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What’s in a job title? In my tenure as a marketer, I’ve met gurus who don’t live on mountaintops, ninjas who don’t know martial arts, and evangelists who don’t preach on Sunday. 

At worst, these creative job titles are pure puffery. But at best, they serve as a statement of purpose. I’m thinking of titles like Shep Hyken’s Chief Amazement Officer, or Ann Handley as Chief Content Officer: They tell us something about what the person — and their organization — values.

Latne Conant from 6sense has a subtly unusual job title: Chief Market Officer. She dropped the ‘ing’ from ‘Marketing,’ and that tiny change signals a major shift in the way she approaches her job. Instead of focusing on the verb of marketing — what tactics to deploy to reach an audience —  her job is to deeply understand the market, the people her brand is trying to reach.

For Latane, getting rid of that ‘ing’ makes all the difference in turning marketers into revenue-generating dynamos. In her Break Free B2B interview with our president and co-founder Susan Misukanis, Latane elaborated on how 6sense’s approach is unique, what technologies they use, and how they’ve achieved some truly impressive results.

[bctt tweet=”“If I am engaging accounts more effectively than my competition, I will generate more pipeline, I’ll win more often, I’ll have bigger deals, and I will set my relationship off with those customers better.” #B2BMarketing @LataneConant @6senseInc” username=”toprank”]

:58 – How can CMOs better understand customer insight in the age of the “dark funnel?”

2:52 – Changing focus from the tactics of marketing to knowing your audience

4:00 – The Chief Market Officer – losing the “ing”

6:45 – Not accepting limitations in pursuing a career

7:29 – Getting what you want is easy; knowing what you want is hard

8:30 – The Fun Factor in managing a team

9:00 – V2MOM and organization

10:15 – If you’re not effing up, you’re not pushing the envelope hard enough

12:21 – Inverting the org chart — leading from the bottom

13:45 – Leads are not the primary measure of success

16:10 – Marketing is a revenue team

17:25 – Engagement is the new oil

18:45 – The new standard for marketing executives

You were recently quoted saying that today’s CMOs need to be the masters of understanding customer insights and putting them to use. So are CMOs progressing in this area of insights, or is it just still a massive black hole, and that’s why you’re preaching? 

Well, first of all, I hope I would never seem preachy, because we are all in this together, we’re all in the black hole together. I think the challenge that we have is only 13% of sales and marketing teams have any confidence in their data, because it’s primarily opportunity data in CRM, or it’s map data, which is basically lead-based. 

And if you think about the buying journey, most of it happens anonymously, or what we at 6sense call your “dark funnel.” So that’s where all the rich research is really happening. 

No one’s coming to your website and downloading your content anymore. It’s also a buying team. It’s not a lead or contact, and buyer journeys aren’t linear. So you think about this new modern buying journey, which is anonymous. It’s a buying team, not a leader contact, and it’s not linear. And you look at the tools that we have at our disposal as CMOs, and it’s sort of like we are a Model T trying to get to the moon. 

And so thinking about the black hole, it’s really looking for platforms that are AI and big data based. Because at the end of the day, even if you’re amazing, your data is gonna suck, and it’s okay. So I think admit that all our data sucks. Yeah, we’ve got to marry our data up with a much bigger platform and be able to understand that anonymous activity so we have a true picture of this nonlinear buying journey. Once you have that, you can start to re-imagine a better what I call prospect experience.

Susan:
How do you manage your teams and get them motivated? How do you hold the bar where you hold it?

Latane:
I would say the first thing is I’m clear that my expectations are high. And I’m very clear in the interview process, that my expectations are going to be very, very high. And you have to want that! Some people don’t want that. So the first thing is, do you want to do good work or do you want to do great work? And it is okay if this is not the gig for you. So I think that’s the first level of it.

The second level of it is, I really believe in having fun. So my old CEO, Chris Barban, taught me this: He said, eight out of 10 working days, you must be having fun. And that’s we call the fun factor. And so everyone on my team, what’s your fun factor? And if it’s not an eight, what’s going on, but it’s also up to me to bring the fun, right? To say, hey, let’s go grab a soulcycle class or let’s go for a run or let’s — you know what, we’re all strung out — let’s do something fun together. So, I think having fun and enjoying each other is allowed. We laugh a lot. We joke around a lot. 

