July 2009


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(Read time = 3-4 minutes)  In the B2B space, we’re fairly obsessed w/metrics and measurement. Impressions, click-thrus, awareness, brand -buildihjng, lead gen, incentive direct sales, et al.  But if you are a blogger (or a wanna be blogger), what are your benchmarks for progress… for success?  I’m not finding many roadmaps to measure  against.

tapemeasure flowerHaving worked on the Agency side and the Client side, I’ve both seen and sold the “smoke and mirror” aspect of advertising, creative initiatives and the typical outbound marketing campaigns.   Now, as lead voice and a newly minted blogger trying to engage with/understand the new social media landscape, I feel like it’s an Indiana Jones episode titled: “Search for the Missing Metrics”.

Some ScoopDog Blog data points, two months in: 

  1. This blog has a CTR (Click Thru Rate) similar to tech trade banner advertising
  2. We “circulate” to a ballpark 1 million impressions for each major posting
  3. Measurable site hits have grown to 1000+/week; 
  4. Posting cadence directly impacts traffic (yeah, duh…) 
  5. RSS and email subscriptions are growing, but slowly
  6. We have a SM promotion strategy that we’re evolving
  7. Our editorial calendar has a backlog of 50+ story ideas
  8. 25 post in the eight weeks (3x /wk cadence)
  9. Five core contributors: writing, editing
  10. 45 comments posted to the blog, 250+ comments outside the blog

Trouble is, there’s no standard benchmarking that I can find that helps me understand if what we’re seeing is good, below normal or what.

You can help.  My plea:  any bloggers, can you share data points from your own experience?  Email me direct.  No specifis will be shared, only aggregated data. Other just smart-thinking folx, can you share ideas on how to benchmark and measure for success – particularly for a blog that’s not out to sell any product or service.

Acronyms: B2B Marketing Is All About Acronyms  So We Made Up Our Own…

SWAG (Some Wild Ass Guess)…          KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid)…         SWOT (Strengths/Weaknesses/Opportunities/Threats)…        

The suggestion, use  “STUTTER”  as a way of thinking about the start/stop dance step that starting a B2B Marketing blog  requires (yeah, we made it up…).

The “Stutter Steps ” and Rationale

(S)ubscriptions:  I monitor RSS feed requests as well as subscriptions by email. All these I highly value but the ramp is very slow compared to site traffic itself. There’s also recent discussion about a decline overall in RSS feed importance, as well as some inconsistencies in Google Feedburner reporting. Still, subscription growth seems a very good metric to monitor as it’s purely an opt-in and therefore readers that clearly value the blog content and discussion. Again, not finding any solid benchmarks for “growth over time” so I’m just measuring this blog’s progress against itself until I can gather multiple case studies to generalize.

 
(T)raffic:  Ultimately, this is what it’s all about. End of the day if no one visits/reads, the blog may still have value as a writing exercise or means to clarify thinking, but most of us will blog as an opportunity to connect to a larger community and dialogue on shared topics. W/out traffic, the dialogue is one-way. Metrics in the beginning are straight-forward: unique visitors, page views, referrals, avg. pages viewed, time on the site, etc. WordPress free blog sites handle most of this; if the blog has a unique domain that you own, many analytic packages can be installed to further dive deep. Think both about volume/quantity as well as quality.

 
(U)nique and/or Useful:  A catch-all for paying attention to the blog’s positioning, messaging and voice. Here’s where I want to be monitoring the content and quality as well as the posting cadence. For this blog, we started out posting 1x/wk (seemed scary to do more); now, we post 3x/wk and have 50+ story ideas in our editorial que. Because we’re a collaboration blog (ie multiple regular contributors) we use an editorial board/magazine approach. Discussions both pre-post and post-publication are robustly critical. We routinely monitor other similar sites for hot topics/trends as well as gaps.

