Why We Are Writing This Blog

By: Joe Braue and Kristin Kovacich –

Marketers in vertical industries should be the rock stars of their companies. They have more opportunities and tools than ever before to make their products and companies successful. If only there was a way they could share their vertical industry knowhow.

That’s where we hope the NewBay Plus Blog can help. We are a group of media and marketing professionals at NewBay Media with years of experience in B2B and B2C markets. We’ll be sharing marketing best practices especially in the five verticals where NewBay has leading media platforms: Ed Tech, Broadcasting & Cable, AV Professional, Music, and Consumer Electronics Retailing.

kristinJoe

Two of us will be writing in this space. Joe Braue has been in B2B Media for more than 25 years as an editor and publisher at McGraw-Hill and UBM Technology, marketing services leader at CMP, and he currently heads up NewBay Plus, NewBay’s marketing services arm. You’ll also see Kristin Kovacich, who previously was at Digiday Studios and is now creating integrated marketing programs at NewBay Plus.

So when you start a blog, you need a statement of principles, your core beliefs that you want to share, like Orson Welles starting up the fictional New York Inquirer in the movie Citizen Kane.

First, we believe vertical industry marketers should be rockstars, using all the levers of the web, print, events, and special services to successfully to drive awareness of their products and demand for their sales teams. Toward that end, we want to share what we know, what our editors and publishers are finding out about these markets at NewBay, and most importantly write about marketing ideas that succeed compiled from our conversations with you and your peers.

Secondly, we’re humble here at NewBay. We don’t have all the answers. So we’ll be presenting interesting, innovative ideas from every place we can find it, even if it comes from competitors.

To find out more information, see our NewBay Plus website where you can find resources for vertical industry content marketing, marketing automation, PR, advertising, integrated marketing and the like. If you have executed a successful program, let us know about it so we can share. And if you have a lesson learned, please talk to us or share your thoughts below. We can be reached at jbraue@nbmedia.com and kkovacich@nbmedia.com.

– Joe and Kristin

How to Get Your Content to Do the Selling

By: Kristin Kovacich –

We create content to establish our brands as experts and thought leaders by providing answers to industry related questions and addressing topics that the people who are interested in your product care about. This establishes trust and keeps your brand top of mind when your potential customers think about your industry. This is a very important aspect of content creation but what about the bottom line? How do we get our content to move our customer along the purchase process and ultimately help make a sale?

Doug Kessler, Creative Director & Co-founder of B2B marketing agency Velocity, has put together a SlideShare presentation that lays out the unique content creation considerations for making the sale.

Kessler posits that the most important characteristic of successful content at the buying stage is that it convinces the customer that there has been a real and significant change in the world. The content must exemplify this change through data, 3rd party analysis and a reason for the change; and it also must show the change is relevant and inevitable to the customer and if they are not ready for it they will fall behind their competitors.

Below are the 6 characteristics Kessler lays out for creating content that sells change:

1. It’s direct and assertive. There’s no pussy-footing when it comes to content that sells.

2. It starts from what the prospect already knows. Don’t try to convince them the sky is green at the offset. You want to convince them change is nigh but you don’t want them to be completely disoriented.

3. It’s linear. Don’t take them all over the place when laying out your argument. Keep it focused and keep it moving.

4. It’s data-driven. Facts go a long way toward building credibility but don’t rely too heavily on them. Let your data do the supporting not the heavy lifting.

5. It asks for the order. Convincing the prospect of a coming change that’s going to rock their world is the hardest part but don’t forget the reason why you’re there.

6. It makes now seem like the ideal time to act. Because tomorrow will be too late and catching up will be costly.

It’s important to remember that not all content is created equally and knowing what we want out of it and how to get it helps ensure it is effective.\

Photo from Flickr

No More Random Acts of Content

By: Kristin Kovacich –

Today’s B2B marketers are realizing the importance of content marketing (over 25% of marketing budgets are dedicated to content efforts) but many vendors are bypassing some key considerations. CMO Council’s Content ROI Center recently surveyed more than 400 B2B customers in order to identify the impact of content marketing on customer thinking and buying decisions. The results of Better Yield in the Content Marketing Field showed what customers want (and don’t want) out of content, where they go to get it and what this means for marketers.

