IntegratedB2B https://integratedb2b.cylindr.com Scandinavia’s no. 1 international B2B marketing blog Fri, 22 May 2020 10:41:01 +0000 da-DK hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.1 How to interpret your LinkedIn company page analytics https://integratedb2b.cylindr.com/2020/05/22/how-to-interpret-your-linkedin-company-page-analytics/ Fri, 22 May 2020 10:40:58 +0000 https://integratedb2b.cylindr.com/?p=3789 There is no doubt that LinkedIn is the most successful social media channel for B2B marketing. Whether it’s used for content marketing, recruitment or account-based marketing, the opportunities stretch far and wide. In this three-part blog series, I will cover how to make the most of your LinkedIn company page analytics, best practices for distributing […]

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There is no doubt that LinkedIn is the most successful social media channel for B2B marketing. Whether it’s used for content marketing, recruitment or account-based marketing, the opportunities stretch far and wide.

In this three-part blog series, I will cover how to make the most of your LinkedIn company page analytics, best practices for distributing content on LinkedIn and how to use LinkedIn when B2B events or shows are cancelled. This blog post is the first of three and delves deep into LinkedIn analytics.

If you are a company or business, operating locally or globally, a LinkedIn company page is a must-have. LinkedIn has around 690 million users in more than 200 countries and territories globally. In fact, B2B companies identify LinkedIn as the number one lead generator when it comes to social media platforms. It’s a free space for you to distribute thought leadership content, invest in paid advertising, recruit new employees and showcase your value proposition to the wider global audience.

As with any marketing effort, analytics and measurement is essential for checking your effectiveness and return on investment (ROI). What’s the point of dedicating resources to something that is not generating awareness and sales leads?

Measuring success

Company pages on LinkedIn offer analytics that can be used to measure how effective your page is in reaching your target audience. We’re all familiar with likes, shares and comments – it’s been part and parcel of social media interaction since social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn became a part of popular culture. But when it comes to interpreting the other metrics offered by LinkedIn, it can be difficult to know exactly what it all means.

What does it all mean?

LinkedIn analytics offers three high-level metrics: visitors, updates and followers. What is the difference between a visitor and a follower? Put simply, a visitor is just dropping in for a cup of tea, whereas a follower has moved into your home. Followers want to keep a close eye on what your business is doing. Ideally, as part of your LinkedIn strategy, you should aim to convert those occasional tea-drinking visitors into devout followers.

Here’s an overview of how each metric is broken down into even more detailed information and what it means for your company page. Just remember, as a default, the LinkedIn analytics provided are for the last 30 days. In some cases this can be adjusted to cover a longer or shorter timeframe for your reporting purposes.

VISITORS

This metric is broken down into highlights, metrics and demographics. Overall, this section offers valuable insight as to when you get the most visitors to your company page. For example, visits may spike on a Thursday and dip on Mondays. It’s probably safe to say your best day to post is Thursday. Pairing this with checking what type of post it was that performed so well, for example, a blog post, a video, or a photo of your office dog, will help guide what content is popular amongst your audience.

Visitor highlights shows high-level data for the last 30 days. It displays the number of page views, unique visitors and the number of custom button clicks (the custom button can be a call-to-action such as click through to your website). The percentage appearing next to each highlight shows your performance compared with the previous 30 days, with green indicating an improvement and red indicating a decrease in performance.

Visitor metrics offers a more detailed look at the highlights and can be aggregated for mobile or desktop usage. You can also play around with the different filters, including time range, page (all pages, home, about, insights or people) and metric (page views or unique visitors).

The visitor demographics function categorizes your page visitors according to their job function, location, seniority, industry and company size.

UPDATES

Updates refer to the posts you publish on your company page. They are broken down into highlights, metrics and engagement.

The update highlights function looks at your standard engagement metrics of reactions, shares and comments. The percentage appearing next to each metric indicates the performance of your updates compared with the previous 30 days. It’s good to have a yard stick, right?

Update metrics is where you have the chance to see how your organic posts performed against your sponsored/paid posts (if applicable). You can also see if your updates are being viewed on a desktop computer or on a mobile device.

Update engagement goes into quite a lot of detail. It shows how each post has performed in terms of the metrics shown in the table below.

The definition of each metric as defined by LinkedIn

FOLLOWERS

When a person follows your company page, they are essentially subscribing to receive updates on their news feed. Unfortunately, you can’t see your list of followers for a company page, the way you can see your personal connections on your personal LinkedIn page, but you can certainly tap into their demographics.

Follower demographics offers a valuable overview of who is following your company, meaning you can tailor your content to suit your target audience’s needs. This is a key component of account-based marketing or ABM. Instead of publishing generic content that hopefully (fingers crossed) resonates with everybody, targeted content to a specific role at a specific company addressing a specific pain point is imperative.

The follower demographics can also be a good foundation for developing your buyer personas, so that you are developing content that is targeted.

In this section, you can see follower highlights, metrics and demographics.

Follower highlights shows your total number of followers and the number of new followers in the last 30 days. An arrow indicates how your gain of new followers has performed compared with the previous 30 days.

Follower metrics shows an overview of new follower activity and can be selected to aggregate organic and sponsored posts.

Follower demographics reveals information on:

  • Location
  • Job function
  • Seniority
  • Industry
  • Company size

COMPANIES TO TRACK

This is a useful section to see how your company page compares with other companies within your niche. As a content marketing and ABM specialist, we’re likely to see other companies that specialize in the same areas in this section. It shows how these companies are performing in terms of the following:

  • Total followers
  • New followers
  • Number of updates
  • Engagement rate

This can be used as incentive to further refine your LinkedIn strategy and can be a source for inspiration, seeing what types of updates they are posting, how frequently they post and which updates perform the best.

What next?

Stay tuned for part two of this three-part LinkedIn blog post series, helping you to unravel the intricacies of this popular and effective social media platform. Next up is best practices on how to share content on LinkedIn.

If you need any help with LinkedIn, whether it be creating the updates for your company page, enhancing your company LinkedIn page or writing content to distribute, we can lend a helping hand. Contact us today for a quote.

