Collaboration, Marketing, Sales, Social Media

Powering Mass Collaboration with Salesforce Communities


salesforceportalsVcommunities

My firm works with our clients to deliver world-customer service and collaboration solutions on salesforce.com. Many of our clients cite interoperability with front-office systems (sales, marketing, customer support, and others) as a priority outcome of their collaboration initiatives. For those who are contemplating, or have already invested in the Salesforce platform,Salesforce Communities offers a powerful solution.

Driven by CEO Marc Benioff’s relentless vision for social business and mobile innovation on the platform, Salesforce Communities has evolved over the past few years from a simple chat application to a robust collaboration platform, fully mobile responsive. These changes have transformed Salesforce into a recognized leader in enterprise social collaboration with some distinct advantages in certain areas:

100% Data Driven: Salesforce is always in sync and interoperable with production data on accounts, contacts, opportunities, campaigns, and more – right out of the box, with no need for a traditional data integration effort.

“Lead with Mobile” Philosophy: Salesforce has extended the full functionality of the Salesforce platform, enabling you to automatically leverage your knowledge workers in the field to dramatically increase the freshness and accuracy of data. This built-in mobility also allows you to spend more of your implementation effort on functionality and outcomes vs. development of a “mobile version” of your social applications.

Mass Collaboration on “One Version of the Truth”: You can include customers, employees, and partners directly and securely into your front office processes on one, central database. Having this system of record dramatically improves data leveraged in the user experience. The various components of Salesforce Communities – such as Chatter, Chatter Answers, Knowledge, Cases and even Visual Workflow all leverage a consistent data set within your community.

Connect and Extend: When the need arises to integrate to core systems outside the front office, the Salesforce platform is among the most secure, and extensible on the market. The freedom to further enrich the customer/partner/employee experience by syndicating data from other enterprise systems is another way that Salesforce Communities can increase system-use efficiency and enterprise collaboration.

Measure to Manage: The Salesforce platform embeds powerful analytics to make fact-based decisions on the iterative evolution of your social business. You can share reports, and now Salesforce dashboards with Salesforce Communities users to measure and guide behaviors for community activation, adoption, and ongoing optimization.

Link to the Broader Public Conversation: Salesforce allows you to participate in the conversations that happen outside of your four walls as well, with social listening and outreach tools such as Exact Target Marketing Cloud and Radian6 Social listening and strategy are a core offering of 7Summits. We can now integrate these enabling technologies to complement your Salesforce system for real-time open social feedback on your collaboration efforts.

Mass collaboration and social business solutions can be a powerful factor in driving your business outcomes and aligning your front-office operations.

If your enterprise technology playbook includes Salesforce, 7Summits can help you take those outcomes to the next level.  Feel free to contact me to continue the conversation: (Twitter) @tim_kocher

Marketing, Social Media

The Big Question on Social…Can It Move The Needle? (Spoiler Alert…YES)


The NeedleI’m often asked various forms of the question “What can ‘social business’ actually deliver in terms tangible benefits?”It’s a fair question, for a relatively new set of processes and tools for the vast majority of companies today, social collaboration can sometimes seem like alchemy.

One way to provide some answers is to quote statistics that have emerged from the industry as it matures. For example,McKinsey estimates that through added value and productivity, social could add $1.3 trillion to the economy.

But perhaps a more valuable (or at least more tangible) insights can be gained by real-world examples of organizations that are doing it right. One solid example is a client of my firm, 7Summits, who was entered for a 2014 Forrester Groundswell Award, Penn Foster. Penn Foster is the nation’s leader in distance education, offering more than 105 accredited and career-focused degree, diploma and certificate programs. The school is also a Training Partner to over 1,000 corporations and 400 schools and institutions, and has over 25,000 graduates each year. For a full description of their recent initiative and it’s impact, please see this post on the 7Summits Blog.