A few key take ways:

  • The characteristics most valued by survey respondents are breadth and depth of information (47% of respondents), ease of access, understanding and readability (44% of respondents), and originality of thinking and ideas (39%).
  • 50% of survey respondents valued and trusted white papers from industry organizations while only 9% valued and trusted white papers from vendors.
  • The characteristics most disliked in B2B content are too many requirements for download (50% of respondents), blatantly promotional or self-serving (43%)  and non-substantive and uninformed (34%).
  • 87% of respondents say that online content has a major to moderate influence when selecting a vendor.
  • 41% use smartphones to access B2B content and 34% use tablets.

Content has a huge impact on customer buying decisions and in order to put their best foot forward, B2B marketers must first create the type of content that resonates with and provides value to their customer. Creating a white paper expounding the benefits of your product no longer cuts it. When consuming B2B content, customers want value, expect it consistently and want to  be able to access it easily and anytime.

More from the study below:

b2b-content-infographic-cmo-council-2013(Photo from Flickr)

 

The Perks of Being Social

By: Kristin Kovacich –

For the most part, B2B hasn’t been quite as quick as B2C to  embrace social media as part of it’s marketing strategy. But in this increasingly digital world, if a brand isn’t including a strategic social media presence they are missing out.  At the end of the day, B2B consumers are made up of people and those people move seamlessly between web, mobile and social. Extending campaigns across all three ensures the brand’s message is delivered with the widest reach. There’s a place for B2B in the social game and here are a few reasons why.

Build Brand Awareness: Social media platforms provide a space for your brand to be seen by businesses that will eventually approach you for sales. A steady communication of your core message directly to your prospects pushes your company top of mind when it comes to making a purchase decision.

Showcase your Expertise: Each social platform can be a go-to resource on information related to whatever topic the company wants to be an expert on. A consistent stream of thought leadership and knowledge triggers an association between your company and what’s cutting edge in your industry.

Your Customers Do Your Marketing: The ability to listen to the existing conversation around your brand and to create initiatives to increase that conversation is another feature of social media. If a business can attract attention from their audience by way of customer reviews or user generated content, it will carry more weight than if brand created the content itself.

Establish and Maintain Relationships: Social media allows marketers to engage in direct contact with their prospects and end-users in a more personal way than a banner ad or email campaign. On the social platforms, conversations can happen both on a personal and global scale and this goes a long way towards humanizing your brand. While B2B buyers might be more focused on the bottom line than B2C buyers, people still like to do business with people they know and putting human face on a business can go a long way.

Infographics: So Hot Right Now

By: Kristin Kovacich –

In the last few years, infographics have become increasingly popular. And with good reason. They are able to communicate large datasets and complex information in a visually compelling and easily absorbable way; which is perfect for the shortened attention spans of today’s consumer. The ease of shareability on social media also make them a must-have for any company’s content strategy. If done right, an infographic has the ability to increase brand awareness, customer trust, drive traffic and position you as an expert.

Here’s an infographic about infographics. (Told you they were popular). 

whydoinfographicsmakegreatmarketingtools-1

12 Need to Know Facts about Native Advertising for B2B Marketers

By: Kristin Kovacich –

Native advertising refers to a form of advertising that provides value by integrating relevant paid media both in-stream and with the look and feel of the surrounding editorial content. Native advertising is a hot topic right now and many in the industry are trying to wrap their heads around what it is and what it can (and should) do.

Here are some stats you should know when making a decision about native advertising:

  • The average banner click through rate decreased from 2% in 2000 to .2% in 2012. 
  • Native ads are viewed 53% more than banner ads, the purchase intent is 53% higher and they generate 82% more brand lift.
  • In a study by Sharethrough and the IPG Media Lab, participants were 25% more likely to look at a native ad than they were at a banner.
  • In that same study, subjects looked at native ads 53% more frequently, checking them out 4.1 times per session on average, versus 2.7% for banners.
  • Consumers looked at original editorial content and native ads for a similar amount of time – 1.0 seconds (native) versus 1.2 second (content).
  • 70% of agency executives say that user experience is most important in native advertising.
  • Native ads represented just 5%-to-10% of Facebook’s impressions in 2013, but accounted for more than 60% of the company’s revenue.
  • 75% of publishers offer online native advertising.
  • Roughly 65% of both ad agencies and marketers plan to invest in native advertising, for an estimated total of $4.3 billion, in 2014.
  •  79% of B2B marketers state the goal of content marketing and native advertising is to raise brand awareness.
  • The most important characteristics of valuable B2B content are the breadth and depth of the information (47%), ease of access, understanding and readability (44%) and originality of thinking and ideas (39%).
  • The biggest B2B content turn offs include too many requirements for download (cited by 50%) and blatantly self-promotional content (43%).

