IntegratedB2B by cylindr https://integratedb2b.cylindr.com Thoughts about B2B marketing communication, strategy and practices Fri, 13 Sep 2019 13:33:26 +0000 da-DK hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.3 Strengthening sales and marketing for the next financial crisis https://integratedb2b.cylindr.com/2019/09/13/strengthening-sales-and-marketing-for-the-next-financial-crisis/ Fri, 13 Sep 2019 12:18:37 +0000 https://integratedb2b.cylindr.com/?p=3233 [READ IN DANISH] B2B companies are rushing to transform their current sales and marketing approach to an Account-based Marketing (ABM) approach before the next financial crisis. Learn what ABM is, how it can boost your chances in a tough marketplace and where to get started. It’s hard not to notice that the financial markets are […]

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B2B companies are rushing to transform their current sales and marketing approach to an Account-based Marketing (ABM) approach before the next financial crisis. Learn what ABM is, how it can boost your chances in a tough marketplace and where to get started.

It’s hard not to notice that the financial markets are in turmoil these days, bringing back some nasty memories from a decade or so ago. And with a hard Brexit looking likely in Europe, we all need to take significant steps to prepare for the worst.

Perhaps, in fact, by the time you read this blog post the next market crash will already have happened. In any case, it seems inevitable that a crisis will occur sooner rather than later. So, what can you do right now to strengthen your revenue-generating machine before all hell breaks loose?

Invest now to weather the storm

One strategy to mitigate the effects on your company is to invest in some changes before the usual cost-cutting rounds begin – i.e., while funding for a revenue machine transformation are still available.

The best-performing, most revenue-focused companies have already made wide-reaching changes that every mid-sized or large B2B company will eventually have to make. They’ve invested in a relatively new, but fundamentally customer-centric approach to sales and marketing: Account-based Marketing (ABM). So, their revenue-generating machines are in great shape – and ready to grab even more market share from competitors who have been slower to prepare for tough times.

Briefly defined, ABM is a strategy in which the marketing and sales teams work closely together to focus on a list of specified customers and prospects. As ABM platform developer Engagio’s CEO, Jon Miller, puts it, it’s similar to the difference between fishing with a net (you’re never sure what you’ll catch and most of it is undesirable) and fishing with a spear (you know which accounts are best for your business and you are focused on winning them).

ABM has been shown to deliver significantly higher return on investment for every dollar spent on sales and marketing, making it a must-have for winning in highly competitive marketplaces like the IT industry. Now, ABM is being adopted more widely with, perhaps not surprisingly, US-based B2B companies leading the way.

Apple, Oracle and Fujitsu, for example, are some of these first-movers. While many companies are only now discovering Account-based Marketing, these companies have been moving along the ABM track for a few years.

Have you heard about ABM?

If you haven’t heard of ABM before or don’t know much about it, you’re definitely not alone. Most B2B marketers have been too busy working to build their strategies around an earlier approach, “inbound marketing”, to focus on what is coming next.

However, because so many companies have been pouring resources and attention into inbound marketing activities, there’s now a huge amount of noise out there. All of those messages are fighting a sea of content for the fleeting attention of largely millennial influencers and decision-makers.

If you continue down this path, your company will not be in a strong position for success when the going gets tough.

Is inbound marketing on its last legs?

Dead end sign to signify that the usefulness of inbound marketing is coming to an end

The reality of inbound marketing is that only around 1 in every 100 leads actually turns into business. There are all sorts of reasons for this, which will be dissected in a later post, but the bottom line is that a lot of resources are being wasted on marketing efforts to attain leads that deliver little or no value to the company!

You see, inbound marketing approaches usually reflect the short-sighted principle that Marketing’s job is well done when a marketing-qualified lead has been passed to the sales team.

At that point, Sales is expected to get out there and try to turn that lead into a deal. Marketing then sits back, pleased with the number of clicks and views amassed in their back-office systems.

That’s not a fair statement, of course, as Marketing often goes a step or two further, but it does reflect what we often hear from salespeople. With Sales having greater power than Marketing in most B2B companies, the opinions of salespeople are not to be taken lightly!

“Don’t count the people you reach. Reach the people that count.”

Legendary ad man, David Ogilvy

So unfortunately, inbound marketing is limping toward the end of its reign as the best way to conduct modern marketing. It still has a place in the marketing mix, but it can no longer claim to be the answer to the question of how best to support the company’s revenue goals.

In short, it is an outdated strategy that won’t let you beat your competitors or even keep up with them.

Much more than marketing

To tell it like it is, ABM is the compelling next wave to ride. It’s a fundamental business transformation you will have to make. But what is it that makes it so compelling?

Despite its name, ABM isn’t really a marketing-only initiative. Instead, it’s a results-focused strategy that brings Sales and Marketing together as a team to focus on the same goals, the real goals, like making sales efforts more efficient, speeding up sales cycles, increasing deal sizes and boosting buyers’ propensity to buy. And it requires a business decision to re-focus efforts on a targeted list of highly desirable accounts that would be or already are a great fit for your company.

Beyond saving your company effort and resources, ABM provides a core of benefits dubbed the “3 R’s” by B2B research and best practices firm ITSMA:

  • Reputation: Brand perception, awareness and knowledge of your company’s brand will increase among targeted accounts. So, you are more likely to be on the short list of your targeted accounts when it’s time to make an investment in your category.
  • Relationships: The number and quality of relationships your company has across accounts will increase tremendously, making your company the one everyone agrees is a good choice. It’s a customer lifetime value perspective.
  • Revenue: When your efforts are focused on the accounts that really matter, the deals are bigger and the customer is more likely to buy again.

I could keep explaining many more interesting things about ABM (it’s a big topic!), but for now, let me make a simple statement: If you’re a B2B company that sells high-value products or services with a long sales cycle involving more than four influencers or decision-makers in each account, you will have to make a transition to ABM.

When you do it, of course, is up to you – but the sooner you start, the better you will be able to handle the crisis we all know will eventually arrive.

Where to start

If you’re interested in staying ahead of the game, but don’t know how to start, don’t start like this: You hear about ABM, read some online content about the topic, get some internal buy-in, install some ABM software tools and try to get things going.

That is, quite frankly, a recipe for disaster. An ABM transformation is exactly that, a transformation. It is a process that requires careful, informed planning – preferably facilitated by someone who has done it before and whose competencies span both sales and marketing.

Consider it an insurance policy – after all, this is one of the most significant changes you’ll make to the business and its performance potential over the next few years!

Every pilot needs a co-pilot

a pilot and his co-pilot to depict how you need both to fly a plane

Once the planning is done and management, sales and marketing have truly aligned around a clear ABM strategy, you should get started by running an ABM pilot program in a smaller part of your business – a region, a specific vertical or simply an isolated group of high-priority accounts.

Communications agencies like cylindr BBN are excellent co-pilots to help you conduct the planning and alignment phases and to set up your ABM pilot program.

Such teams specialize in tailoring ABM strategies that align with your company’s goals, and they can help you set up the necessary mechanics and metrics, too.

All aboard the ABM train

Tough times may be ahead, but that doesn’t mean your company’s long-term goals need to suffer. Thinking and acting strategically now is a sound investment that not only helps when the next financial crisis hits, but which strengthens your business foundation for the long run, too.

Now it’s up to you: When are you ready for your ABM transformation? If you’d like one of our ABM experts to help you get your head around the topic, just reach out – we’re always happy to educate and guide B2B companies to the next level!

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Sådan ruster du salg og marketing til den næste finanskrise https://integratedb2b.cylindr.com/2019/09/13/sadan-ruster-du-salg-og-marketing-til-den-naeste-finanskrise/ Fri, 13 Sep 2019 11:27:46 +0000 https://integratedb2b.cylindr.com/?p=3199 [DANISH LANGUAGE] B2B-virksomheder har i øjeblikket lynende travlt med at omstille deres salg- og marketingafdelinger til account-based marketing (ABM), inden den næste finanskrise sætter ind. Bliv klogere på, hvad ABM er, hvordan det kan øge dine chancer i et vanskeligt marked, og hvordan du kommer i gang. Det er svært ikke at lægge mærke til […]

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B2B-virksomheder har i øjeblikket lynende travlt med at omstille deres salg- og marketingafdelinger til account-based marketing (ABM), inden den næste finanskrise sætter ind. Bliv klogere på, hvad ABM er, hvordan det kan øge dine chancer i et vanskeligt marked, og hvordan du kommer i gang.


