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How SAP Engaged Its Best Customers to the Close of $27 Million

October 28th, 2016
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What do you do when optimizing customer engagement means transforming the way an entire organization thinks and functions?

Making a transformational shift in any company is a huge undertaking of thousands of details. In the midst of all of those details, you absolutely cannot forget to ensure that everyone, company-wide, is on the same page and focused on a unified value proposition.

When I spoke with Eric Martin, Vice President of Marketing, North America, SAP, the company had just undergone a transformation to account-based marketing, specifically in North America.

“It was a matter of bringing together a lot of existing marketing resources, and creating some new ones, and focusing them on a sub-segment of customers, a small group, that really you could consider the most strategically important customers,” he said.

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Startups 101: How and why a green retailer chose to bootstrap instead of accepting venture capital

August 26th, 2016
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If you’re an entrepreneur running a startup and begin to find some success, you will likely face a crossroads:

  • Should I bootstrap, funding the business myself with personal savings and/or ongoing revenue?
  • Should I procure funding and give away ownership interests to a venture capitalist or private equity firm?

To help you make this decision, we interviewed Brian Fricano, Founder/CEO, Sustainable Supply. He is an entrepreneur who has weighed the pros and cons of each option and made this decision for his own startup.

Brian and his wife launched Sustainable Supply seven years ago as a business with a social mission. “The core of what we were trying to do was sell products for commercial buildings that save water and save energy,” Brian said.

Profitable from day one

They started the business without any outside funding, according to Brian.

“Bootstrapping has forced us to be profitable from day one,” Brian said.

Without a cushion of outside funding, the company had to be creative, and launched with a “drop shipping” model, in which products are shipped directly to customers after they purchase and not to a retailer’s warehouse.

“We signed up dozens of suppliers that were willing to drop ship on our behalf, so we were able to become a virtual distributor, never taking possession of inventory,” he said.

Not only did the drop shipping model allow Sustainable Supply to start operations without the need to invest in inventory, it also tied into its social mission by reducing the carbon footprint and pollution generated from shipping products twice (first to the retailer, and then to the customer).

Success brings offers of capital

Sustainable Supply was successful, and was named the fifth-fastest growing retailer on the Inc. 500 list of America’s fastest-growing companies. This attracted the attention of venture capitalists interested in investing in high-growth startups.

This decision has worked for his company for two reasons. First, Brian would have diluted his ownership if he accepted the investment.

“Our growth after that has [grown four times over] since we made the Inc. 500 list. Had we brought on investors, we would have given away too much too early in the process,” Brian said.

Sticking to its social mission

In addition, his company has a social mission. Its tagline is “Build. Work. Green.” While there are a few exceptions, most venture capitalists are focused on growth and profitability, and less concerned with a social mission.

“Each venture capitalist has its own specialty, not a lot are specialized in sustainability…there’s not a lot out there that have a social component to them,” Brian said.

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Watch more interviews from the MarketingSherpa Media Center at IRCE 2016

How a B2B Tech Company generated 650% ROI with a Retro-Cool direct mail campaign

August 12th, 2016
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“We have a pretty small market at Intronis, it’s manage service providers, mainly in North America,” said Richard Delahaye, Senior Director of Marketing, Intronis in his interview at the MarketingSherpa Media Center at Summit 2016.

He explained that the sales staff wasn’t able to get many conversations going from that group with traditional methods like phone calls and emails. They needed something special to differentiate them from all the other phone calls and emails their prospects were likely getting.

Inspiration came from an old school method: a direct mail campaign.

Delahaye and his team were told to think big, but also keep the customer in mind. So after one idea – which unsurprisingly never came to fruition – to give a car away with every purchase was vetoed, he decided to look for a tech gadget that would especially appeal to their customer base.

“I landed on possibly the oldest, but maybe the greatest tech gadget of all time. Which is, you can now get an Atari game console for about 30 bucks, so that became the core piece of the campaign,” he said.

Customers would receive a box with the Atari, with a note on top that encourages them to “open up for some office fun, courtesy of Intronis … unfortunately, not all technology is this retro-cool. You need to upgrade your cloud service storage.”

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Content Marketing Generated a 5,100% ROI for Health Care Innovator Optum

July 27th, 2016
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The promise of content marketing is that all that’s needed to provide value is creating high-quality material that gets noticed. The material then does all the pre-selling for you so your company closes more deals with greater efficiency.

No need for cold calls, pushy sales tactics, or throwing money at direct mail.

But the question since the beginning has always been, “does it ROI?”

