People-to-People Marketing: Engage, Connect, Influence

There has been a seismic explosion in the channels and tools marketers are using to influence purchasing decisions.

There has been a seismic explosion in the channels and tools marketers are using to influence purchasing decisions.

The goal for P-to-P marketing is to engage decision makers and influence their purchasing decision

If you feel a little out of touch with the whole marketing ecosystem today, don’t feel alone. There has been a seismic explosion in the channels and tools marketers are using to influence purchasing decisions. Now, effective marketing is a mash-up of traditional B-to-B and digital P-to-P strategies with tactical execution determined by company size and where the buyer to be reached spends the most time.

Content everywhere but what do buyers find most useful?

Content can take many forms. Eccolo Media, in collaboration with market-research firm Global Marketing Insite (GMI), with recently published the Eccolo Media 2014 B2B Technology Content Survey Report identifying categories for marketing collateral and what technology buyers in small, medium, and large companies consume when making considered purchase decisions.

16 forms of marketing collateral were identified:

• White papers
• Product brochures
• Case studies
• Technology guides
• Video and multimedia files
• Blog articles
• Infographics
• Webinars
• E-books
• Podcast, audio files
• Magazines and publications
• Competitive vendor worksheets
• E-newsletters
• Social networks
• Web slide show
• Tweets

Content consumption in the sales cycle

Breaking down the sales cycle into 4 phases to identify the most effective forms of content that buyers found useful:

Pre-sale (unaware of the problem) – Blogs, infographics
Initial sale (understands the problem) – White papers, case studies, video and multimedia files
Mid-sale (identifying solutions & selecting vendors) – Case studies/success stories, technology guides
Final sale (finalizing vendor and purchasing solution) – Technology guides, implementation scenarios

Relevant and high quality content plays a critical role in the purchasing decision. Marketers that understand this have the opportunity to engage, connect, and influence buyers throughout the purchasing process.

Social networks – perception and reality

Social networks are prime territory for distributing content. Determining which social platform to concentrate on for content distribution can be influenced by the size of the company you are trying to reach. Small and mid-size companies lean more toward Facebook, while larger companies consume more content from LinkedIn.

Twitter is also a viable network for reaching influencers and purchasers. Click-through rates from vendor posts are increasing because the short burst of information is usually accompanied by a link to a larger content library.

Blogs are also influential in the pre-sale phase to identify problems, bringing them to the surface for consideration.

One thing to remember is that with so much content available, buyers are becoming more selective in deciding which content is worthy of their time. Because buyers choose the time and place for receiving marketing content, formatting for desktop, tablet, and smart phone enhances the buyer’s experience.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

Why people-to-people marketing is replacing business-to-business in the aviation industry

Content development for aviation marketers is a communal affair

Getting social media to pay off

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

Image credit: buchachon / 123RF Stock Photo

7 questions for better presentations

Successful presentations motivate the audience to take a specific action.

Successful presentations motivate the audience to take a specific action.

Create presentations that are more powerful and results oriented.

Successful presentations motivate the audience to take a specific action. It’s about presenting a solution based on a point-of-view that the audience can relate to on a personal and professional level.

Answer these 7 questions before scripting your presentation:

1. How large is the audience?

This is the fundamental starting point when developing the presentation. Is it a small group or an auditorium filled with thousands? The size of the audience helps determine the presentation tools to use.

2. Location?

The digital environment now provides for presentations to take place anywhere. Is the presentation a face-to face, webinar, or a posting to a social network? Popular platforms such as  Go-To-Meeting, Google Hangouts, or Slide Share  are accessible globally.

3. Who is the audience?

The basic premise, that the purpose of the presentation is to influence the audience’s behavior to take a desired action, requires understanding the audience’s ability to execute the action. In other words, make sure the presentation content is relevant to the audience.

4. What motivates the audience?

Motivation is best viewed through two lenses -the first being personal motivation, and the second, professional motivation. What concerns the person? What keeps them up at night? What business hurdles must they clear to reach success?

