Two Examples of Stellar B2B Facebook Pages

Facebook is a huge topic of interest to B2B marketers, so we wanted to share two examples of stellar B2B Facebook Pages, as a follow-up to How to Build a Great B2B Community on Facebook. That post was the first part of a MarketingProfs B2B Forum presentation and here are the case studies from the second part.

Examples of Interaction on Facebook

B2B-Facebook-MarketingProfs
Corey O’Loughlin is a community manager for MarketingProfs. She shared the interaction and impact of their Facebook initiatives (go ahead and like them if you haven’t already!).

At a high level, Corey outlined the following goals for their Facebook initiatives:

  • Map goals – MarketingProfs does engage in sales via Facebook but had examples for effective integration throughout the presentation
  • Create content
  • Get feedback
  • Drive membership
  • Show personality

Corey shared a series of examples from the MarketingProfs Facebook page, walking the audience from Facebook update through impact in overall content marketing initiative.

Example: 15 Marketing Buzzwords to Stop Using
A question, discussion, and response from this update, poking fun at marketing buzzwords turned into a Slideshare presentation, blog post, and follow up series.

The presentation hit the hot spot on Slideshare three different times and could be traced back to 500 new members.

Example: 8 Misconceptions About a Remote Workforce
Newsjacking Yahoo’s announcement eliminating their remote workforce, MarketingProfs (who’s workforce is completely remote) used a similar strategy, leveraging the actively participated in Facebook discussion to generate a presentation, which now has over 80,000 views on Slideshare.

A few other ideas to consider:

  • Fill-in-the-blanks are great for developing discussion
  • Negative updates tend to do better than positive ones, but use them judiciously
  • Updates can be great for getting feedback for challenges or issues (Corey cited an example of understanding their lack of pickup on mobile marketing events even though broader interests seemed so high)
  • Doodles and images work and MarketingProfs is lucky to have such a talented artist on their team

From a sales perspective, Corey showed an example of a creative brand-based selling action / promotion. The key is to be creative in communication and execution. The end result was that even though the update itself had very little engagement, they still sold five passes to this event.

Content Makes Your Boring B2B Business Less Boring

B2B-Facebook-Constant-Contact
Kristen Curtiss is the social media specialist who takes on the daily challenge of making sure Constant Contact customers stay engaged with the business through social media. Believe it or not, email is not very exciting without a bit of valuable content to keep things moving.

High level results of Constant Contact’s Facebook initiatives:

  • Over 91,000 Facebook Likes
  • 59,000+ fans (likes) gained in a two year period
  • 13% of fans have connected (interacted) with the page

Constant Contact uses a mixture of posts and updates to develop reach and engagement. Some of their best practices include:

  • Custom images work – they started by just using photos but found that adding “thought bubbles” and other customizations worked better for engagement
  • Remember marketing objective – Constant Contact consistently queries their audience to find out what they are most concerned with
  • Text only posts tend to get more reach from fans; even more so than images. Constant Contact uses a 50/50 mix of image and text updates to keep things balanced
  • They only post links to the site once a week because they get the least engagement (as opposed to images and text)
  • Constant Contact uses Facebook chats. They created a custom image that points to a chat on Facebook, which in turn helps develop customer understanding
  • Customer feedback is very important – Facebook is an important tool for them to message customers about issues / service and feedback on new functionality and development
  • Kristen recommends running social campaigns via tabs on Facebook and make certain to cross pollinate efforts (for example, their Facebook initiatives are embedded through other marketing channels like email distribution)

Lastly and most importantly, HAVE FUN! Remember that the key to getting good engagement rates is to keep things lively and conversational.

35 Expert Tips To Make B2B Content More Manageable

b2b-content-expertsContent. Many B2B marketers hear the word and wonder how they are going to create increasing amounts of it with their limited bandwidth.

Trust me, I understand this issue on a personal level. I write large volumes of material every week, from corporate and personal blog posts to website content to social media posts and more. That’s why I was psyched to hear what my fellow experts had to say in the way of tips and tricks at the MarketingProfs B2B Marketing Forum in Boston last week.

