Video: Hubspot and the Content Marketing Funnel

As a follow-up to yesterday’s post about content marketing and the sales funnel, we have a short interview with Kipp Bodnar, Inbound Marketing Manager of Hubspot. Kipp talks about how Hubspot creates and shares content with customers when they are at different points in the sales funnel. And if you are paying attention, this is the same Kipp that co-founded this site.

Let us know in the comments below how you are using content marketing to move prospects through the sales funnel.

Top 10 B2B Comedy Videos

This list of funny B2B videos includes two of my own projects, one each from Cisco and IBM, which seems both reasonable and in compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley. To keep the comparisons somewhat fair, I’m going to exclude videos for smaller ticket products (e.g. FedEx, Nextel, Staples) since their addressable markets are much closer in size to B2C, affording much larger production budgets. The opinions below are my own, as my company officially does not comment on rumor or comedies.

1. The Cart Whisperer takes an idea we recognize from a Redford film and applies an absurd context that’s only remotely relevant to its sponsor VeriSign.  If during the approval process someone in marketing gripes, “What in the heck does this have to do with our product?,” you’re off to a great start.   This enjoyable experience continues on the microsite, where we’re invited to participate by uploading our own photos of abandoned carts.

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2. While august Wall Street firms such as Goldman Sachs don’t need to lean on comedy to build a global reputation, that’s not the case for some smaller businesses in the banking ecosystem, like the regional repo-man.

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3. I’m pretty sure Art of the Sale was the first B2B comedy on YouTube.  My partner Scott Teems and I created it in the summer of 2006, featuring  sales vp Bob Hoey as himself.  Hoey began his acting career in 2004 starring in a comedy short “Z On Demand”  which was released direct-to-DVD (we copied discs for each regional sales meeting) and on the company intranet.   Since I couldn’t get a comedy video approved initially, I kept the financial risk small by offering Scott $400 to direct/edit/film the spot.  I think his fees have gone up a bit since his feature film won SXSW.

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4. I don’t like potty humor, but David Meerman Scott showed me a completely new angle in this brilliant CWS ad.  I’m sure the production benefited from a TV broadcast budget, but I’m still including it in this list because its for a narrow industrial market.  For more background, see this previous Social Media B2B post.

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5. Microsoft chose the classic comedy approach of juxtaposition to sell to advertisers.  In this metaphor, the man and the woman characters in the relationship represent advertisers and consumers, and to be sure we’re not confused, the symbolism is spelled out — on their t-shirts.

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6. Kinaxis used the same dating/relationship storyline to poke fun at a supply chain management rival, but thankfully  Sally Ann Perkins is not wearing a monogrammed t-shirt.  This kind of humor is perfect for its target  – inside jokes are flattering to your audience, and can build rapport by making fun of a shared pain.   Clare McDermott told me when prospective customers meet Kinaxis’ representatives at trade shows, they say that watching the video has made them feel like they already know the company.   There’s your ROI.

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7. Also early to YouTube in October 2006, Dell jumps in on the JibJab genre.  It’s very well executed with sharp graphics/animation and music, and a script full if inside geek jokes.  I’m guessing they didn’t get script approval from Larry.

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8. My hard-and-fast rule of never including a rap video on a top 10 list was softened to more of a guideline thanks to intern Greg Justice. When  original music, clever lyrics and Chuck E. Cheese’s references blend into an artful production, the genre is timeless.  I love Woot’s rhyme, jokes and the honesty.

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9. Keeping product specifics out of a video is always a good idea, particularly when the video goes live a few weeks before the launch.  And those aren’t my words — that’s what my manager told me after reviewing an early draft of my script.  So, instead of mentioning details of Cisco’s Videoscape announcement at CES, we empathized with the lonely TV set.

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10. “People just didn’t seem to like me”  is one of the touching admissions in this beautiful example of personification.  This clever story resonates with us, because we’ve all experienced this feeling.  It creates curiosity and delivers surprise.  Hats off to Mr. W.

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Let me know in the comments if there are other B2B videos that have made you laugh your way to a call to action.

Does B2B Social Media Drive Holiday Sales?

Here in the US, this past Friday marked the beginning of the retail holiday selling season. As more shoppers moved their purchases online, social media contributed to their choices of websites and their knowledge of the latest deals. Can social media help with B2B sales as we close out the year and head toward the holidays? Let’s look at some examples.

