready for these platforms, but if being found online is about context, relevance and interest, you will need to find ways to engage elusive prospects. Your audience may be on the verge of extinction, but since they are your prospects, isn’t your company threatened with extinction as well?

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Marketing Communications with Manufacturers Reps

Developing sales channels with independent manufacturer’s representatives present opportunities and challenges. Your channel partners need (and deserve) marketing communications that are a higher priority than your markets. Don’t let communications with any of your channel partners lapse.

To market, To market, I Need a Smooth Launch

Marketing communications ensure a smooth product launchIn haste to launch new products and services, many companies are so focused on internal deadlines that marketing communications with channel partners becomes a secondary concern. If your sales strategy relies on manufacturers representatives, they deserve to be very high on your priority list of audiences to whom to sell early.

Large companies with extensive product lines that contribute a large percentage of commissions for their manufacturer’s representatives should not take for granted that their reps will devote the time and resources to promoting a new product or service. Small companies that find themselves fighting for their reps’ attention should invest in the additional resources to ensure that their product/service has a fighting chance on the front lines.

Who, What, When, Where, Why and How

Your marketing communications plan needs your channel partners, including your manufacturer’s representatives, to know how fine-tuned your product/service roll-out is going to be. You have spent weeks,months, perhaps years preparing tor the day when you will go-to-market and must communicate the details to your channel partners in…

The Infamous Sales Bulletin

Clip-board-to-do-list-completeWhether your distribution relies on wholesale or retail channels, the sales bulletin is still the industry standard for marketing communications with Reps. The importance and impact of a sales bulletin is what is written and described on paper itself as well as what accompanies the paper document. A sales bulletin should be a collection of information that may include:

  1. The sales bulletin itself, which should be authoritative and complete in answering who, what, when, where, why and how your product and/or service will be introduced;
  2. Product samples – for agency Reps on the street to bring to meetings with potential customers;
  3. Brochures and specifications – the printed collateral to “leave behind.” Even if all the information is available on your website, there is no substitute for printed collateral for a Rep on the move;
  4. Price sheets with new pricing, terms and conditions.
  5. Anything else that will help your manufacturers representatives answer questions from customers, such as video, data CD’s, etc.

Stand Out in the Crowd

Contrecoup suggests that you experiment with ‘unconventional’ methods to support your bulletin. Experiment with some of the following ideas:

  • Pre-record a video demonstrating your product and upload to YouTube. It’s not as good as hands-on product knowledge training, but it will reinforce the ideas that you’ve outlined in your bulletin.
  • Schedule a video conference to a) discuss and demonstrate and b) allow for questions from your reps. You can use a ‘webinar’ format to create an interactive event that allows for sharing of documents and other collateral.
  • Use Google+ for low-cost interactive meetingsSchedule a Google+ “Hangout” to deliver your message to Reps and allow for Q&A in a group setting. Since Google+ is free, you can schedule several sessions to accommodate your Reps’ busy schedules.
  • Manufacturer's rep need mobile supportCreate ‘mobile-friendly’ programs that allow Reps to present with iPads or other tablets. Format collateral to allow “text-to-join” or “scan-to-join” from a portable device that “auto-responds” to the prospect or customer in question.


Ensure your Message is Heard

Take the time to properly communicate with your channel partners. While researching this topic, I was offered this advice to share:

“In order to get the most out of your channel partners and Manufactures Reps it is critically important to treat them as an extension of your direct sales team and company. In order to properly do that, transparent communication of sales strategy, product rollouts, company goals and collateral needs to be inherently woven in the standard work of your business.”

~Nate Olds, Vice President, Sales & Services, Honeywell Analytics

Your marketing message will have a greater chance of breaking through the noise if your manufacturers reps, wholesalers and retailers are delivering the same message each and every time.

Contact Contrecoup to help monitor perceptions of your company products.


B2B Marketing Strategy for Manufacturers (Tactical Brief)

Contrecoup walked the AHR Expo 2012 in Chicago I was walking the AHR Expo at McCormick Place in Chicago earlier this week. The show was in the North AND South Pavilions of McCormick Place, and it was packed. A client and I were having a hard time wrapping up our conversation as we walked to our next stop. And there it was…

Salesperson: “Hey buddy, wanna buy some ventilation covers?”

I did a double take. Dressed in a blazer, I CLEARLY was not one of the 17,000 air-conditioning, heating, ventilation and refrigeration pros on their annual walk-about.

Me: “I’m a marketing consultant. I want to hear your value proposition first.”

Salesperson: “Alright…well…we sell ventilation covers and we can match anyone’s price even though it’s a better product.”

The body language of the salesperson must have caught the sales manager’s attention. He quickly joins us

Sales manager: “Hi. I’m Joe. Welcome to our booth. What’s going on?”

Me: “He’s trying to sell me vent covers, but I wanted to hear your value proposition first.”

Sales manager: “Yeah, I heard what he said – he failed. Let me try…”

I reach for my business cards.

Sales manager: “OK – we sell the best ventilation cover on the market…” (He ad libs about 4 sentences. Low price comes up twice and there is one reference to 17 patents.) “How’d I do?”

Me, while handing him a business card: “Let’s work on that.”

The Alignment of Sales and Marketing Strategy

One of the biggest challenges faced by companies is the alignment of their B2B sales and B2B marketing organizations. Salespeople are focused on quotas and the marketing folks are faced with a different set of deadlines. No matter what your role, everyone in the organization is tasked with satisfying customers.

The exchange that I had with the sales staff at a trade show happens hundreds of times every day. Employees disagree among themselves or are unsure of the value and/or benefits of the products and services.

B2B Manufacturing Sales Strategy

A practical B2B marketing approach can help align other organizations within your company, including sales, by implementing the following:

  • Increase internal ‘branding’: in a way, company employees should be considered the first target segment of your marketing strategy.  Use company newsletter, signage, whatever means that you have at your disposal to influence everone from the CEO to the sales manager to hourly employees.
  • Research: Gather data to support your claims. A solid marketing strategy relies on the voice of the customer. The sales manager and his team are the eyes and ears of the organization…in the field. B2B marketing strategy must include a research component if you are to succeed.
  • Pricing: Too often, sales strategy permits price concessions to create value for the customer. Help your sales team by clearly articulating value (in terms other than price) and invest in training.
  • Adapt marketing strategy: B2B marketing is thought by some to be immune from rapid change. Not so. Market segmentation will reveal that many segments and their influencers are adopting different media from which to gather purchasing information.

“Hey buddy, want to be an industry leader?”

Industry leadership is earned through careful planningIn B2B marketing, your customer needs to hear about your company 12 or more times before they are willing to do business with you.  Ensure that they hear the same message each time that they hear about your company. You have a great opportunity to control that message through your employees.  Your sales strategy has a better chance of getting to the close if marketing can influence the marketing message to customers. If you want your customers to consider your company an industry leader, make sure that your sales team is ‘on point’ when they are in the field.