And then the third really key thing for me is a strategic planning process that I use called V2MOM. And it originated with Salesforce. But it’s now really popular — a lot of tech companies use it and I’ve used it at two companies now, and two of the boards that I work on have adopted it, and it’s all about prioritization. 

I don’t know if I can cuss on this show, but I consulted The CMOs that I work with, from an advisory perspective, I say you have to know what you give an F about. And know what you don’t give an F about, because you can’t give an F about everything. So what V2MOM forces is everything is time-bound, and everything is prioritized. 

So I have high expectations for these things. I don’t care. Don’t wait. Like, if you’re spending one second over there — that’s not going to be an excuse for missing on this. And we all agree to those priorities every single quarter. So it’s very clear what we’re doing and we’re gonna do it right.

Latane:
I actually just changed my title to Chief Market Officer. And it’s an important distinction that a lady who was actually on our board — who’s amazing, her name is Christine Heckard, And she’s been a CMO. And now she’s the CEO. And she’s talked a lot about the role of the CMO. And we have gotten ourselves really mired down in ‘ing.’ “I did a blog, I did webinars, look at all these MQLs I pass to sales, here’s my funnel, here’s my tech stack.” That is all ing ing ing. 

Her challenge to CMOs is to redefine that. We are the seat at the table that needs to understand the market. That is customers today and customers tomorrow. That’s why this audience-first approach and understanding the market, then you can apply the ing. But it’s not a cheap financing offer sir or cheap selling officer. We sort of diminished our role by not taking that seat at the table. 

Stay tuned to the TopRank Marketing Blog and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more Break Free B2B interviews. Here are a few more highlights from this season:

What’s in a job title? In my tenure as a marketer, I’ve met gurus who don’t live on mountaintops, ninjas who don’t know martial arts, and evangelists who don’t preach on Sunday. 

At worst, these creative job titles are pure puffery. But at best, they serve as a statement of purpose. I’m thinking of titles like Shep Hyken’s Chief Amazement Officer, or Ann Handley as Chief Content Officer: They tell us something about what the person — and their organization — values.

Latne Conant from 6sense has a subtly unusual job title: Chief Market Officer. She dropped the ‘ing’ from ‘Marketing,’ and that tiny change signals a major shift in the way she approaches her job. Instead of focusing on the verb of marketing — what tactics to deploy to reach an audience —  her job is to deeply understand the market, the people her brand is trying to reach.

For Latane, getting rid of that ‘ing’ makes all the difference in turning marketers into revenue-generating dynamos. In her Break Free B2B interview with our president and co-founder Susan Misukanis, Latane elaborated on how 6sense’s approach is unique, what technologies they use, and how they’ve achieved some truly impressive results.

:58 – How can CMOs better understand customer insight in the age of the “dark funnel?”

2:52 – Changing focus from the tactics of marketing to knowing your audience

4:00 – The Chief Market Officer – losing the “ing”

6:45 – Not accepting limitations in pursuing a career

7:29 – Getting what you want is easy; knowing what you want is hard

8:30 – The Fun Factor in managing a team

9:00 – V2MOM and organization

10:15 – If you’re not effing up, you’re not pushing the envelope hard enough

12:21 – Inverting the org chart — leading from the bottom

13:45 – Leads are not the primary measure of success

16:10 – Marketing is a revenue team

17:25 – Engagement is the new oil

18:45 – The new standard for marketing executives

You were recently quoted saying that today’s CMOs need to be the masters of understanding customer insights and putting them to use. So are CMOs progressing in this area of insights, or is it just still a massive black hole, and that’s why you’re preaching? 

Well, first of all, I hope I would never seem preachy, because we are all in this together, we’re all in the black hole together. I think the challenge that we have is only 13% of sales and marketing teams have any confidence in their data, because it’s primarily opportunity data in CRM, or it’s map data, which is basically lead-based. 

And if you think about the buying journey, most of it happens anonymously, or what we at 6sense call your “dark funnel.” So that’s where all the rich research is really happening. 