Making the Most of Video in B2B

By: Kristin Kovacich –

The vast amount of content on the web complicates things for B2B marketers who are competing not only with others in their industry but also cute cat videos for the eyeballs of their customers. To make matters worse, attention spans are shortening and there’s an urgent need to communicate information in an easily digestible way. Video lends itself very well to this objective and Google’s study on Tech B2B customer engagement showed that one-third of tech B2B customers purchased the product online after watching the video. Videos are a great way to engage, inform and possibly even entertain your customers in a visually compelling way that may not be achieved in a white paper, case study or fact sheet. Here are some ideas of the types of the videos that can be integrated into today’s B2B marketer’s content playbook.

1. Customer Testimonial. According to Google’s Tech B2B survey, 60% of B2B customers searched for reviews from their peers while conducting research on their potential purchase. An interview of a customer who is happy with your solution goes a long way to earning the trust of a potential buyer, much further than a written testimonial on a website. Tip: Search social channels for positive feedback; if a customer has posted about your product without prompting they will likely be eager to serve as a voluntary brand ambassador.

2. Case Study. Many marketers include case study pdfs in their marketing material but showing AND telling will resonate more with the buyer. If possible, use video from before and during the implementation of your product. Seeing the positive impact your solution had and/or the challenge your solution helped overcome will give credence to the real world effectiveness of your product.

3. Product Video. A product video is a good way to showcase the standout features of your product. What makes your solution better or different than your competitors? Focus on that and let your potential buyer see it in action.

4. Expert Series. What are some questions or concerns the buyers in your industry might have? Have a expert from your team address them, without outright schilling for your product. This establishes both trust and your company as an expert in your field. Extra points if you are able to able to drop a truth bomb. Upending an existing belief that is actually false, establishes you not only as an expert but a visionary.

5. Thought Leader Interviews. Interview established thought leaders about a pressing or trending matter in your industry. When customers are looking to make a purchase they want the best and most cutting edge product. The thought leader video interviews will go a long way toward elevating or maintaining the status of your business within your market.

Other video ideas: Webinars with video, Company Culture/Employee videos

Five Biggest Mistakes When Creating Ads for Vertical Markets

By: Joe Braue –

So we’ve been creating advertisements for vertical markets in B2B for a long time, but it is amazing how many of the simple lessons have not been learned over the years. To get our list of the five biggest mistakes, I sat down with Bob Griffin, whose Griffin Integrated Communications has been doing B2B vertical market creative for more than 25 years. Ignore Bob’s advice at your peril.

No. 1: Ads are created last minute with no thought to longer term strategy. “It’s amazing how many folks come to us at the last minute, with a purely tactical request to get an ad out on a specific product on deadline, without any sense of a larger strategy,” Griffin says.

No. 2: Focus on product advertising and forget about the brand. “To create a truly effective and longer lasting program, you need to focus on both branding and product advertising,” Griffin says.

No. 3: Too quick a trigger finger: “Many folks are too quick to pull the plug on a new program if it doesn’t produce results in real time, Griffin says.  “The mistake is being reactive instead of proactive,” he says. “This shouldn’t be a spigot that you turn on and off.”

No. 4. Failure to integrate: “You need to integrate messaging into all available platforms: print, digital, social media, and PR.” This requires planning (See Mistake No. 1), but he says, “you’d be surprised with the number of companies just happy to put up a quick print ad with headline and a product shot and not consider a more robust multiplatform approach,” Griffin says.

No. 5. Failure to mix branding into product ads. A corollary to Mistake No. 2, Griffin says that product ads should also do branding as well. “You need to create and establish a brand image, and then integrate that into specific product advertising,” he says.

The New White Paper Strategy: Challenge Your Audience

By: Joe Braue –

For centuries (okay, it only seems that long) the major function of white papers was to drive thought leadership. Boiled down, white papers followed this framework:

  • Describe a business challenge.
  • Focus on what it means for your target audience.
  • Summarize the pros and cons of various possible solutions available to solve the challenge.
  • Describe your solution.

But the folks at the Corporate Executive Board (CEB), have done some impressive research of marketing and sales organizations and are suggesting a different solution (Check out their book, “The Challenger Sale”).