Below are their words of wisdom. Take these 35 ideas and incorporate them into your content plans!

On the Planning Stage

1. Develop a content and engagement plan – ‪@DavidBThomas‬
2. Editorial calendars are worth their weight in gold – ‪@kesslermichelle‬
3. Look at the titles of those who consume your content – it will reveal who your audience should be – ‪@jchernov‬
4. Organizations need a content strategy, a social media presence, and an understanding of how to connect both to business objectives – ‪@AmyVernon‬
5. Understand what your content marketing objectives are and what you think the ultimate outcome will be – ‪@JoePulizzi‬
6. Figure out what motivates your customers; once you know your customers’ “why,” you’ll achieve success – ‪@webby2001‬

On Developing Content Ideas

7. Sales, customer service, product management, and marketing all need to talk to one another in order to create a strong content strategy – ‪@ShellyKramer‬
8. To achieve ‪social media success, you must break down silos within your company – share info & resources – ‪@AmyVernon‬
9. Blog post brainstorm: Get together everyone who talks to customers and make a list of the questions they hear – @TheSalesLion‬
10. Encourage user-generated content – ‪@NickWestergaard‬
11. Start with a piece that’s resonating and check the comments; you’ll likely find great, new, related story ideas – ‪@kesslermichelle‬
12. Do research on Quora or Twitter to understand the questions your audience is asking – ‪@jchernov‬
13. Remember to ask: only 34% of marketers have asked their customers what they want – ‪@NickWestergaard‬
14. Answer your clients’ questions and provide value, even if it’s not directly about your products – ‪@DavidBThomas‬
15. Everyone has a story worth telling – ‪@larrysmith‬

On Developing Your Posts

16. Simplicity is key; constraints fuel creativity ‪- ‪@larrysmith‬
17. If you don’t use mobile friendly links and responsive websites, you’ll lose half your audience – ‪@TheTimHayden‬
18. 55% are more likely to buy from you if you provide solid business advice on your site – ‪‪@ShellyKramer‬
19. Until your competition and bad fits start paying your bills, don’t let them dictate how and what you teach – ‪@TheSalesLion‬
20. Don’t forget to link to authoritative sites – ‪@AmyVernon‬

On Using the Same Content for Multiple Purposes

21. Do an “ego trap” series: have different well-known folks write guest posts on their views on the same topic – ‪@jchernov‬
22. Do a content audit on pieces you already have (collateral, emails, etc.); figure out what you can repur pose – ‪@JoePulizzi‬
23. Think of yourself as a content chop shop: repackage your content into blog posts, videos, ebooks, and more – ‪@NickWestergaard‬

On Utilizing Influencers

24. Co-creation of content with influencers can be a powerful way to amplify content – ‪@leeodden
25. Identify influencers and slowly build a relationship with them before asking them for anything – ‪@kevinrcain‬

On Measuring and Tracking Success

26. Understand the difference between vanity metrics (e.g., likes, followers) and metrics executives care about (e.g., traffic, leads, sales) – ‪@jeffreylcohen
27. Figure our what you want your customers do once they’ve read your content – ‪@MarketingProfs‬
28. Don’t just create consumable content; create actionable content – ‪@TheTimHayden‬
29. Content marketing is an art that, when done well, not only provides value, but also produces sales – ‪@samfiorella‬
30. Make sure your metrics are reported in a way that makes sense both to you and to management – ‪@DavidBThomas‬
31. Try measuring what others in your company are already measuring and making your reports look the same – ‪@jeffreylcohen

On Next Steps

32. Keep in mind that in the very near future, people will be viewing your website via wearable technology – ‪@TheTimHayden‬
33. A topic that was relevant six months ago may not be relevant now; always listen and adjust your strategy – ‪@samfiorella‬
34. Keep the internal content culture going by sending out monthly newsletters and trainings several times a year – ‪@TheSalesLion‬
35. Continue to earn your authority by sharing content – yours and others’ – ‪@AmyVernon‬

What are your expert B2B content tips? Share them in the comments below.