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Keeping a close eye on your communications https://integratedb2b.cylindr.com/2020/05/07/keeping-a-close-eye-on-your-communications/ Thu, 07 May 2020 13:42:00 +0000 https://integratedb2b.cylindr.com/?p=3677 While we are all adapting to doing business and maintaining close relationships with our stakeholders from a distance, there are, of course, some factors that make connecting and communicating with people challenging. But maintaining transparency and compassion through communications can help you stay top-of-mind for customers, clients, partners and employees alike. How can you ensure […]

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While we are all adapting to doing business and maintaining close relationships with our stakeholders from a distance, there are, of course, some factors that make connecting and communicating with people challenging.

But maintaining transparency and compassion through communications can help you stay top-of-mind for customers, clients, partners and employees alike. How can you ensure this?

With an emotional cocktail of feeling threatened, uncertain and having a lack of control, people are reacting first and thinking later. This approach is not only detrimental in life itself, but also to your B2B marketing activities.

Self-isolation and working from home offices present B2B businesses with an ever-greater challenge to effectively communicate with its stakeholders as they batten down the hatches, go into panic mode and decentralize.

However, if you stick to two communications themes at this poignant point in time, you can ensure business success on the other side of all of this uncertainty.

The two themes are transparency and compassion. Here’s a quick overview of how they unfold in internal communications, as well as external communications.

Internal Communications:

The most effective communications start from within. Your employees are your brand ambassadors, so it’s important that they are kept informed. Communication can help to put their mind at ease, making external communications easier.

  • Communicate early and often. Even if the full extent of the situation is not yet clear, say what you know.
  • Be compassionate. Try and see the situation through the lens of your employees to understand their anxieties and respond accordingly.
  • Be open, honest and transparent to remain credible.
  • Utilize whatever technological resources you have on hand. Tools like MS Teams, Yammer and Skype are more important than ever. The more channels, the better your reach.
  • Demonstrate how and why decisions have been made, and what information you have used to make this decision (the latest government advice for example).
  • Let your employees know when they can expect a further update.
  • Keep the message succinct and straightforward to avoid confusion.

External Communications

  • External communications are different from internal. They are typically less frequent and messages are more refined.
  • In all messaging, put people first.
  • Shape communications to focus on what’s important to your customer. Understand their buyer persona to flesh out how doing business from a distance is impacting their role and business.
  • Be open, honest and transparent to remain credible.
  • Be compassionate rather than focusing on sales messages.
  • Keep the message succinct and straightforward to avoid confusion.

If you need help with your internal or external communications, we have extensive experience in writing them. And because times are tough, we have special offers to help you at this critical time. Get in touch with cylindr today.

Thanks to our colleagues at Fifth Ring for providing inspiration for this blog post.

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Big, Long, Amazing Ideas https://integratedb2b.cylindr.com/2020/04/30/big-long-amazing-ideas/ Thu, 30 Apr 2020 11:50:00 +0000 https://integratedb2b.cylindr.com/?p=3666 What they are and why we need ’em Ad agency creatives know what it’s like. You’ve come up with a fantastic idea for an ad, a one-liner or an image that, at first glance, seems to nail the brief. Right now, you’re feeling great. Like you can walk on water. Like the whole world is […]

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What they are and why we need ’em

Ad agency creatives know what it’s like. You’ve come up with a fantastic idea for an ad, a one-liner or an image that, at first glance, seems to nail the brief. Right now, you’re feeling great. Like you can walk on water. Like the whole world is going to applaud your uncanny creative abilities.

But the thrill is short-lived. Find out why being in it for the long haul pays off.

At first, the client is admiringly receptive and loves your idea. Then the questions start: “This is awesome. But what if we also wanted to say yadda yadda or blah blah.” “Can we do a version of this for our trade show stand in Munich?” “Could you do another couple of ads like this, so we can see how it might work across our product range?”

The problem is this: Your precious concept, ad or one-liner isn’t a Big Long Idea. Instead, it’s a one-off wonder.

Your brilliant idea works just fine in a single context or two, but it’s not powerful enough to support an entire campaign or if you’re working at a corporate brand level, an entire company in the long run.

The Ad Machine

Those of us who have been in the business for a while, are probably pretty good at making sure that every idea we take forward in a creative process fits the bill for a Big Long Idea. But I know that’s not necessarily the case for newer entrants to the world of advertising. So how can creative newbies consistently come up with Big Long Ideas instead of Small, Short Ones?

Some years ago, I began to think of each communication concept our agency created as an “Ad Machine.” In other words, to be a Big Long Idea, there had to be an underlying, easily repeatable structure – one where you could replace a few of the elements, yet keep the strength of the central concept alive and well.

Let me give you an example. It’s that series of ads again from BBN’s partner agency in Milwaukee. Their creative team came up with the fantastic idea of focusing on copper sulfate as a heavy metal – and playing on the music world to give it a creative spin. The campaign, which ran in 2015 and featured pseudo heavy metal rockstars, delivered a technical B2B message in an eye-catching and entertaining way.

What makes this campaign a Big Long Idea? A simple Ad Machine approach that says each new one-page ad idea (as one of the media formats in which the concept was executed) should show:

  1. A heavy metal rock star figure
  2. A ‘cool’ headline with a rock edge that encourages farmers to reduce metal content
  3. Consistent color palettes, typefaces and basic layout

Having defined their Ad Machine in this way, I imagine Bader Rutter’s creative team could have kept on coming up with new, consistently strong and on-message ads until the cows come home.

When one-offs work

Are there exceptions to the rule of the Big Long Idea? Of course!

Try a Google Image search for VW’s famous Think Small ads, for example. For many of the concept’s versions, the central idea was the same every time; nothing was replaced. The picture of a small car on a big, blank background was the same every time. The only thing that changed was the body copy at the base of the ad, telling a slightly different part of the storyline each time.

The VW ads were consumer-focused, of course. So what about the B2B world? Take the well-known McGraw-Hill Magazines ad – also known as the Man in the Chair.