 
(T)witter:  Presuming that any blogger or blogger-wanna be is also a Twitter player, at least on the “listen/look” side, if not actively tweeting. Specifically here for measurement, I’m focused on re-tweets. Am I getting any? When you tweet to promote your topics/blog, is anyone out there connecting to the value enough to re-tweet the post and your blog site? Tracking this, establishing internal benchmarks seems useful to consider. Retweets are a multiplier for blog promotion. While I might have X# Twitter followers, any re-tweet pushes my content well beyond my limited boundaries.

 
(T)raction:  To what degree are you successful with cross-links? By agreeing to link/cross-promote, other blog owners are validating your content and approach. Measure this by pure numbers, and by whether well-known, well-respected other sites are willing to connect. Within your own trusted communities, are thought-leaders providing positive feedback and reaction? Prior to this blog’s launch, the team spent 3-months evolving a point-of-view, testing content ideas and positioning to identify a platform niche. We still do this and view the willingness of respected voices to provide feedback as a valuable measure for the traction our blog is gaining.

 
(E)ngagement:  Extremely important, particularly as this blog is not attempting to find ways to monetize itself. This is where I think about “comment” tracking, on the blog site itself… on Twitter… within those other social networks (Ning, LinkedIn, Socialmedian, Facebook, etc.). For this blog, I receive more comments via direct email or on the social networks than w/in the blog itself. Other blog owners report a different experience. Again, I’m not finding any benchmarks over time so am measuring this blog against itself.

 
(R)elationships:  For me, this (along w/the Engagement piece) is perhaps the most important (and most difficult) metric. Does the blog (and various promotional outreach) provide opportunities for new relationships. Could be via LinkedIn… could be direct from the blog itself, could be quality Twitter and/or Facebook followers. I then reach out periodically to these various networks for information, content insights, etc. It’s a qualitative measure more than quantitative. A bit squishy, yes. But to the degree that the blog is successful as a means for relationship growth and dialogue, I value it as a means to judge successful progress.

Steps:  Our not so subtle reminder that it’s a one-step-at-a-time process, and many steps required.  Most are small, some are backtracks, all are important.

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So, there you have it – one blogger’s attempt at beginning to put benchmarks into place to measure success. Certainly there are others. Would love to hear other start-ups w/r/t ramp metrics if anyone would care to share.   Again, all data received will be aggregated, specifics kept confidential. Hoping to publish something with more specific numbers/examples toward the end of the year.

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eye(Read time: 3 minutes) I’ll try not to boil the “tool” ocean. Rather, this is a recap of some day-to-day, practical apps that I use most every day – and a few I’m investigating.  Hope the post is useful in suggesting a framework for exploration.  Beyond this… Google and Bing for more referrals than you can handle.

The Collection

Tool Sites for name checking, branding:  Who owns your brand in today’s social media landscape?  Seriously… have you staked out your brand/brand names in the hot new media real estate market?  These tools will allow you to quickly check

Twitter Tools (NEW) for Businesses:  A keyword tracking tool plus a best practices manual.

Guzzel.it  : Newly launched, customizable using keywords; a newsfeed RSS reader. 

Lasyfeed (still in beta): innovative tool to monitor realtime web and information discovery.  takes a promo code to test drive;  video demo available here.   I’ll be doing a review in the near future.

Twitter Tracking: (beyond just inputing keywords directly into Twitter Search, experiment with these as a means to monitor Twitterverse conversations:  Bingtweets and Crowdeye.

Trendrr Automated tracking/reporting of social and digital media.  Free plus paid option.  You pick the sites and variables.  Listen, measure, compare.

Twitnest: Just one way cool/way fun tool.  Provides the Twitter user with a visualization of who you follow and their inter-relationships.  Very much in the vein of the Visual Thesaurus tool from years back.

BoardTracker :A message board tracking tool with categorized features and uer inputs.  Searchable threads. Free plus premium account options.

CoTweet:  Self proclaimed: “how business does Twitter”  a beta app providing for multiple accounts/multiple uses; keyword monitoring and trend tracking, duty cycle alerts, click tracking, tweet scheduling, threaded conversations, and more. Soliciting sign-ups/testing accounts.