  • If you sell enterprise software, does adding a Santa hat to your Twitter avatar help close those sales?
  • If you provide business consulting services, does adding a holiday themed landing tab on your Facebook Page bring in end of the year business?
  • If you sell forklifts to warehouse operations large and small, will a holiday video convert to sales of new forklifts?

  • If you answered yes to any of these questions, you haven’t been paying enough attention to this site and you need to go back and read more posts. Social media success in B2B is not about a single tactic, or even a single themed action, but it is just like B2B sales. It is based on the long term building of relationships. Each of the above examples can contribute to sales if they are in the context of larger activities and are part of the relationship building process.

    • Adding some holiday cheer to an active Twitter account where you communicate regularly with your customers and prospects can help humanize your enterprise software company and contribute to closing sales.
    • Create an engaging holiday themed landing tab on your Facebook Page for your business consulting services and encourage customers to share holiday stories. This building of community strengthens ties to your business and between customers.
    • Create a fun holiday video of your employees rather than mail a traditional card. Many of your customers may see the people they communicate with by phone or email for the first time. This is another way to improve your relationship with your customers, show the human side of your company and provide another touchpoint for your sales force.

    What are some ways you are reaching out to your customers with social media this holiday season?

4 Ways the New Apple iPhone Can Benefit B2B Marketers

Even though many B2B companies, especially corporate and enterprise level companies, prefer Blackberries as their smart phone of choice, if you are in the social media space, a new iPhone is still news and you wonder if this is the time to make the switch. Each generation of iPhone improves its corporate compatibility, and this one is no exception. The new iPhone 4 supports Exchange Server 2010. It also has improved data protection, device management, and VPN support, all things that could make a corporate IT manager more comfortable with the device. But the real question is why do you, a B2B marketer and the person responsible for implementing social media in your company need one. Here are four new features that might convince you:

Facetime Video Conferencing
This is the feature that everyone is talking about on the new iPhone4 and mobile video conferencing, called Facetime, even though it’s just over wifi, is a great feature. Also both parties need the iPhone 4 for this work. Video call your office from a client site and don’t just talk, but show your face. Switch to the back camera and show your product engineer how the client is using your product and the service issues they are experiencing. Share printed documents or photos in real time while you talk about them. And communicating with your office with your face, and not just your voice, is a stronger way to get your message across.

Mobile Video Editing
Another benefit of the iPhone 4 is the continued expansion of mobile video. Not only are the quality and features of video better than the previous generation of iPhone, but it includes a mobile version of iMovie, Apple’s easy to use video editing software. Now those short trade show videos and customer testimonials can be edited and uploaded before you even return to the office.

Better Organization
Rather than a random display of apps (or chronological or alphabetical), the new iPhone 4 allows you to organize apps in folders. These can be organized by topic, or can be customized. You can put your business or productivity apps together and keep your games or other leisure apps in another folder. You can also keep all your social media tools together for easy access.

This is one of those updates that is a long time coming in the operating system, but helpful for the marketer on the go. Switch between tasks easily and the apps remember your place, whether it’s viewing documents while writing emails, or checking your CRM system, while updating Twitter and listening to your favorite station on Pandora.

What are the features of the new iPhone 4 that would make you consider getting one?

SXSW: How IBM Uses B2B Social Media

Adam Christensen is the social media manager at IBM and we spoke at the SXSW Interactive Conference in Austin TX about IBM’s implementation and uses of B2B social media.

IBM focuses their social media efforts on getting their employees talking outside the firewall to surface their expertise. The idea is that the best way to represent the brand is to showcase its people and their knowledge. Many of their social efforts began internally as a way for employees to learn from others and collaborate, and some of the internal tools even became products offered to the marketplace.

There is a video platform where any employee can upload internal videos and podcasts. They have also done work externally by changing the corporate stereotypes of B2B video. And for those getting started, Adam recommends getting started in social media by proving success on an internal pilot project. Follow Adam on Twitter at @adamclyde.

Thanks to Ryan Boyles, part of the IBM WebSphere Software team, for connecting me with Adam.

10 B2B Social Media Videos Worth Watching

When it comes to B2B social media, online video has a special role. While many people online like to consume information quickly in the form of blog posts or tweets, video offers depth. In the way that a B2B product can be complex, so can understanding social media’s implications for B2B companies.

This post is for people in your organization who are just starting to learn about B2B social media. These 10 videos offer important perspective on the power of social media as it relates to B2B. While it takes longer to consumer information online via video, it does a better job at communicating emotion. I also find you will get people repeating soundbites from videos in meetings or when they are selling social media to executives.

