Adopt a Lean Approach to Strategy

By creating an agile strategy, your company should be able to drive actionable insight and develop an informed plan. When executed effectively, a lean framework approach to strategy should focus on three interrelated steps. These steps will design an informed road map, which should achieve results quickly.

  1. Investigation 

Understanding the current marketplace trends will help to access the competitive landscape facing your organization. An understanding of customer personas and their engagement journey, as well as stakeholder and market interviews will prioritize key criteria of the value, which should be aligned with the objectives of the business.

  1. Formulation 

This involves exploration of the existing and future strategic plans while harnessing market trends, a customer experience audit, and a competitive analysis that identifies unconsidered opportunities.

  1. Activation 

The final step is to combine all initiatives that have passed the internal strategic audit and aligns with the overall business strategy and opportunities. These opportunities should then be evaluated through the value to your target audience and to your business. Ultimately, your organization must have the ability to execute the strategy effectively and consistently.

The prioritized opportunities with the highest value will form the basis for your lean activation plan. Lastly, your lean strategic plan should have a properly crafted business case, which includes a cost-benefit analysis, technological assessment, projected ROI, and a multi-phase road map for ongoing innovation.

Adopting lean principles for strategy ensures that complexity, rigidity, and friction are replaced with simplicity, adaptability, and speed. Accelerating market demands can only be combated through accelerated road-mapping developed through actionable insights and informed planning.

Traditional vs. Social Media Marketing

Technology has changed how people interact and influence each other. Marketing is no different. For marketing, it’s more than implementing the same old tactics, but about adopting and testing new tools. Marketing simply is the business of promoting and selling products or services. Traditional marketing focuses on promoting and selling products or service. It utilizes strategies such as direct sales, TV, radio, mail, print advertising (magazines, coupon books, billboards) and printed promotional materials (catalogs or brochures).

Traditional Marketing techniques have been tried and proven for years.  However, the over use and abuse of some methods could compromise your marketing campaign and its success.  Knowing when to use traditional Marketing techniques will determine the success or failure of your overall campaign. This is where measuring engagement and ROI comes in. While traditional marketing techniques still have a place in most marketing campaigns, the extent of how many and which techniques will depend on how well supported they are by modern marketing techniques. Remember, each dollar you spend should have a valuable return on investment (ROI).

Social Media Marketing is an important part of your marketing mix, but not the only one.

Historically, the best a company could do to retain a customer was to provide exceptional customer service. Luckily online and social media marketing have changed the game. Online or eMarketing can be an inexpensive, effective and measurable marketing tactic to drive customer traffic and improve your overall business. It is recommended that businesses follow the 80:20 rule when allocating funds between online:traditional marketing. Social media marketing is about recognizing that your existing customers are your best assets and allows you to influence customer behavior before and after the ‘sale’. Now you can engage your existing customers and remind them to return and support your brand.

 

It is important to note that social media marketing is not a replacement, but can be a critical tactic in your marketing mix. In fact, social media marketing works best when combined with other marketing tactics (e.g email) outline in your marketing strategy.

7 Benefits of B2B Social Media Marketing

To be competitive in the marketplace today your company needs an online strategy and presence. Social Media, if implemented correctly, can offer customers immediacy and can drive customer engagement, increase quality leads and result in higher ROI. B2B marketers need to realize that even top business leaders socialize with their family and friends online. While demographics still apply to social media, they are far less rigid. Generally speaking, everyone is using social media, using it for business, socializing, shopping, research and much more.

Below are the 7 B2B social media marketing benefits

1. Engagement

Be the B2B business that engages with people. If they get to know you, they may want to do business with you. You can achieve this by creating video demos, company news and customer stories. Building trust can help increase interest and, ultimately, engagement.

2. Interest

Social media provides lots of data that can give B2B companies insight into buyer personalities and motivations. Analytical tools, data and interest can help you target specific communities and create content that drives interest.

3. Traffic and Leads  

Creating and implementing high-quality strategy will allow you to create content that will attract leads. Consistent strategy should also drive traffic that converts leads into actionable sales. With the ability to segment audiences you should be able to extend your reach and your number of leads. 

4. Thought Leadership

This buzz word represents the ability to create B2B content that creates a positive impression on your potential (and existing) clients. Examples can include articles, webinars, documents, tools, etc., which demonstrates your credibility and expertise.  

5. Networking 

While social media interactions may not directly land your next client, it can build your network of valuable contacts. This online network may help expose you to new opportunities, attract a new employee or provide a quality referral.

6. Savings 

Every B2B company likes savings money, especially when it comes to marketing. Using the right tools, businesses can launch, measure and modify your social marketing campaigns immediately. Now compare this to your experience with expensive, traditional marketing. Analyzing data and results will help you gain feedback quickly allowing you to adjust your campaigns to make them more impactful.

7. Relevance 

As more companies embrace an active online presence and implement social media marketing your company needs to stay relevant. Failing to participate can make your company seem less credible and that you’re behind the times. Both companies and consumers research and measure brand profiles through their online visibility and activity. Don’t let your company become a brand that is irrelevant or out of touch.

Start your social media marketing today. For assistance, feel free to engage with me online.