Here is how Penn Foster answers the big question:

  • 200% increase in user adoption
  • Over 60,000 registered users within the first year of adoption
  • 30% reduction in email interactions for 2013
  • Cost per interaction has improved by 45%
  • Increased engagement with students and unprecedented access to personal insights that help tailor communication

That’s the sound of the needle moving!

Sales

In Customer Relationships, Stasis is a Myth


ImageStasis (n.) from Greek στάσις “a standing still” may refer to:  A state of stability, in which all forces are equal and opposing, therefore they cancel each other out .

Stasis in your customer relationships is a myth.

Consider these situations in your life.

Personal relationships are either improving or declining. There is no stasis.  It’s true with siblings, spouses, friends, bosses, and on and on.

Physical fitness – either you are putting the time in at the gym or outdoors and you are getting more fit, or your are not and you are growing less fit.  It is hard to find an equilibrium.

It is also true for the seller and the customer. You are either getting closer to your buyers in an account or falling further away.  There is no such thing as “everything is fine.”

The number one challenge on corporations’ minds today is customer intimacy.  So what are you doing about it? The good new is that there are more choices and tools to leverage than ever before to help you go from stasis to proactive customer engagement. But, you have to be in it to win it.

Here are just a few examples of approaches to being more proactive on customer engagement:

  • CRM and Customer Service Platforms – Manage the customer relationship in 360 degrees
  • Social Media  – Access more opinions publicly than ever before – but only if you tune in
  • Portals/Communities – Transform customer service into customer collaboration 
  • Mobility – Interact with your customers where, when and how they choose
  • Web meetings / Video conferencing – Warm up  typical conference calls with visual queues
  • Face to face meetings – The no-substitute preference for establishing rapport and consensus

The bottom line…as outlined in a recent Forbes article, “The Future Of Marketing: A Little Less Campaign And A Little More ActionCompanies are shifting from “awareness and acquisition” towards the “customer experience and retention.”  They are asking, ”How can we better serve and support the customers we have?” and they are taking concrete steps to get it done.

Don’t imagine “everything is fine” with that customer – Or it may be your competitor who teaches you that stasis is a myth.

Marketing, Sales, Social Media

The Value of “The Human Interface”


face to faceIt’s an unfortunate paradox, but one that is harder and harder to ignore.  The more energy we all pour into our computers, social media, and mobile interfaces, the less time we spend on our person-to-person, human interface.  There are many articles highlighting this dynamic – that social media is ironically making us less social human beings. A great Facebook-focused article on this topic can be found here in The Atlantic.

But you don’t need to do comprehensive research for this information, the anecdotal evidence is all around us – kids texting from across a school bus aisle, adults arguing via Facebook posts, even teens impersonating other teens using “text spoofing” and other electronic interfaces.

The Workplace version of this story took on a new reality last week.  Here is what happened, according to Tech Crunch:

While at a Python programming conference, a developer who used to work for a company called Playhaven apparently made a joke about “big” dongles and “forking someone’s repo.”

Adria Richards, a developer evangelist sitting in front of them, called them out on Twitter and in a blog post for making the conference environment unwelcoming toward women

A huge, nasty online exchange erupted on the social media universe, and ultimately, both the programmer and Adria lost their jobs.  Very serious.  Very sad.

What if instead Adria had simply turned around and told the programmer that she found his comments offensive?  It’s easy to imagine that with face-to-face communication, this conflict could have been resolved much more effectively.

So, what does this have to do with sales and marketing?  A lot, I think.

I believe that we as Sales and Marketing Professionals have also lost some practice with direct human communication.  We use voicemail, email, text, and even social media to carry out much of the communication that was once almost exclusively face-to-face with our customers.  Have there been efficiency improvements, absolutely.  But, I can’t help but wonder how much more effective some of our critical conversations would be if we delivered them on the human interface.