Det er svært ikke at lægge mærke til den aktuelle turbulens på finansmarkederne, og det vækker grimme minder om finanskrisen for cirka 10 år siden. Og i et Europa, hvor der lurer en hård Brexit lige om hjørnet, er man nødt til at træffe væsentlige foranstaltninger for at forberede sig på det værste.

Faktisk kan det næste marked allerede være brudt sammen, når du læser dette blogindlæg. Under alle omstændigheder synes det uundgåeligt, at der indtræffer en krise i nær fremtid. Så hvad kan du gøre her og nu for at styrke din indtægtsskabende maskine, før helvede bryder løs?

Invester nu, og rid krisestormen af

En strategi, der kan afbøde følgerne for din virksomhed, er at investere i forandringer, inden de sædvanlige sparerunder sætter ind – dvs. mens der stadig er midler til rådighed til en omstilling af indtægtsmaskinen.

De mest effektive og indtægtsfokuserede virksomheder har allerede indført de vidtrækkende forandringer, som alle mellemstore og store B2B-virksomheder før eller siden bliver nødt til at foretage. De har investeret i en forholdsvis ny, men helt igennem kundecentreret tilgang til salg og marketing – account-based marketing (ABM). Derfor er deres indtægtsskabende maskine i topform og klar til at vinde endnu flere markedsandele fra de konkurrenter, der har været længere om at ruste sig til vanskelige tider.

Kort fortalt er ABM en strategi, hvor marketing- og salgsafdelingen arbejder tæt sammen og fokuserer på en liste over specifikke kunder og kundeemner. John Miller, som er direktør for virksomheden Engagio, der udvikler ABM-platforme, beskriver det som forskellen på at fiske med net (hvor man aldrig helt ved, hvad man fanger, og hvor det meste er bifangst) og at fiske med spyd (hvor du ved, hvilke kunder der er bedst for din virksomhed, og fokuserer på at vinde lige netop dem).

ABM har vist sig at give en væsentligt højere afkastningsgrad for hver krone, der bruges på salg og marketing, og er derfor et must, når man vil have succes på et stærkt konkurrencepræget marked som f.eks. IT-branchen. I dag vinder ABM stigende udbredelse, ikke overraskende ført an af USA-baserede B2B-virksomheder.

Eksempler på disse pionervirksomheder er Apple, Oracle og Fujitsu. Hvor mange virksomheder først er ved at få øjnene op for account-based marketing, har disse virksomheder arbejdet med ABM i årevis.

Har du hørt om ABM?

Hvis du aldrig tidligere har hørt om ABM eller ikke ved særlig meget om det, så er du bestemt ikke den eneste. De fleste B2B-virksomheder har været for optagede af arbejdet med at opbygge deres strategi omkring en tidligere tilgang, “inbound marketing”, til at kunne fokusere på det, der kommer bagefter. Og fordi så mange virksomheder har brugt en masse ressourcer og opmærksomhed på inbound marketing, er markedet nu præget af en voldsom støj. De mange budskaber drukner i et hav af indhold i kampen om et øjebliks opmærksomhed fra influencere i millenial-generationen og beslutningstagere. Hvis du fortsætter i denne retning, står din virksomhed ikke særlig stærkt i vanskelige tider.

Synger inbound marketing på sidste vers?

singer on stage singing the end of a song to represent inbound marketing being near its end

Realiteten, når det gælder inbound marketing, er, at det kun er ca. 1 ud af 100 leads, der rent faktisk bliver konverteret til en kunde. Det er der mange forskellige grunde til, som jeg vil komme nærmere ind på i et andet blogindlæg – men hovedsagen er, at der spildes masser af ressourcer på markedsføringstiltag, som har til formål at opnå kundeemner, der kun tilfører virksomheden meget ringe eller slet ingen værdi.

En inbound marketing-tilgang afspejler nemlig som regel det kortsigtede princip, at marketingafdelingen har løst deres opgave godt, når de har videregivet et marketing-qualified lead til salgsafdelingen. Her forventes det, at salgsafdelingen går ud og forsøger at få en aftale i hus med det pågældende lead. Imens læner marketingafdelingen sig tilbage og fryder sig over de mange klik og visninger, der hober sig op i deres backofficesystemer. Det er selvfølgelig ikke en helt retvisende beskrivelse, da marketingafdelingen ofte går et par skridt videre – men det afspejler det, vi ofte hører fra sælgerne. Og da salgsafdelingen i de fleste B2B-virksomheder har større gennemslagskraft end marketing, er sælgernes opfattelse ikke noget, der bør tages let på!

“Tæl ikke de kunder, du når ud til. Nå ud til de kunder, der tæller.”

David Ogilvy, legendarisk reklamemand

Derfor nærmer inbound marketing sig desværre afslutningen på sin storhedstid som den bedste måde at drive moderne markedsføring på. Inbound marketing har stadig en plads i marketingmixet, men kan ikke længere betragtes som svaret på spørgsmålet om, hvordan man bedst understøtter virksomhedens indtjeningsmål. Det er kort sagt en utidssvarende strategi, der ikke sætter virksomheder i stand til at overhale konkurrenterne eller sågar holde trit med dem.

Meget mere end marketing

ABM er, for at sige det ligeud, den næste afgørende bølge, man bør ride med på. Det er en grundlæggende forretningsomstilling, som du bliver nødt til at foretage. Men hvorfor er det så afgørende?

Trods navnet er ABM i virkeligheden ikke kun et markedsføringstiltag. Det er snarere en resultatorienteret strategi, der bringer salg- og marketingafdelingen sammen som et team med fokus på de samme mål – de virkelige mål, som f.eks. at effektivisere salgsarbejdet, fremskynde salgscyklusserne, få større aftaler i hus og booste kundeemnernes tilbøjelighed til køb. Og det kræver en forretningsbeslutning at omstille virksomhedens fokus til at arbejde med en målrettet liste over særdeles eftertragtede accounts, som vil passe eller allerede passer rigtig godt til din virksomhed.

Ud over at ABM sparer din virksomhed for en masse arbejde og ressourcer, giver det også en række fordele, som analyse- og best practice-virksomheden ITSMA kalder “de 3 R’er”:

  • Reputation (omdømme): Opfattelsen af, bevidstheden om og kendskabet til din virksomheds brand vil stige blandt dine target accounts. Det øger sandsynligheden for, at din virksomhed figurerer på listen over de bedste kandidater hos dine target accounts, når de skal foretage en investering inden for din kategori.
  • Relationships (relationer): Antallet og kvaliteten af de relationer, din virksomhed har på tværs af accounts, vil blive øget markant, så din virksomhed bliver en, alle opfatter som et godt valg. Det handler om kundelivstidsværdi.
  • Revenue (indtægter): Når dit arbejde er koncentreret om de emner, der virkelig betyder noget, får du større aftaler i hus, og der er større sandsynlighed for, at kunderne vender tilbage efter mere.

Jeg kunne blive ved med at fortælle interessante ting om ABM (det er et stort emne!), men jeg vil indtil videre nøjes med dette enkle udsagn: Hvis du har en B2B-virksomhed, der sælger produkter eller ydelser af høj værdi med en lang salgscyklus, som involverer mere end fire influencere eller beslutningstagere hos hver account, så bliver du nødt til at omstille virksomheden til ABM. Hvornår du vil gøre det, er naturligvis op til dig – men jo før du kommer i gang, jo bedre vil du være rustet til at håndtere den krise, vi alle sammen ved vil ramme os en dag.

Hvordan kommer du i gang?

Hvis du gerne vil være på forkant, men ikke ved, hvor du skal starte, så lad være med at starte sådan her: Du hører om ABM, læser noget onlineindhold om emnet, opnår internt engagement, installerer noget ABM-software og prøver at sætte hjulene i gang. Det er, for at sige det ligeud, den sikre vej til en katastrofe. En omstilling til ABM er en omstillingsproces, der kræver nøje planlægning på et informeret grundlag – helst med hjælp fra nogen, der har prøvet det før, og som har kompetencer inden for både salg og marketing. Betragt det som en forsikringspolice. Det er trods alt en af de væsentligste forandringer, du kommer til at indføre for din forretning og dens resultatpotentiale inden for de næste par år!

