How to Use a B2B Blog to Win Customers and Influence Prospects

I admit my headline is a play on Dale Carnegie’s bestseller, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” This timeless classic, one of the first bestselling self-help books published in 1937 and sold over 15 million copies globally is still relevant today.

As a B2B marketer, we want to reach our ideal prospects and communicate with customers to maintain top-of-mind awareness throughout their buying cycle. A B2B blog is the perfect online tool to accomplish that.

If you are still not sure about the benefits of using a business blog, head over to HubSpot and read these articles:

Assuming you are now convinced and have your own B2B blog, here are six basic steps for making it the hub of your online presence to win customers and influence prospects. Read more

Top 10 Clichés to Avoid in B2B Marketing Content

You can find plenty of clichés used (overused?) in B2B marketing content. Do they really communicate better with our audience or are we as copywriters/content creators just being lazy? I know I have been guilty on more than one occasion of using popular clichés in my business marketing communications.

I found a Squidoo lens by Seth Godin where he talks about why we tend to use clichés or buzzwords. According to him, “…the vast majority of buzzwords exist for one reason: to hide.” He goes on to list his top ten and invites his readers to add their own to the list.

Here are the top ten business clichés from Seth’s list:

  1. Win-win situation
  2. Thinking outside of the box
  3. Giving 110%
  4. Best Practices
  5. Synergy
  6. Paradigm Shift
    Read more

7 Strategies for Using Content to Market Industrial Products

I am a big fan of Content Marketing or as some people like to refer to it as Inbound Marketing. It is heartening to see that content is at the center of most discussions about the state of B2B marketing today.

However, industrial marketers face a challenge when it comes to producing a steady stream of fresh content to keep their target audience engaged. What do you do when the bulk of your marketing content, with the exception of case studies is product focused? How do you shift the focus from you or your company to your prospects and customers?

Here are seven content marketing strategies that you can use to engage your prospects and move them forward in their buying cycle. Read more

Survey Finds Growth in Pipelines and Sales Cycles for B2B Lead Generation

I recently read a news release put out by Infogroup on their SalesPulse Survey of B2B sales professionals conducted jointly with OneSource, an Infogroup company. Some of the findings match what I am hearing from my industrial clients and one really surprising result.

The top findings I got out of the release were:

  1. 47% of the sales professionals reported a slight increase in the size of their B2B pipelines this year as compared to last year. However, the sales cycles have also become longer, making it much harder to close deals.

    This agrees with what I am hearing from my engineering and industrial clients, they are seeing a lot more activity but the average sales cycle has grown by an additional 90 ~ 120 days. Because of longer sales cycles, more promising opportunities are being lost since business conditions change at the other end and projects are put on hold indefinitely or being eliminated.

  2. Read more

Using Content to Move Prospects Forward in the Sales Cycle

We often think of online content as the text on a web or blog page. The focus there is to optimize it for keywords or phrases for people to find your website when searching for relevant terms. That however is only part of the solution because if your content doesn’t engage the visitor s/he won’t take a desired action to move forward in the sales cycle.

Ardath Albee, CEO of Marketing Interactions, Inc. said it best when she wrote, “Passive reading of your content is not going to help online marketing initiatives shorten buying cycles or increase customer acquisition and revenues.”

Your online content needs to play a much more active role in moving site visitors along in his/her buy decision. According to Bob Carrigan, CEO of International Data Group, “It [content] fulfills the promise of the Web, which is relationship marketing.”

Using content or Inbound Marketing, you are able to make that key connection with your prospects by delivering specific content needed in order to make an informed decision. Read more

7 “Rs” for B2B Marketing Content Planning

[This is a guest post by Ardath Albee and is a great follow up to my earlier post, Focus on Content in B2B Marketing and my own 5Rs for creating content]

Content is the fuel for eMarketing. With a majority of marketing efforts going digital, that means even more content is needed. The instant gratification mindset of B2B content consumers means they’re demanding more content, faster. Not just any content, but ideas, information and expertise they find relevant and helpful for answering questions they have about problems they’re trying to solve.