Uncategorized

“Engagement-To-Cash”


A Holistic Solution for Meaningful and Profitable Customer Relationships

Falling short of customer expectations can be fatal.  Once iconic businesses like Polaroid, Yellow Pages, Border’s, Circuit City, Pontiac, and Blockbuster have ceased to exist.  There are no doubt widely varying factors that contributed to their ultimate disappearance.  But some may have fallen prey to what digital analyst, sociologist, and futurist Brian Solis calls “Digital Darwinism” in his book The End Of Business As Usual.  How well did these companies keep pace with customer relationship expectations?

At my firm, EDL Consulting, we take a unique point-of-view on customer relationships that we call “Engagement-to-Cash.” It’s a process that allows businesses to turn the liability of disjointed customer relationships into integrated, holistic customer interactions.

E2C

Engagement-to-Cash is deliberately represented as a cyclical process as opposed to a linear one.   Each phase is interdependent, and if managed properly, the cycle will renew based on your customers’ willingness to repeat it.  Your customers will grow your business over time if they continue to derive value from their relationship with you.

EDL Consulting was founded in 2001 with a perspective that businesses operate more efficiently and effectively when marketing, sales, commerce, and customer service functions (the “front office” or “customer facing” functions) work together holistically.

The Internet, the acceptance of cloud computing, as well as mobile, social, and real-time communications have radically accelerated the transformation of what is possible and what is necessary for Engagement-to-Cash. The rules of the customer relationship have changed profoundly.  If you are still managing these core business functions as you did even 3-4 years ago, you are behind the curve.

Taking this holistic point of view enables our clients to maximize performance by increasing engagement and customer satisfaction, increasing revenues and customer lifetime value, and trimming customer acquisition and retention costs across multiple disciplines.

There are several key enablers of these results:

  • Cloud Computing – Businesses can now pivot with more agility than ever before with flexible and scalable IT infrastructures and applications, no longer tied to the “digital concrete” of heavy, on-premise systems.
  • Social Media – There is more meaningful customer information and interaction for businesses to leverage than ever before. By joining social conversations, companies can engage customers with meaningful, value-add content.
  • A Unified Customer Database – The holistic Engagement-to-Cash cycle represents technology as well as process. A world-class, integrated Force.com framework is delivering on the CRM promise of “one version of the truth.”

Viewing the front office in this way frustrates traditional point solution technology vendors, whose products typically apply to a distinct piece of the total solution such as marketing automation, social media, eCommerce, or customer service, and whose products therefore fail to address the inherent interdependencies of a holistic business cycle.

There are two flaws with a point-solution approach.

The Silo Effect
: For example, an eCommerce solution may include a powerful new system, but because the vendor focuses only on the eCommerce component, the new system will most likely involve a disparate customer database than exists within the enterprise CRM system, bringing the implied added costs of maintaining, developing, and integrating two source systems.

The Hammer Looking for a Nail
: This is a fundamental distinction between Engagement-to-Cash and traditional point solution philosophies. The holistic approach is not limited to a one-size-fits-all answer.  It ensures that you bring forward what you need, not what they have.

In sharp contrast, through our strategic alignment with salesforce.com and BigMachines, EDL Consulting has found technology partners that complement our Engagement-to-Cash philosophy.  Salesforce and BigMachines provide a state of the art, cloud-based platform and flexible, software-as-a-service continuum along which our customers can begin where they prefer and then evolve as they prefer, moving in a modular fashion to optimize their Engagement-to-Cash cycle, regardless of where they start the journey and where they are headed.  Each of the phases of the Engagement-to-Cash cycle can be addressed by these technologies.

EDL organizes the Engagement to Cash process into eight distinct phases which are explained in greater detail below:

Engagement – Foster Customer Intimacy

Customers are talking about your company. The only question is, are you participating in the conversation?  EDL helps to ensure that you have the systems and processes in place to join in. EDL can enable your organization with best practices for planning and internalizing best practices in engagement through social media, as well as best-in-breed tools like Radian6 from salesforce.com to help you enhance customer engagement.  This engagement continues throughout the Engagement-to-Cash Cycle as a thread of each phase.