Photo: Flickr

How to Build a Great B2B Community on Facebook

b2b-facebookWe know you (yes, you B2B marketer) are skeptical. The social network of choice for many B2B marketers is LinkedIn. Even though Facebook is the largest social network by far (and one of the most trafficked websites overall), B2B marketers remain skeptical of Facebook’s viability for marketing impact.

Mike Lewis, Chief Marketing Officer of Peoplefluent kicked things off his session at MarketingProfs B2B Forum with a few important statistics courtesy of a recent Hubspot report about Facebook:

  • 750 million monthly visitors
  • 51% more likely to make a purchase after they “liked” a brand on Facebook
  • 41% of B2Bs surveyed indicated they have acquired customers through Facebook

Here are three examples of B2B Facebook pages worth reviewing:

Mike also showed a business page he worked on – Awareness Social Media Best Practices – and the key is / was content and communication (and literally, “best practices”). The page went from 0 – 10k likes in 2011 and more importantly the organization could track 22% of leads back to a first interaction on this Facebook page.

What makes these examples outstanding?

  • Audience engagement
  • Compelling and relevant conversations
  • Encouraging the share
  • No selling (direct selling at least)

6 Keys to effective B2B Facebook page development:

  • Paying Attention
  • Interaction
  • Content
  • Presence
  • Management
  • Measurement

On paying attention: listen to people and their actions and behaviors. This is the heart of a Facebook strategy but more importantly (taking a phrase from Chris Brogan – paraphrasing) ”It’s not what you say, it’s about what you hear.”

  • Why are you listening?
  • Where are you going to listen?
  • What are you going to pay attention to?

Silo your attention based on brand, keywords, buying signals, etc. Understand the market landscape, brand, competition, customers, influencers, buying intent phrases (situational, problems, etc), and of course, what’s happening on the page itself.

If attention is the yin, interaction is the yang. Mike outlined how to understand your extended audience, since your direct competition is not necessarily your competition on Facebook. You’re also competing with other brands, a person’s friends, family, network, etc.

At a high level, here is your extended audience and the basis for how to communicate with them:

  • Broad Extended Audience – share photos and videos
  • Passive – ask questions
  • Moderate – consistency is key
  • Active – make them champions
  • Influential – guest post opportunities

Considerations for improving and developing presence:

  • Use milestones
  • Star and highlight important information
  • Connect other channels
  • Use custom tabs within your Facebook page
  • Maintain consistent branding across Facebook page

All in all great examples and ideas that hopefully can sway a skeptical B2B market audience to do more with Facebook.

How to Create a B2B Content Culture

b2b-content-sales-lionB2B marketers know that content creation – and blogs in particular – is a critical part of the marketing arsenal. Yet many balk at the thought of creating new content on a consistent basis. How do you get enough ideas? How do you create content that keeps readers coming back? And how do you do it all when content isn’t the only thing you’re responsible for?

At MarketingProf’s B2B Marketing Forum, Marcus Sheridan (otherwise known as The Sales Lion provided some answers to those questions.

As a person who runs a blog or two and is a contributor to several others, I’m always on the lookout for new ideas on how to keep the content machine going. Here are some of the points that really resonated with me.

Learn to Teach

When I have a business decision to make, I start by doing my research online. I would guess that you do too. With that thought in mind, Sheridan advises that you begin to think of yourself as a teacher, with your blog posts being the classroom material.

Consider the questions your customers ask when they’re researching your products or solutions. Do they want to know about something that’s related to your industry but doesn’t directly have to do with your products? Write about that. Do they want to know about how you stack up vs the competition? Write a fair and honest comparison – without shying away about the pros and cons of everyone, including you. Do they want to know about pricing? Write about how much your offering costs. (Sheridan says it’s also OK to answer “it depends” on that one – as long as you explain why.)

Be the best and most honest teacher around and you’ll gain customer trust. Gain customer trust and you’re on your way to making a sale.

Be Honest and Transparent

I mentioned this in the section above, but it was something Sheridan stressed repeatedly and I heartily agree with him. You MUST be as honest and transparent as possible. The moment a customer feels like a business is hiding something, the trust is lost. And it’s not something you’re going to get back.