5. What is your desired action?

Margo Krasne, author of “Say It With Confidence,” refers to this as your “to-do.” What do you want your audience to do after you’ve finished speaking? This is the whole point of the presentation – to influence the audience to take a specific action. Always check your presentation content against the motivational carrots. Be sure it relates back to the audience’s concerns and presents a solution to their problem.

6. What is your presentation concept?

The concept is derived from the audience’s motivational carrots. What are they concerned about? How does the solution you are proposing satisfy their needs?

7. What is your presentation strategy?

Develop the content as a series of points supported by case studies, industry facts, or personal experiences.  Remember to portray your solution in context to solving the audience’s problems. Develop transition points that set up the next main point of the presentation.

Following these simple guidelines will help you create more powerful and results-oriented presentations.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

Connecting decision makers with your brand

Finding your voice

How to gain influence through understanding

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

Does your brand embrace change?

People-to-people marketing changes the approach to customer relationships.

People-to-people marketing changes the approach to customer relationships.

When working with companies serving the aviation industry that are transitioning to people-to-people marketing, I stress that marketing content should be centered around two things:  1) solving customer problems, and 2) the journey through the purchasing process – because these are the two main elements of creating brand preference. Yet many times after this suggestion is made there is resistance to change and a tendency to circle back and do things the way they are most comfortable with. This usually takes the form of reskinning their current website with the latest product iteration.

The tragedy of this is the missed opportunity to connect with customers, improve their brand experience, and influence future purchasing decisions.

Understanding the value that you give

One aspect of people-to-people marketing is knowing what the customer considers valuable. The path to this enlightened place begins by looking at the areas where the customer interacts with your brand.

  • Interest
  • Purchase
  • Customer Service
  • Payment

Connecting and engaging with the customer as they travel through the four phases gives insight and actionable items to the departments responsible for each of the above areas.

This is a holistic approach that requires each department to share both good and bad experiences. The customer journey is a series of small steps. Good experiences increase brand loyalty, and bad experiences send customers to your competitor.

Developing content that is focused on the customer’s needs, and mechanisms within the marketing channels that invite customer response, shows willingness on the brands part to be open and receptive to change with the goals of providing a better brand experience.

Putting the customer in the middle

Having insight into the customer’s purchasing experience allows you to see your brand through your customer’s eyes. To some the purchase can be influenced by design and functionality of the website.  To others is may be speed of delivery, ease of ordering, or return policy. Taking a hard look at the customer purchasing journey will help you identify performance indicators that cross all departments leading to a more profitable and satisfying customer relationship.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

5 reasons why aviation manufacturers need to embrace people-to-people marketing

 Why aviation brands need emotional engagement

 How to build a connected brand

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

Is your website attracting customers or sending them away?

Is your website attracting customers or sending them away?

Interesting content, fresh design and a good user experience invite participation

More often than not aviation component manufacturer websites are more like electronic brochures than conduits for nurturing customer relationships.

Aviation marketers that practice people-to-people marketing create vibrant websites with a clear vision of what the site is charged with accomplishing and the appropriate strategies to get there.

Vision examples may include:

  • Customer portal to access account information and order placement
  • Configurator engine for designing and ordering custom components
  • News and announcement sections for public relations efforts
  • Blogging platform to increase social media presence
  • E-commerce site equipped to handle orders and monetary transactions
  • Investor information for acquiring interest from Private Equity and Institutional investors

Each of the aforementioned examples requires specific navigation, design, content and programming to provide a superior user experience.

Vibrant website are responsive, easy to maintain and update

WordPress is a popular open source programing language that is quick to learn, requires minimal coding experience and provides a platform for easy content updates.

Elite WordPress theme developers license their website designs to individuals and companies. Usually the site designs come complete with page templates, coding files and Photoshop files for custom page design. In addition, many sites now are designed to be fully responsive – meaning they will automatically display on desktop, tablet or smart phone without additional programming. This is becoming increasingly important as usage trends are predicting that mobile platforms – smart phones and web enabled tablets will be more popular than internet desktop use by 2015.