According to Karen Thomas-Smith, VP Provider Marketing and Reference Management at healthcare giant Optum, it absolutely does. She led a team in a pilot program at Optum that completely turned the company’s traditional campaign-based strategy on its head.

“We literally flipped all the roles on their side,” she said.

“We don’t even want to talk about campaigns. We want to first look at a list of all the content, all the topics we need to be talking about, then build a campaign.”

It worked. Swimmingly.

Thomas-Smith’s strategy generated $51 for every $1 spent on her pilot program, alongside the following results:

  • 12 million impressions
  • 10,000+ downloads of gated content
  • $120+ million in sale pipeline

Watch the video to see the full strategy below:

Time Stamps:

1:00 – Quick look at the preliminary results

2:20 – Background on Optum

3:16 – Evaluating the team based on a marketing maturity model

6:00 – Why content marketing is important

8:15 – Aligning the organization around content

12:32 – Building customer personas

17:36 – Creating a content strategy

20:36 – How Optum takes care of their client champions (for content)

22:25 – Creating compelling content

25:45 – How Optum maximizes its content production with content nuggets

28:00 – The overall content machine and how it works

31:25 – How marketing works with sales in Optum’s model

33:43 – Optum’s four lead nurturing phases

37:45 – Optum’s results to-date

38:19 – Thomas-Smith’s top takeaways

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Content Marketing: Healthcare B2B generates 9 million impressions through multi-channel effort

Content Marketing: How an energy data company’s content strategy increased leads by 733%

Red Bull Media House’s Advice for Successful Content Marketing

Content Marketing: Targeted persona strategy lifts sales leads 124%

MarketingSherpa Summit 2017 | Aria, Las Vegas | April 10-13

How maurices Increased ROI by the Strategic Use of Omni-channel Marketing

May 27th, 2016
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“The real challenge is that the path to purchase isn’t just a single step anymore,” said Ali Wing, Chief Marketing Officer, maurices.

The clothing retailer has addressed this in two ways, Ali said.

  • Putting in place attributions in order to organize which channels receive credit
  • Transitioning analysis of those attributions from a transactional approach to that which includes well-rounded customer data

“We’re attaching customer data so we get a long-term value in understanding the customer we’ve acquired, versus the transaction we just acquired,” said Eric Bibelnieks, Vice President of Enterprise Analytics, maurices.

 

Many marketers struggle in a transition of this nature with understanding which data points are important when it comes to understanding your customers, and Ali has a specific approach that helps her and her team.

“I don’t care as much about absolute precision in any one of the channels. I care about a criterion that I consistently apply and then watch for patterns, because patterns tell us more than the nominal amounts in any one of the channels right now,” she said.

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From 0 to 233,000 Members: 7 steps to running an effective LinkedIn group

March 4th, 2016
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LinkedIn groups are one of the many helpful aspects of the professional community available on the platform. It can help you to build connections, get questions answered, share your expertise and demonstrate thought leadership.

With this in mind, I started the B2B Lead Roundtable Group to be a community for people to learn and discuss the many facets of B2B lead generation. However, over time, I noticed that our group discussions started to look more like Twitter feed. Discussions became overrun with blogs, articles and other content sharing and hyperlinks but there was no discussion happening.

B2B Lead Blog Conversations

 

It was time for a change. As I was researching I came across Eric Blumthal and his group “Sales / Marketing Executives Forum” which boasts over 233,974 members and was voted “Best LinkedIn Group for Sales / Marketing Executives” by several publications. And this group is 100% discussion, no link sharing.

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Content Strategy Versus Content Volume: How HR tech company, WorkCompass, wrote less content, but increased leads by 300%

January 29th, 2016
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Content marketing is a lot of work. Any company doing content marketing has to also run a media business on the side of their regular business.

But what if you could do less writing and still increase your leads by 300%?

That’s exactly what Alan O’Rourke did at HR performance management software company, WorkCompass, with a small marketing team.

According to his blog post on Audience Stack, O’Rourke was having trouble getting his content marketing efforts to pay off.

I tried it for a few months but found I was just sending more content to the same people. More was not better. It was just more. Using basic inbound marketing our audience and reach was not growing.

So what he did instead was create an inbound marketing strategy that focused 70% of his team’s effort on promoting his content, and 30% of his team’s effort in actually creating the content.

The results were fantastic. In fact lead capture (my primary measurement of success) jumped by over 300%!

Fortunately, he mapped out his entire strategy in a nice infographic. He calls it the One Month Micro B2B Marketing Plan — although I’m sure most savvy ecommerce marketers out there will be able to apply the same principles to their own content marketing strategies.