No one’s coming to your website and downloading your content anymore. It’s also a buying team. It’s not a lead or contact, and buyer journeys aren’t linear. So you think about this new modern buying journey, which is anonymous. It’s a buying team, not a leader contact, and it’s not linear. And you look at the tools that we have at our disposal as CMOs, and it’s sort of like we are a Model T trying to get to the moon. 

And so thinking about the black hole, it’s really looking for platforms that are AI and big data based. Because at the end of the day, even if you’re amazing, your data is gonna suck, and it’s okay. So I think admit that all our data sucks. Yeah, we’ve got to marry our data up with a much bigger platform and be able to understand that anonymous activity so we have a true picture of this nonlinear buying journey. Once you have that, you can start to re-imagine a better what I call prospect experience.

Susan:
How do you manage your teams and get them motivated? How do you hold the bar where you hold it?

Latane:
I would say the first thing is I’m clear that my expectations are high. And I’m very clear in the interview process, that my expectations are going to be very, very high. And you have to want that! Some people don’t want that. So the first thing is, do you want to do good work or do you want to do great work? And it is okay if this is not the gig for you. So I think that’s the first level of it.

The second level of it is, I really believe in having fun. So my old CEO, Chris Barban, taught me this: He said, eight out of 10 working days, you must be having fun. And that’s we call the fun factor. And so everyone on my team, what’s your fun factor? And if it’s not an eight, what’s going on, but it’s also up to me to bring the fun, right? To say, hey, let’s go grab a soulcycle class or let’s go for a run or let’s — you know what, we’re all strung out — let’s do something fun together. So, I think having fun and enjoying each other is allowed. We laugh a lot. We joke around a lot. 

And then the third really key thing for me is a strategic planning process that I use called V2MOM. And it originated with Salesforce. But it’s now really popular — a lot of tech companies use it and I’ve used it at two companies now, and two of the boards that I work on have adopted it, and it’s all about prioritization. 

I don’t know if I can cuss on this show, but I consulted The CMOs that I work with, from an advisory perspective, I say you have to know what you give an F about. And know what you don’t give an F about, because you can’t give an F about everything. So what V2MOM forces is everything is time-bound, and everything is prioritized. 

So I have high expectations for these things. I don’t care. Don’t wait. Like, if you’re spending one second over there — that’s not going to be an excuse for missing on this. And we all agree to those priorities every single quarter. So it’s very clear what we’re doing and we’re gonna do it right.

Latane:
I actually just changed my title to Chief Market Officer. And it’s an important distinction that a lady who was actually on our board — who’s amazing, her name is Christine Heckard, And she’s been a CMO. And now she’s the CEO. And she’s talked a lot about the role of the CMO. And we have gotten ourselves really mired down in ‘ing.’ “I did a blog, I did webinars, look at all these MQLs I pass to sales, here’s my funnel, here’s my tech stack.” That is all ing ing ing. 

Her challenge to CMOs is to redefine that. We are the seat at the table that needs to understand the market. That is customers today and customers tomorrow. That’s why this audience-first approach and understanding the market, then you can apply the ing. But it’s not a cheap financing offer sir or cheap selling officer. We sort of diminished our role by not taking that seat at the table. 

Stay tuned to the TopRank Marketing Blog and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more Break Free B2B interviews. Here are a few more highlights from this season:

#post-2425 .CPlase_panel {display:none;}

Not days quarantined, but days working remotely.

On Monday, March 23, 2007 I started working remotely, and 4,777 days later I still do.

A staple aspect of my daily work life that had been the exception for most marketers is now — at least temporarily — the rule, with most people working from home due to the global health crisis.

Having been a remote worker for a long time, I wanted to share the helpful practices that I wish I’d known when first starting out, and expand on my previous article “Remote Communication Opportunities For B2B Marketers.”

Many have been working remotely much longer than me, and each one will have their own stories of remote work successes and snafus.

According to my “days-since” calculator, my 4,777 days of remote work has been comprised of:

That’s a lot of remote work time, yet for me I wouldn’t want it any other way, as I’ve found that the many advantages of working remotely outnumber those of traditional business office work settings.