Alle har brug for en andenpilot

a pilot and his co-pilot to depict how you need both to fly a plane

Når først planlægningen er på plads, og ledelse, salg og marketing har fundet fælles fodslag omkring en klar ABM-strategi, bør du gå i gang ved at gennemføre et ABM-pilotprojekt i en mindre del af virksomheden – f.eks. en region, et specifikt vertikalt marked eller ganske enkelt en isoleret gruppe accounts med høj prioritet. Kommunikationsbureauer som cylindr BBN er fremragende andenpiloter, der kan hjælpe dig med at gennemføre planlægningsfasen, skabe fælles fodslag og tilrettelægge dit ABM-pilotprojekt. Vores teams er specialiserede i at skræddersy ABM-strategier, der er tilpasset din virksomheds mål, og de kan også hjælpe dig med at tilrettelægge de nødvendige mekanismer og måleparametre.

Tog til ABM klar til afgang!

Selv om der er hårde tider forude, behøver det ikke gå ud over din virksomheds langsigtede mål. Det er en sund investering at tænke og handle strategisk nu – og det hjælper dig ikke kun, når den næste finanskrise rammer, men styrker også dit forretningsgrundlag i det lange løb. Nu er det op til dig: Hvornår er du klar til din ABM-omstilling? Hvis du vil have en af vores ABM-eksperter til at hjælpe dig med at forstå emnet i dybden, er du velkomne til at kontakte os – vi står altid klar til at oplyse og guide B2B-virksomheder et skridt videre.

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Moving to account-based marketing? Don’t screw these 5 points up! https://integratedb2b.cylindr.com/2019/09/12/moving-to-account-based-marketing-dont-screw-these-5-points-up/ Thu, 12 Sep 2019 09:40:22 +0000 https://integratedb2b.cylindr.com/?p=3228 [READ IN DANISH] B2B marketers are facing the biggest driver of change since the arrival of inbound marketing: the transition toward Account-Based Marketing (ABM). For those who may not know the term, the general principle of ABM is, to loosely quote ad giant David Ogilvy, no longer counting the people you reach, but instead, reaching […]

The post Moving to account-based marketing? Don’t screw these 5 points up! appeared first on IntegratedB2B by cylindr.

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[READ IN DANISH]

B2B marketers are facing the biggest driver of change since the arrival of inbound marketing: the transition toward Account-Based Marketing (ABM). For those who may not know the term, the general principle of ABM is, to loosely quote ad giant David Ogilvy, no longer counting the people you reach, but instead, reaching the people who count.

Recently, we were approached by the CEO of a mid-sized company who was frustrated by the end-of-the-day outcome being generated by his marketing team: multiple sales leads. You see, the problem was that the sales force wasn’t picking up those leads and turning them into business (sound familiar?).

The CEO had realized that this leads-based focus was burning up precious resources with very little to show for it. So, he turned to us to transform the company’s sales and marketing approach into a much more focused and goal-oriented one that concentrated on converting a targeted list of clients and aligning Sales and Marketing to work in concert toward shared objectives.

In short, he was asking for ABM – and by working closely together with the company’s CMO, we’ve now kicked off a wide-reaching business transformation project to deliver exactly that.

As the six-month project begins, I thought I’d share some of the critical implementation challenges that are top of mind for an agency like ours when working with an ABM transformation.

Getting these points right won’t ensure success (there’s a lot more to the picture), but getting them wrong will almost guarantee failure. Let’s look at them one by one:

1) Get the sales force on board

The last thing you want to happen is for Sales to perceive ABM as a Marketing initiative. Instead, Sales should feel that this is something they pretty much own, and is simply facilitated by Marketing.

There are many ways to tackle this, one of which is to not call it ABM! Instead, take a leaf out of IT behemoth Oracle’s book. Oracle talks about “Account-based Strategy” or “Account-based” for short. Here at cylindr BBN, we like to use the term “Account-based Engagement” when speaking to internal audiences, focusing on the change in customer approach style that we’d like to see at the company.

Another valuable tip is to try and secure real buy-in from some of your company’s best and most influential salespeople before moving forward with a transition to ABM. This is best done via seminars and training sessions aimed at getting those salespeople to see the realizable benefits of an account-based approach and making their role in the new style clear and compelling.

2) Start small, scale up

Person walking upstairs to symbolize starting small and then scaling up

Trying to widely implement ABM in your company from the outset is a recipe for disaster. Rather, focus on a single geography or market vertical, work with one of your best sales teams rather than multiple teams, and maybe even, when it comes to the contacts in your targeted accounts, aim your personalized content at the “most likely buyer”.

That buyer could, for example, be the CIO – saving you the effort of creating and orchestrating customized buyer journeys for all the contacts in the account. As a starting point, this may not check all the boxes for a bona fide ABM campaign, but it will get you started and doubtless uncover a bunch of issues and considerations that will help you to refine your ideas before you start to scale up.

And if you’ve begun the effort while enlisting the help of the more visionary salespeople in the company, they’ll appreciate being able to be in on the ground floor, shaping the future of things with skin in the game.

3) Set clear expectations

While the CEO mentioned at the start of this blog post was keen to bring his marketing function up to the next level, he was also eager to understand what this extra investment was likely to return.

The best way to do this, we believe, is to break key buyer journeys into their phases, and then estimate the expected upside from ABM activities at each point along the journey.

In an awareness phase, for example, personalized email campaigns have been shown to out-perform standard email blasts by 5-10%, leading to higher engagement (one of the drivers of a customer or prospect’s propensity to buy).

Other ABM-style tactics that are designed to help push a deal through those feared “stuck” points have been shown to also significantly shorten the sales cycle. Through such systematic insights, the sum of the improvements likely to be delivered by ABM activities will usually turn out to vastly outweigh the required transformation investment.

So, it’s every bit as important to have your management as well as your Sales and Marketing teams understand the likely impact of ABM during the first year. And they shouldn’t expect miracles.

With new sales, if your sales cycle is long, you may not see results for the first year or so. That’s mostly because ABM is relationship-based, and relationships take time to build.

With existing customers, you may have earlier success. But one thing is for sure: ABM is a far better overall investment than continuing to generate leads as a starting point for deals that usually never even get off the ground. (In fact, research firm TOPO estimates that for every 100 Marketing Qualified Leads generated, only 10 are accepted by Sales and less than 1 in 100 becomes a deal).

Here’s what I recommend to our clients: Make sure your ABM success metrics reflect the target contact’s overall engagement with your company.

Show, for example, how that engagement has increased over time – more touches, minutes spent viewing your company’s content or time spent attending in-person events – and connect those engagement gains to a higher “propensity to buy” (I’ll explain more about this latter term in an upcoming blog post).

4) Get the target account list right

A desk with a notebook computer and coffee to represent working hard on to select the right target accounts

We hear this one again and again. Building a target account list (a process owned by Sales and facilitated by Marketing) isn’t a walk in the park. So, you need to take the time to discover the accounts that are a close fit with your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) and talk each one through with the account executive (AE) owners to be sure they’re well-suited to be on the list.

Often, an AE will try to get an account put on the list that doesn’t seem to be a great fit, starting off a discussion that can easily go off the rails if you’re not careful. Even more tricky, when you move from a leads-focused window on your world to an account-based viewpoint, those leads might be owned by multiple AEs, opening up a can of worms that only the sales manager might be able to close.

The key is to understand what you’re up against before the discussions begin. It often helps for Marketing to come up with the initial target list, set of ICP “rules” and work through this with individual AEs, rather than to start the entire process from scratch with Sales on board.

Our suggestion is that this sticky process is best performed with an external marketing and sales-savvy facilitator – a bilingual expert, you might say.

5) Don’t climb into the technology too early

It may be tempting to decide that your company is going to make the change to ABM, then rush out to invest in ABM platforms and bolt-on tools for your CRM. Don’t do it. Instead, if you can, start using spreadsheets to handle the processes and data around your ABM pilot projects.

That will give you and your teams a chance to figure out which activities and processes are relevant – and doable. Then, once you’re a little clearer on this, you can start to bring in basic ABM technologies to scale each part of the process and move to more advanced capabilities as your experience base grows.

You’ll find it helpful to build an ABM maturation model to guide this path – a standard piece of the puzzle whenever cylindr BBN is undertaking an ABM transformation project.

