I’m largely concerned with B2B high tech marketing. That means that the sales cycle tends to be long, complex, and involve a number of decision makers. In the summertime – as you know – getting a group of people to agree on a major purchase is not an easy (possible?) thing. People are on vacation and just plain not available. So, what is the most useful thing for marketing folks to do in the summer?
The goal of my marketing efforts has always been to generate significant numbers of self identifying prospects. The sales cycle is driven by the customer’s need to solve a problem. (Unfortunately not by our need to sell stuff to stay in business. ) So really we continue to do what we’ve always done. We make sure that our products and company have visibility to the individuals with the problem(s) we solve. And whether they come across our hard work the day after it’s done or a year later, the work we’ve done has value.
These days problems prompt us to use a search engine to find a solution. “Trade rags,” as industry-specific magazines are called, are just not as important on paper as they once were (now they’re websites). That doesn’t mean they should be ignored! A good article placement now and then is still worthwhile (and lets you put links to it on your website… presumably on theirs as well). Reprints for handouts at tradeshows, etc. are all good reasons for placing articles. We all know an article has more credibility than a paid ad. Particularly if you have it written by someone outside your company. The best articles are written by happy customers and you can offer to help write such an article. Any happy professional will appreciate the publicity for themselves as well as for a product they happen to use and like.
This is not going to degenerate into musing about the best way to do SEO or some such. You can read that in a zillion other places. But you DO need to read about it and you do need to do it.
You need a website with constantly updated information. And a corporate blog is a good idea. If your CEO can do it, great. I recommend companies find a smart engineer with some sales support experience to do a bit of blogging. Encourage them to write about the types of questions they’re asked on sales support visits. And, yes, you have to remind engineers not to mention any customers or prospects by name or company unless that has already been cleared – blah blah blah. But you do need to explain that. You might even offer to look over the blog entry before it’s posted. A bit of editing never hurt anyone: spelling, grammar, terminology and so on. A consistant editorial voice is helpful to all your readers and that will likely come from the marketing and/or product management side of the organization.
Mind you, I love engineers (but that’s another story). And we all have our strengths and weaknesses. Clear, clean writing is a gift not often given to engineers. So a little appreciation of what value we each bring to the party is important on all sides.
So: articles, case studies, website updates, blog entries, traditional PR avenues, and you are using Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social tools that are popular with your customers – right? Anything that can be searched is a place for you to gain visibility. People search for the experience of others with the same problem(s). I’ve read that the largest number of online searches is done on health related topcs. And that figures. We search for information important to us. So when your prospect is looking for an answer, be sure they find you.
That’s it for today. Driver just delivered “veggie soil” for my raised garden beds. Got some exercise ahead of me!