Content Marketing 101

Local small and medium sized Canadian businesses need to have an active online marketing strategy. This means creating content and driving engagement online. Ultimately you have to beat your local competition. Content Marketing is an effective strategy that your company can use to reach your target audience and potential customers. It can also help you built a strong relationship with your prospects and ideally create raving fans and brand ambassadors. As content marketing become more popular, small and medium sized businesses must jump on board and utilize this effective local marketing tool.

Why? It builds trust, credibility and authority.

This is exactly what your target audience has ordered. The content you provide should be trustworthy and valuable, which will help you (hopefully), become a business with local credibility and authority. It will also increase your local search engine optimization (SEO). Increased local SEO can give you valuable return on investment (ROI), which can be achieved (and driven) by creating quality content. 

How? Use 3 common content marketing tactics:

1.     Blogs

Blogs are a great tool for your company to use to target your local prospects and connect with people. Losing that corporate tone and creating personable content can go a long way when building credibility. Many businesses have already realized this and are engaging their consumers through their blogs. Blogs can also promote sales, events, new product and/or services or anything that can help build your brand. 

 2.     Social Media

Social media platforms (and applications) are a very common tool used by businesses to publish content. According to Aimée Morrison, an associate professor at the University of Waterloo, “(Social Media) is becoming a mainstream part of how we get the business of life accomplished and you’re at a disadvantage increasingly if you don’t do it.”

A new report by the Media Technology Monitor suggests that 1/3 anglophone Canadians won’t let a single day go by without checking their social media feeds. Approximately 63% of social media users surveyed said that they read Facebook posts, tweets and/or LinkedIn updates every single day. You can also read the full report here

Social media is reaching a tipping point and plays a huge role in your online marketing and content strategies and is influencing business SEO as well.

3.     Videos

YouTube is a behemoth of a platform that companies need to embrace. Creating a brief online video is becoming easier and cheaper and all companies should jump on board, as videos are a great way to personalize your brand and provide engaging information and content. Even within a 2 minute video, business can provide invaluable information to viewers and help drive consumer engagement and ROI. 

Facebook Contests – Your 10 Tips to a Successful Contest

Who doesn’t like to win a contest? I’m pretty sure everyone likes to be a winner.

ImageWith a user base of 955 million monthly active users (June 2012), Facebook is the social platform where your contests can be very successful and provide ROI, if executed properly. Success with contests, just like any marketing efforts, it all depends on the planning and execution (consider 3 P’s: Planning, Prize and Promotion. Plan). Better yet, if you follow these 10 tips you will be right on track to running a successful Facebook contest.

1. Decide if you need a contest

This is always the best place to start when planning any marketing campaign. Evaluate your brand and market and the impact of an online contest. If you’re a B2B company that deals in a niche market, a Facebook contest might not help you gain a meaningful number of new clients. Granted it’s all about good execution and follow through.

2. Set contest goals

What do you want to achieve by running the contest? Do you want to increase brand exposure, launch a new product line, increase the number of likes for your page, build user engagement, gather user feedback or develop brand advocates? The bottom line: have specific goals and don’t run a contest just because you can.

3. Select a contest type

There are four basic types of contests you can run on Facebook: sweepstakes, essay, photo and video. Matching the type of contest with your target audience is very important. Video, photo and essay contests will give you lots of content for your page, but they also require more effort to enter. A sweepstakes contest is easy to enter and you can set it up so that you get a few key pieces of information from your customers.

4. Know Facebook’s contest policies and rules

Facebook has a lot of rules and regulations for contests run on the site. Facebook insists that contests explicitly state that Facebook is not sponsoring the giveaway. Violating any of Facebook’s rules will result in your contest, and possibly your page, being shut down, which you do not want.  

5. Have your private policy ready

Your private policy explains the intended use of the data you collect during the contest. If you plan to use the information outside of judging the contest, you need to mention that in the policy. As a result, your link to the privacy policy should be available on your contest app. Also, according to Facebook, you need to specify your own rules, terms and conditions and contest eligibility requirements.

6. Run your contest through a third-party app

There are lots of companies that provide contest support, but you will want to make sure the one you choose offers a 3 key features: flexibility, affordability and mobility.

7. Pick an awesome prize

Most importantly make sure you pick a prize that your target audience wants. You can always do a survey before the contest to help decide what the prize should be. The prize does not have to be very expensive, but the value of your prize should reflect the effort participants need to make to enter.

8. Keep it simple 

The simpler it is to enter your contest, the more people will get in. Your contest should be easy to find and easy to enter. Ask for less information such as the entrant’s name, age and email address.

9. Promote your contest

If you’re hosting a contest on Facebook, make it social and don’t just post details to your page. Post and send scheduled reminders about the contest through tweets, email newsletters and posts on your Facebook Timeline. You can also increase your promotional reach by using Facebook ads. Ensure your contest is well-integrated into all concurrent marketing channels.

10. Post-contest follow-up and results

Be sure utilizing the information collected after the contest is over and assess the responses and feedback of customers. The easiest way to do this is to organize the data into a spreadsheet and compare the responses. Also, make sure you follow-up with your audience – listening and re-engaging is very important to your brand and marketing strategy. Let the participants know that you value their suggestions as this will motivate and increase future customer interaction.