That’s it for now: Five points that don’t cover the full spectrum of ABM transformation, but which will certainly help you to achieve the success you’re hoping for. For additional hints and tips – or to discuss detailed parts of such projects, don’t hesitate to reach out to our ABM team!

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Kom hurtigt i gang med ABM https://integratedb2b.cylindr.com/2019/09/06/hurtigt-i-gang-med-account-based-marketing/ Fri, 06 Sep 2019 14:00:22 +0000 https://integratedb2b.cylindr.com/?p=3184 [DANISH LANGUAGE] Klar til at gå over til account-based marketing? Her er 5 aspekter, som ikke må slå fejl! B2B-virksomheder står i øjeblikket over for den største drivkraft for forandring siden inbound marketing – omstillingen til account-based marketing (ABM). For dem, der ikke kender begrebet, er det overordnede princip bag ABM (for løst at citere […]

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[DANISH LANGUAGE]

Klar til at gå over til account-based marketing? Her er 5 aspekter, som ikke må slå fejl!

B2B-virksomheder står i øjeblikket over for den største drivkraft for forandring siden inbound marketing – omstillingen til account-based marketing (ABM).

For dem, der ikke kender begrebet, er det overordnede princip bag ABM (for løst at citere reklameguruen David Ogilvy), at man ikke længere tæller de kunder, man når ud til, men i stedet når ud til de kunder, der tæller.

Vi blev for nylig kontaktet af direktøren for en mellemstor virksomhed, som var frustreret over det resultat, der i sidste ende blev genereret af hans marketingafdeling – et stort antal salgsleads.

Problemet var nemlig, at salgsafdelingen ikke formåede at udnytte disse leads og konvertere dem til kunder. Lyder det bekendt?

Direktøren havde indset, at dette lead-baserede fokus brændte værdifulde ressourcer af uden at give det store udbytte. Derfor henvendte han sig til os for at få omstillet virksomhedens salgs- og markedsføringstilgang til en langt mere fokuseret og målorienteret strategi – en strategi, der skulle handle om at konvertere en målrettet liste over potentielle kunder og om at skabe fælles fodslag i salgs- og marketingafdelingen, så de kunne arbejde i samme retning mod en række fælles mål.

Han efterspurgte med andre ord ABM – og for at levere dette har vi nu i tæt samarbejde med virksomhedens marketingdirektør iværksat et omfattende omstillingsprojekt i virksomheden.

Nu hvor det seks måneder lange projekt er skudt i gang, har jeg lyst til at fortælle om nogle af de kritiske implementeringsudfordringer, der har førsteprioritet for et bureau som vores, når vi arbejder med en ABM-omstilling.

Hvis du rammer rigtigt på disse faktorer, er du ikke garanteret succes (for der er mange flere faktorer i spil), men hvis du rammer forkert, kan du være næsten sikre på fiasko.

Lad os tage dem en ad gangen:

1) Få salgsstyrken med om bord

Det sidste, du skal ønske dig, er, at salgsafdelingen opfatter ABM som et markedsføringstiltag. I stedet skal sælgerne føle, at det mere eller mindre er deres projekt, som blot faciliteres af marketing.

Det kan du gribe an på flere måder – f.eks. ved ikke at kalde det ABM! Du kan i stedet tage ved lære af IT-giganten Oracles bog, hvor de omtaler det som “account-based strategy” eller blot “account-based”. 

Her hos cylindr BBN plejer vi at bruge betegnelsen “account-based engagement”, når vi kommunikerer til interne målgrupper, for at fokusere på den forandring i tilgangen til kunderne, vi gerne vil se i virksomheden.

Et andet værdifuldt tip er at prøve at sikre et højt engagement hos nogle af virksomhedens bedste og mest indflydelsesrige sælgere, inden du arbejder videre med en omstilling til ABM.

Det gøres bedst ved at afholde seminarer og træningssessioner, som har til formål at få de pågældende sælgere til at se de realiserbare fordele ved en kontobaseret tilgang og gøre deres rolle i den nye tilgang tydelig og overbevisende.

2) Start i det små, og trap gradvist op

At starte med at prøve at indføre ABM generelt i hele virksomheden er den sikre vej til en katastrofe. Fokuser i stedet på et enkelt vertikalt marked eller geografisk område, arbejd med et af virksomhedens bedste salgsteams i stedet for flere teams ad gangen, og ret måske endda dit personligt tilpassede indhold til den “mest sandsynlige køber” blandt kontaktpersonerne hos dine target accounts.

Denne køber kunne f.eks. være IT-chefen – så du slipper for besværet med at udarbejde og iværksætte skræddersyede kunderejser for alle kontaktpersoner hos den pågældende virksomhed.

Som udgangspunkt opfylder dette måske ikke alle kriterierne for en reel ABM-kampagne, men det får dig i gang – og det vil uden tvivl afdække en masse problemstillinger og overvejelser, som hjælper dig til at finpudse dine ideer, før du begynder at optrappe indsatsen.

Og hvis du har indledt projektet med hjælp fra virksomhedens mere visionære salgsfolk, vil de sætte stor pris på at være med på første parket og bidrage til at forme en fremtid, hvor de også selv har noget på spil.

3) Opstil klare forventninger

Selv om direktøren, som jeg tidligere har omtalt, var opsat på at give sin marketingfunktion et løft, var han også ivrig efter at vide, hvor stort et afkast denne ekstra investering ville kunne give.

Denne viden opnår man i vores øjne bedst ved at opdele sine key accounts’ kunderejser i faser og derefter estimere ABM-aktiviteternes forventede positive effekt på hvert enkelt stop på rejsen.

I en opmærksomhedsskabende fase har personligt tilpassede e-mailkampagner f.eks. vist sig at være 5-10% mere effektive end almindelige masse-e-mails og kan dermed føre til et større engagement (en af drivkræfterne bag en kundes/et kundeemnes tilbøjelighed til køb).

Andre ABM-taktikker, som har til formål at få en aftale presset igennem de frygtede flaskehalse, har også vist sig at forkorte salgscyklussen betydeligt. En sådan systematisk oversigt vil som regel vise, at summen af de forbedringer, som ABM-aktiviteterne sandsynligvis vil medføre, langt vil opveje den påkrævede omstillingsinvestering.

Derfor er det mindst lige så vigtigt at få din ledelse samt salgs- og marketingafdeling til at forstå de potentielle virkninger af ABM i det første år. Og de må ikke forvente mirakler.

Når det gælder nysalg, vil du måske ikke se resultater i det første års tid, hvis du har en lang salgscyklus. Det skyldes først og fremmest, at ABM er en relationsbaseret tilgang, og det tager tid at opbygge relationer.

Når det gælder eksisterende kunder, får du måske succes tidligere i forløbet. Men en ting er helt sikker: ABM er en langt bedre overordnet investering end at fortsætte med at generere leads som udgangspunkt for aftaler, der som oftest aldrig kommer i hus (analysevirksomheden TOPO estimerer faktisk, at for hver 100 marketing-qualified leads der genereres, bliver kun de 10 accepteret af salgsafdelingen, og færre end 1 ud af 100 ender med en aftale).

Jeg anbefaler følgende:

Sørg for, at måleparametrene for ABM-projektets succes afspejler målpersonens samlede engagement i virksomheden. Påvis f.eks., hvordan dette engagement er vokset over tid – flere kontaktpunkter, flere minutter brugt på at se din virksomheds indhold eller mere tid brugt på at deltage personligt i arrangementer – og sammenkæd dette øgede engagement med en større “tilbøjelighed til køb” (en term, jeg vil komme nærmere ind på i et senere blogindlæg).

4) Udarbejd den rigtige liste over ‘target accounts’

Vi hører det igen og igen: Det er ikke nogen nem opgave at udarbejde en liste over target accounts (en proces, der hører under salg og faciliteres af marketing).

Tag dig derfor god tid til at identificere de accounts, der passer godt til den ideelle kundeprofil (ICP, ideal customer profile), og få snakket de enkelte virksomheder igennem med de ansvarlige account executives (AE’er), så du sikrer, at de pågældende virksomheder også egner sig til at stå på listen.

Ofte vil en AE forsøge at få en potential kunde sat på listen, som ikke synes at passe særlig godt til profilen. Det kan igangsætte en diskussion, som let kan køre af sporet, hvis du ikke passer på.