Source: © The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
Reproduced with the permission of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

It’s a single, hard-hitting ad that works in a B2B world. Its message is so powerful, in fact, that no other versions are even necessary to get the point across.

So yes, it can be done. But in the world of B2B advertising, you’ll need a lot of talent and a ton of luck to succeed if developing one-off wonders is your aim! Start with the intention of creating a Big Long Idea, and you’ll more likely to please your clients time and time again.

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The 7 steps to improving your digital B2B experience https://integratedb2b.cylindr.com/2020/04/23/7-steps-to-improve-your-digital-b2b-experience/ Thu, 23 Apr 2020 10:55:07 +0000 https://integratedb2b.cylindr.com/?p=3740 In the midst of uncertain times, growing numbers of B2B companies are amping up their digital content strategies and seeing positive results. What is the ultimate digital B2B buyer experience and how can you achieve it? Because the digital world not only dominates our everyday life and decision-making, B2B companies know they can no longer […]

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In the midst of uncertain times, growing numbers of B2B companies are amping up their digital content strategies and seeing positive results. What is the ultimate digital B2B buyer experience and how can you achieve it?

Because the digital world not only dominates our everyday life and decision-making, B2B companies know they can no longer afford to deliver subpar digital experiences to their buyers when it matters most. That’s why so many B2B companies are prioritizing the effectiveness of their digital engagement efforts to increase the probability of buyer engagement, increase overall buyer satisfaction and overall return on investment (ROI).

So, if you’re ready to see the same outcomes and embark on your own digital B2B buyer-experience transformation, you’ve come to the right place.

The ultimate digital B2B buyer experience

The digital buyer experience is the combination of activities and interactions a buyer has over time with a B2B company’s digital spaces, information, services, and people. To provide the best overall digital experience, a B2B company must consider and examine its current digital engagement opportunities.

Your digital B2B engagements should strengthen the emotional, psychological, or physical connection a buyer has with your brand. These digital interactions take many forms, ranging from opening and clicking links in emails to sharing one of your company’s social media posts. It can also include your buyer service efforts—like chat bots responding to inquiries—or even maintaining brand reputation. It encompasses all the digital platform touchpoints you have with your current and potential buyers throughout their digital buyer journey.

It can be overwhelming to get started because digital B2B engagement covers so much ground. But have no fear, here are the seven steps to follow to improve your overall digital B2B experience and engagements.

Step 1: Define your digital B2B experience goals and activities

The first step in developing your buyer-centric digital environments is defining your goals. Digital B2B goals are major milestones from buyers’ perspectives and are organized as part of the digital B2B buyer journey.

Each goal should include activities for buyers to complete. Activities can be as simple as browsing product details or as complex as renewing a yearly delivery contract.

Determine how your company defines a satisfactory digital buyer experience. Then communicate and elaborate on those definitions with your team so everyone can align and guide your overall digital improvement efforts.

Step 2. Personify your audiences

B2B companies have to think about current and prospective buyers, international and local buyers, employees and partners, the media, researchers, and even government agencies when it comes to their digital audiences. To cater to those diverse audiences’ needs, prioritize your audience personas for each phase of the buyer experience journey.

For example:

Step 3. Map out your B2B buyer’s journey

You can view a buyer’s purchase, from awareness to decision-making, as an extended buyer journey. To better grasp the digital experience you provide, approach your digital environments from a buyer’s perspective to see how they may feel using that platform as an engagement tool. Ask yourself, is this site informative, attractive, and easily navigable?

Physically map out buyers’ digital journeys to understand the different paths both current and prospective buyers might take when exploring your company’s digital offerings. From there, you’ll be able to dissect the different phases of the digital buyer lifecycle, including their pain points and obstacles—and address them accordingly.

Though most of the journey is dedicated to prospective buyers before they make a decision, it’s important to understand that a buyer’s digital experience—even after making a selection—plays a role in long-term brand loyalty.

Step 4. Create content that counts

Quality matters, especially when it comes to B2B web content. To ensure relevant content is available to your virtual B2B audiences, figure out what they care about at each part of their journey. For this, conduct a content audit either manually or with automated software. A content audit helps you analyze how buyers behave online, identify content gaps and drop-off points, and point out what content or features are most used.

Other common content issues you may want to evaluate in your digital environments include:

  • Too much information/not enough information
  • Inconsistent branding
  • Inappropriate tone
  • Broken links
  • Spelling or grammatical errors
  • Inconsistent or outdated information

Step 5. Consider platform performance

B2B buyers expect to be engaged anywhere and everywhere they do research and buy. So, to put the odds in your favor of buyers browsing your offerings, your B2B company should embrace an omni-channel strategy. An omni-channel strategy engages buyers across a number of digital channels including websites, email, social media, mobile apps and ads, and more.

If your channels are organized in silos, then you’re disenfranchising your marketing and sales efforts. To align your sales and marketing efforts, B2B marketers need to ensure all their channels offer consistent, relevant content and an enjoyable experience. When done right, you’ve seamlessly weaved digital touchpoints together to create an elegant buyer-centric journey.

If you’re struggling to figure out where to start, your initial efforts should focus on your two primary channels: your website and your social media platforms.

  • Website—Your website’s design and interface are crucial to how buyers perceive your company. You could say a B2B company’s website is “the ultimate brand statement,” a major component of the buyer’s experience, and can greatly influence a buyer’s decision to purchase.
  • Social media—B2B companies are making greater use of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to meaningfully and informally engage buyers. To both prospective and current buyers, how your company responds to their likes, comments, or questions makes all the difference. So, does your social media stack up?

If your primary channels have strategies in place, you can start working on your secondary digital channels, like email campaigns and thought leadership white papers.

Step 6. Measure your engagement efforts

Measurement is vital to understanding what works and what doesn’t when it comes to digital buyer engagement. If you create a measurement plan, you can categorize the metrics you want to track, which platforms are used when, and what success looks like for each. It’s important to set benchmarks along the way and keep your team involved too, so you can continuously improve engagement opportunities.