Micro B2B Marketing and Promotion Plan - Audiencestack.com
The Micro B2B Marketing and Promotion Plan from AudienceStack.com

 

So what does this mean for your team?

It means you can at least test slowing down your editorial calendar to produce higher quality long form content to promote over and over again.

P.S. I found O’Rourke’s blog post and infographic from a post on Reddit, where he had promoted it. Now I’m writing about it here, giving him links and hopefully sending a significant amount of traffic his way. So he’s doing something right.

 

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B2B Marketing: Content strategy results in 50% of qualified leads being inbound [From MarketingSherpa]

Content Marketing 101: Tips on content strategy

Content Marketing: How an energy data company’s content strategy increased leads by 733% [From MarketingSherpa]

Inbound Marketing: Beef jerky company develops content strategy around brand character to increase social media fans 2,113% [From MarketingSherpa]

How to Engage in the B2B Sphere With Nostalgia

January 15th, 2016
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Having lighthearted fun with your customers is probably the most effective way to engage them with your services. Especially when you want to stand out in the B2B sphere.

At data protection company Intronis, a multi-channel campaign was launched around a dimensional mailer with an initial incentive of an Atari game console replicator.

Intronis sells to a very specific type of customer, IT service providers, who is “very busy, they have a lot going on. They have to run their business, they have to help their customers with their problems. So we were looking for a way that we could break through that noise,” Aaron Dun, CMO, Intronis, said.

Aaron’s team discovered that with their targets, traditional tactics like phone calls and email weren’t really getting through. After a challenge by their CEO to do a direct mail piece, they began thinking about what would resonate with customers.

“Our target audience … are, generally speaking, men between the ages of 30 and 50. So with that is insight. We started thinking around, ok what kind of thing can we send to them, that will really get them to engage with us and think about Intronis in a different way,” Aaron said.

 

The team, lead by Richard Delahaye, Director of Marketing, Intronis, began looking into what Intronis could send out that would be distinguishing.

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B2B External Communications: How IBM conveys the value of complex products, spotlights innovative employees and entrusts employees with social media

October 6th, 2015
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B2B companies often face a struggle with communications to the outside world. Regularly, products or technologies are shrouded in secrecy with an occasional blimp on social media.

At &THEN 2015, DMA’s annual event, Jon Iwata, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications, IBM, sat down with Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content, MarketingSherpa, to discuss how B2B companies can have a voice in a consumer world.

Simply, Jon talked about how to communicate brands and products, how to establish authority and credibility among employees and how employees can become company advocates on social media.

You can watch the full interview with Jon Iwata here:

 

How to communicate brand and products to the world

Although IBM is primarily a B2B company, for many it remains a household name in technology, innovation and computer science.

“Even though we are a B2B company, we want to be a company that is relevant to millions and millions of people,” Jon said. “You can call them consumers; you can call them future IBMers, future business decision makers, shareholders, neighbors.”

“We still want to be known; recognized; frankly, admired; and relevant to people,” Jon said. IBM is an early innovator in taking some of these complex B2B technologies and communicating them through more B2C means.

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Personalized Marketing: Choosing your targets wisely

May 22nd, 2015
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A recent MarketingSherpa B2B Newsletter case study, “Personalization Marketing: In-trial messages increased online registrations by 15% for a B2B SaaS,” covered Brainshark, a cloud-based B2B service for training, sales conversions and marketing. The case study examined how Brainshark pushed personalized messaging on users of a freemium product that offered a scaled down version of one of its main enterprise products.

These messages took the form of informational and educational tips about using the freemium products and promotions for other free Brainshark products, while offering to upgrade to the paid version.

The freemium product, myBrainshark, creates video presentations out of static data, such as presentation slide shows, spreadsheet data, PDFs and other written content. Although Brainshark targets business users director-level and above in sales training, enablement and operations, the freemium product attracted more than just attention from business users. Arthur Gehring, Vice President of Demand Generation, Brainshark, said educators were another main user base.

He explained, “It’s amazing how much kids today are using technology like this in the classroom. It’s really cool. A lot of high schools, elementary schools, use myBrainshark as a learning aid.”

Arthur continued, “Those people — we’re not as interested in trying to sell them an enterprise product.”

At the same time, for Brainshark’s actual target audience, Arthur said the team wanted to know more about those users and used analytics to see what they were looking for. He described it as, “[trying to] help them and hopefully provide more value to them.”

 

Making registration quick and painless

To register for myBrainshark, new users only have to provide a screen name and email and create a password. Arthur said the small number of form fields was to drive as many registrations as possible.

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