Eller endnu mere problematisk: Når I flytter jer fra et lead-fokuseret perspektiv til et kontobaseret, kan det ske, at enkelte leads hører under flere forskellige AE’ers ansvarsområde.

Det kan være som at åbne en Pandoras æske, som kun salgschefen vil kunne lukke igen. Løsningen er at vide, hvad du er oppe imod, før diskussionerne går i gang.

Det kan ofte være en god ide at lade marketing udarbejde den indledende liste over target accounts, fastlægge et ICP-“regelsæt” og arbejde sig igennem disse med de enkelte AE’er – i stedet for at starte hele processen fra bunden med salgsafdelingen om bord.

Vi foreslår, at denne lidt prekære proces udføres i samarbejde med en ekstern facilitator, der har forstand på både marketing og salg – en ekspert, der taler begge “sprog”.

5) Vent med at kaste dig over teknologien

Det kan være fristende at beslutte, at din virksomhed skal gå over til ABM, og herefter styrte ud og investere i ABM-platforme og udvidelsesmoduler til CRM-systemet.

Lad være med det. Start i stedet med at styre alle processer og data omkring jeres ABM-pilotprojekter ved hjælp af regneark.

Det giver dig og dine teams en chance for at finde ud af, hvilke aktiviteter og processer der er relevante – og realiserbare.

Når du først har opnået større klarhed på området, kan du begynde at indføre basal ABM-teknologi og herefter optrappe hver enkelt del af processen – og gå over til mere avanceret teknologi, efterhånden som erfaringsgrundlaget vokser.

Det vil være en hjælp at få opbygget en ABM-modningsmodel, som kan vise vejen – hvilket er en helt almindelig brik i puslespillet, når cylindr BBN udfører et ABM-omstillingsprojekt.

Så det var fem vigtige aspekter, der ganske vist ikke dækker hele ABM-omstillingsspektret, men som helt sikkert vil hjælpe dig til at opnå den succes, du håber på.  Hvis du vil have flere tips og ideer eller drøfte enkelte dele af et ABM-projekt, så kontakt vores ABM-team!

Læs mere om account-based marketing hos cylindr.

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Have you forgotten what thought leadership is truly about? https://integratedb2b.cylindr.com/2019/08/30/have-you-forgotten-what-thought-leadership-is-truly-about/ Fri, 30 Aug 2019 08:24:49 +0000 https://integratedb2b.cylindr.com/?p=3174 Public service announcement: this serves as a gentle reminder for why you set about adopting thought leadership in the first place. If you work in a B2B company and haven’t yet implemented a content marketing strategy with a thought leadership undertone, then you are way behind. While not a novel concept (it came to a […]

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Public service announcement: this serves as a gentle reminder for why you set about adopting thought leadership in the first place.

If you work in a B2B company and haven’t yet implemented a content marketing strategy with a thought leadership undertone, then you are way behind. While not a novel concept (it came to a head around eight years ago), not all B2B companies have adopted the approach. On the other hand, some have been doing it for years.

For old time’s sake, let’s revisit the definition of thought leadership:

Thought leadership is a marketing technique that can be employed to position you as an industry expert. The point is not to create old-fashioned, “salesy” content, but to gain trust and credibility by being seen as the authority or expert on an industry-relevant topic.

Want more revision and explanation? The Three Voices Strategy™ sums it up pretty well.

Lead, don’t brag

It might seem silly to spend your resources on not promoting yourself at all – it’s still marketing after all! But the point is to lead the conversation. Be a trailblazer and not the salesperson. Talking about your products and services still has a place, yet the priority is to be perceived as an authority on the matter or topic being discussed.

Advertising overload

It can’t be stressed enough, the amount of advertising we’re subjected to daily – hundreds, if not thousands. Therefore, it is important to make your piece of content count. Make an impression – be different, stop selling. If you keep selling, it’ll just get diluted in an ocean of old-school marketing jargon: “latest technology”, “state-of-the-art”, “innovative”, “know-how”, “expertise”, etcetera. (These words should be banned from use by copywriters. Admittedly though, sometimes there is no better word to use!)

Brand promotion rears its head

I wrote an article recently that forms part of a thought leadership approach – a new (and possibly scary) direction for the B2B company. The article was based on an interview with a service partner, written from the service partner’s perspective. Collaboration projects were mentioned, although only briefly. The purpose was to shed light on one of the biggest issues facing the industry today and sharing how it can be overcome in the short and long term.

After several internal reviews, we were happy that it was a good example of thought leadership. However, the client (who would publish the article on its website) didn’t understand why the article didn’t promote the company or its services and wondered why it just promoted the service partner.

Stop talking about yourself

This is where the point was completely missed. Being a thought leader means being somewhat humble, serving a purpose (a willingness to help) and not being overly promotional. Would you want to hang out with someone who constantly talked about themselves? Personally, I’d run in the other direction. So, always come back to the definition of thought leadership, what purpose it serves you and your target audience.

Remember, when it comes to B2B marketing, thought leadership is a great way to:

  • Raise the profile of your brand
  • Educate your industry’s community about interesting topics and issues
  • Build trust and credibility
  • Create content opportunities
  • Form human connections

If you are already implementing thought leadership as part of your marketing strategy, here are some ways to propel your thought leadership efforts forward:

  • Use social media platforms to distribute your thought-leading content – Did you know that LinkedIn is the most up-to-date database in the world?
  • Don’t just publish on your own blog, be a guest blogger on other blogs and use other platforms like industry websites and magazines.
  • Consider other types of content than just blog posts. Videos are easily consumed and annual reports are a possibility as well.

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Copywriting tips for politically correct content https://integratedb2b.cylindr.com/2019/08/23/copywriting-tips-for-politically-correct-content/ Fri, 23 Aug 2019 11:40:07 +0000 https://integratedb2b.cylindr.com/?p=3144 With the globalized world becoming more aware of the sensitivities of diverse cultures and lifestyles, this guide provides tips, red flags, and resources to ensure your words don’t offend others. Specifically, this guide touches on gender, race and sexual orientation. It only takes one offended person to crumble a multimillion-dollar marketing campaign. Times are changing, […]

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With the globalized world becoming more aware of the sensitivities of diverse cultures and lifestyles, this guide provides tips, red flags, and resources to ensure your words don’t offend others. Specifically, this guide touches on gender, race and sexual orientation.

It only takes one offended person to crumble a multimillion-dollar marketing campaign. Times are changing, and one of the biggest changes to envelope the culture of the 21st century is political correctness.

If you’re a copywriter, or in any position in the communication industries, people pay attention to what you write—hopefully. In fact, you’re paid to apply your refined writing skills to ensure messages are accurate and appropriate. This means your choice of words holds more weight than the average person.

How copywriters can ruin a campaign

Imagine your company is making a brochure or a social media campaign to tell a meaningful product story. You’ve done the hard work to come up with a clever idea and figure out how to frame it. However, you’re unaware that some of the terms or the imagery you’ve chosen, even if not ill-intended, come across as racist. Or sexist. Or homophobic. You and your campaign are doomed.

This happens all the time. Especially if your company is attempting to penetrate or function in a market that has a different language, culture, and history than your own.

As copywriters, we are responsible for taking clients’ advertising briefs and generating unique copy that grabs the attention of a target audience. It is also our responsibility to inform companies of potential sensitivities a market may have about an ad.

Real-world experience

Political incorrectness in copy happens frequently. Here are some examples:

  • A company wanted to use a stock image of a young boy of presumably East Asian descent slurping noodles from a bowl to sell tableware ‘inspired by Asian cuisine.’ What most of the western world forgets is that ‘Asian cuisine’ is as diverse as Asian countries and cultures themselves. What one might eat in Seoul, Korea would not necessarily be eaten in Darjeeling, India. Additionally, this child-model could just as easily be from Madison, Wisconsin.
  • A company planned to use the statement ‘the Chinese employees at our Beijing office are hard workers,’ which may imply that being Chinese is what makes their employees hard workers or that the employees who are not Chinese are not as hardworking.
  • Another company wanted to tell a story in a press release about ‘being pleasantly surprised’ to find that a supplier’s product was of good quality, “even though we initially thought it would be bad quality because it was from [a certain country].”

These companies were trying to celebrate these groups of people. However, the message was lost. If we as copywriters didn’t change the dialogue, their message would morph into a negative brand image.

Tips to prevent being an ‘ist’

Typically, you should rather err on the side of caution than offend potential customers. To help you recognize some politically incorrect red flags that could cost your clients customers, below are some helpful tips.