If you decide to use a digital analytics tool, it can provide both qualitative and quantitative data to help you identify the digital content or functions buyers are actually looking at, searching for, and using.

Other valuable patterns and insights to measure include:

  • Return on investment and sales
  • New versus returning buyers
  • Which markets, industries or personas are most interested in your different offerings
  • Activity completion time (e.g., how long does it take to read your website pages)
  • Searching for more information or registering for webinars
  • Contact points: calls, emails, likes, shares, etc.

Step 7. Optimize the digital B2B experience

Now that you’ve collected, analyzed, and measured your digital buyer engagement data, you have a clear understanding of the digital journey problems to be solved. You can use those insights to optimize your digital presence.

Optimizing means updating your website and social media content and features to provide targeted, relevant information and resources for your buyer’s needs. To start, form an implementation plan by listing and prioritizing these insights and mitigation strategies. For instance, you may learn that having a contact button is more effective at getting leads than an email address.

The digital buyer engagement bottom line

As buyers are increasingly dependent on B2B companies’ digital engagement efforts, if you’re not measuring engagement efforts, you’re missing out. Digital engagement insights can help improve your digital buyer experience and potentially your overall brand.

In general, your digital environments should:

  • Appeal to a targeted range of visitors
  • Be intuitive, attractive, and uncluttered
  • Provide easy architecture and navigability
  • Contain relevant content about your products, special offerings, contact information, and relevant accreditations (e.g., industry certifications or awards)
  • Afford engagement opportunities (e.g., purchase and contact buttons, links to blogs and social media, chat bots)

For a spectacular, long-term digital buyer experience, don’t look at buyer journey mapping as a one-time activity. Rather, make leveraging data to gain awareness of what buyers go through a part of your marketing department’s culture. Regularly assess your buyer engagement data to see how your company compares with the competition and industry-wide benchmarks.

Getting personal

Essentially, what has been discussed here is a personalized approach to marketing. What’s required is some investment in doing the research before taking the leap and targeting your messages to individuals within an organization or business. This approach is called Account-based marketing or ABM.

Read more about ABM and why it’s the next step you need to take. You can download an introductory guide to ABM as well.

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It’s time to reconsider your strategic value proposition https://integratedb2b.cylindr.com/2020/04/19/its-time-to-reconsider-your-strategic-value-proposition/ Sun, 19 Apr 2020 18:17:47 +0000 https://integratedb2b.cylindr.com/?p=3750 In the current business environment, which brings a new level of difficulties to almost every business, sales teams are having to look closely at their company’s strategic value proposition. Does it reflect the current strategy? Is it the right fit for the customer? Does it align with current buyer behavior? Now is the time to […]

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In the current business environment, which brings a new level of difficulties to almost every business, sales teams are having to look closely at their company’s strategic value proposition. Does it reflect the current strategy? Is it the right fit for the customer? Does it align with current buyer behavior?

Now is the time to re-evaluate. But when speed of reaction to market dynamics is the essence, there’s no time for a protracted process. What’s needed is a rapid, pragmatic approach.

Not only is your value proposition important for the one-on-one conversations your sales teams have with customers; it’s also important for your strategic marketing and communications. Your value proposition must quickly and clearly convey what you do and why you do it better than the competition.

Tell the story of your value proposition well enough on your website and it could be just the thing to draw a potential new customer in. With 15 seconds to capture the average reader’s attention, you haven’t got much time to tell them why they should stay. If you don’t get their attention, they’re more than likely to move on to the next option – your competitor.

Defining strategic intent

Sales teams, quite rightly, speak often about the value proposition. It’s something they need to be quite certain about as they explain in just a few sentences how the service or product they are selling benefits the customer.

But the value proposition is more than a sales proposition. When defined properly, it encapsulates the company’s strategic intent, “which in its simplest form is an expression of the firm’s unique and superior value offering,” says George Tovstiga in Strategy in Practice, A Practitioner’s Guide to Strategic Thinking (Wiley).

Tovstiga attributes the concept of value proposition to Peter Drucker, Gary Hamel and C.K. Prahalad in the early 1990s. Drucker then discussed it further in his “The Theory of Business” (Harvard Business Review), in which he considers three core elements of business:

  1. The external competitive environment
  2. Internal basis of competitiveness
  3. Core purpose and aspirations

A rapid approach to value propositions

Tovstiga himself incorporates Drucker’s core elements into his own concept of a strategic value proposition.

When I work with B2B companies to develop a strategic value proposition, I often base the process on Tovstiga’s concept. Although his motivation was to use it as a broader strategic framework, I find it equally useful for sales and marketing purposes.

A simple, yet effective framework for gathering input for your value proposition. (Based on George Tovstiga’s value proposition framework.)

The good news is that in some cases, it does not have to be a complex, lengthy process.

Recently, I worked on a value proposition for a B2B company where most of the information I needed was gathered in an afternoon session with the company’s CEO, Sales Director and Marketing Director.

During this meeting, they all got the chance to tell the story of:

  • The market they operate in
  • What they sell and to whom
  • Why and how customers buy
  • How the company differs from its competitors

The overarching question we attempted to address was:

“What space do we want to own in our customers’ minds and the marketplace?”

In this particular case, they were all aligned in their thinking, which made the process of analyzing the information relatively straightforward. That’s not always the case, however.

In many cases, a more structured information-gathering, data analysis, and discussion process is required, which is likely to involve more workshops. This process allows people to share and discuss diverse, sometimes conflicting views, which then need to be resolved and assimilated into usable messages.

But back to the ‘aligned’ management team. Following the initial workshop, I deconstructed their input into the relevant sections of the model, arriving at something like this:

An example of how a value proposition workshop can be summarized.

This is partly an analytical task, but also creative. It’s during this process that clear pictures begin to emerge of potential value propositions, as well as key messages, which I’ll talk about later.