10 B2B Social Media B2B Videos Worth Watching

1. Social Media Is a Must for B2B Too By Jay Bear
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2. B2B Marketers on Social Media By ReachForce
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3. How B2B Marketers Can Get Started With Social Media By HubSpot
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4. Creators of Will It Blend Talk about Social Media, Branding and B2B By Koroberi
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5. Colleen Cunningham uses Twitter as B2B tool By NatashaRuckel
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6. The 8 Social Media Commandments By CiscoChannels
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7. Steven B. Johnson at the MarketingProfs B2B Forum By MarketingProfs
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8. Money and Time Saving Tips for Creating Benchmarks in Social Media By MarketingProfs
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9. How to Get Started in Business Blogging with Andy Beal By WebMarketingToday
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10. Finding Content for your Business Blog By CompendiumBlogware
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Were these videos helpful? Do you know of others that should be listed?

5 Ways to Expand B2B Blogging Beyond the Marketing Staff

Frequently social media in B2B companies, and especially blogging, is a function of the marketing staff. It is easy for others in the company to defer to marketing because this is often perceived to be the job of marketing. There is so much knowledge and expertise in other areas of the company, below are some ideas to spread the blogging around among others in the organization.

One of the reasons to consider some of these ideas is that marketing professionals do not always make good bloggers. People who are used to communicating in a marketing style of features and benefits can sometimes have trouble finding the right voice for a corporate blog. This voice needs to be established, along with the content strategy and editorial calendar of the blog, and maintained by a single owner, or editor, of the blog. The editor is also the one who is responsible making sure that posts keep flowing. They can either write all the posts themselves, or try to find help.

1. Finding Company Bloggers
Whether you are starting a corporate blog or you have been publishing one for a while, you should always be on the lookout for others within the company to write for it. As you talk to people within the company and they talk about interesting things they are doing or present a unique take on the state of the industry, ask them to write a guest post for the blog. Anyone can do this one time without a big commitment. This shows if they have what it takes to blog. And remember that not everyone does. Look for people with good ideas who can convey them well in writing.

2. Product Managers Share Expertise
Pay close attention to product managers or product engineers. These are people who best understand your customers’ issues and are providing solutions to those problems. If they can write about those issues at a higher level, beyond just “our products solve that,” people from the product team can make some of the best bloggers. These are also some of the most passionate members of your organization, which is a great trait for a blogger to have.

3. Promote Industry Issues
Do you have recognized industry thought leaders in your company? Do you have dynamic people with good ideas, who are well-connected in the industry? These are emerging thought leaders. These may be some of the harder people to convince to blog because of the time involved, but try to get several of these people to commit to one post per month. This is good for both the individuals and the company for them to be publishing regular articles about industry issues.

4. Create Competition Among Bloggers
Once you have a core group of bloggers writing for the company blog, one way to keep them productive and involved is to set up some friendly competition. Set up a leader board that tracks the popularity of posts. The things you can track and compare are number of posts, page views per post, number of retweets, and the biggie, number of comments. In addition to some internal competition complete with trash talking, there are two main things that happen from this leader board. It will force you to stay on top of the metrics of the blog since you have to keep the leaderboard updated, and it will encourage your bloggers to get better. They will learn what kinds of posts get more traffic, what kinds of headlines get retweeted, and what encourages comments. These are things that good bloggers learn by blogging, and by providing extra incentive to your non-marketing bloggers, they will develop these skills too.

5. Find the Next Speilberg Within Each Department
Not everyone is a videographer, but if you rotate the video role around a department you will find some creative people in your company. Since video is another way to tell a story, pick one person from each department and give them a month to shoot some video about something going on in their department, the company or the community. Rotate around people in the department and rotate departments. This will create a regular feature on the blog and really add some depth to the human side of your company. Keep this simple by having them shoot the video and you can edit it for them. It will keep a similar look to all the pieces.

Do you have other suggestions for lightening the blogging burden from the blog editor?

Social Media Tips for the Office Holiday Party

While they may not be as lavish as they might have been in the past, and there may not be as many people in attendance, this weekend many companies will throw their office holiday parties. Whether your company is using social media or planning to use social media in 2010, as those are the only two categories of businesses, here are some tips to keep in mind in this fully-connected, always-on, smartphone on every hip business world.