Designing content for 1X use is wasteful. Marketers need to create a process for content planning that helps them maximize the return from their investments in developing the content resources that fuel their online marketing programs.

To get the most from your content, embrace the 7 “R”s of B2B Marketing Content Planning:

  1. Re-use – ideas for content development must be expanded to create multiple assets. See my post Rule of 5 for B2B content development. Additionally, when marketers create a nurturing program across the buying process, each new lead should start at the beginning of the program with touch 1. By feeding new leads into the beginning of a program (instead of just adding them to the list for the next send) you’ll get much more use out of your nurturing program content and tell your leads a consistent story at the same time. Read more

Focus on Content in B2B Marketing

Lately all the talk in B2B marketing has centered on social media. However, to be successful with social media, you have to provide real value and that usually comes from great content.

Paul Dunay in his blog post, “4 C’s of B2B Marketing” has defined this very nicely. His 4C’s are:

  • Content – the creation of a steady stream of engaging content
  • Connection – connecting with the audience you wish to attract
  • Communication – communicating with them in an ongoing conversation
  • Conversion – and then converting them at the illusive moment of need

What is content marketing?

Wikipedia defines content marketing as “an umbrella term encompassing all marketing formats that involve the creation or sharing of content for the purpose of engaging current and potential consumer bases.”

The old ways of pushing out content is no longer effective. Now, B2B content marketing’s agenda is to educate and inform customers and prospects. Content Marketing’s slogan is – “Don’t pitch. Don’t sell. Don’t interrupt. Educate, inform and provide value to customers and prospects. Your business will grow.” (See Content Marketing – The Ultimate Cheat Sheet).

Here’s a short but highly informative slide show that explains how to use content effectively as inbound marketing. Read more

Generating More “Educated Leads” on a Small Budget

Doing more with less is pretty much the mantra du jour in industrial and B2B marketing these days. How does one generate high quality, educated leads, not just site visitors on a marketing budget that is less than 1% of the projected revenue?

To find answers to that question, I went to HubSpot’s Lead Generation Marketing Hub and I found an incredible video featuring Holly Allison, vice president of marketing at Vico Software, a successful Boston-area startup that provides construction software to engineers and contractors.

Instead of spending most of their marketing budget on traditional industrial marketing channels like trade shows or direct mail, Vico produces webinars and creates content that site visitors download and others link to. In short, they are doing things that help them get found online. Read more

Content Creation Made Easy

Are you struggling with creating content? If you are not a professional copywriter, coming up with new content regularly can be a difficult task.

Most people get writer’s block or their brains freeze up while staring at a blank screen. However, to be successful in your online marketing, you must come up with fresh and interesting content regularly. Otherwise, your traffic will dry up and the hard-earned readership will lose interest.

How do you overcome this challenge?

Content creation doesn’t have to be hard. Just follow my 5Rs of content creation and things will start to flow a lot more smoothly.

1. RESEARCH

Even before I open up my trusty word processor, I head over to Google’s Keyword Tool. I use it to research key words/phrases that people are using to search for answers to their particular problem.

I start with something related to a subject that I’m interested in writing about and get ideas from there.

For example, “content creation.” That led me to other popular search terms like blog content creation, content creation help, online content creation etc. Read more

Invest in Content Marketing During a Recession

In a recent survey (December 2008) done by Junta42, 56% of marketing- and publishing-decision makers plan to increase their content marketing spending for 2009 (31% increase significantly, 25% increase slightly).

According to the same survey, the top six content tactics are:

  1. Social media (other than blogs) – 68%
  2. E-newsletters/email – 60%
  3. Case studies – 55%
  4. Online video – 51%
  5. White papers – 46%
  6. Microsites – 43%

Joe Pulizzi, founder of Junta42 and author of "Get Content. Get Customers." said, "If marketers will spend less in 2009, it won't be coming from their content development budgets. More and more marketing professionals now realize that tomorrow's marketing is all about developing a conversation with customers. Without valuable, relevant and compelling content, that's pretty much impossible. The numbers show that."

You can get the more survey details from http://www.junta42.com/resources/Content_Marketing_Spending_Points_Up/