Bearing in mind that the objective is to express the differentiated offering, this is the point where I begin to articulate the value proposition into the following framework:

  • Target audience
  • Audience needs
  • Name of brand/offering/company
  • Type of offering/common terms of reference
  • Unique features or benefits
  • Outcome/advantage
  • Reason to believe

I often find it useful to summarize this in a table format to clearly show the messages. It might look something like this:

Usually, I try to create three to five versions of this table to inspire and challenge the prevalent thinking. Once there is agreement on the individual elements, I then put them together into a statement that neatly describes the differentiated value offering.

It might end up something like this:

For XXXX suppliers that prioritize high-quality products and seamless production integration,

COMPANY is the full-service XXXX specialist who will meet you face-to-face to determine the right solution for your unique needs,

because our XXXX and XXXX gives us the unrivalled flexibility to create XXXX solutions of the highest proven quality.

How can you use the value proposition?

We’ve arrived at a value proposition that everyone agrees with. Now, how exactly do you use it?

First and foremost, it provides a consistent way of presenting the value your company offers. It should be top of mind for all customer-facing staff and at the heart of everything your sales and marketing teams are doing.

Here at cylindr, we create a lot of content for B2B companies. The job is always so much easier when, as part of the briefing, we can refer to a strategically sound, well-articulated value proposition. Without it, it’s easy for the communications to drift at the whim of the individual team driving the campaign.

It’s also a good internal communication platform. Ideally, everyone in the company should know the value proposition as well as its strategic foundation. In fact, I’m sure when you get it right, it will form the basis of many fruitful discussions within the company.

Uncovering key messages

But it’s not only the end result that is meaningful. The process itself also provides valuable content, such as key messages for the strategic narrative.

For example, as I was working on deconstructing the input, several consistent key themes and supporting messages emerged. So, in addition to doing the value proposition, we arrived at a large library of messages that could be used in many different sales and marketing contexts.

This became the basis for a messaging platform. Our mantra for this was “five key points we want to be known for”.

Within each of these points, we could unfold stories that all connect to the strategic value proposition.

Source of inspiration

A question that many executives ask is whether they should be creating the value propositions themselves? Why get external help?

You’re all intelligent people. You have good salespeople and you understand how to communicate with others.

But there are several challenges to consider when it comes to doing it yourself:

  • First, it takes time – preparation is vital. You don’t just turn up at the workshop without taking a fresh look at your business environment and the key challenges facing the business. Experienced consultants can conduct this initial research quickly and efficiently to find the right starting point. Then, following the workshops, time is needed to analyze and deconstruct the input from key stakeholders. It involves separating and synthesizing ideas and already now, expressing key messages briefly and accurately.
  • Second, this process should be done at arm’s length, without any hidden agendas, so that the messages are as unbiased as possible. This is just one of the ways that the business may be seen in a new light, giving rise to fresh, creative ways of expressing the value proposition.
  • Third, harnessing the power of words. The power of a value proposition comes from the words themselves. It takes a skilled writer and communicator to come up with a value proposition that clearly expresses the essence of the business with energy, enthusiasm and relevance. The same goes for the key messages.

Need help with your value proposition?

If you’ve got your act together, creating a value proposition doesn’t have to be a long and tedious process.

At cylindr, we help you to create and tell the story of the value you offer your customers. Sometimes, all it takes is a few simple steps, some insightful analysis, and creative thinking. Ready to have a closer look at your value proposition?

Find out more about our strategic storytelling services.

(Feature image by Harry Sandhu on Unsplash.)

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Is COVID-19 the Voldemort of business? https://integratedb2b.cylindr.com/2020/04/15/is-covid-19-the-voldemort-of-business/ Wed, 15 Apr 2020 09:24:05 +0000 https://integratedb2b.cylindr.com/?p=3747 “Can we use the term, COVID-19, in our marketing?” “Will people think we’re trying to take advantage of the situation?” “Is it OK to mention COVID-19 when our products don’t protect or help cure people?” – does this sound like you? COVID-19, for some businesses, has become the disease whose name must not be mentioned […]

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“Can we use the term, COVID-19, in our marketing?” “Will people think we’re trying to take advantage of the situation?” “Is it OK to mention COVID-19 when our products don’t protect or help cure people?” – does this sound like you?

COVID-19, for some businesses, has become the disease whose name must not be mentioned in the context of commercial gain. But could this be doing more harm than good?

Every now and then, you see businesses highlighting their own products or services or promoting COVID-19-related activities, which, to a greater or lesser extent, are aimed at creating awareness about themselves.

The majority, however, hold back from overtly using COVID-19 in marketing messages. It seems that many companies feel they should observe some sort of respectful silence unless the core message is, for example, about safety, a donation or human resources.

But is refraining from using the ‘C’ word in marketing activities the right thing to do?

Despite all the fresh wounds it has inflicted on us, COVID-19 is not some kind of Voldemort – the frightening character whose name only Harry Potter himself dared to say out loud. You don’t need to avoid it like the plague (too soon?).

It’s a tragedy

Like many diseases that have gone before it and which are today increasing in prevalence (think diabetes, alcoholism, cardiovascular disease, dementia or obesity), COVID-19 is a tragedy on many levels.

The arrival of this new, nasty virus is having a huge impact on our societies, both in terms of illness and death, and in terms of the health of the underlying commercial mechanisms. This societal backbone is what keeps most of us fed, warm and (more or less) happy in all of life’s contexts.

Communicate with care

Naturally, all communication around such issues warrants special care. After all, human lives are precious, emotions are involved, and everyone is on guard against the anti-social tendencies of confidence tricksters and political power junkies alike.

That said, we desperately need products and services that can help to defend against or remedy a wide variety of tragedies and disasters. Not just pharmaceuticals and related medical services to address health-related issues, but also equipment to rebuild damaged infrastructure after an earthquake, for example.

We happily accept commercial communication for these offerings. Indeed, without marketing activities and everything else that contributes to a viable business model, such products and services would be unlikely to be developed by private enterprise at any useful scale.