How cataclysmically have the changes brought about by the pandemic collectively affected perceptions surrounding remote work, and what lasting changes will forever alter how — and especially where — we work?

Survey data has begun to show that people are increasingly seeing remote work as being at least as efficient and in some cases even more effective than traditional pre-pandemic office-based work.

65 percent of B2B decision makers now view their new work model as being as effective or more effective than pre-pandemic models, an increase of 5 percent over just one month, as shown in the following chart from McKinsey.

Even with dismal unemployment rates, new remote work job opportunities have begun to expand, as Entrepreneur recently explored in “These 50 Companies Are Growing and Hiring Remotely Right Now.”

Let’s take a look at five helpful practices I’ve learned during my 13-plus year stint of remote work, including a third option that sits squarely between traditional work-spaces and the work-from-home model.

It’s helpful to create your own separate physical workspace that’s both pleasant and conductive to productive remote work. Whether it’s a dedicated room in your home where you’ll be doing the bulk of your work, a makeshift office set up in a garage or attic space, or a co-working space in another location, having a physical place — no matter how small — that you can leave at the end of the workday is a helpful way to separate your personal and professional life.

When it comes to where you physically work, another option to consider is leasing your own private office space. This can be an ideal way to work remotely while also keeping home life separated from business, although depending on your location office space can be expensive.

I’m lucky enough to live in a city with inexpensive office space where I’ve kept a private office for over 13 years, and I highly recommend this approach when possible. It combines most of the advantages of traditional offices in a corporate environment with the benefits of working remotely.

I’ve always found it helpful to build a regular schedule into each remote workday, starting and ending at predetermined times as much as possible.

At the other end of the remote work spectrum are situations where you can take advantage of the flexibility of certain remote schedules, and work as needed throughout each 24-hour period. This will depend on your particular company, duties, and the value you place on either regular work hours or the freedom of work-time flexibility.

Whichever method you choose, during that first year of remote work it’s helpful to devise your own personalized schedule that pulls in some of the best elements from your previous office location in order to bring a sense of familiarity and organization to your new working environment.

Although they may be difficult to find early on while you’re adjusting to remote work, it can be helpful to take the time to learn and savor the advantages of working remotely, especially for those working from a home office.

Particularly if your remote work situation isn’t a permanent one, it’s beneficial to take the time to appreciate the little things that working remotely provides — whether it’s sharing a lunch with your partner or children, taking a break-time walk in a new nearby area, or simply enjoying some extra time you’ve saved by not having to contend with a lengthy work commute.

Once stay-at-home safety measures are a thing of the past, another advantage of remote work to explore will be the ability to work from a variety of locations, which can help keep your B2B marketing work fresh and provide extra energy as you bring your laptop office to different spots in your city — and eventually as the pandemic subsides — state, country, and internationally.

Remote work situations will likely become permanent for many in the months and years ago, while a variety of hybrid scenarios may also proliferate, such as splitting the work-week between remote and time at the company office.

Just as in a traditional office environment, it’s smart to minimize distractions as much as possible, so that you can use remote work to achieve a newfound focus on your projects.

If working from home, be sure the people in your home know your working schedule, and encourage them to connect with you only during set times such as over lunch or breaks.

Some remote workers like to get outside when possible, especially if distractions threaten to interfere with important meetings or projects. Other remote workers chose to wear noise-cancelling headphones or to listen to music while working if noisy distractions are otherwise unavoidable.

During the Internet’s amazing 50-year history we’ve never had such powerful remote collaboration software available as we do now, and during the pandemic more people than ever have learned to use tools such as Zoom and Slack.

Marketers typically use a vast number of tools daily, and thankfully nearly all can be used successfully in remote work settings, as our senior operations strategist Anne Leuman recently explored in “5 Examples of Effective B2B Content Marketing in Times of Crisis,” also showing how marketers are adjusting messaging during the pandemic.

Offering a complete remote work operating system, our client monday.com has been sharing the fascinating stories of how its team has been finding success during the pandemic in a series of team member portraits called #MyRemoteLife, and publishing helpful information such as “19 WFH Stats That Might Surprise You.”