Sexism and gender discrimination

Two light switch figures depicting two genders, one with breasts, the other with a penis depicting female and male genders respectively

While sexism and gender discrimination come in many forms, language is one of the most powerful means through which these concepts are perpetrated and reproduced.

For instance, some may not see an issue with using “she” or “he” for hypothetical scenarios in marketing messages. However, doing so can turn off a large portion of the population. Furthermore, if you use terms like “male nurse” or “mailmen” your message may be mistaken. Nurses who happen to be male are still nurses and females can deliver letters—they can be called letter carriers or posties. These groups may be offended to the point that they are no longer keen to buy your product.

With hundreds of examples of how gendered language can unintentionally offend readers, it’s best to avoid gender-assuming terminology whenever possible. Academics and journalists have their own style guides for using gendered pronouns, but for the typical marketing copywriter, the lines are vague. To be clear, sexist language is language that unnecessarily identifies gender.

To avoid using gendered language, consider the following tips:

  • Use ‘person’ instead of ‘man.’ For example, use ‘business person’ instead of ‘businessman.’
  • Avoid pronouns entirely if possible.
  • If you can’t avoid pronouns, change singular nouns to plurals and use a gender-neutral pronoun. For example, use ‘All students must have notebooks with them in class,’ instead of ‘Each student must have his notebook with him in class’.
  • Don’t generalize, emphasize, or use stereotypes about domestic roles based on gender.

For more tips, check out this set of ‘How not to be sexist guidelines.’

Racism and cultural appropriation

Three women standing together of different racial background

The way we present race really matters. Race is a social construct that influences our politics, cultures, and daily lives. And it’s not always presented in an ‘obvious’ way—sometimes it’s as nonchalant as saying a product is ‘flesh’ or ‘nude’ colored, which assumes everyone is the same color.

Three years ago, when I moved to the homogenic country of Denmark from the multi-cultural, multi-racial melting pot that is the State of Florida, I discovered how little interaction there is with people of diverse racial backgrounds. It’s understandable that some people don’t even consider that their message may come across as racist.

For insight on this matter and tips on how to not come across as racist in your copy, check out this post.

On another shade of the spectrum, I’ve seen some Northern Europeans wear costumes or other culturally-identifiable characteristics or regalia (e.g., afros and Native American headdresses) for events because they thought it would be cool. Talking with these people, you realize they were genuinely attempting to celebrate the culture by means of fashion. What they failed to realize was that they were appropriating a culture.

Cultural appropriation is the adoption or capitalization of cultural elements by members of another culture. This is particularly controversial when members of a dominant culture adopt elements of a disadvantaged minority culture. Of course, Denmark doesn’t have the same complex, multi-cultural history as the United States, but it is something all multinational companies need to be wary of when marketing. Not convinced? Remember the Kendall Jenner/Pepsi Cola debacle? I thought so.

Before you consider adding some cultural flare to your copy, do your homework:

  • Learn as much as you can about the history of the cultural group, the cultural element, and the movement.
  • Honor the culture you are using.
  • Don’t use minorities as ‘tokens’ rather than fully-developed characters.
  • Avoid whitewashing a character or cultural element of a minority group.
  • Avoid calling out a character’s skin tone or ethnicity—especially when it has nothing to do with the character’s development.

For more race or cultural appropriation red flags, check out this post.

Sexual orientation

Close up of blue eyes with rainbow paint on face synonymous with LGBTQ movement

In the same way that many copywriters assume that a character is a man and is white, they also assume that the character is straight.

Sadly, even in the second decade of the twenty-first century, homophobic language remains prevalent. Ninety-nine percent of lesbian, gay and bisexual young people report hearing derogatory phrases such as ‘that’s so gay’ or ‘you’re so gay’ in school. There is no excuse for such offensive language in the classroom or in adverts.

We copywriters need to steer companies away from language that may offend someone with a non-traditionally represented sexual orientation. By steering companies in this direction, we not only help to create a safer world for people regardless of sexual orientation, but we’re actually helping companies understand their markets. For example, nearly a quarter (24%) of Americans say they would be more likely to do business with companies known to be LGBTQ-friendly.

With this knowledge, some companies are overtly championing the LGBTQ community. Campbell’s, Ikea and Nordstrom are using LGBTQ-inclusive advertising as a method to communicate their support. While nearly half (46%) of Americans say that seeing a same-sex couple ad wouldn’t necessarily make them more or less likely to purchase a product, some consumers are more likely to be influenced by these adverts. In fact, some consumer groups (gay and lesbian individuals, bisexual people, liberals, millennials, and high-income earners) say they are more likely to spend their money with LGBTQ-friendly companies.

Be a good copywriter. Study your target market

Before you conceptualize your next communications strategy or edit an article, conduct a deeper analysis of your target market. As writers, formulating ideas with precision and elegance is our forte. We shouldn’t trip over political correctness. In fact, having a mindset of political correctness adds another layer of skill and understanding to our repertoire that ultimately improves the way we communicate messages. It stands to reason that, as globalization progresses, ensuring we don’t offend others will be the baseline standard of any copywriter.

Though you may feel a certain way about political correctness, it is not about you fixing society’s problems or correcting offensive wording. It’s about you being paid to create content that engages audiences in the right way. Your sole purpose is to anticipate how a message will be received, including the sensitivities of audiences to that message. As writers, we must consistently stay up to date with these evolving world perspectives to help our clients better understand their customers and the marketplace.

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How to be a stellar technical content writer https://integratedb2b.cylindr.com/2019/07/19/how-to-be-a-stellar-technical-content-writer/ Fri, 19 Jul 2019 12:52:06 +0000 https://integratedb2b.cylindr.com/?p=3121 Technical content writing is not for the faint-hearted. You need to be prepared for a wild adventure, step into the unknown and embrace a broad approach. What makes a good technical content writer and how can you ensure that your content is maximizing your return on investment? Technical content writers are the masters of content […]

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Technical content writing is not for the faint-hearted. You need to be prepared for a wild adventure, step into the unknown and embrace a broad approach. What makes a good technical content writer and how can you ensure that your content is maximizing your return on investment?

Technical content writers are the masters of content – we go for the deep-dive, but it’s possible to go horizontal as well. Every rivet and screw, every hook and davit, every watt and measure of capacity shows our ability to grasp the detailed facts of any process or product. This makes us invaluable in the universe where content is queen.

The horizontal approach isn’t just about finding facts and developing profound knowledge about a particular industry or product, as we would do in a deep-dive. It is when we identify one compelling idea that transcends products or industries. This approach requires making vast story connections and possessing a rampant imagination. How can we, as technical content writers, hone this skill?

Pick up a book and read

Readers make the best writers. Stephen King’s famous rules for writing apply. “You have to read widely, constantly refining (and redefining) your own work as you do so. If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.

When did you last peruse the fascinating articles on mashable.com or pick up the latest copy of WIRED magazine? Be cautious of going down the rabbit hole filled with industry-specific content and getting stuck there. It’s good practice to incorporate the latest thriller novel, celebrity biography or literary fiction into the mix as well. If not to displace the time we spend watching TV shows on Netflix.

Commentary and points of view from wildly different industries and sources not only help us see other great examples of content (because when we’re less familiar, we pay closer attention), it also exposes us to ideas we could translate to our own work.

And popular culture isn’t off-limits, either. If I can throw in a Queen song title (it was Another one bites the dust in case you were interested) into website copy for cement manufacturing equipment, it’s certainly worth giving it a go.

Into the wild

If you’re an adventurer, staying down that rabbit hole just isn’t wild enough. Great content writers go down otherwise unventured paths, leading us to form some of the most unlikely connections.

Imagine being faced with three disparate stories from three wide-reaching sources:

  • A travel magazine’s story about visiting communities that offer tours of brands’ manufacturing facilities
  • A trade magazine article on how new brands leverage their charitable contributions in their community as a differentiator
  • A news story on how a community added numerous jobs based on local sourcing of an ingredient or skill

Content writers almost instantly see the connection. Before you know it, we’ve written a brand spanking new “Brand Guide to Thinking Local”. That’s how quick-witted we are with connecting the dots and finding a common story worth writing about.

Go broad or go home

As experienced and ‘worldly’ writers, we know how to make seemingly dry technical content wet. Our job is to elevate the storytelling to a level that helps our readers engage and understand otherwise non-digestible, technical subject matter.