Demand Generation – Turn Targets Into Leads

There are a variety of channels you can use to communicate with your customers  – your website, social media, marketing, field sales, campaigns, events, etc.  How do you fill your funnel and turn targets into prospects and leads? EDL leverages the best in breed marketing functionality and campaign management of salesforce.com’s Sales Cloud to ensure you have a more focused and effective demand generation effort.

Lead Management – Creation to Qualification

It’s a question that keeps marketing and sales executives up at night – “Have we followed up on your leads?” EDL helps our customers put processes in place to close the loop from lead creation to qualification. How does your organization contact, qualify and promote leads to opportunities? This process helps create certainty that you’ve followed through on your important investment in leads by leveraging best practices in salesforce.com’s Sales Cloud lead management functionality.

Opportunity Management – Prioritize and Qualify

Now that you’ve created the opportunities, you’re trying to allocate your company’s finite resources to the most appropriate opportunities to maximize customer satisfaction and revenue. We help you to ensure you have the process and systems in place to effectively track and prioritize sales activity and qualification through the sales pipeline. EDL leverages salesforce.com’s Sales Cloud to enable measurement and proper management your pursuits.

Configuration – Fast and Accurate Pricing, and Quoting

The importance of getting quick, accurate estimates and proposals to your customers can be the difference between winning and losing business. EDL excels at implementation of both the basic product pricing in saleforce.com, and the more robust configuration, pricing, and quoting (CPQ) solutions of BigMachines, the best-in-breed software CPQ solution in the salesforce.com ecosystem.

eCommerce – Enterprise-class Cross-Channel eCommerce

EDL brings deep experience in resolving and simplifying the complexities of developing and maintaining effective eCommerce systems.

With over ten years of experience improving online tractions, we bring the domain expertise to address your eCommerce needs.

We have packaged all that knowledge in a best in breed product called CloudCraze developed natively on saleforce.com’s Force.com platform.

Order Management – Improve Operational Efficiencies

The order management process results in a faster path to improved operational efficiencies and higher customer satisfaction. Depending on your business model, there is/are? a myriad of ways to fulfill an order – download, shipping, integrate with your existing systems.  EDL can provide the integration experience to connect your eCommerce system with your back office systems.

Customer Service – Create Long-Term Customer Relationships

Your customer interaction will either lead to a “once and done” transaction, or a long-term relationship.  EDL can help enable your organization with the processes and tools to move to long-term relationships with repeat transactions. Each of your interactions is a precious opportunity to further customer engagement. Your customers are demanding more and better service. EDL can help you provide a more holistic experience across all channels‹from the contact center to customer social networks ­ by implementing saleforce.com’s Service Cloud. Continued follow up and nurturing of relationship helps guide the conversation from problem resolution to new sales opportunities.

Let’s Get Started…

Engagement-to-Cash is a fresh perspective, one that leverages decades of technology and business experience into a holistic solution approach, helping companies forge deeper and more successful customer relationships with systems that integrate cleanly among your customer relationship processes.

I would be delighted to discuss your business objectives for the coming year, the ways in which your organization currently handles the Engagement-to-Cash Cycle, the many benefits that our customers are realizing by changing the game – and you can too.

Contact Me:

Tim Kocher

tim.kocher@edlconsulting.com

Sales, Social Media

Time Travel…A Tale of Sales Tool Evolution!


The tools of the [sales] trade have changed remarkably since I began my career 20 years ago.  That fact struck me on a recent business trip to San Diego even harder than the strange weather (It was 30 degrees warmer in Chicago than Southern California – in March!).  On this trip, I got more work done during my flight than I could have done over the course of an entire week 20 years ago.  It was truly like time travel.

Yes, sales tools have changed…Actually, sales tools have been radically transformed over the past 20 years.  Only after the day had ended, when I was eating dinner and reflecting, did I piece together just how amazing the transformation has been.

