B2B Marketing: Expectations vs Reality

B2B Marketing: Expectations vs Reality

The new year has begun, and most of us probably have a list of things we’re going to do better now that a fresh new year is underway. That said… B2B marketers know that there’s no such thing as a fool-proof plan, and sometimes expectations aren’t quite reality. Much like the amazing cakes and crafts on Pinterest that are somehow not quite right when you try it in real life, here are some marketing moments where things don’t quite live up to expectations:

Emailing Our Lists

Marketers when we’re drafting emails to a new list of prospects:

Marketers when we’re sending those emails to a new list of prospects:

Marketing on Social Media

What we think it’s going to be like when we start a new social media account:

Versus what it’s actually like:

Creating Content

Making great content always seems simple… at first:

Until draft #3:

What are some of your marketing ups and downs? Let us know in the comments!

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Choose better

Choose better

More honest, more caring, more generous.

It’s all a choice, isn’t it?

We can choose to dream better, connect better and contribute better.

Sometimes, in the rush for more, we get confused about what better means, and how attainable it is.

If you are lucky enough to be with family today, I hope you’ll get a chance to use our beloved Thanksgiving Reader around your table. It’s a free PDF that you can print out and use for group readings.

       

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Why Storytelling Should Be Part of Your Marketing Strategy

Why Storytelling Should Be Part of Your Marketing Strategy

Storytelling. It’s been a buzzword in marketing for the past 5 years, and while it would be easy to dismiss it along with all the other buzzwords that are either fads or trends, B2B marketers shouldn’t. One of the greatest assets a marketer has is their story. Companies have them, too. Pardot didn’t end up where we are here in 2016 without making plans and executing those plans, without our great people, and without leadership. Pardot has a story. Your company has a story. You have a story, and that story is your “story equity”, meaning it’s the value you bring to the table everyday. It started before your first day, and hasn’t ended yet – it’s still being written everyday.

Why Your Brand’s Story Matters

Your personal, professional and company story answers the what, why, and how. It tells your clients and prospects exactly who you are, and what you do. It highlights your unique value proposition. Only you and your business have travelled THAT particular path that’s taken you to where you are today. The Salesforce story (which is documented in the book “Behind The Cloud”) helps frame who we are as a company, from how and why we donate our time to nonprofits, to how we help each other along our individual career journeys. Most companies are born out of a question, or a need, or something that just didn’t exist in the marketplace, and this is your chance to show off the reason you do what you do.

Storytelling Connects You with Your Customers

How do you show clients and prospects how you’re going to help them succeed? Tell them your story. Show them how you can help them grow their business the way that you grew yours. It’s important to connect who you are with the business of your customers. Send emails to mark occasions that are important to your customers – like holidays and their birthdays. Take a little time to send these personalized but not salesy little notes to show them that you care. Use what you’ve learned about them during the buying process to make it genuinely personal. That’s important because as you lead them through the buying cycle, they go from being a casual follower or observer in the marketplace to an active participant IN your story. At the end of that, you’ll both grow. When you really get down to it, your story is everything. It’s the people and the process and the values that your company cherishes that make you stand out from the crowd.

Making Your Brand’s Story Part of Your Strategy

As customer experience becomes more and more important as a differentiating factor, the stories you can tell your clients and prospects need to take center stage, because they’re what sets you and your brand apart. You can share your stories through social media, tweeting pictures of your team, or creating Facebook posts to mark major internal milestones. Or you can share through your content, highlighting your appreciation for your customers, and sharing how your business came to be what it is. Telling your story should become a key part of your overall content strategy, because remember, people don’t buy from brands or companies, they buy from people, and your company’s story isn’t about a brand or a company, it’s about the people who helped create it and helped innovate and make it better every day.

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What's at the bottom of the river?

What's at the bottom of the river?

I have no idea if the bottom of the Hudson River is smooth or not. I know that on a calm day, the surface is like glass.

One reason to lower the water level of a system you count on is to see what’s messing things up. You can discover what happens when you operate without slack, without a surplus… you want to know what’s likely to get in the way…

This is the essence of Toyota’s quality breakthrough. When Toyota got rid of all the extra car parts held in reserve on the assembly line, every single one of them had to be perfect. If a nut or bolt didn’t fit, the entire line stopped. No cars got made until the part was perfect.

This seems insane. Why would you go through the pain of removing the (relatively) low cost buffer of some extra parts? The answer, it turns out, is that without a buffer, you’ve lowered the water level and you can see the rocks below. Without a buffer, every supplier had to dramatically up his game. Suddenly, the quality of parts went way up, which, of course, makes the assembly line go faster and every car ends up working better as well.

Fedex had to build a system far more efficient than the one they use at the Post Office. When you only have 12 hours to deliver a package, the rocks will kill you. Now, when they need to deliver something in three days, they’re still way better at it than the post office is. Fewer rocks.