The key to taking a WordPress theme site and making it your own is having the availability to customize the following:

  • Color pallets
  • Backgrounds
  • Short codes for special features
  • Fonts
  • Banner graphics – slide, dissolve, etc.
  • Blog page templates
  • Page divider graphics
  • Multi-column page format

One excellent feature when posting to the news, announcement or blog pages is the capability to short link the page URL using Bitly or Google and post updates to your Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook pages. The abbreviated post will link back to the site for a complete viewing of the release or article.

Another key feature is the comments section. This provides visitors and customers with an avenue to join in the conversation and start the relationship building process.

A word of caution about how different browsers may display the site content. Safari, Google Chrome and Firefox are pretty good about staying current with responsive website design. Microsoft Internet Explorer can be challenged to display correctly due to operating system version and configuration. It is best to trouble shoot the site on both PC and MAC and several mobile devices with different browsers to determine if corrective programing is need for proper site display.

A vibrant people-to-people marketing website contains your latest twitter feeds, pintrest postings, content about your industry, events you will be participating in, and links to your blogs and social media channels. It also visually tells customers and potential customers that your are active in social media and understand how to maximize the power of people-to-people marketing.

Additional articles on this topic you may find of interest.

How to build a connected brand

3 ways social media can help build your brand

How mobile application development drives people-to-people marketing

Finding the sweet spot for social marketing

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

Aviation Marketing: Engaging employees in social media marketing

People-to-people marketing uses social media to build relationships.

People-to-people marketing uses social media to build relationships.

Social media provides insight into the customer’s brand experience

The website technorati.com has lunched a podcast series, “Social Brands & Influencers”. Technorati interviews top thought leaders and decision makers in the social media and marketing world. Liz Brown Bullock formally of Dell Computer and now CEO of the start up SASI provided her perspective on getting employees involved in social media marketing. Below is my interpretation for aviation marketers.

Imagine having an army of subject matter experts trained in social media. Now imagine unleashing your army in the marketplace, engaging with customers and building an emotional connection with your brand. Social media marketing is about listening to customer conversations, identifying what is really important, and reporting back to product development, engineering or marketing on what the customer really cares about. Content in context from your customers, providing deep insights that you would never get from a conversation in a focus group.

People-to-people marketing uses social media to build relationships

Everyday in your company there are hundreds of conversations taking place with customers that influence your brand perception. These conversations can originate from many groups within the company from sales, to marketing, to technical support. Knowing how to turn these conversations into relationships requires training employees in social media skills — listening, engaging, and relationship building.

The business case for social media selling

Taking social media to the next level within your company requires support from executive management. Social media is not the responsibility of any one group, but is most effective when all groups in your company recognize that all can contribute to representing your brand online.

Customers want to engage with subject matter experts. Having your content experts engage with a customer accomplishes several things:

  1. It can build a deeper relationship with the customer by providing the best information possible.
  2. It creates a two-way dialogue that builds brand loyalty through social selling.
  3. Deeper relationships result in brand loyalty providing a path for monetization.

Organize a library of content for customer consumption

Producing quality content is important, and distributing that content is equally important. Developing a content calendar for quick reference can speed up information retrieval, and when needed connect the customer with the content expert to answer their question.

A second approach is to develop an online library of curated content. Curated content can provide the validation of an engineering approach, business strategy or marketing trends from third party experts and influencers.

Additional articles on this topic you may find of interest.

Using social media to gain customer insight

Finding the sweet spot for social marketing

5 reasons why aviation manufacturers need to embrace people-to-people marketing

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

To follow Liz Brown Bullock on twitter click here. To hear the complete podcast click here.

photo credit: Dell’s Official Flickr Page via photopin cc.

Aviation Marketing: Using social media to gain customer insight

Blog_81_Using social media to gain customer insight

Good social monitoring brings about actionable engagement strategies

Social media offers an unadulterated view of issues and opinions that shape brand preference

When developing strategic communication plans for companies in the aviation industry, I always want to know what’s going on in the customer’s mind. Customer insight can be attained via several channels using different tactics. For example, insights can be gained from:

  • Focus groups
  • Questionnaires
  • Surveys
  • One-on-one interviews
  • Social listening

Several of the above-mentioned tactics have been the staple for customer research for many years with documented pros and cons associated with each tactic.

