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

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

Social media: Media channel or purchasing influence?

Blog_93_crop

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.

Aviation Marketing: How to start a sustainable blog

Aviation Marketing: How to start a sustainable blog

77% of B2B marketers integrate blogging into their communication mix 

The aviation industry is rich with valuable content; yet just a few manufacturers and suppliers use social marketing to increase the reach of their marketing programs.

Taking a snapshot of active social marketers in the aviation industry portrays the following:

  • 10% get it and use it
  • 25% claim to understand it and see its value but have yet to implement
  • 65% don’t understand it or where to start

If you fall into the later two categories, perhaps it’s time to do something about it.

How to start a sustainable blogging effort

1. Why a blog? Blogging accomplishes several objectives for a sustainable social marketing effort:

  • Positions the blogger as a expert in the respective field
  • Provides authoratative content for decision makers and influencers
  • Builds a library of content for automated distribution
  • Take a lifeless website and turns it into an active social platform

2. Where to start? For an aviation manufacturing company the blog should speak to their niche and expertise in a specific area.

3. Find your audience. A successful blog has a reader in mind. Who do you want to reach? What type of content will they find valuable? Do you have a passion for the subject?  Do you have the dedication to write original content?

4. Provide valuable content. Picking up old news and recycling is a one-way ticket to blogging disappointment. The blog should reflect your expertise and point of view and provide valuable content that assists your readers in the respective fields.

5. Build up a content library. I recommend a fast track program of writing 30 blogs in 30 days. This assures enough content to start, then programs and teaches the correct style for writing online content.

6. Never sell from your blog. Your blog is intended to position you as an expert in the industry. Readers can smell a sales pitch and will drop you from their reading list.

7. Use automated platforms. While blogging provides the content, automated platforms provide the tactical reach to increase your sphere of influence. Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook provide extended platforms for reach and influence. Using specific automated platforms can post content hourly, daily, or weekly.

8. Integrate into your marketing strategy. Social marketing is not going away.  Executives are using Twitter to reach investors with current content and news. Buyers start their purchasing decision with a web search long before the sales decision is made.

As a friend of mine once said, “To understand it you have to get it all over you.” Starting a blog will lay the foundation for understanding social marketing and the strategies, tools, and techniques needed to deploy a sustainable social marketing program.

Aviation Marketing: Social marketing begins with the correct strategy

Scoal Marketing Strategy Labyrinth

Social marketing can build relationships during the extended sales cycle.

Today, a few innovative aviation marketers are using social marketing to extend the engagement with key constituents during the sales cycle. Relationship driven, people-to-people marketing is generating brand awareness, highlighting thought leadership, and humanizing the brand.

Why is the correct social marketing strategy important?

Because 90% of buyers start their search for an aviation product or service via a search engine, not a company website, it is imperative that marketers understand to whom they are selling and where they congregate.

In addition, social marketing has a lot of moving parts. Marketers are simultaneously engaging new customers, nurturing those further along in the sales cycle, and rewarding those that have purchased and are now brand advocates.

Creating relevant content that focuses on the purchaser’s corporate pain points requires multiple campaigns based on the sales cycle. Depending on whether the audience is an influencer or purchaser, content needs to be developed for each, addressing their concerns.

How to extend the engagement

The biggest mistake marketers make is not paying attention to the landing page. Simply making an offer for authoritative information and then linking to the corporate website is a sure fire way to end interest and engagement. Marketers should create specific landing pages for each offer, reinforcing the offer and asking the viewer to share a modest amount of information in return for the desired content.

In essence, the landing page becomes the face of the brand, delivering on the brand promise.

Different audiences, different addresses

Through social marketing listening, marketers can determine where their audiences spend most of their time and where they are likely to make the purchasing decision. Younger engineers may spend their time on Facebook checking out events at an upcoming trade show, while senior executives may be more inclined to peruse a pay-per-click link on LinkedIn.

Social media channels should be tested to determine which will be the most effective and return the best results.

Segment but don’t alienate

Different social media channels offer different ways to segment their audiences. LinkedIn, for example, allows companies to target demographics by location, job title, age and gender. While this is important, don’t alienate those that  see themselves as future key decision makers. Allow this group to participate by signing up for news updates or special invitations for future events.

Photo CC BY Flickr, photo credit Fdecomite

Aviation Marketing: 14 social marketing channels for content distribution

Blog_ 59_medium_294871759

Know where and how to connect with your audience.

58 Social Media Tips for Content Marketers published by the Content Marketing Institute is an e-book about selecting social marketing channels and identifying best practices of how brands use these channels to connect with their customers.  Aviation marketers should pay particular attention to aligning social media platforms with audience following. Below are findings from the e-book that are relevant for marketers in the aviation industry:

14 social marketing channels for aviation marketers

Social networks – Facebook, Twitter, Google+, & LinkedIn
Video channels – YouTube & Vimeo
Photo sharing sites  – Instagram & Flickr
Online communities  – Pinterest, Foursquare, & Quora
Niche content sharing sites – Tumblr, StumbleUpon, & SlideShare

Top social marketing channels and tactics for aviation marketers

Facebook – Spend time posting well-edited photos and well-written copy. Volume certainly isn’t everything on Facebook; consistent quality is much more significant.

Who uses Facebook? 80% of B2B marketers, 90% of B2C marketers

Twitter – Present a consistent voice to tell the story of your industry and your brand. Including 1-3 relevant #hashtags with your tweet makes it simple for people to find your content.

Who uses Twitter? 80% of B2B marketers, 69% of B2C marketers

YouTube & Vimeo – Demonstrating your products or services in action is a much more effective way to create compelling videos than talking about what you do. Make sure embedding code is enabled, allowing other users to post your videos to their websites.

Who uses YouTube? 61% of B2B marketers, 65% of B2C marketers
Who uses Vimeo? 12% of B2B marketers, 12% of B2C marketers

LinkedIn – Company pages offer a platform to share diverse types of content; however many brands are absent on the professional network. Encourage people in your organization (especially execs) to connect their personal profiles to your brand.

Who uses LinkedIn? 83% of B2B marketers, 51% of B2C marketers

Google+ – Google+ gives you the ability to create a mixed page experience. Take advantage of it by posting links, text, photos, videos, and infographics for a content abundant page.

Who uses Google+? 39% of B2B marketers, 41% of B2C marketers

Pinterest – Instead of a lone product image or a posed staff picture, show your product or team in action for an image with more personality. Also, if you have a strong repertoire of video content, use Pinterest to drive traffic back to your website or YouTube channel.

Who uses Pinterest? 26% of B2B marketers, 35% of B2C marketers

StumbleUpon – Posting content on StumbleUpon is the way to gain more authority for your links. Place a Stumble button on your content. A few shares from active users could translate to new, targeted traffic for your content.

Who uses StumbleUpon? 10% of B2B marketers, 9% of B2C marketer

SlideShare – SlideShare offers simpler viewing than a PDF in Adobe Reader, doesn’t require a download, is easy to track and measure, and offers a better organic search presence that’s independent of your website.

Who uses SlideShare? 23% of B2B marketers, 7% of B2C marketers

To download the complete 58 Social Media Tips for Content Marketers published by the Content Marketing Institute, click here

photo credit: redteam via photopin cc