Make them come to you

Although nobody likes to be sold to, people still like to buy. Even if your customers need your product, they can still be put off by an overt sales effort. As soon as they feel like they’re being sold to, their resistance goes up. This is why the content marketing revolution is so powerful….. it bring customers directly to you. Smart companies have learned that the most effective marketing doesn’t involve hammering your prospects with your sales message. Smart companies have learnt to pull instead of push. They have learnt to find (or create) effective channels to get their messages across, like their website, their newsletters, social media like LinkedIn. By creating quality content that engages your customers, you demonstrate your expertise and draw people to you. People respond to quality information that genuinely helps them do their jobs better, tells them something they don’t [...]

Tear down all this talk of “paywalls”

Have you heard? Amazon has a paywall around its books, you have to pay to get them! ITunes has a paywall around its songs, you have to pay to get them! Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it’? So why call it a ‘paywall’ when you’re a publisher The answer is, you shouldn’t. It’s not a wall, it’s putting a price on valuable content. Too many publishers still seem to be confused about the different roles their content can play and what they get out of them. The concept of charging for content being a ‘pay wall’ is indicative of this confusion. Let me be clear, free content is a very powerful tool for publishers, and I’m not suggesting that publishers stop offering it. Publishers have a great advantage in the new age of content marketing, in that content is their speciality and they have huge volumes of [...]

Made to measure or off the shelf?

Many companies I talk to are expanding beyond traditional advertising to focus more on custom marketing - improving their websites, creating a social media presence etc. This is a great idea, if you actually do it. But it’s not as easy or cheap as it looks to do properly. I was talking to a company who was shifting their strategy to ‘thought leadership on LinkedIn’, which they decided to do in-house. Great idea I thought and I started following them that day to see what they were doing. A few months later, they shared a batch of 3 or 4 press releases in the one day. Six months on from that, they hadn’t done anything else. Yes, doing your own customised content marketing, social media etc is a great idea and one that we strongly encourage, but to do it well takes a lot of [...]

The why and the how of the content revolution

Have you read enough articles about content yet? While everyone is talking about it, not everyone necessarily understands it, so I’m going to explain the content revolution as I see it. If you’re a sophisticated content marketer, then you’re probably not going to gain much from this (but feel free to keep reading and tell me in the comments where I’ve got it wrong!), but if you’re someone who feels they should be doing more with content but isn’t sure where to start, I hope this will help. The web has lowered the barriers to entry in publishing to zero. It is now incredibly easy to get a message out there and to target it to whoever you want. This means every company can be a publisher, and every company should be a publisher. In 2014, major Australian bank ANZ launched BlueNotes, a major investment [...]

Seven common myths and misconceptions for b2b websites

We’ve been working with some fairly small companies to upgrade their web presence and have come across a lot of common myths about web design. Sometimes the views expressed were true a few years ago, other times it’s based on misinformation put about by less scrupulous operators, and sometimes people have ideas that are just plain wacky! It’s time to bust a few myths. Myth 1: You shouldn’t have too much content on your website. What they say: I don’t want too much info on there, I don’t want to overwhelm people. Reality: No-one is sitting there going through your website page by page, feeling overwhelmed. It’s more likely they’ll google some info and come in through one of your content pages to get the answer they need. Having all the relevant and quality info you can get onto your site is the best way [...]

What’s the point of social? It’s social!

When I talk to a lot of smaller and trade companies, they are keen to make better use of social media, but often underestimate the purpose and value of social media and still want to use it as an alternative channel to just continue marketing at people. The single defining feature of social media is that communication is not centrally controlled but instead grows out of user interactions and conversations. This means that if you just blast out sales messages to your followers, you’re doing it wrong. But if you share some content that your customers find interesting, they might comment on it, or like it or even share it. Now you’re getting social engagement, suddenly your customers are passing on your content to their connections, and you are getting a powerful third-party endorsement. To make the most of your social presence: Think about your [...]

Getting smarter with keyword content

In our obsessive drive to maximise SEO, too often I see companies become fixated on their performance for a couple of keywords and in doing so miss the forest for the trees. Last time I checked, the ultimate goal of SEO, like all marketing, is to increase sales. There needs to be a stronger focus on capturing and converting qualified browsers, not just topping the search results. In technical and trade industries, buyers will often conduct extensive research online before making a buying decision. They will seek useful technical information, case studies and independent endorsements. If your site doesn’t offer this info, then your top search result will get you a quick visit and an even quicker exit. Instead, give a bit of thought to which of your customer problems your products actually solve, and what information your customers might be searching for when they [...]

Content: it’s not all about you!

“We need a LinkedIn company page, we need a facebook page, we need an email newsletter, let’s make a LinkedIn Group!” But what are you going to put there? I’ve seen too many companies set up new social and digital channels then just fill them with sales pitches and internal news. To truly engage your customers, you need to create useful and compelling content, and it doesn’t need to be all about you. If you establish a LinkedIn Group just based around your brand, you are going to attract existing customers and people who are already engaged with your brand – not new customers. If you fill your blog or email newsletter with company news, you will get the attention of a small number of customers and employees who are already very interested in what your company is doing. But there are much smarter ways [...]

Now you’ve got them, what are going to do with them?

I posted recently about the pitfalls of attracting traffic to your site with bad SEO then disappointing them once they get there. But even when you impress with your genuine and quality content, if you’re not the sort of business selling products off your website then it’s not enough to simply get them there. Many B2B companies sell high value, long lead time items that customers don’t simply buy straight away, or they may sell solutions that customers only need at certain times. So even if you can attract them to your site, you still need to go a step or two further to result in a sale. The next step is to capture their details, which can be done via a sign-up form. But you need to give them a reason to do so. Offering an email newsletter or whitepaper can be a great [...]

SEO: a means to an end, not the end itself

Like any new industry, SEO has quickly attracted its share of charlatans and dodgy salesmen. Before proceeding with an SEO consultant, it’s probably wise to ask them about their history and experience; if they’ve previously been involved selling solar panels, and before that double glazing, it’s probably best to keep looking! Whether it’s a consequence or a cause – this means that it is an area rife with misinformation and misunderstandings, and perhaps one of the biggest misunderstandings you can come across is the belief that SEO is the ultimate goal, i.e. get the top search spot and you’re done. Taking it back a step, for most businesses, their end goal is going to be maximising profit. To do this, businesses need to sell their products or services (with a good margin). With this is mind, for most businesses, SEO should be aimed at making [...]