Here is a summary of the tools that I leveraged.

First, the travel itself.  I booked my trip through Travelocity, managed my trip through Tripit on my iPhone, and boarded the plane (using my mobile boarding pass of course).  In the “old days” this would have called for me collaborating with a travel agent via phone while the agent looked up options on their private terminal.  Then, I would have received physical tickets in the mail, and checked in at the airport to receive physical boarding passes.

On to the research.  I began by  the exploring the backgrounds of the clients with whom I was to meet, literally gathering more information than a team of people could have done over several days in the 1990s.  I accessed bios on each attendee of my meetings via LinkedIn, then accessed breakdowns on their company via Data.com and Google Finance.  Finally, I Checked Radian6 and HootSuite for any social media postings by or about them or their company.

Then there was the preparation of meeting materials.  While in the air for the 4 hour flight (which used to be 4 dead hours) I worked on my PowerPoint presentation, connected to the in-flight wi-fi on American Airlines, collaborated with my co-workers via Skype to complete the presentation, then emailed it to my team at the destination.

Suddenly, Radian6, my social media listening tool flagged a newly published article about another key client of mine.  Before I landed in California, I had clipped that article, emailed it with a congratulatory note the my key contacts at this important client, and landed a meeting with their CEO, all of which was neatly and automatically tracked and summarized in my cloud-based CRM system, salesforce.com.

On the way to my meeting, I called up the mobile version of salesforce.com on my iphone, downloaded a map to the meeting place, called my contact, and logged a note to remind myself of our conversation.

Amazing.  Nothing short of stunning, really.

In one day, I had leveraged “sales 2.0” tools including:

  1. Wireless internet during a flight: Go-Go in-flight internet on American Airlines (converting 4 dormant hours to productive time)
  2. Cloud-based CRM: salesforce.com and integrated Outlook email
  3. Online intelligence:  Data.com, Google Finance
  4. Social media: Radian6, HootSuite, and LinkedIn
  5. Mobile solutions: salesforce.com mobile, Google Maps,

This is such a fundamental paradigm shift for someone who began in sales at a time when the fax machine was breaking its own paradigm of physical document delivery (Remember?…”It sends the contracts over the phone lines as data and then re-assembles them on the receiving machine!”).

So, before jumping into your next big day, take a moment to reflect and appreciate the progress we’ve made.

Of course, as a famous time traveler once said,”It’s always a big day tomorrow – I’ve got a time machine; I skip the little ones!” ~The Doctor

Sales

Selling Under the [Buying] Influence


There are as many models for “buyer roles” in the sales marketplace today as there are sales methodologies.  But as is often true with a tool that works (you’ll pry my Moleskine notebook from my cold, dead hands) I have my favorite model for buyer roles too – the “Buying Influences” of Robert B. Miller and  Stephen E. Heiman.

Miller-Heiman’s Strategic Selling was a ground-breaking sales methodology that like Neil Rackham’s S.P.I.N. Selling has influenced almost all thinking on the subject since it was introduced.  In the Strategic Selling methodology, a key tenant was thinking about selling through the eyes of the buyer broken down by role or “buying influence.”

The epiphany of this model included:

  1. “Selling” should really be looked at through the buyer’s eyes.  This was revolutionary and still remains a challenge in some organizations.
  2. The single-sale-to-single-buyer paradigm is no longer relevant.  Buying is done by a group, either in organized or loosely federated teams.  This is a truth to this day, arguably accelerated by the internet and social media providing the opportunity for buyers to be more educated than ever, and instilling a drive to have a voice in collaborative decision-making.
  3. These teams had various roles, and the roles could be grouped into common types with common business priorities:
    1. Economic: The one buyer with $ authority
    2. User: The person or people who will interact with the solution on a daily basis.
    3. Technical: the person or people who will need to deeply understand the solution or do the care and feeding.
    4. Coach: An active fan of your solution, who will help you sell it into their organization.
  4. The salesperson should incorporate this into the sales strategy.