Don’t shy away from hard topics just because you’re worried about what the customer will think. Not talking about a subject as nearly as bad as being dishonest about it. For example, say on your website who might not be interested in being your customer and why that’s so. Sheridan even went so far as to say, “It’s more important to say on your website who you’re not a good match for than who you are a good match for.”

Keep It Simple, Stupid

The goal of great content is to keep it accessible. Don’t get caught up in technical speak. I find this often happens when I’m working with bloggers. They are super smart people, but they are so caught up in being experts in their space that they forget that the rest of us don’t know every acronym in the book.

This is not to say that you can never go into technical detail. However, be aware that many of your readers won’t understand you unless you explain what you’re saying in clear and straightforward language.

Don’t Go It Alone

Eliminate the barriers between sales, marketing, customer support, and any other group that talks to customers. These are the best people to get blog topics from, because they hear the questions your clients and prospects ask every day.

Get a group of customer-facing employees together in a room and take an hour to brainstorm a list of questions they hear on a consistent basis. Write them all down and you’ll likely have enough blog post topics to take you through the next few months, if not the next year.

There is power in using multiple employees to produce content and build the company brand. Develop a corporate culture of listening and teaching – these are powerful tools.

Moreover, understand that there are different personality types in your company. Some people are better for taking on certain jobs than others. For instance, there are writers who can produce text-based blog posts. But there are also actors who would do better with video, talkers who could create great podcasts, and questioners who are great for brainstorming about new topics. Each person is valuable. Use their strengths to your advantage.

A final, bonus tip: recognize that developing a content culture isn’t a one-time thing. Keep the content culture going through newsletters and trainings throughout the year. No doubt it adds to the workload, but persevere – it’s worth it!

5 Smart Tips for B2B Content Marketing

b2b-content-marketing-hand-5-tipsAccording to a recent study, buyers contact a sales representative after 70% of the buying decision is made. What does this mean? People do their research online before they even begin to talk with you. So if you don’t have content that interests them, you’ve lost the sale before you’ve begun.

Shelly Kramer and Amy Vernon discussed this subject at the MarketingProfs B2B Marketing Forum. As Vernon says, organizations need a content strategy, a social media presence, and an understanding of how to connect them both to business objectives. After all, Kramer adds, today’s marketing process, known as “inbound marketing,” is all about attracting people with good content, converting them to prospects, closing the deal, and then continuing to delight them so they return for more.

According to Vernon and Kramer, here are the five steps you need to take to make that process a reality.

1. Develop and Implement a Strategy

Know what your end-game is, because if you don’t know what your goals are, you’ll never reach them. And in order to accomplish your goals, you need to have a strategy.

It’s important to note that developing a content strategy should never be done by marketing alone. You need to talk with sales, customer service, and product management as well. Everyone needs to work together to develop the strategy and everyone needs to contribute knowledge to your ever growing content repository, even if marketing eventually does the writing and/or editing.

2. Produce Good Content

Producing good content involves a number of factors: smart people, good writers, editors who can make the pieces more search-friendly, and more. The most important thing to remember when producing content is not to stop. As someone once told me, the biggest reason corporate blogs die is because people stop writing in them.

Having trouble figuring out what to write each week? Vernon and Kramer suggest putting together an editorial calendar, so you can more easily map content to strategy. For instance, you can easily write several posts about a single event your organization is attending: one pre-event post, one during event post, and one after-event post.

It’s also important to remember that posts can be simple as long as they’re useful. For example, you can put together a “blog posts greatest hits,” where you highlight a group of related posts that got a lot of views in the past. Posts don’t have to be complex; they just have to be consistent.

One other point – you have to be viewed as authoritative. One way to do that is to make your blog into a resource by linking to additional content outside of your material (such as a relevant blog or news article).

3. Be Where Your Customers Are

Social media alone is not enough – use it as one of your tools, not the only tool. As Amy Vernon says, ”Figure out where your audience is and go there.”

A multi-channel approach allows you to include everything from email to Twitter to advertising to guest posting and more. Wherever your audience does its research is where you want to be seen.