Whatever tools you work with, in a remote work setting it’s just as important as in a traditional office environment to make sure that all your hardware and software are fully set up and ready for marketing action.

As with a traditional business office, remote workers should set up the technology hardware necessary for doing your best work, whether it’s a second, third, or fourth monitor, or a WiFi signal extender.

The size and number of monitors you work with is a personal preference, and may be limited by your laptop or desktop’s graphic cards.

For me, I found the jump in productivity of going from two monitors to three was much more noticeable than the move long ago from one to two.

I first worked with a multiple-monitor setup all the way back in the 1980s, when I used three monitors in a multiple Commodore Amiga computer system.

Technology and marketing have both changed significantly during the intervening years, yet thankfully much also still remains the same, such as the importance of trust in marketing and the power of telling a good story.

A properly set up remote work environment can provide a positive and distraction-free place to focus intensely on your projects, and research continues to emerge showing that this is a very real advantage of working outside of a traditional office environment.

Every successful remote worker has their own favorite productivity and well-being tips, and our team at TopRank Marketing has penned the following recent remote work articles offering additional insight:

There’s never been a better time to tackle remote work, and the challenges and opportunities created by a workforce that will likely continue to make this switch in numbers the world has never seen, will combine to make this an era unlike any other.

As B2B marketers, even if we continue to work from the traditional office building, we’ll be working with a new era of clients, associates, and business partners featuring more remote workers than ever — a grand experiment with unique outcomes and possibly unforeseen consequences.

Looking for help with your B2B marketing? Contact us today and find out why clients such as LinkedIn, Adobe, Dell, 3M, Slack, and Oracle have chosen TopRank Marketing, and connect with us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and our YouTube channel.

Not days quarantined, but days working remotely.

On Monday, March 23, 2007 I started working remotely, and 4,777 days later I still do.

A staple aspect of my daily work life that had been the exception for most marketers is now — at least temporarily — the rule, with most people working from home due to the global health crisis.

Having been a remote worker for a long time, I wanted to share the helpful practices that I wish I’d known when first starting out, and expand on my previous article “Remote Communication Opportunities For B2B Marketers.”

Many have been working remotely much longer than me, and each one will have their own stories of remote work successes and snafus.

According to my “days-since” calculator, my 4,777 days of remote work has been comprised of:

That’s a lot of remote work time, yet for me I wouldn’t want it any other way, as I’ve found that the many advantages of working remotely outnumber those of traditional business office work settings.

How cataclysmically have the changes brought about by the pandemic collectively affected perceptions surrounding remote work, and what lasting changes will forever alter how — and especially where — we work?

Survey data has begun to show that people are increasingly seeing remote work as being at least as efficient and in some cases even more effective than traditional pre-pandemic office-based work.

65 percent of B2B decision makers now view their new work model as being as effective or more effective than pre-pandemic models, an increase of 5 percent over just one month, as shown in the following chart from McKinsey.

Even with dismal unemployment rates, new remote work job opportunities have begun to expand, as Entrepreneur recently explored in “These 50 Companies Are Growing and Hiring Remotely Right Now.”

Let’s take a look at five helpful practices I’ve learned during my 13-plus year stint of remote work, including a third option that sits squarely between traditional work-spaces and the work-from-home model.

It’s helpful to create your own separate physical workspace that’s both pleasant and conductive to productive remote work. Whether it’s a dedicated room in your home where you’ll be doing the bulk of your work, a makeshift office set up in a garage or attic space, or a co-working space in another location, having a physical place — no matter how small — that you can leave at the end of the workday is a helpful way to separate your personal and professional life.

When it comes to where you physically work, another option to consider is leasing your own private office space. This can be an ideal way to work remotely while also keeping home life separated from business, although depending on your location office space can be expensive.

I’m lucky enough to live in a city with inexpensive office space where I’ve kept a private office for over 13 years, and I highly recommend this approach when possible. It combines most of the advantages of traditional offices in a corporate environment with the benefits of working remotely.

I’ve always found it helpful to build a regular schedule into each remote workday, starting and ending at predetermined times as much as possible.