If you’re still looking at selling from the inside out, and think you have one buyer per sale, it is a very valuable exercise to dust off your copy of this book (or get digital and download it to your Kindle) and do a gut check. 

You’ll be glad you took the time to sell under the influence!

Social Media

Making Dogfish Into Lemonade – Great Social Media Save by The Red Cross…


Think you can let your social media team tweet away and not monitor the mentions and results? 

Well, this week the American Red Cross, they learned a sobering lesson (pun intended) that you better be listening.  They were, and they recovered…

There was an accidental tweet of a personal nature launched over the American Red Cross Twitter account.  It referred to a staffer partying with friends drinking Dogfish brewery’s Midas Touch beer – and it lit up the Twittersphere.  Here is a link to the full story on the Huffington Post.  Better yet, jump into the Tweet Stream on this topic and get a load of all the traffic this thing drove: http://twitter.com/#!/RedCross

With some quick thinking and some quicker action, The Red Cross has turned this potentially embarrassing gaffe into a fundraiser.

This proves once again that if you can show that you are listening in social media, and that you are a part of the community, the community will reward you with the benefit of the doubt, and maybe even some donations.  You might even say the Red Cross has the Midas Touch!

Marketing, Social Media

The Four Stages of Getting Twitter


Have you been using Twitter?  Well, 190 million people have found some valuable reasons to.  Perhaps it’s time for you to check it out.  Once you do, don’t expect to become an expert or to fall in love right away.  It takes some getting used to.

Here’s an example: Aaron Lee, who is a great “Tweeter” on social media topics, “Re-Tweeted” (forwarded)   Jay Oatway‘s tweet about the info-graphic above in November.  It’s posted on pop-culture blog TopCultured and captures your learning curve better than anything I’ve found out there.  Without Twitter, I would never have known it existed.  He breaks it down into 4 Stages:

 Stage 1: You begin – “Crazy morons…”  and “…I tried it for a day, it’s stupid!” 
Stage 2: You will progress to being curious: “…I had a burger today.”
Stage 3: The light bulb comes on: “…I think, therefor I am.”
Stage 4: You are a full convert:  “Hey, @Tim_Kocher – Thx for re-tweeting!”

 Once you get there, you’ll find Twitter can be your most valuable source of targeted, real-time, and interactive information.  It’s like a cable TV channel that you build over time with the most relevant and up-to-date information that exists for you. 

So get started, you have a few stages to work through!

Marketing, Sales, Social Media

Your Client Is Like Santa Claus…


I could not resist looking through the red and white lens for this week’s post.  There are a lot of analogies to be drawn here.  I’ll skip the most obvious (we should all be thankful to our clients for the gift of business they give us…) and get to some of the other comparisons:

…He sees you when your sleepin’… You may think you’re getting away with it when you are dogging it at work in a sales role.  You may even pull one over on your boss.  But, your clients will notice.  In a world where product differentiation provides only the slimmest advantage, responsiveness and even proactivity remain your key strategic differentiators.  If you slow down, your clients will sense it. There is a great book on this concept called “Selling the Invisible,” by Harry Beckwith.  Read it.

..He knows when you’re awake
…If you are a solution-maker for your client, you will get their attention.  If not, you’re toast. You need to work on these relationships in earnest.  What have you done for your client that is truly different or better than anyone else?  What has your firm done to stand out as leaders in your industry? What are you doing to show that you’re awake?

He knows if you’ve been bad or good…It used to be that your customer would need to try your product/service and let you succeed or fail a few times before learning if you were bad or good.  What’s changed?  The internet and  Social media are the new norm.  You don’t go car shopping without knowing the VIN#, invoice price, and full specifications of the car your buying, and your client doesn’t buy from you without knowing your offerings as well or better than you know your own.  They now also know what your other customers think about you– BEFORE they even contact you.  Better be on your toes!