Twubble: Searches your followers, and their followers – then provides a recommendation of who you might consider following, based on which of your followers follow whom.  (confused?  A nifty free app… try it, you’ll get the picture.

Ping.fm: A message posting site that supports 40+ social networking sites (Twitter, Facebook, flickr, LinkedIn, hi5, del.icio.us, Mashable, friendfeed, etc.) Free.  Mobile platforms, as well.

Yacktrack: Lets you enter a URL of a post that you want to see comments for.  Search for comments on your content from various sources/other blogs that talk about your content.

Old Standbys – Shorten URLs:  In a 140-character world (or in those cases where you need to cloak or have a URL alias, these (and other) sites can be very helpful.  For bloggers/others, some also come with nifty metrics.  All are free.  BudURL has several upgrade for pay options.  If you’re gonna tweet, you gotta shorten. 

  • TinyURL.com
  • bit.ly
  • BudURL – the one I’m experimenting with now.  Nice metrics, free and options for small fee

Desktop Twitter the Seesmic/TweetDeck discussion.   

 Blackberry Ubertwitter discussion  (sorry no experience with iPhone – don’t own one). Ubertwitter  I’m experimenting w/this one real-time. Nice geo-locator feature that alerts you to everyone tweeting by GPS location.  Very useful if you’re travelling and looking for local Twitter connections

INTERESTING BUT UNEXPLORED

Followformation: Launched 7/14, categorizes top Twitter users by area of interest (social media,  tech, blogger, sports, etc).

backtype: a conversational search engine that strives to index and connect conversations from blogs and social networks

icerocket: free analytics, invisible tracker for blog site visits/other statistics.  Live demo click here.

 

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(Read time = 2 minutes)  For me – getting a handle on the “social media” marketing landscape is easier if I simply connect the new stuff to my trusted, old and faithful outbound and marketing roots.   This will be way to simplistic for some, but hopefully a way to lessen the confusion, for others.

Rather than letting the technology and jargon become a distraction, and worse, a barrier to entry, – I associate the new tools to old favorites as a way for straight-forward engagement.  Then, once I actually go hands-on, it’s easier to bridge into discovery mode and begin to uncover the truly unique attributes for each communications channel… each new tool.  The approach is also useful when asked to explain how the tools work, or what applications might be worth considering for B2B communications.

bridgesMy Analog B2B Roadmap for Framing the Social Media Conversation

(Future blog posts will dive deeper into all these.  Looking for feedback on other instances, if you’d like to share)

LinkedIn = Daytimer/Address Book (a business card filing system at the most basic level)

Twitter Feed = Police Scanner (ie, unfiltered chatter from across many bands)

Twitter Post = Graffiti (splashes/bursts of unfiltered signals and noise)

Twitter Trends and Search = Watercooler Gossip (the most talked about topics rise to the top)

Google Alerts = A PR Clipping Service (set up keyword parameters and Google will ping you with once a day summaries)

MySpace = Slumber Party for Consumer Brands (Teens, young adults discussing preferences, trends)

Facebook Profile = Social Reunion (the personal side of Facebook and the traditional audience of users

Facebook Fan Page =  Biz Conference (the new “business” side that Facebook is courting)

Delicious = Filing Cabinet  (A place to easily file/retried bookmarked URLs, PDFs)

Digg = Cocktail Party (What’s the latest topic, hottest new trends)

In client presentations, the analogies can be a very effective way to align discussions, and serve as a starting point for new media policy and strategy conversations. 

To be sure, each of these has so much more to offer B2B marketing professionals.  Eg., LinkedIn isn’t just a card file, it’s also a powerful relationship-building environment with significant potential for message promotion and community dialogue;  Google Alerts, used with the proper filters, can become a powerful first-line brand management alert tool; a Facebook Fan Page holds the promise for centralization of your entire outbound content generation.

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colobar_bigger (Read time = 4-5 minutes)  Twitter’s role in exposing the Iran election underbelly, and a separate report detailing the passing of American journalist, retired CBS Evening News anchor Walter Cronkite, oddly connected for me this week – prompting this curious question:  Will Twitter’s instant “trusted community” potential parallel Cronkite ability to shape public perception?