There are two broad groups of such offerings:

  1. Products and services that directly remedy or support the crisis itself (e.g. medicines and rescue equipment)
  2. Products and services that enable infrastructure, supply chains and similar to be restored, or which help maintain normal levels of jobs, healthcare and the like

One of the worst effects of the current pandemic corresponds to category 2 above: the unprecedented impact upon the world’s economies. So, if you ask me, businesses all around the world should be rallying against the virus, using its name in any context that makes broad ethical sense in order to get the wheels of demand and supply turning again.

Because without those wheels turning quickly enough, I believe that we may endanger the future of people’s livelihoods and health around the globe to a far greater degree than the lives potentially lost in the current pandemic.

Sustainable social responsibility

Without a doubt, it’s wonderful to see companies such as Johnson & Johnson announcing that it will manufacture a billion COVID-19 vaccines without regard for profit. Or clothing manufacturer LTP Group’s donation of single-use protective suits to Lithuania.

But consider, for a moment, the point of view advocated today by the United Nations, a non-commercial body more focused on what’s good for the global society than most.

Initially, when the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were developed and promoted, the general idea was that businesses would get behind them with the primary goal of, well, simply doing something good for the world.

Today, the UN has evolved its point of view, stating that the SDGs can only be supported at sufficient scale by businesses or companies if there is commercial profit or strategic advantage directly connected to the investments they make in line with the goals. And I expect there is a similar underlying reality in bringing global society back to normal as soon as possible with regard to COVID-19.

Think different

I’m in no way recommending companies do business as usual, of course. But if you want to be part of keeping the world from going completely off the rails in the current crisis, you should consider:

  • Offering your products or services in new ways that help customers meet their tightened budgets
  • Collaborating and innovating with partners and customers to understand and act upon fundamental changes brought about by the pandemic
  • Doing a better job of thought leadership via your online presence (more inspiring content, more often)

So, go ahead. If your products or services can in any way help get the world back on track, countering the unwelcome effects of COVID-19, and you can make a profit (or at least minimize losses for now) by doing so, mention the ‘C’ word wherever it makes sense.

If it’s good for the health of your business, then hopefully, it’s good for the rest of us, too.

The right story for your business

Do you need help explaining how your company can help customers address the challenges of the current COVID-19/coronavirus pandemic? At cylindr, we specialize in strategic narratives and messaging platforms. Ask us how we can help.

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How to win B2B market share in tough times https://integratedb2b.cylindr.com/2020/03/30/how-to-win-b2b-market-share-in-tough-times/ Mon, 30 Mar 2020 11:10:51 +0000 https://integratedb2b.cylindr.com/?p=3702 They say that, when times get tough, the tough get going. And that’s probably why, in a time where many companies have reduced or even stopped spending on marketing efforts for fear of COVID-19’s impact, we’re seeing a growing number of companies turning the current situation to their advantage. Right now, companies are in a […]

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They say that, when times get tough, the tough get going. And that’s probably why, in a time where many companies have reduced or even stopped spending on marketing efforts for fear of COVID-19’s impact, we’re seeing a growing number of companies turning the current situation to their advantage.

Right now, companies are in a battle for market share and, in some cases, survival. Some, however, fight smarter than others.

Watching our clients around the globe during the past month, we have noticed three different ways people are reacting to these tough times:

  1. Maintaining current levels of sales and marketing investments
  2. Cutting sales and marketing activities and wait for things to get better before investing again
  3. Turning up the volume on sales and marketing – specifically in online content creation

As a rough estimation, around 40% of B2B companies are choosing option 1, 40% are stepping on the brakes with option 2, and a minority, perhaps 20%, are stepping up their activities with option 3.

But which is the smartest strategy? For most, it’s actually option 3!

Those who study economic crises have always said it: In a market downturn, the strongest companies tend to make significant strategic gains.

For example, companies with healthy balance sheets seize the opportunity to acquire weaker competitors. And great companies find it easier to win market share from their less great competitors, because the stronger players either maintain or increase their efforts at a time when the weak ones are at their weakest.

Is your company a strong competitor or a weak one?

Are you making the mistake of reducing your activities, holding back while the leaders eat more of your lunch (making it more costly for you to win back market share in the future)? Or are you doing the same as companies like Maersk or Arla in these social distancing times by switching more of your budget to creating content for online contexts?

Right now, creating more content is the smartest thing you can do, at least from a sales and marketing perspective. That means blog posts, articles, white papers, and the like.

And if you’re working with a strong content agency such as cylindr, creating these can be easily managed without physical meetings.

In fact, 90% of our blog posts and articles are created for clients based on 30-minute phone interviews with subject matter experts (SMEs), even before COVID-19 changed this world we share. And most white papers are a mix of phone interviews, background documents provided by the client and our own technical research.

So, if you’re holding back, it may be time to ask yourself: Is your current strategy similar to peeing in your pants (some describe this as an initially nice, warm feeling that soon turns to something much less pleasant) – or should are you a strong competitor that should be pumping out thought leadership content at even higher levels than before?

(Photo by Rob Wingate on Unsplash)

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How to use social media in your B2B content marketing https://integratedb2b.cylindr.com/2020/03/26/how-to-use-social-media-in-your-b2b-content-marketing/ Thu, 26 Mar 2020 15:03:29 +0000 https://integratedb2b.cylindr.com/?p=3657 A well-designed social media (SoMe) strategy is an indispensable part of your content marketing efforts. B2B social media marketing is all about engaging customers through relevant, value-adding content. For businesses adapting to rapidly changing circumstances, where customers are constantly accessing content through multiple devices at any time of the day, there are great opportunities to […]

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A well-designed social media (SoMe) strategy is an indispensable part of your content marketing efforts. B2B social media marketing is all about engaging customers through relevant, value-adding content.

For businesses adapting to rapidly changing circumstances, where customers are constantly accessing content through multiple devices at any time of the day, there are great opportunities to engage. But with these opportunities comes pressure.

Too much content?

Even the most experienced marketers can get overwhelmed with all the content they have to create, manage, and measure. And even those who have a good handle on their content marketing strategy feel the pressure of keeping up with their social media activities. That’s why, if you want to make sure your marketing efforts align on all channels, you need a SoMe strategy.