Social Media Tips for Companies using Social Media

1. If you are posting pictures to your company Facebook Fan Page, only post ones from early in the evening. Your fans want to see the human side of your company, but there is a limit to how much you should show. If your page has multiple administrators, make sure all of them understand the posting policy.

2. If you have connected Twitter to LinkedIn, unconnect it for the evening. Your business connections do not need to see even one accidental party picture on the most professional social network.

3. Do not live blog or live stream the holiday party.

4. Take pictures throughout the evening with a digital camera so you can review and edit later before posting on line.

5. Set up a video station near the door and ask everyone who attends to record a short video holiday message. A santa hat or other common holiday prop makes this fun. Editing these greetings together can give you some blog content for the holiday downtime.

Social Media Tips for Companies not using Social Media

1. Many employees may have personal social media profiles, so watch out for “tweetable moments.”

2. Party pictures are fun, but they really don’t need to be on your Facebook personal profile, especially now that Facebook wants your information public.

3. Just because someone has a Blackberry, doesn’t mean they are on Twitter. Don’t make fun of them for tweeting. They are probably checking email (which they should not be doing at the company party).

4. Take advantage of this informal setting to talk up social media and explain why it’s a good thing for your company to start doing.

5. Since social media is all about being social, connect with other employees that you don’t see very often. Social media makes it easier to have conversations with others, so take those ideas into the real world.

What are your social media plans for your holiday party?

4 Reasons Vlogging Isn’t Better Than Blogging For B2B

Reminder: Take The 2010 B2B Social Media Marketing Survey!

I have talked about the value of video blogging before on Social Media B2B and while I think it is important, heck I even have a video blog, I don’t think they are better than text-based blogging for B2B marketing and communications. I recently read a blog post about Cisco advocating that video blogging is better than blogging. They provide valid reasons like credibility and authenticity, however, they are wrong…for now.

Here is the head blogger for Cisco discussing their take on video blogging:

He has many good points, but the problem is that video blogging still has many issues that stop it from being the best way to blog:

1. Video Doesn’t Work With Most Mobile Devices – It can’t be denied that smart phones are becoming an increasingly growing platform to consume information from the web. The problem is that most web-based video players don’t work on mobile devices. When I click on the Cisco post above and view it on my iPhone half of the content is gone because I can’t see it on my phone. The majority of B2B users have BlackBerry’s and video is the same way on those devices. Because of this issue video blogs reduce possible exposure and reach to target audiences.

2. Video Search Is a Work In Progress – Most search platforms like Google and Bing are still heavily rooted in text and do a poor job integrating video. While uploading video to multiple sharing sites can be used for search engine optimization, a video-only blog would have difficulty ranking well for a diverse set a keywords, unless the content was so compelling that it could drive an abundance of back links. Transcripts of video can also help solve the search problem, but this in not an ideal or quick solution.

3. Video Takes Longer To Consume – The Internet has shortened attention spans and business-to-business users have more information than ever fighting for their attention. To solve this, most people try to get through information faster by skimming or reading only the first few paragraphs of an article. The issue with video is that it takes longer to consume it then to read text, so for many users, it doesn’t fit into their tight schedules. Sure, you can fast forward web video, but it is still a different experience trying to watch a 5 minute video in 30 seconds than quickly skimming an article.

4. Connection/Quality – In addition to taking longer to consume for users who have slow Internet connections, watching video can be an even slower experience. Also, the quality of most online video is still much lower than many people are used to on their TVs and other video devices. The overall experience of online video still needs improvement. If users have to wait for your video to load, they aren’t going to watch it. It doesn’t matter that the speed of their connection is out of your control.

Am I suggesting that you don’t video blog? No. I am suggesting that a video only blog TODAY is not the best idea for a B2B marketing tactic. I believe that the best opportunity when publishing on the web is to have a mix of all forms of media: text, audio, images and video. Different forms of media bring different types of engagement and bring out different emotions.

Do you use video blogging in your B2B blog?

Video: @SchneiderMike Explains Social CRM in a B2B Context

While Mike Schneider was in North Carolina speaking at the Social Media Business Forum speaking about Social CRM, he took a few minutes to explain Social CRM to me. He describes is as encouraging a buyer-led conversation around your products and services, and providing a place, or community, for those conversations to happen.

Mike has spent his career solving problems using technology with a focus on marketing and analytics. He is currently Vice President Director of Contributions (an analytics and emerging technology group) at Allen & Gerritsen. Follow him on Twitter