At the same time, don’t worry about the number of followers you have on each channel. In the wise words of Vernon, having the right 500 connections is better than having thousands of followers who aren’t engaged.

Furthermore, B2B companies must have a strong presence on LinkedIn. According to Vernon, it’s the most important platform for B2B. Kramer added that Google views LinkedIn as very credible – don’t disregard its power.

4. Use the Tools Available

There is an ever-growing list of tools available for monitoring and utilizing social media. Kramer and Vernon listed quite a few in their talk. Here’s a sample for you to explore:

Free tools to evaluate your website: HubSpot’s Grader, WebsiteOptimization.com, HubShout

Paid tools inbound marketing tools: HubSpot and Moz

A globally-recognized avatar for use when commenting on blogs: Gravatar

Alerts regarding news that is good for enhancing content: Newsle, Social Mention, TalkWalker

Tools to build your social networks: FollowerWonk, WeFollow, Twibes

Tools for building an editorial calendar: DivvyHQ, Kapost

5. Track Your Success

Although it’s listed last, this is one of the most important steps. If you don’t track your accomplishments, you’ll never know if you hit the goals you set for yourself when developing your strategy. Use the tools listed above to make decisions based on your audience’s actions. Become data-driven, and let that drive tweaks in your content strategy.

Photo: Flickr

18 Growing B2B Content Marketing Trends to Share

b2b-trends-up-and-rightEvery year the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs collaborate on a content marketing survey of B2B marketers. This year’s results are based on responses from 1,416 North American B2B marketers from all industries and all size companies. And just like last year, the adoption of content marketing and the sharing of it using social media continues to grow. We have selected some key data points from the survey and listed them for you below, complete with buttons to share on Twitter and LinkedIn. The complete study is embedded at the end of this post.

1. 91% of B2B Marketers use content marketing

2. 87% of B2B Marketers use social media to distribute their content

3. 77% of B2B Marketers use blogs as part of their content marketing

4. 55% of B2B Marketers believe ebooks are an effective marketing tactic

5. 83% of B2B Marketers use LinkedIn to distribute their content

6. 80% of B2B Marketers use Twitter to distribute their content

7. 80% of B2B Marketers use Facebook to distribute their content

8. 39% of B2B Marketers use Google+ to distribute their content

9. 23% of B2B Marketers use Slideshare to distribute their content

10. 79% of B2B Marketers use content marketing for brand awareness

11. 71% of B2B Marketers use content marketing for lead generation

12. 54% of B2B Marketers plan to increase spending on content marketing

13. 33% of B2B Marketing budgets are dedicated to content marketing

14. 44% of B2B Marketers outsource their content marketing

15. 59% of B2B Marketers tailor content to the profile of the decision maker

16. 64% of B2B Marketers are challenged to produce enough content

17. 52% of B2B Marketers are challenged to produce content that engages

18. Only 36% of B2B Marketers believe their content marketing is effective

Are there any trends that surprise you, either too high or too low? Share your comments below or in your tweets or updates with the data points.

Photo Credit: Flickr

Getting Better at B2B Social Media

Social media for B2B companies is not something that you turn on, set it and forget it. Not only do existing tools change and new tools appear, but your customers and prospects interact differently with social media as they become more comfortable using it. Inherent in change is improvement. Professionally, we all want to do better than we did last month or last quarter or last year. Some of the following posts will help inspire you to do that. There is a reluctance to track hard metrics because this holds people and campaigns accountable for their success, but in the long run, we need to understand what works and what doesn’t so we can achieve better results.