I hope your year is winding down to a successful end this week.  The next 10 days are a good time to reflect on 2010 and prepare for an even better 2011. 

…So be good for goodness sake!  Happy Holidays

Social Media

Social Monetization and Social Ubiquity


…That is Denise E. Zimmerman, president and chief strategy officer at NetPlus Marketing Inc. with one of the most eloquent synthesis I have heard bundling the important trends happening in social media today.

Many of us are processing social media’s evolution through the tools that we are using: blogs, twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. but seldom stepping back and viewing the forest for the trees.  It is a very valuable exercise.

Denise shares her vision of these “ubertrends” in her recent article published today in iMedia Connection, “Social media trends to watch for 2011.”  

Social Monetization, she says,  is the use of social apps that drive revenue and ROI.  Social Ubiquity is the proliferation and convergence of the social web.

These two ubertrends and the subtrends that comprise them are driving much of what we’re living through in social media today.

This article is a great read and frames some of the issues of the day (including privacy) in a larger context.  You should definitely give it a try.

Marketing, Social Media

What’s your Digital Lung Power?


It’s an interesting way to think about the effectiveness and reach of your presence online.  How loudly can you be heard ?  Are you just a whisper – not connected through anything but an stale, partly filled-out profile on LinkedIn?  Or, are you a force to be heard – connected not only through LinkedIn, but perhaps a blog, TwitterFacebook, and the many other outlets available  in your industry or areas of interest to richly share your thoughts online? 

Want to do a quick exam of your digital lungs?  Just type your name into www.google.com and see what comes back.  

Then you should take some steps to ensure the patient isn’t barely breathing.

Marketing, Sales, Social Media

Are You Content Marketing?


If you are marketing today and not doing so through organized publicity of your intellectual capital through Content Marketing, you’re missing the boat!

Before you jump in, there are a few things you need to know:

  1. It’s a LOT HARDER THAN YOU THINK!   This takes planning, organizational alignment, rigorous scheduling, and new processes to start,  and – most importantly –  discipline to maintain.
  2. It’s a LOT SIMPLER THAN YOU THINK!  The tools available to support your efforts in this area were simply inconceivable only a few years ago.  Now they enable you to do this complex job more efficiently and effectively.
  3. It’s about WILL POWER!  Focus and tenacity are the hurdles here.  If you have them, you can be winning with content marketing in very short order.

What are the benefits?  “Brand Stickiness,” “Google Juice,” – whatever you want to call it, will bring recognition>leads>business!

The graph displayed here is an image from an excellent research piece done by Roy Young of  Marketing Profs and Joe Pulizzi of  Junta 42 “(B2B Content Marketing, 2010 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends” [download here] that will give you an overview of the major components of a content marketing effort, along with some very useful statistics.

Some highlights:

  • Nine out of 10 B2B marketers are using content marketing to grow their businesses.
  • Enthusiasm for content marketing is high; however, marketers are still unsure about the effectiveness and impact
  • Content marketing deployment is high across industries, with no single industry reporting below 78% adoption
  • Web traffic is the most widely used success metric (56%) followed by direct sales (49%)
  • On average, B2B marketers allocate approximately 26% of their total budgets to content marketing initiatives
  • The largest challenge is “producing the kind of content that engages prospects and customers” (36% of respondents
  • Social media and article posting are the most popular tactics and are currently used by 79% and 78% of B2B marketers

Get this paper and digest it today!

Social Media

Jeff Bullas’ Top 5 Posts…


I’ve sung the praises of Jeff Bullas in past posts.  If you’re not following him on Twitter, it’s your loss.  Pound for pound, it’s the best social media direction I’ve found out there.

Here is an interesting post of his from this summer.  It is from his blog readers’ perspective.  The focus is what they have found “most newsworthy and topical in the last 90 days.” 