In this post, I’ll discuss:

  • Why you should have a social media strategy
  • The difference between a social media strategy and a content strategy
  • The four elements of a successfully integrated SoMe marketing strategy

Why a social media strategy?

Social media offers powerful channels through which you can share content in seconds. In fact, market leaders such as SAP make no secret of the power of social media, putting considerable efforts into growing their followers and engaging them with good content.

But B2B marketers dealing in social media need to be smart when it comes to what content needs to go where, when, and how.

Without a strategy, you might be posting on social media just for the sake of posting. In that case, you’re making it difficult to align with your company’s goals and understand your target audiences.

Good social media marketing goes beyond broadcasting news and views. It needs to be an integrated part of your content marketing strategy. In practice, that means that every ‘post’ you make will support your goals to gain connections and move them along the conversion funnel.

Adding a SoMe strategy to your content marketing strategy will:

  • Boost your brand’s reach, add scale to campaigns, and enhance conversion
  • Enhance customer engagement, brand loyalty, customer service, and customer insights
  • Increase exposure to generate traffic, leads, and sales
  • Elevate employee advocacy and deepen relationships
  • Access a huge market to test, trial, and crowd source new ideas about your products and services.
  • Improve your company’s online search engine ranking
  • Reduce marketing costs (cheaper than traditional methods)

How does SoMe marketing work with content marketing?

Let’s face it. Content marketing today relies heavily on social media. But it’s worth looking at how they differ to understand the role they play together.

Let’s take a look:

Content marketing isn’t just about content creation. It’s the entire process that enables organizations to add value for current and potential customers by distributing that created content in the most powerful way. Typically, content marketing uses different formats such as blog posts, videos, and web pages with the focus of getting people to engage with your brand.

While social media marketing is made up of similar items of content (pictures, video, copy, and storytelling), the difference is the platforms. SoMe marketing focuses activities within social networks themselves (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.). So, marketers not only have to create or reimagine pieces of content to fit into the varied platform formats, but they must be strategically curated inside them, too.

While longer formats of content marketing channels are better suited to help organizations educate and entertain their target audiences, social media channels require shorter, pithy pieces of content that tantalize audiences to want to read more.

Social media channels help you generate genuine interest and trust to guide potential customers toward these longer formats by snappily showing how your product or service can help solve their problems.

Simply, you need to get to the point faster.

The four elements of an integrated SoMe marketing strategy

To get started in creating your SoMe strategy, I suggest looking at four key elements:

  1. Objectives: Your content marketing and SoMe marketing strategies need to align with your company’s overall goals. In particular, as with any marketing strategy, you need to understand clearly the sales goals for each customer segment. Whatever SoMe activities you undertake must play some role in helping your sales colleagues create relationships with prospects, faster.
  2. Audience personas: Audience personas are fictional representations of ideal customers based on real data (customer demographics, online behavior) and educated guesses about their motivations and concerns. If you’ve already developed your content marketing personas, you can add to their profiles by listing the SoMe platforms they prefer and what type of content catches their eye. Better yet, with a SoMe strategy in place, you can collect more behavior information about your customers to develop your personas even further.
  3. Product/offering value propositions: Your social media messages need to be based on specific value propositions of the products or offerings. The messages within the value propositions feed much of your social media content – and you should never be left to make up content out of thin air.

    The messages you choose should also be targeted at your personas, so you will probably need to create persona-focused value propositions, too. The key is to understand which of your company’s products or services will benefit the personas and what the most compelling messaging is for them for that product (monetary, emotional, etc.).
  4. Editorial plan: You’ll employ your newly aligned value proposition and messaging to develop an aligned SoMe editorial plan that works in parallel to your regular content calendar. Both calendars should include short and long-term strategic actions. For instance, all regularly scheduled content should include tactical social messaging, and special social media messaging should link to newly created content.

Successfully integrating content and social media marketing

While it will take some effort up front to fully align your content marketing and social media marketing strategies, it will be time well spent. Apart from giving you confidence yourself that you are increasing the probability of engaging with your key audiences, the depth of planning will demonstrate a convincing argument to colleagues.

Need help with your SoMe strategy?

cylindr specializes in helping technical and industrial B2B companies create agile, long-term content marketing strategies that truly engage customers and encourage brand ambassadors. Better yet, we can quickly create all your SoMe content too.

Find out more about our SoMe strategy services.

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The renewed importance of thought leadership in 2020 https://integratedb2b.cylindr.com/2020/03/23/the-renewed-importance-of-thought-leadership-in-2020/ Mon, 23 Mar 2020 13:46:08 +0000 https://integratedb2b.cylindr.com/?p=3673 No-one would blame you if you were to rapidly re-evaluate your marketing priorities in 2020. We are facing an unprecedented rate of change that will surely affect the way business will be done in the future. But already now, I believe a new foundation for business is being established. Let’s face it. Even at a […]

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No-one would blame you if you were to rapidly re-evaluate your marketing priorities in 2020. We are facing an unprecedented rate of change that will surely affect the way business will be done in the future.

But already now, I believe a new foundation for business is being established. Let’s face it. Even at a time when digital communications is the norm for most, many have still relied on face-to-face meetings for effective collaboration or to truly seal a relationship.

Out of necessity, however, this belief is currently challenged, and many are already adopting – and beginning to cope with – a new reality.

Doing business at a distance

While this might seem like a relatively easy change for some, there are some key factors that marketers need to address to maintain good relationships from a distance.

A strong brand is more important than ever, at a time when it is nigh on impossible for your salespeople to represent your company in person. Keeping your brand messages on-point and consistent amidst market uncertainty is key to winning the trust of your target audiences.

But the specific type of brand communications I want to highlight here is thought leadership.

Thought leadership is more than just a type of business communication; it’s an important competitive parameter. But at a time when urgency becomes top of mind for business leaders, some might say, “Who cares about thought leadership? We need to keep our revenue streams up and sell! It’s all about the short term and no-one has time for this intellectual, long-term thinking!”