Social listening is a relatively new tactic that relies on monitoring social media channels. Mining the channels brings forth an abundance of customers’ opinions and conversations about your brand and information about competitors.

Good social monitoring brings about actionable engagement strategies

Social monitoring goes beyond Facebook “likes” or Twitter “followers.”  It provides an interpretation of the online conversation and how it relates to the purchase intent of customers interested in your brand. Think of it as an early warning system about product functionality, advertising messaging, and emotional connection which provides the ability to course correct marketing strategies before experiencing a decline in sales.

Forrester Research estimates that $1.6 billion will be spent this year on social brand tracking. For that investment, savvy airlines and aviation manufacturers will have a front row seat for ascertaining the tone of the conversation, what the interest levels are for  their brand, and what brand perceptions are being formed in the customer’s mind.

What social monitoring brings to the table

Customer Insight – helps aviation companies ascertain purchasing intent, triggers for purchasing behavior, and specific communities in which to focus resources.

Brand Insight – aligns Key Performance Indexes (KPI) to understand how awareness, perception, and brand consideration are formed.

Category Insight – helps companies determine how to capitalize on opportunities in specific business segments.

Social listening platforms

It takes two to have a conversation.  Blogs, websites, Facebook pages, Pinterest boards, and tweets invite customers to express themselves to you and to each other. These are global conversations about brand loyalty, customer frustrations, and service shortcomings that can identify areas for improvement.

Making sense of the conversations

Depending on the size of the company and resources available, social monitoring can be very simple or highly structured.  There are several online providers that can supply you with platforms and dashboards incorporating a host of tools to acquire and categorize the conversations, bringing statistical significance to the information for actionable implementation.

Social media monitoring tools (paid):

A comparision of the above tools can be downloaded at pr2020.com

Additional articles that may be on interest on this topic:

Finding the sweet spot for social marketing

How to engineer a social marketing strategy

10 reasons why social marketing efforts fail

 3 ways social media can help build your brand

photo credit: afagen via photopin cc

Aviation Marketing: Finding your voice

A brand story requires a social point of view

A brand story requires a social point of view

Defining your values improves your brand story

Aviation companies that are practitioners of people-to-people marketing spend their marketing capital wisely by defining their position and understanding their point of differentiation. This due diligence leads to delivering key messages in clear concise terms that are easily understood by the constituents with whom they wish to do business.

Digital platforms from Twitter to You Tube to email have empowered companies in the aviation industry with the ability to become their own publishers and broadcasters. Early adopters of social marketing embraced the idea of self-publishing as a means to reduce advertising costs. As social marketing platforms matured, content migrated from a low cost replacement for a traditional advertising channel to conveying a larger story through the brand’s good deeds.

Orchestrating your brand story may sound like an easy task; however staring at a blank sheet of paper quickly brings home the reality that the brand story requires a social point of view. By this I mean, what are your company values and how are they contributing to the betterment of the aviation industry?

Developing a social point of view

The mission of any company is to make a profit from goods and services produced and sold. However, in the social marketing landscape, pure profit motive needs to be combined with the idea that products and services produced also make the world a better place to live.

Proactively listening to customer concerns posted on social media platforms provides the insight necessary to develop strategic social messages that resonate with customer’s values and concerns.

For example, in the biofuel market, Shell Global has an Environment and Society section on their corporate website. Content features their pioneering efforts on making ethanol from Brazilian sugarcane. Blending this biofuel with standard petrol can reduce CO2 emissions by 70% when compared to standard petrol.

Michelin is another example. Their aircraft tires produced using NZG (Near Zero Growth) technology reduces the tires’ weight and increases longevity, resulting in a tire structure that is more impact and damage resistant. The reduction in weight contributes to fuel savings while increasing passenger and freight capacity.

Brand values are derived from the social culture of the company. Companies that do well by their customers also do well for themselves.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

Should your brand be aligned with a moral cause?

Why aviation brands need emotional engagement

Marketing excellence requires focus and clear positioning