12 Ways to Improve B2B Social Media Marketing in 2012
from MarketingProfs
Want to add some rocket fuel to your B2B marketing in 2012? Get 12 big ideas for improving B2B social media marketing from the experts.
Continue reading

Why People Dislike Metrics
from Amplified Analytics Blog
I was talking to one of my customers about her experience trying to introduce the use of metrics into the business processes she is managing. Janet is in the gourmet food marketing business and was hoping to use analytics for discovering the patterns of shoppers’ consumption of her products by the time of day, as well as an impact of promotional events on the sales results. The food business, in her words, is a very fragmented environment and even the simplest business process tends to involve a number of companies to perform.
Continue reading

How to Meet Google’s Newest Quality Standards for Content
from Content Marketing Institute
In the midst of Google’s latest algorithm change, many marketers are in a tizzy over how their search engine presence — and ranking — will be impacted. The SEO game keeps changing, and as a content marketer it’s important to understand what the changes are and how to use them to stay competitive.
Continue reading

The Evergreen Laws of Marketing
from Chief Marketing Technologist
I’ve shared the laws of technology for marketers. But what about laws of marketing for technologists? The single most insightful marketing book I’ve ever read was published nearly 20 years ago, before the Web was anything more than an academic experiment: The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout.
Continue reading

Fear and Social Media Don’t Mix
from B2B Memes
Cynics might argue that institutions inherently distrust anything they can’t control. But their challenge in dealing with social media has more to do with the culture of caution and conservatism that every traditional organization seems to engender.
Continue reading

Approach Your B2B Social Media Strategy from Many Sides

Many B2B marketers approach their social media programs from a tactic entry point. There is pressure to get started. Sometimes that pressure is from above. Sometimes it’s from below. There can even be pressure from the industry and competitors. This is why so many blog posts about social media focus on the tactics. They answer “how to” questions. They help solve marketers’ biggest challenges. And the small ones too.

Social media succeeds for B2B companies when it starts from a strategic level where goals and metrics are tied to higher level business objectives. I feel like I say this all the time. Not just here on this site, but in my day job, in presentations and in our book. But it is still worth reminding marketers of this. The following articles all get you thinking about higher level strategies that you need to put in place. Even the LinkedIn article about new demographic data available in the platform, which seems very tactical, should make you think about your target audience and how to reach them. Those are strategic thoughts, or at least they should be.

Have you seen any other posts recently that have inspired your strategy approach? Share them in the comments below.

The Evolution of B2B Marketing: Why Generating Leads Isn’t Enough Anymore
from MarketingProfs
If you’re like most B2B marketers, you diligently plan and execute campaigns to drive new opportunities and, ultimately, increase revenue. But unless you’re ready to rethink marketing’s role, you may be throwing precious budget dollars out the window and missing opportunities to drive real customer value.
Continue reading

Social, Content & Selling – a Chief Revenue Officer’s take
from Inside Sales Experts Blog
I recently participated in a conversation over at Focus.com: How can you create a culture where your employees feel comfortable creating content? The idea being, that the creation of content is now an organizational responsibility as opposed to just being Marketing’s. At one point in the dialogue, I was sick of hearing what all the pundits think (myself included) so I threw down the glove and asked a Sales Exec to chime in. Well, Alex Shootman the Chief Revenue Officer of Eloqua did.
Continue reading

Lessons from a B2B Summit Coach: Five Steps to Cut through the Noise, Turn off the Hype and Create a B2B Social Media Program that Works
from B2B Lead Roundtable Blog
I am further convinced social media is one of the most challenging channels for B2B marketers to manage. It’s so unpredictable, yet there’s so much pressure surrounding it – everyone feels like they need to be on every social media channel or else. And there’s so many people claiming to be social media experts, but don’t just blindly follow their advice. You see, I don’t believe anyone can be a true social media guru because there are constantly new ideas, platforms and methodologies.
Continue reading

ZMOT, and what it means to B2B marketers
from Velocity B2B Marketing Blog
What is Zero Moment of Truth and what do buyers do during ZMOT?
They google, of course. They learn about their choices online, read reviews, watch videos, etc., etc., etc. To big brands like Proctor & Gamble, Coca-Cola and General Electric, the new mental model defined by ZMOT has attracted a tremendous amount of attention. Research undertaken by Shopper Science indicated that ZMOT was even more influential on purchases than the original stimulus that starts a purchase decision, and the first moment of truth. Arguably, ZMOT carries more importance for B2B markets than it does for B2C markets, as the larger the purchase the more time for pre-purchase research.
Continue reading

LinkedIn Becomes More Relevant for B2B Communicators
from B2B Voices
LinkedIn continues to be enhance its platform for B2B communicators. Last month the company announced that companies could stream news and information from its corporate page. That was a small change and a much needed addition. But a much bigger change has just happened.
Continue reading

5 Ways to Improve Your B2B Social Media Content

As B2B marketers work to connect with customers and prospects through social media, one of the keys to those connections is to create remarkable, compelling content. That content needs to provide value to your followers and fans, rather than push your products or services. The following tips can help you create better content, more compelling content and content that provides value.