OK, I’ll confess – I can’t quite yet wrap my head around the possibility that Bin Laden and the boys might jonesing for a TweetUp! two canyons over , but Twitter’s role (or a yet-to-be invented Twitter look-alike) has the potential to unite community as television media one did but can no longer hope to accomplish.

What’s the risk that this everyman keyboard collective and the unfiltered tweets will be perceived by B2B marketers as more than just a moment in time?

 “Trusted community” wasn’t discovered by Gen X or Y, the concept has simply morf’d decade-to-decade as media evolved.  For many Boomers, “global community” was born at the knee of those news anchors as world events woke to the power of television imagery.  In Cronkite’s day, three networks (ABC, CBS, NBC), shaped the community experience, driven by on-screen personalities.  For a generation earlier, “community” was forged by WWII radiocasts and the keystrokes of Murrow and Ernie Pyle, and the fireside chats of FDR. 

cronkite1Consider Cronkite… he was the galvanizing voice creating at the time what was likely the largest “trusted network” of its day. His nightly broadcasts defined “community” and became a singular link for conditions and events otherwise largely cloaked.  Cronkite’s mealtime “posts” largely shaped American perception for over two decades (’62 – ’81).   My passion for news, for journalism and the larger value of storytelling and communications was fired in the evening glow of living room TV as America’s most trusted voice urged “Go, Baby, Go” during NASA’s Apollo XI launch… as he shed on-screen tears while reporting the Kennedy assassination… and as the Vietnam war made real for his viewers. 

twitter iconConsider Twitter… Iran closed off traditional media yet election protestors made use of the medium to spread alerts, photos and dialogue about conditions otherwise hidden.  The Twitter hive provided a stream of awareness that fed traditional news coverage.  the same for more recent unrest in China…

Following #Iranelections, #Iran and/or #Tehran pages brought back the cell phone text message and video cam image experience from 1989 became the voice of China’s Tiananmen Square protests.  Twitter elevated itself well beyond social gossip as Tehran streets filled… beyond being just the latest political campaign shiny-new-toy for fundraising.  Iran election postings both augmented journalist reports and by-passed them.  Commentary was raw – no editors sitting in NY studios, no fact-checking staffs, no second-source requirements prior to publication The feed real-time and at fire hose volume. 

Certainly prior to Iran, users had on smaller scales demonstrated such ability.  But here it was happening on the world stage with an event of global significance. Use of the social media networking tool, showed its potential for becoming a powerful, unifying force that can forge real-time trusted networks and a shared community experience.  

As a self-professed news junkie, I was riveted to the Twitter reportage and attribution subsequently used… fascinated at the explosion of this latest collective surge.  June’s Wired magazine and Kevin Kelly (kkk@kk.org) this month takes onthe idea of  “The New Socialism”, a coming global collective: the vanguard born of Wikipedia, Flickr and Twitter.  A thoughtful exploration and well worth the read.  

UK Perspective from Richard Merrin, Managing Director for Spreckley Partners – an EMEA independent PR consultancy serving B2B, IT and Consumer markets:

It is amazing how new forms of communication can drive real change and dare I say it revolution – it would be the ultimate irony that mass access technology platforms from the west could topple this regime.  And in that sense it is no different from other forms of mass popular communications through time, from the Romans through to the downfall of the French monarchy where propaganda cartoons were the twitter of the day.

This does leave a number of serious questions

  • the rise of the citizen journalist and as a result the question of bias, objectivity
  • the growth of online campaigning and the impact on business and how it communicates and responds to this new paradigm
  • the impact on traditional media

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Observation:  Twitter is less about 140 characters than about a means to aggregate a stream of collective consciousness which permits early observation of trends, emotional glue and macro-interests.

Observation: I invited tweets to my (digital) home, much as Cronkite was invited into living rooms nightly all those decades ago. Others from my network were invited in, side conversations grew.  I trusted the dialogue as useful, although unfiltered. 