The purpose of sprinting without slack isn’t that you will always be sprinting, always without extra resources or a net. No, the purpose is to show you where the rocks are, to discover the cruft you can clean out. Then, sure, go back and add some surplus and resilience.

       

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How ‘AIR’ Can Help You Put Out Your Social Media Fires

How ‘AIR’ Can Help You Put Out Your Social Media Fires

“Why does your product suck so bad? Have I mentioned I hate you?”, the tweet reads. Immediately, you go into red-alert mode, frantically leaping into action to handle the issue. You look at the history with the poster’s account, and can’t find anyone with that name, or any account with the company listed in their Twitter profile. It could be a tweet from a competitor. It could be a tweet from a disgruntled former customer. Or, it could be an actual customer with an actual problem. How you handle this type of interaction helps shape you to your audience and customers, so it’s imperative that you handle it correctly. I’m going to show you how ‘AIR’ can help you overcome these issues and turn them into positive experiences for all.

1. Assess The Issue

The first thing to do when you are targeted on social media by a tweet, a post you’re tagged in, or a direct message, is work out what the problem is. Are they simply complaining for complaining-sake? Are they bemoaning a feature or function you don’t have, or can’t do? Ask yourself: “is there something here I can fix, or is there a way I can help turn this issue into something positive?” Use empathy to put yourself in their shoes, and see if you can understand why they’re frustrated. If their reason isn’t something you can fix, or they’re just trolling you, let it go. Make note of the issue and account holder to pass on to any relevant departments. If there’s a way you can turn this experience into something positive for them, do due diligence.

A recent study showed that 35% of customers preferred using social media to handle service issues, compared to 16% who preferred calling into a brand’s 1-800 number.

2. Investigate The Problem

The second step – if you’ve identified that the issue is on your end – is to figure out the correct course of action to get the problem fixed. From there make sure to get all the relevant information from the customer having the problem. This can be done (and should be done) by taking the conversation offline, onto Facebook’s Messenger, Twitter’s Direct Messages, or even LinkedIn’s InMail. Make sure you get the customer’s name, company name or the account, the issue they’re having, and a phone number and email address for following up. You’ll need this info to pass on to your support team.

If it’s something you’re able to figure out, or in your research you’ve found a solution for the issue, share it with the customer. Check your own FAQs or Support sites to see if there’s something you can offer them.

3. Respond. Or Not.

The next thing you need to do is respond to the customer on the post they mentioned you in. There are a couple of rules of engagement that you should keep in mind. If the comments are coming from a customer or prospect, then the first step is to notify them that that your team is working on a solution or you are working to find out the answer to their problem or issue, and that you will update them when possible. Second, don’t over-promise, and don’t set unrealistic expectations. Third, even if they’re angry, your response should always caring, kind, and genuine.
If the comments are coming from a ‘troll’, or there is not a constructive value in responding or engaging, let it go. There’s no way you can win. If they are speaking about features, products, or services you don’t yet or can’t offer, respond to them thanking them for their feedback, and that you will pass it along to the appropriate team. (And then actually do that.)

Whatever response you give, make sure you keep the “corporate speak” to the minimum, responding as if they were sitting in front of you. People want to do business with people, especially when they’re not happy about something, and when you add the human element back in on social media as much as possible, it can make their responses and actions more understanding. I have noticed that when I respond to a message or tweet and add my name at the end, the interactions are more civil and the other party generally tones the anger down.

ALWAYS remember that whatever you respond with, or react with, can be screenshot and posted on the internet for all to see. Keep that in mind when you craft a response, share sensitive or future plans, etc.

Don’t forget to follow-up to make sure that the issue was resolved by the appropriate team, and that customer is satisfied with the results. This shows that you genuinely care about their issue, and are putting effort and energy into making sure they feel valued and important. I’ve found that it goes a long way. All companies and brands have issues in their products or services, it’s how they’re handled that shapes how you are perceived in the market. A great example of this is how UK supermarket Tesco handled this customer who had an issue with a cucumber he purchased. You can imagine that after this exchange, people viewed Tesco in a very positive light, even though it could have gone the other way very easily.

Lastly, always make sure you show (and tell) your customers that you value and appreciate them and their business, no matter what dollar amounts they add to the bottom line. If it caused a lot of inconvenience, send them something small to smooth things over. It can be anything from swag, to product, to a one-time discount. You want to go above and beyond with kindness, because every customer matters, especially on social media. That’s why learning how to handle social media fires is so important. Remember, “Assess the Issue”, “Investigate the problem”, and “Respond, or Don’t.” Businesses (and people) are absolutely judged everyday by how they respond to issues on social media, and by following this AIR protocol, you can start providing a better customer service experience.

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