Does this sound like you?

Think again. Leadership in times of uncertainty is vital. Not just the leadership we expect from our political or business leaders. We all have a part to play in helping others move forward with confidence, and this is the right time to be focusing your resources on thought leadership.

Consider the following:

  1. Do you want to help your customers achieve reassurance and confidence in the future?
  2. Will doing this benefit your business?

I’m sure that for most, the answer to both is a resounding yes!

Five reasons why thought leadership is crucial for doing business at a distance

1. Slow and steady wins the race

Nurturing your customer relationships takes time and this has not changed in light of the current situation. Equally, having a firm foothold in your industry and being viewed as the industry leader has not changed either. This is why thought leadership needs to remain top priority as an element of your content marketing strategy. To be successful, you need to earn the trust, build credibility and be consistent with how often you publish. This is not something that can happen overnight.

2. Close the gap from a distance

Content can be used to stay connected with your existing and potential customers. But not just any old content. There is so much content out there, so how will you ensure that you cut through all that noise? Targeted, relevant thought leadership pieces that showcase your know-how are a sure-fire way to remain close to the accounts that matter. Your goal is to become the trusted authority in your field and inspire others to achieve success just like yours by partnering with you.

3. Use what you’ve got

Tap into the minds of your talent. They hold a treasure trove of technical knowledge that can be used as a foundation for thought leadership pieces. Whether it be an article for a well-known, widely-read industry magazine or a white paper highlighting the intricate details of food ingredient processing (as an example), a valuable thought leadership opportunity awaits. Set up an interview and watch as the knowledge flows freely in a matter of minutes.

4. Do away with propaganda

This is such an important element of thought leadership that I can’t emphasize it enough. To be a true thought leader, you need to move away from self-promotion. Unfortunately, a lot of what marketers think is thought leadership content is actually promotional. It’s tempting to throw in lines about how great your products or solutions are, and you might ask why it’s worth investing in content that doesn’t even mention your company? The point is that by positioning yourself as an industry-leading company, your technologies or products are inherently positioned there too. Propaganda undermines your industry-level messages, so leave the promotional, benefit-based communications to sales enablement, campaigns, product websites and similar.

5. Sharing is giving

We encourage children to share when they play, right? Let’s keep doing this in our professional capacities! A central premise of thought leadership is that through sharing your knowledge, you gain credibility. You have the credibility to be seen as a leader in your field, and the expertise you share could be just the thing that could help someone with a challenge or an opportunity. They’re likely to thank you for it – and they’ll almost certainly remember you!

Dare to go the distance

It’s a difficult time for many as we navigate this new world together. For most, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime circumstance, which can naturally send anyone spinning wildly out of control.

But instead of clutching any sales opportunity with a white-knuckled fist and relaxing your focus on thought leadership, do the opposite. As the dust settles, what will set you apart is your ongoing commitment to thought leadership – standing strong in the face of uncertainty while others abandon the long game.

Stay in the game. Now is the time to invest in thought leadership, more than ever before.

Need help with creating thought leadership content?

At cylindr, we help industrial and technology companies create thought leadership content. We can help you to write industry-focused content and to plan an effective content strategy to get maximum effect from your content.

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Some good news in the midst of the bad https://integratedb2b.cylindr.com/2020/03/13/break-from-bad-news/ Fri, 13 Mar 2020 10:04:18 +0000 https://integratedb2b.cylindr.com/?p=3639 The rapid spread of COVID-19, matched with almost unprecedented falls in stock exchanges and, of course, climate change (which is losing the battle for attention right now)…means that there are plenty of reasons to be worried about this world of ours. And in Denmark, which is now my home, things are particularly tense as the […]

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The rapid spread of COVID-19, matched with almost unprecedented falls in stock exchanges and, of course, climate change (which is losing the battle for attention right now)…means that there are plenty of reasons to be worried about this world of ours. And in Denmark, which is now my home, things are particularly tense as the country will be virtually shut down for at least the next 14 days to reduce the risk of viral spreading.

To tell you the truth, I need a break already from all the bad news. To some, that might seem too early, too ‘light’ even, but I’m going to insist on achieving more of a balance with some positive perspectives that help keep the light shining brightly at the end of the tunnel, whenever we get there.

So, I’ve listed eight positive points that came to mind – and I’d really appreciate anyone else adding to the list!

  1. On the bright side, it’s cold and wet outside in Copenhagen as usual. So, because our office is closed for now, I can skip the bike ride to work, staying warm and comfortable for more of the day.
  2. More meaningfully, history tells us major crises tend to bring humanity closer together – so, we all get a chance to become more skilled at working together to reduce potential impacts.
  3. Thanks to the closure of a variety of institutions and self-isolation, many people get to spend more time with their families, something we perhaps need to get more skilled at, too.
  4. Innovation is said to thrive in times of crisis – researchers analyzing data back to 1883 (Gorovaia and Zenios, 2013) have pointed to noticeable effects for up to three years afterward.
  5. This is an opportunity to educate the world about disease transmission, improving each of our lives by changing hygiene habits so that we can stay healthy, longer.
  6. We get a chance to practice for a more severe pandemic with a comparatively mild virus (the 1918 Spanish influenza, for example, is estimated to have killed anywhere from 17 to 100 million people, although poor living and healthcare conditions at the time may have been a major factor).
  7. The planet probably gets a welcome reduction in carbon emissions with air travel down globally, at least for a couple of months (Chinese air traffic is already recovering).
  8. We get to appreciate the amazing job healthcare professionals, infrastructure workers and first responders do, working long, hard hours and placing themselves at risk for society as a whole.

Of course, I’m also warmed by the way my colleagues at cylindr are hunkering down doing what they’re great at: content and ABM for industrial and tech companies!

We’re not together, of course, because we decided last week to work separately and do our bit for social distancing. I miss seeing their smiling faces, but I always have our daily online meetings to look forward to!

Reach out to find out how we can help you spread the message of positivity and progress to your target audiences.

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