Elevating information more broadly and pulling back from a deep-dive approach allows for more connection to our reader’s experiences and sets the stage for their engagement. Once engaged, their questions and clicks will lead them to more technical details.

To flex our storytelling muscles, we must practice. The tip for all technical content writers is to read everything; you never know where the next big idea will come from. When it arrives, it will likely be because you made a wild connection by daring to take the path less ventured.

And to boot, here are more tips on how to be a stellar content writer.

If you’re also a Queen fan and want cylindr to help jazz up your technical content with a sprinkling of pop culture, get in touch for some kick-ass copywriting.

This post was inspired by some of the insights our colleagues at Bader Rutter have shared.

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Content is king – but only in the right place at the right time https://integratedb2b.cylindr.com/2019/07/12/content-is-king-but-only-in-the-right-place-at-the-right-time/ Fri, 12 Jul 2019 14:19:43 +0000 https://integratedb2b.cylindr.com/?p=3107 With a six times higher conversion rate than other methods, it’s no wonder that more and more companies are integrating content marketing into their marketing strategy. Whether it’s a company targeting cement plant owners in the Middle East or another launching a new seed brand in Eastern Europe, many B2B companies use content to engage […]

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With a six times higher conversion rate than other methods, it’s no wonder that more and more companies are integrating content marketing into their marketing strategy.

Whether it’s a company targeting cement plant owners in the Middle East or another launching a new seed brand in Eastern Europe, many B2B companies use content to engage their audiences.

So, we know that content marketing works, but how do you decide what content works best – and when?

To get a general idea, a simple Google search can lead you to a multitude of articles listing statistics about what works best on what platform, what times of day experience the most traffic and even what days different types of companies get the best results. However, in today’s crowded physical and digital spaces, a generic strategy will not get you noticed.

How do you stand out, then?

As you can probably imagine, every company uses slightly different strategies at different times and in different ways in order to reach its specific audiences. Yet, this does not guarantee success.

One company might nail its initial strategy, thereby generating many leads, but perhaps unsuccessfully converting them down the line. Another might end up in the opposite position.

In the end, it comes down to what point in the buyer journey you are targeting. This will determine which type of content and which channel you select – and this, of course, varies across industries.

The content marketing roadmap has been described countless times, so, for now, here’s one of the most on-point depictions we’ve seen, by TopDogSocialMedia.com.

Content Marketing Roadmap: The B2B Buyer's Journey

Conquering your content kingdom

So, what works best in your industry? For your company? Well, in the words of Benjamin Jacquet from our Australian BBN partner McCorkell, the best way to answer that is to look at your past performance. Benjamin, a marketing automation and account-based marketing specialist, suggests asking yourself:

  • What content has worked and why?
  • What hasn’t worked?
  • What can be measured and tested for the future?

The answers to these questions can be anecdotal or based on specific measures. However, regardless of which you choose, these questions will help you to get a better idea of what your customers want and, consequently, what your company needs.

Almost apologetically, Benjamin notes, “Ultimately, the best type of content is that which your prospect or buyer wants to read!”

“You probably already have an idea of what your customers want, whether that is through the use of audience profiles, personas, or simply knowledge from experience,” he continues.

“These existing indications are a good place to start, but, in the end, you can only know your customer preferences by trying and tracking.”

Filling the content gaps

During your regular content marketing schedule, you might begin to lose the attention of some of your customers. This is where Benjamin says you can “fill in the gaps” with activities such as blogging.

However, knowing what content to use to regain this attention is heavily dependent on analytics and your knowledge of how prospective customers engage with different campaigns and pieces of content as they move through the customer journey.

After this analysis, Benjamin suggests that you might end up with something like this:

  • Unknown ➝ Known (50% conversion)
  • Known ➝ Engaged (avg. 21 days later, 80% conversion)
  • Engaged ➝ Hot Lead (avg. 11 days later, 60% conversion)
  • Hot Lead ➝ MQL (avg. 3 days later, 90% conversion)
  • MQL ➝ SQL (avg. 2 days later, 82% conversion)
  • SQL ➝ and so on

This depicts a few steps of the buyer journey, followed by the average amount of time before the customer interacts with your content and conversion rate.

Now, categories and numbers may seem intimidating, but let us break it down. In Benjamin’s example, we can see that, on average, customers that we categorize as a “hot lead” will engage with content within three days and have a 90% conversion rate.

So, why should you care? You can use this data to see where in the funnel people slow down or where the conversion rates begin to drop.

“These are the ‘gaps’ in which you should invest in content!” says Benjamin.

Integrating the sales funnel

In order to better understand how and when these gaps can occur, you must be able to define and understand the sales funnel. This clear distinction between steps in the funnel is exceptionally important in today’s increasingly complex sales situations. In a marketing automation context, a standard sales funnel looks something like this.

It goes without saying that one of the traditional functions of marketing is to generate leads.

But a lead is not just a lead. One type of lead is the marketing-qualified lead (MQL). According to Justin McGill at LeadFuze, MQLs have met certain criteria for the marketing department through the use of analytics and show more serious potential than a typical lead.

MQLs can be found by hand or through marketing. MQLs found by hand are a target audience or persona, whereas those found through marketing have been drawn to your page in another way, such as signing up for a newsletter.

Stay focused on the right leads

While the move from lead to MQL initially might seem like a good thing, you have to watch out for suspects. Suspects are marketing-qualified leads that appear to be interested but have only made contact with your business for a reason other than becoming a customer, like simply for a free download. These people will not continue on the customer journey and, thus, they exit the funnel.

Once we have weeded out the suspects, some prospects will have the potential to move to the next step in the funnel where they are passed onto the sales team. Here, an MQL has the chance to become a sales-qualified lead, or SQL, once it is vetted by the marketing department.

Lead scoring for quality

How does this happen? This can be done through the use of a lead scoring program, where, if a lead receives a certain score, it can be passed onto sales. However, an MQL must be deemed acceptable by both marketing and sales in order to become an SQL.

Once a lead is an SQL, it continues down the sales funnel until the prospect either becomes a paying customer or exits the funnel. On another note, this is not the only appropriate place to implement a lead scoring program.

Use of a scoring program earlier in the funnel will allow you to monitor engagement. By doing this, you can gather a much more holistic view of a potential customer’s engagement, thereby creating a powerful targeting tool for your business.

Moving forward with a content strategy

As you can see, every step of the customer journey/sales funnel has its own qualities and, consequently, must be treated differently. So, a good place to start is with a content strategy. This would include topics such as, content types, content channels, and clear objectives.

Need some inspiration for strategy and evaluation? Here is a sample of what it could look like:

  • Develop assumptions based on existing knowledge
  • Set clear objectives with measurement criteria (aka the small content strategy)
  • Prepare a small campaign
  • Implement, measure, analyze
  • Adjust and try again
  • Re-evaluate assumptions and objectives → give it another go!

The last step is extra important. You must understand that you won’t get it all right at the beginning. You might have to fail to learn, and that is okay! Putting your strategy out there and seeing the results, rather than obsessing over doing it perfectly the first time, will save you a lot of time and money.

Now, let’s get back to the initial question: what content should I use and when should I use it? As you can see, there is no magic answer other than the fact that content produces results!

And, adding the principles of account-based marketing into the equation certainly doesn’t make it easier – but we’ll leave that for another time!

The point is that you need to determine what type of content works at what point in the customer journey, so that you can learn and develop with minimum investment.

So, remember, content is king, but the king can be dethroned if he doesn’t cater to his subjects.

Find out more about our content marketing services.

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B2B marketing and communications anno 2019 https://integratedb2b.cylindr.com/2019/06/05/b2b-marketing-and-communications-anno-2019/ Wed, 05 Jun 2019 09:14:34 +0000 https://integratedb2b.cylindr.com/?p=3042 This year’s annual BBN owners’ conference offered a unique privilege to hear input from marketers working all over the world. At the conference, we shared our own reflections on the state of play of B2B marketing and what the future holds. I recently got together with around 25 of my colleagues from around the world […]

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This year’s annual BBN owners’ conference offered a unique privilege to hear input from marketers working all over the world. At the conference, we shared our own reflections on the state of play of B2B marketing and what the future holds.