Summary:

  1. 30 Things You Should Not Share On Social Media
  2. The 7 Secrets to Ford’s Social Media Marketing Success
  3. 20 Things You Should Share On Social Media
  4. Twitter Reveals 11 New Facts on its Traffic and Usage
  5. How To Use Twitter For Business: 5 More Incredibly Interesting Case Studies

As usual, great stuff.  Thanks, Jeff!

Social Media

If We All Had These Core Values…


While reading another fantastic blog post by Jeff Bullas  (who if you don’t follow on Twitter you must – as he highlights and summarizes some of the most interesting concepts in social media marketing today)   I ran across this summary of the 10 core values driving the online shoe retailer Zappos.  Jeff’s focus was linking these values to  ways in which social media reinforces the culture and the success of Zappos, and it’s a great post. 

I’m still just processing this list (for the first time) on a simpler level.  I am simply struck at how different these values are from most of the generic, boring, homogenized core values in corporate America.   While reading them I asked myself (and urge you to do the same) how much better would my (or any) company be if we focused on these unique values?

Have a look and let me know your thoughts.  Here is a link and the list:  

  • Deliver WOW Through Service
  • Embrace and Drive Change
  • Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
  • Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
  • Pursue Growth and Learning
  • Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
  • Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
  • Do More With Less
  • Be Passionate and Determined
  • Be Humble
  • Marketing, Social Media

    Jet (Black and) Blue Pushes Back…


    Fresh from the front pages…

    Unless you’re dead or off the power grid, you may have heard the story of the flight attendant turned emergency-ramp-escapee Steven Slater, a huge PR fiasco for Jet Blue exploding all over the internet.

    But, as covered in a Fast Company article by David Zax this morning,  in a sign that major companies are learning to flex their new social media muscles to leverage perception in the marketplace and not just be ruled by it, Jet Blue responded in a simple blog entry that many are crediting for turning the tide on their perceived role in this mess. 

    Think of it – for virtually NO COST – and in a few pithy sentences, a major up-and-coming airline changed the prevailing winds of public perception fueled by a (albeit completely overblown) major news story.

    That’s an interesting power that did not exist even 24 months ago

    Please lower your tray tables, fasten your seatbelts, and prepare for takeoff…

    Marketing, Social Media

    Neuroeconomics – Social Networking “Feels” Like Falling in Love


    Fresh from the July issue of Fast Company comes this fascinating article that should make all marketers think when it comes to their use of social media in their marketing mix.   Citation: This post is a direct summary of Fast Company’s excellent article by Adam L. Penenberg (who’s other work you should check out immediately).

    Paul J. Zak, a.k.a “Dr. Love,” is a professor at Claremont Graduate University who popularized “neuroeconomics,” an emerging field that combines economics with biology, neuroscience, and psychology. 

    His angle? Some best-selling behavioral economists such as Dan Ariely (Predictably Irrational) and Steven D. Levitt (half of the Freakonomics duo) ponder how we make economic decisions.  Zak wants to figure out why we do what we do.                                    

     In a word – “Oxytocin.”

    “…Known for years as the hormone forging the unshakable bond between mothers and their babies, oxytocin is now, thanks largely to Zak, recognized as the human stimulant of empathy, generosity, trust, and more. It is, Zak says, the “social glue” that adheres families, communities, and societies, and as such, acts as an “economic lubricant” that enables us to engage in all sorts of transactions…”

     “…Your brain interpreted tweeting as if you were directly interacting with people you cared about or had empathy for,” Zak says. “E-connection is processed in the brain like an in-person connection…”

    “…In a world of social networks, then, this much seems clear: Companies that can connect with us and raise our oxytocin levels should prosper. Those that can’t, won’t…”

    Very interesting…

    Marketing, Social Media

    Social Media David v. Goliath…


    This is an excellent example of fighting a PR conflict using social media.  Who looks like the cool victim here and who looks like the big, cold corporation?  Method will even let YOU DECIDE!  Check out the microsite they stood up which includes the video above. 

    Talk about making lemonade from lemons – AND they simultaneously take on a giant competitor and reinforce their brand story!  Smart!