Observation:  The hunger for community and collective behavior is simply human.  Media for the interaction will evolve.  It was once print, then radio, then television, now digital in many forms.  Twitter and social media tools may be a revolutionary pre-cursor, or just an evolutionary ripple.  What great fun to be watching it unfold, real-time.

Your thoughts/takes?

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cueballs small(Read time =  2 minutes )  So last Thursday after an Agency review session, the Client lead tossed out an interesting dilemma. Seems they’d been debating internally for several month about the “social media” thing and were being stumped because someone else had registered their company name on Twitter and several other main new media sites.  The angst had tangled the team into a state of in action.

 The client wanted the Agency to begin a brainstorm on alternative names and spin up a proposal.  Cool – new business!

Good news is that when we started our due diligence and client input sessions, we quickly uncovered that unbeknownst to Client management, two years earlier, a software developer had the brilliant foresight to create a Twitter account (and associated other site registrations) for the company (he figured he should grab it before anyone else did) but then failed to tell anyone up the chain because no one at the time was much interested in the social media game.

The problem: The beloved engineer didn’t tell anyone and the company leadership team didn’t have a plan or a strategy to monitor their brand online. As a result, customers, partners and yes competitors had been “following” the Twitter feed even though the company did not know and no one was tweeting.

It gets worse. Being a technically savvy geek, the employee has over 74 random emails and could not recall which email he used to register the account. The company could not leverage their own brand w/out a direct and lengthy appeal Twitter process.  The CEO had to prove the company owned the trademark and he was in fact the CEO and therefore authorized to make the request.

Happy ending: Twitter reset the account for the company’s CEO.  The Agency got the assignment to craft a social media strategy rather than brainstorming a brand workaround.

Lesson learned: Just because you don’t have a strategy for the “Next new thing” does not mean that your brand will not be out there living, growing and evolving. It just means you are not aware and certainly not in control. When it comes to the wild wild web, ignorance is not bliss.

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A tale to win bar bets, and just to set the record straight.

Given this week’s Apollo 11 moon hype and Cronkite’s passing, one other rememberance is sure to be featured: the “Earthrise” photo shot Chrismas Eve, 1968, during Apollo 8’s historic first moono fly-by.   BUT, this  iconic image   is almost universally wrongly published, a 40-year old “trick” of perspective still perpetuated today.

OK, not the hoax of the century (and a shameless claim to grab readership here).  But trickery it is, none-the-less.

NASA and media of the day made a journalistic tweak to the now famous  “Earthrise ” William Alders’ color photo.  In truth, the  picture was actually taken from the perspective of being in orbit around the lunar equator – ie vertical.   However, since release of the images, in almost every case, the color shot is published horizontally ( – from the perspective of Earth “rising” over a lunar horizon (below an example from one of the largest/best known photo library resources, Getty).

The original (left) and the common use (right

An original example of “citizen journalism?

Earthrise Comparison

 The photo itself was not somthing planned… was not “in the mission profile”.  It was pure “citizen journalist” before the term was even a glint in some Social Media pundit’s eye.  The capsule cockpit recording tells the story:  Mission Commander, Frank Borman, was steering his spacecraft to point radio antennas toward Earth after emerging from behind the dar-side of the moon.  This required a roll maneuver to vertical.  As swumg upright, Borman glanced out his tiny, pilot’s window and saw the now famous Earth/Moon scene, calling Alder’s and third crew member, James Lovell, to attention.

A grab for cameras (yes, plural), was the natural reaction.  The full-frame image is was truely  square, taken with a Sweedish-made Hasselblad. 

In all, there were three pictures taken… one in black and white (taken by Borman himself,) and two in color (both taken by Alders).  Interestingly, the two men approached the scene differently. Borman rotated his camera to capture a picture in “Earth-rising” position.  Alders shot his two color photos as the image actually appeared in real-time/real geometry.  The color photo made headlines but is now frequently published and archived incorrectly v. the original image orientation.