I recently got together with around 25 of my colleagues from around the world for the annual BBN owners’ conference. As usual, it was an inspiring two days of reflection, discussion and learning. I’m always grateful for the opportunity to learn from and be challenged by successful agency owners from all corners of the Earth, and this conference was no different.

Although there are strong commonalities, with our industrial and technology clients experiencing similar challenges no matter where they are, there are also important differences between countries or larger geographical areas. For example, it seems that American companies are further along in their adoption of marketing technologies than their counterparts in Scandinavia.

And of course, among our vast array of clients, we have companies at all stages of the marketing maturity continuum. While some are already well-versed in ABM (account-based marketing), others barely understand inbound marketing.

At this year’s BBN owners’ conference, we all took some time to think about three issues:

  • What developments have we seen in the last year?
  • What do we expect to happen in the near future?
  • How can B2B marketing agencies continue to deliver value?

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be releasing videos summarizing our collective observations and thoughts. But in the meantime, here are some of my own (very brief) reflections:

Developments in B2B marketing over the last 12 months

We’ve seen industrial and technology companies focusing more on deep, detailed content.

This is important for two reasons:

They’ve realized this deep content is a competitive asset that can help them to engage the right customers and differentiate themselves clearly from competitors. Because often it is in the details that the important differences lie – the reason why the buyer will choose one supplier over another.

Second, buyers are continually seeking to learn more on their own before they actually engage. If they do not find the information they are looking for, it’s more difficult to engage the buyer in a meaningful conversation. This is about creating relationships through content.

This point is hitting home with industrial and technology companies. A good example of this is the engineering company, FLSmidth, which completed an impressive website overhaul consisting of hundreds of pages of detailed content aimed at buyers and decision makers. We can see many different B2B companies taking the same approach. For them, content is king.

Where’s B2B marketing headed?

We see industrial and technology companies focusing on the need for well-qualified leads. It’s becoming increasingly clear, however, that it’s not the number of leads that makes the difference, but the quality of the leads. Marketing needs to take ownership of this lead qualification process, which involves understanding what Sales colleagues want and nurturing the strong leads so that they are open for a meaningful conversation with Sales.

Ultimately, Marketing needs to focus on engaging the right people. To do this, B2B companies will increasingly deploy marketing technologies to help them get their unique, deep content in front of the buyer.

But when it comes to martec (marketing technologies), is the marketing industry shooting itself in the foot? The number and, often, complexity of tools and technologies is overwhelming. It’s not a simple thing for marketers to choose the right tool and process, and an unsuitable martec choice could actually hinder progress in engaging buyers through digital, rather than encourage it. The trial and error could potentially lead to frustration at the time and effort it takes to produce actual results.

How can agencies continue to deliver value?

Agencies need to help industrial and technology companies create the content and connections that sales teams are demanding. But is it really that easy? The complexity of the content required is increasing and buyers’ time is even more limited.

The range of skills and experience required by the modern B2B agency to meet all the needs of their clients is more than a little intimidating!

B2B agencies need to understand industry and buyer pains and have in-depth knowledge of their clients’ strategies and technologies so they can act fast and effectively as a true outsourcing partner. They need to be strategists as well as practitioners.

At the same time, agencies need to help clients navigate the complexity of martec options. They must be sure to choose smart, effective solutions and help their clients achieve meaningful results.

Ultimately, this means investing in understanding the marketing technologies themselves. This is of real value to B2B clients, because it gives them confidence in buying into a system and process that will produce effective, documentable results.

Look out for the videos from BBN agency owners and managers (including myself), sharing their thoughts on the current state and future of B2B marketing.

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Storytelling symbiosis and sustainable innovation https://integratedb2b.cylindr.com/2019/05/28/storytelling-symbiosis-and-sustainable-innovation/ Tue, 28 May 2019 08:49:56 +0000 https://integratedb2b.cylindr.com/?p=3023 In Denmark, small- to medium-sized B2B companies are emerging as sustainability superheroes – supported by powerful storytelling. In a market where the Sustainable Development Goals are hot, how might your company use storytelling to gain a competitive edge and bolster partnerships? Right now, B2B companies with sustainably centered technology or services are navigating how they […]

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In Denmark, small- to medium-sized B2B companies are emerging as sustainability superheroes – supported by powerful storytelling. In a market where the Sustainable Development Goals are hot, how might your company use storytelling to gain a competitive edge and bolster partnerships?

Right now, B2B companies with sustainably centered technology or services are navigating how they fit into the larger sustainable development puzzle. Pieces to this puzzle include other companies, customers, industries, and a Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) marketplace.

To help these companies navigate this relatively unexplored territory, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in conjunction with Monitor Deloitte and the Danish Industry Foundation, started the SDG Accelerator Programme. Still in its two-year pilot phase, the SDG Accelerator acts as a sounding board for sustainable business innovations that align with one or more of the SDGs – and, thanks to the cylindr BBN team, provides companies with storytelling expertise.

The two-year pilot kicked off at the UN City in Copenhagen in 2018. Back then, my colleague, Pha Khem, attended and later interviewed Monitor Deloitte’s Camilla Marie Thiele, Engagement Manager for SDG innovation projects. Camilla shared why she thinks storytelling in sustainability business innovation can help to inspire others.

This year, I joined the team for the 2019 phase of SDG Accelerator. As a sustainability storytelling advisor in this fast-paced, intense innovation boot camp, my role was three-fold:

  • To assist these companies in understanding their sustainability journey
  • To help them better understand their niche and synergies in the sustainability market
  • To show them how to effectively communicate the first two points to their customers, partners, and employees

Stewards for a meta-sustainability market

The participating companies hailed from a wide range of industries including technology, beauty, fashion, packaging, food, construction, and even the automobile industry. Each came to the event with an innovative tool or system they believed can help contribute to the SDGs.

There was an interconnected trend among these differentiated companies: they want to use their innovative tools or systems to help other companies integrate sustainable development initiatives into their way of doing business. Essentially, they are sustainability-oriented companies that want to help guide other businesses to achieve the sustainability goals – it’s the start of a meta-sustainability economy!

First, the companies determined which of the 17 SDGs its product or service most contributed to making a reality. Then, they used these SDGs as a powerful framework for strengthening their sustainability narrative. When a company nails down its sustainability story, it can use it for attracting talent, customers and investors. On the surface, this practice may seem like it’s only useful for corporate social responsibility (CSR) reporting, but it’s so much more than that.

Swimming for the story—Sustainability superheroes

The more I talked to these companies, the more I understood my mission—to adjust their perspective. Their self-perception needed to evolve. Instead of being just another business trying to sell a product, these companies needed to view themselves as sustainability sidekicks for super customers within and across industries.

When talking with Eltronic, an engineering company focused on increasing the productivity, flexibility and efficiency of businesses, I was inspired by their sustainable aspirations and solutions. This inspiration came forth in my head in the form of a metaphor that could nearly be applied to every company at the event—they want to create symbiotic relationships like that between remora fish and whales.

The evolution of remoras has enabled them to adhere by suction to whales’ bodies. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship, as the remora benefits from the whale’s protection and is a source of nutrition, while the whale enjoys the benefits of the remora removing the ectoparasites and loose flakes off its skin.

The SDG Accelerator companies are like the remora fish. They, at first, saw an intimidating whale and wondered, ‘How do I get it to let me hang on to it?’ Then, with a little storytelling, they saw that they would be helping the whale (the other companies) just as much as the whale would help them.

Sustainability storytelling step by step

In the modern era, all companies are looking for ways to improve their CSR and sustainability images. These SDG Accelerator companies can help their customers not only look good, but be good, by solving their sustainability issues. From waste management to packaging to new technologies for production assemblies, the range of these companies aim to solve nearly every unsustainable business behavior. Their only issue—they don’t know how to talk about it.

This is why storytelling is such a powerful business tool that every company needs to master. Humans have been telling stories for as long as human consciousness existed. It was then, as it is now, the most impactful way to communicate purpose. Companies that convey purpose win over the hearts, minds and wallets of consumers and partners alike. While all types of companies are struggling to tell their story, it’s more important than ever that sustainability-oriented businesses learn to tell theirs. Through storytelling, they gain an understanding of how they contribute to the world’s sustainable development, while inspiring others to follow in their footsteps. And hopefully, this will create a sustainability chain reaction.

Interested in learning about how we can help with your storytelling? 

Find out more about cylindr’s B2B storytelling services

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