Instead of teaching something that customers could be doing with their business, the white paper should “unteach” something the customers are currently doing. Where traditional white papers focus on the benefits of the vendor’s solution, “challenger” white papers focus on the costs of current behavior.

You should watch this Xerox K-12 video case study that CEB posted on its website. In it, the Xerox K-12 education marketing team frets about low-priced printer competitors when its solution is 15 to 20 percent higher. Xerox’s strategy is to do research that shows how color printing advances learning. Then, they change the way they sell and market, leading not with a feature-benefit sell, but with discussion of how printers can improve learning.

Vertical Marketing Applications:

For you K-12 marketing practitioners, linking the benefits of your technology solutions to learning improvement  is a major objective and it needs to be part of all of your content marketing. You must first explain the learning benefit, then talk about the economic case and go on to talk about solutions.

While attendees at our Tech & Learning events constantly ask their vendors to provide specific data about how individual technologies improve learning, doing so can be a challenge. There are places to go for help: We here at NewBay can do research over our K-12 and higher ed audiences to find this data. And I believe that customer research plus clear anecdotes from your sales support engineers who are working with clients can do the trick.

There are three issues that I can see in implementing “challenger” white papers.

  • Can you and your customers handle the truth, to paraphrase Jack Nicholson “challenging” Tom Cruise in “A Few Good Men.” You run the risk of antagonizing potential customers or seeming unduly alarmist if you adopt too strong a tone. So some sort of “positive” challenge has got to be the goal.
  • How do you write a “Challenger” white paper? Well, you pretty much follow the thought-leadership framework described above, with one major difference. You need to keep in mind throughout the research process that you must find a crucial commercial insight, backed up by research or anecdotes from sales engineers that support the challenge. You may need to do special research to capture the data points. You definitely have to interview your best sales engineers to understand customer pain points and the price of not implementing your solution.
  • Finally, a “Challenger” white paper should be part of a bigger sales and marketing strategy at your company. Check out the CEB book for more info on that.

Got an example of a “Challenger” white paper? Please share with us jbraue@nbmedia.com.

 

 

 

The Right Content at the Right Time

By: Kristin Kovacich –

New technologies, platforms, social networks, products and companies pop up daily, creating new marketing challenges for businesses. Banner or print ads alone just aren’t cutting it. And today’s consumers aren’t settling with just being sold to, they want to be entertained, informed, etc.l.  To stand out in today’s market, companies need to create effective content and also be strategic about tailoring the content so that it connects with the consumer at the right stage of the sales relationship.

Stage 1 – Unaware

Build brand awareness by creating content that will provide value so that the consumer associates your brand with that value.  Establishing yourself as an expert without explicitly selling to the consumer lays a foundation of trust that encourages them to find out more about your company.

Types of content: Native advertising in a publication, social media updates, creating something that will be shared socially (inforgraphic or lists), white paper

Stage 2 – Interested

Ok, you have their attention. What else you got? You need to show them that you  are the expert in what they are interested in or that you know what their problem is and you’ve got the solution. A related but alternative approach is to upend an existing belief or teach them something new. Teaching customers something new about their business readies them to appreciate the unique value of your solutions.

Types of content: Webinar, video product spotlight, email campaign, white paper

Stage 3 – Considering  

The customer acknowledges you as an expert and has their eye on your product as a potential purchase. This is where you need to communicate the benefit of your product over your competition. What makes you stand out? This is your time to shine. Identify your benefits and prove your value with qualitative and quantitative evidence. Be sure to not only explain the future gains of utilizing your product but how it will alleviate current pain points.

Types of content: Case studies, customer video spotlights

Stage 4 – First Time Customer

Nice work, they bought your product. Now it’s time to show them they made the right decision and  you’re in it for the long run. You want to be the first thing they think about when they think about your industry and the only one they trust to help them meet their needs. Establish yourself as a thought leader by delivering more value-adding content and expert advice that can help them stay informed.

Types of content: Webinars, product and service reviews, infographics, thought leadership Videos, research studies

Stage 5 – Return Customer

You’ve nailed the first four steps and now the customer is engaging regularly with your brand. They trust you and your product so this is your chance to turn your customer into willing brand ambassadors by delivering content so valuable they can’t help but share it.

Types of content: social media updates and shares, microsites, webinars, product and service reviews, email campaigns, videos, case studies, slideshares, events