…and now,  you know the rest of the story (Paul Harvy)

…and that’s the way it is… (Walter Cronkite)

…and so it goes… (Kurt Vonnegut)

…tweet, tweet…  (ScoopD)

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(Read time: 8-10 minutes) marketingIn a tough business climate,  co-marketing initiatives can provide a means to stretch scarce marketing dollars. Often, collaborations involve the use of Marketing Development Funds (MDF), a way for ingredient-brand suppliers, in particular,  to intrude into larger campaigns (think Intel and Microsoft logos/content in laptops and/or server product advertising). 

Luxury-brand VP, John Cairo,  and I compared notes on MDF from two different perspectives. John works the Hospitality  segment with initiatives at such properties as MGM’s City Center and the Sand’s Venetian Macau; I do it real-time  for B2B in the tech sector with partners such as HP, IBM and Dell.

For the mid-sized ingredient brand or strategic, niche company without the big-brand and big-dollar clout, is there a way to tune MDF contributions to become more than just OEM slush and replacement $$ for their just-slashed marketing budget while still adding value for your customer?  We argue “yes”, if you’re nimble. Here’s a point/counterpoint discussion around a framework for MDF campaign success,

1.  ALIGNMENT AND CLARITY

Scoop:  Obvious? But how often have you found yourself tangled in customer meetings where it’s not the case?  It’s critical to be clear on your target communities, objectives and messaging… and demand the same clarity from your customer w/r/t targets, success metrics and messages.  Also make sure you/your team understands the resource load you’re willing to extend. Know this answer and who from your side will speak it. Every customer in an MDF conversation will ask – usually sooner than later, usually repeatedly.

Cairo:  Align Segment Strategies with the target audience.  The internal team speaks to the customer by functional needs.  These are often formulated by addressing operational concerns gleaned from customer conversations that play to the team’s strengths.  In hospitality the green  message is not just a warm and fuzzy topic but equates to specific $$ savings in reduced costs to run a property and products that “make a guest feel helpful”.  Make these issues part of your team’s strategies and identify the correct team member to take ownership.

TakeAway:  Get your internal act together first before walking into any customer meeting.  Be clear, demand clarity from your customer.

2.  DEFINE ROLES, BE THE MARKETING AUTHORITY

Scoop:  Everyone needs a specific role in MDF discussions.  Sales… Product Marketing… Marcom/Corporate… whomever.  Play to individual strengths in the context of overall strategy.  Co-marketing is about customer facing support. If you’re the outbound expert, be the expert, and make sure your team supports you in that role.  Limit MDF conversation to core-team players, from your side and from the customer’s side.  Voices around the table who are not primary stakeholders often distract. Above all, don’t let the meeting become a sales call. Creative Briefs can help.

Cairo:  It all starts with a vision, “how do I differentiate my firm from the pack”.  You’re so correct when u say “it’s not a sales call”.  I spent considerable time matching our personnel strengths to what we wanted to accomplish with the target audience, then forming ad hoc teams.  Identifying and presenting a solution or at least people that have expertise to deal or understand the issue sounds simple but starts with clear segment goals and strategies.  Everyone at the supplier level says oh yeah we know that, but presenting the team “up front” seizes the initiative and moves u to the front of the line.  Then it is too late for all the wannabes.  I always use this example, “I don’t want to be the guy in the hall or the one pacing around the decision maker table”.  I want a seatat the table and one for as many team members as required to win the project”.

TakeAway:  Have a vision for what success looks like.   Make sure there’s clarity in roles when you’re in front of the customer.  Put the people with useful knowledge around the table, regardless of title

3.  BE/BEHAVE AS A BRAND EQUAL

Scoop:  There’s an adversarial undercurrent that I face in almost every MDF initial discussion, sometimes subtle, sometimes very in-your-face. Often the discussion is around whether my ingredient brand offers anything of customer-facing value, about fitting into the OEM’s way of doing co-marketing v. our more collaborative methodology. To succeed best, you have to be seen/treated as an equal, not just someone with a pocket of $$ to “give away”.  Example:  In the last month, I and a senior product marketing lead opened first-time discussion w/a data storage segment leading OEM.  We pre-planned our approach, tapped business intelligence connections for perspective and felt going in there was ample ground for positive conversation.  As the meeting started, however, we found ourselves defending brand equity rationale, product certification hurdles, and segment priorities far afield from the MDF conversation we thought we’d been invited to have.  Eventually, we were able to steer back to co-marketing and our company’s MDF value-add approach.  And we closed w/positive next-step actions.  Without having aligned well on a methodology and process (future blog topic), the customer’s initial assault likely would have thrown us off stride and to a less useful outcome.