1. Develop a Monthly Theme
B2B marketers hear over and over that they need to act like the best trade publication in their industry. Usually this means things like cover the industry and create an editorial calendar. But what if you add to the list developing a monthly theme as part of the editorial calendar? Many trade publications have themes to their monthly issues. This means that the majority of blog posts for that month are about the theme. It doesn’t mean you can’t write about anything else, but it provides focus to the content you create in a given month. If you create ebooks or webinars in that month, they should also follow the theme.

2. Add the Voice of the Customer
Very often we create content in a vacuum and assume we know what will resonate with our customers and prospects. Sometimes we get that right. But other times we miss by a mile. To make sure you hit that target more times than not, ask you customers what information would be helpful to them. Ask across industries, company size and geography. The size of your customer base determines the level of formality of the questions. Salespeople can ask informally or you can email a link to an online survey. And find out what kind of information would help convince them to become a customer if they were not already.

3. Involve Customers
Customer testimonials have always been a part of B2B marketing, but they have never been very compelling. What if you include your best customers in a series of webinars about best practices. These are not customers saying how great your solutions (read products) are. These are using your customers’ knowledge and expertise to share with your network. Don’t just limit this to video interviews, but consider webinars too, so they can provide more in depth information.

4. Dedicate Resources
Creating content consistently creates connections with customers, if only for the alliteration. It is ideal if you can have staff that is dedicated to content creation, but if you can’t, you can dedicate time to it. Set aside an afternoon each week, preferably the same afternoon, as sacred content creation time. Put it on your calendar, and don’t let anything interfere with it. If you are creating longer form content on a regular basis, block off that on your calendar too.

5. Combine Disparate Ideas
Part of creating compelling content starts with good ideas, but how you convey those ideas is just as important. And one way to improve your content is to bring together two disparate ideas that show a new way of thinking about your industry or area of expertise. Some recent examples of these include a MarketingProfs post using Springsteen song lyrics as a primer on social media marketing and a CDC post about how preparing for a zombie apocalypse helps you prepare for a real emergency. These types of ideas are also more likely to stand out in an endless flow of online content.

If you have other ideas that you have used to improve your B2B content, share them in the comments below.

How to Create Great B2B Presentations

This past week I spoke at the MarketingProfs B2B Forum in Boston, and one of the keynote speakers was Nancy Duarte. Her presentation about presentations was very inspiring. I speak a fair amount at conferences and events and I usually create a new presentation for each event. My mostly visual presentations are filled with information, examples and ways to accomplish things.

The main point of Nancy’s presentation was that we need to use story and structure to convey our ideas to achieve change. Whether you are looking to change the world, as Steve Jobs and Martin Luther King were in her examples, or you are convincing a room full of communicators that it is worth their time to invest in social media, as I often do, it can be done with the right kind of presentation.

The message for B2B marketers, who are used to bullet point-laden decks where the only visual excitement is when each bullet point zooms onto the screen, is that they need to focus on the idea and what action they want the audience to take. It might be a sales presentation to a prospect. It might be an internal lunch and learn. It could even be a project summary for your boss. Before you begin creating the slides, determine what action you want your audience to take after hearing your idea. By using Nancy’s structure of repeatedly showing them the future with your idea in place, they will begin to own the idea themselves and go forth to change the world. Or at least their small portion of it.

If you have recently been inspired, whether to create better presentations, or some other aspect of your marketing efforts, we would love to hear about it in the comments.

Below is Nancy’s presentation from TEDx, which is a shorter version of the talk I saw earlier this week.

And here’s a link to Nancy’s latest book, Resonate.