Influencing prospects before they enter the sales funnel

 

If the brand is not participating in social media, it’s at a disadvantage

If the brand is not participating in social media, it’s at a disadvantage

Social media content can influence business-to-business purchasing decisions

Up to 70% of prospects entering the sales funnel have already conducted online research and have formed a perception of the brand based on social media content. Because of this, if the brand is not participating in social media, it’s at a disadvantage.

Prospects entering the sales funnel are in search of information that will lead them to a purchasing decision. Whether the sale is transactional for a component or material needed immediately to make their product, or a considered purchase that has many influencers and a long sales time, prospects are relying more and more on peer reviews and social media engagement to finalize their purchasing decision.

People-to-people marketing – honing the brand’s key messages

Before launching into a social media marketing effort, it’s vitally important to establish the brand’s value proposition and be able to articulate it in terms that are meaningful to the prospect. Content that is purely a laundry list of service offerings fails to differentiate from the competition and leads to abandonment by the prospect or strictly a purchase based on lowest price.

Gaining the prospect’s attention requires identifying the prospect’s problems and creating empathy with the prospect. Once this emotional connection is established, then a solution can be offered that is relevant and distinct to the brand.

The social media platform ecosphere

Connecting with and influencing prospects on social media platforms requires a sustained effort spearheaded by content that supports the brand’s key messaging.

Each of the big four channels – LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube – has a particular strength. Business-to-business marketers are more inclined to use LinkedIn because of numerous industry groups in which to participate. LinkedIn also offers the ability to network with industry peers and establish connections with decision makers that have purchasing authority.

Twitter can be very useful but requires a content library to constantly feed updates. One of the advantages to using Twitter is that posts can be automated through third party platforms allowing for control of posting frequency. Twitter also provides immediacy when posting for events and is an easy way to connect the industry influencers.

Influencing prospects before they enter the sales funnel requires a concerted effort to develop and post authoritative content consistently. Abandoning social media channels sends a signal to the prospect that the brand either has underestimated the resources needed or was not serious about social engagement from the get-go.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

Content development for aviation marketers is a communal affair

How to build a connected brand

Designing a social marketing strategy for Aviation Marketing

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

Copyright: olivier26 / 123RF Stock Photo

Social media content strategy

Social media content, when used as an integrated marketing tool, can extend the reach of advertising.

Why platform selection affects the quality and quantity of social media content

Social media, love it or leave it, is hard to get away from. What started as digital networks where like-minded users could connect and share information has grown into a multi-billion dollar network catering to sophisticated brand advertising and user generated content.

Platform selection influences quality of social media content

B-to-B brands seeking to use social media for engagement need to understand the strengths and limitations of their selected social platform. Where Facebook is perceived as a more B-to-C retail platform, there are numerous examples where B-to-B brands have used the platform to connect with rural outlying communities where their facilities are located.

Each platform has its own particular tone and style. Understanding this allows for social media content to be developed to show a more human side of the brand or a more technical competency based on the objectives of the social media effort.

Objectives can include the following:

  • Community relations
  • Recruitment
  • Health and safety
  • Product comparison
  • Thought leadership
  • New product introduction
  • Forwarding of content via social network
  • New business inquiry

Achieving any of the above identifies content that is conceptually sound, produced with a purpose, and deemed valuable by its intended audience.

Content that lacks strategic direction is hastily cobbled together, short on authenticity, and not tied to a specific objective is probably a waste of time and resources.

Key take away: Having a platform presence without a strategy is not sustainable and will quickly lead to abandonment.

Integrating social media content with other marketing tools

Social media content, when used as an integrated marketing tool, can extend the reach of advertising. This complementary function is much like the support of public relations. Done correctly, social media content can capture an influencer’s attention, leading to additional content generated with the appearance of endorsement.

Key take away: Social media content is a complementary tool not intended to carry the entire marketing load.

How much social media content is needed to be effective?

The internet is a content eating machine. In order to stand out in the sea of sponsored display advertising and user generated content, advertisers should be prepared for a long term commitment to social media content development and treat it with an evergreen journalistic approach.

Key take away: The best strategy is to develop a library of content that has a long shelf life.

Social media has its limitations

The one thing social media can’t do is provide sustainable scale. By its very nature, it is fragmented – subject to the reader’s value system and point of view. Accuracy of regenerated content cannot be guaranteed and may do more harm than good.

The use of social media by B-to-B brands is accelerating. Taking a strategic approach to integrating social media into the marketing mix requires creativity and a willingness to try something different.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

Why content development will drive the future of aviation marketing

How to engineer a social marketing strategy

How to write effective online copy

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

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.

Social media: Media channel or purchasing influence?

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The ad revenue model is blurring the lines between social media and advertising

In the early days of social media it was hailed as the replacement for advertising. The interruption model of advertising was so twentieth century and the permission model of social media was the darling of the new millennium.

Brands that were early adopters were especially excited because they viewed social media as a non-commercial marketing channel. Instead of renting space in magazines or commercial time on broadcast networks, social media offered the hope of connecting with purchasers on a one-to-one basis for less cost. Brands flocked to Facebook populating their pages with helpful hints, events and special deals for those who “Like” their brand.

As social media platforms matured, it became apparent that in order to sustain their business they needed a monetization model to pay the bills.  Google figured this out early. Ad Words (the purchase of key word search terms) made Google extremely profitable and allowed the search engine to continue to provide a free service.

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn had lots of users but struggled with developing a monetization model. The one thing they did have were copious amounts of data about their users. Access to this data was attractive to the advertising community. It held the promise of being able to target advertising to an individual user based on their profile, interest and browsing habits.

Social media channel?

As the social media platforms grew the sheer number of users dictated that brands develop a social media strategy instead of just maintaining a presence.

Social media platforms responded by offering sponsored advertising.  Sponsored advertising solved several problems:

  • Now the social media platforms had a monetization model leveraging their vast proprietary database.
  • Brands could better target their advertising based on the users profile.
  • Digital analytics provided a rear looking ROI measurement.

So what began as a non-commercial peer-to-peer network is transforming into a branded media channel.

Using social media to influence purchasing

The premise of social media is word-of-mouth advertising. Brands understand that a negative comment or a positive review can affect brand perception ultimately influencing the purchasing decision. Many brands have adopted social media as an inbound marketing channel.

For example:

  • Airlines producing their pre-departure safety videos to become branded forms of communication.
  • Firms like GE have dedicated social media pages about locomotive and jet engine engineering and production.
  • Dell computer uses social media to answer customer questions and solve technical problems.

All of these strategies have one thing in a common – to connect, engage and influence the purchasing decision.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

Using social media to gain customer insight

Finding the sweet spot for social marketing

Social marketing begins with the correct strategy

 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.