Cairo:  Demonstrate how your team/company is promulgating its own segment strategy that aligns with the customer.  Avoid the “buzz” trap of getting sucked into something topical that “works against your own team/organizational expertise”.

TakeAway:  Equality = respect = opportunity for you/your brand to co-promote

4.  LISTEN FOR INTERSECTIONS/GAPS, THEN WALK AWAY

Scoop:  Don’t try to get to a solution too quickly, and certainly not during the initial client F2F (oh yeah, for meaningful discussion – you have to be face-to-face.  F2F is unequaled for beginning the relationship build.  By hearing first hand where customer priorities fall, you can internally brainstorm the gaps and possible intersections that add value.  Joint whitepapers, co-authored PRs or editorial features, web content sharing, sales force training modules, tradeshow collaborations… these are all low-stress, high-success early possibilities.  Don’t expect to immediately become part of a national advertising campaign w/logo identity (might happen, but rare).  By walking away, you buy time to digest, brainstorm and truly think about the right approach, not just any approach.

Cairo:  If it’s not seamless forget it.  Even if the customer campaign becomes more focused on their strengths rather that featuring something from your side, the impression that your team delivered whether value added or fundamental demonstrates strength of commitment.  Also u leave them with the question “what if”, not “what a waste of time”.

TakeAway:  Find the gaps and fill them. Make it seamless for the customer.

5.  END WITH A CLEAR NEXT ENGAGEMENT STEP, THEN EXECUTE

Scoop:  In the early stage of MDF talk, agreement to sustain is an important metric.  No one has time to waste.  Gaining a next step meeting, or the opportunity to dive deeper with presentation material on a particular outbound concept, or being passed along to an expanded group of customer stakeholders – all are real endorsements that you’ve broken the ice.  In the customer meeting I mentioned above where we were a bit ambushed, we ended with my having two specific actions to set up review meetings around a joint partner collaboration, and a tradeshow blog experience.  My product marketing counterpart took the action to explore topics for a possible joint whitepaper.  It’s all happening real time so stay tuned.

Cairo:    Carry out your execution by presenting finished marketing materials along with execution steps.  In one specific Hospitality example the National Brand staff passed on the campaign around a “guest satisfaction” product but passed it to one of their individual Brands that ultimately sold the idea to their largest hotel franchisee to test.  In this case the Franchisee was the buyer and immediately saw the campaign as a way to differentiate his properties with a superior idea.  The product was successful then worked it’s way back up the chain to become a Brand standard. The ultimate goal of the team was “presenting and developing products and a marketing campaign that improved guest satisfaction levels”.

Some Further Observations

Co-marketing has fewer rules than marketing campaigns developed for your own company – or more thinkHead2rightly, different rules/more opportunities to innovate since the multiple partner environment often provides larger budgets, freedoms from normal messaging and graphic standards, and air-cover that comes naturally from collaboration.  Downside risks, however, are equally large.   Success requires a core passion for outbound marketing and the ability to listen, advocate, and solve problems in real-time while remaining calm during a chaotic process. 

From the supplier side develop clear segment strategies that align your company strengths with target audience.  Assemble the team from within the firm that reflects the expertise required and tutor them on the team strategy and the target audience challenge.  Represent this group as the “doers” and let their expertise shine so the target audience sells itself on the co-marketing collaboration.  Contribute manpower, not just $$.  You may even be able to bargain that your human resources should offset some portion of the hard-dollar contribution.  By dedicating manpower, you can maintain a larger degree of control, even if your company is the smaller of the players.

Would love to hear feedback and commentary.

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