At the other end of the remote work spectrum are situations where you can take advantage of the flexibility of certain remote schedules, and work as needed throughout each 24-hour period. This will depend on your particular company, duties, and the value you place on either regular work hours or the freedom of work-time flexibility.

Whichever method you choose, during that first year of remote work it’s helpful to devise your own personalized schedule that pulls in some of the best elements from your previous office location in order to bring a sense of familiarity and organization to your new working environment.

Although they may be difficult to find early on while you’re adjusting to remote work, it can be helpful to take the time to learn and savor the advantages of working remotely, especially for those working from a home office.

Particularly if your remote work situation isn’t a permanent one, it’s beneficial to take the time to appreciate the little things that working remotely provides — whether it’s sharing a lunch with your partner or children, taking a break-time walk in a new nearby area, or simply enjoying some extra time you’ve saved by not having to contend with a lengthy work commute.

Once stay-at-home safety measures are a thing of the past, another advantage of remote work to explore will be the ability to work from a variety of locations, which can help keep your B2B marketing work fresh and provide extra energy as you bring your laptop office to different spots in your city — and eventually as the pandemic subsides — state, country, and internationally.

Remote work situations will likely become permanent for many in the months and years ago, while a variety of hybrid scenarios may also proliferate, such as splitting the work-week between remote and time at the company office.

Just as in a traditional office environment, it’s smart to minimize distractions as much as possible, so that you can use remote work to achieve a newfound focus on your projects.

If working from home, be sure the people in your home know your working schedule, and encourage them to connect with you only during set times such as over lunch or breaks.

Some remote workers like to get outside when possible, especially if distractions threaten to interfere with important meetings or projects. Other remote workers chose to wear noise-cancelling headphones or to listen to music while working if noisy distractions are otherwise unavoidable.

During the Internet’s amazing 50-year history we’ve never had such powerful remote collaboration software available as we do now, and during the pandemic more people than ever have learned to use tools such as Zoom and Slack.

Marketers typically use a vast number of tools daily, and thankfully nearly all can be used successfully in remote work settings, as our senior operations strategist Anne Leuman recently explored in “5 Examples of Effective B2B Content Marketing in Times of Crisis,” also showing how marketers are adjusting messaging during the pandemic.

Offering a complete remote work operating system, our client monday.com has been sharing the fascinating stories of how its team has been finding success during the pandemic in a series of team member portraits called #MyRemoteLife, and publishing helpful information such as “19 WFH Stats That Might Surprise You.”

Whatever tools you work with, in a remote work setting it’s just as important as in a traditional office environment to make sure that all your hardware and software are fully set up and ready for marketing action.

As with a traditional business office, remote workers should set up the technology hardware necessary for doing your best work, whether it’s a second, third, or fourth monitor, or a WiFi signal extender.

The size and number of monitors you work with is a personal preference, and may be limited by your laptop or desktop’s graphic cards.

For me, I found the jump in productivity of going from two monitors to three was much more noticeable than the move long ago from one to two.

I first worked with a multiple-monitor setup all the way back in the 1980s, when I used three monitors in a multiple Commodore Amiga computer system.

Technology and marketing have both changed significantly during the intervening years, yet thankfully much also still remains the same, such as the importance of trust in marketing and the power of telling a good story.

A properly set up remote work environment can provide a positive and distraction-free place to focus intensely on your projects, and research continues to emerge showing that this is a very real advantage of working outside of a traditional office environment.

Every successful remote worker has their own favorite productivity and well-being tips, and our team at TopRank Marketing has penned the following recent remote work articles offering additional insight:

There’s never been a better time to tackle remote work, and the challenges and opportunities created by a workforce that will likely continue to make this switch in numbers the world has never seen, will combine to make this an era unlike any other.

As B2B marketers, even if we continue to work from the traditional office building, we’ll be working with a new era of clients, associates, and business partners featuring more remote workers than ever — a grand experiment with unique outcomes and possibly unforeseen consequences.

Looking for help with your B2B marketing? Contact us today and find out why clients such as LinkedIn, Adobe, Dell, 3M, Slack, and Oracle have chosen TopRank Marketing, and connect with us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and our YouTube channel.

#post-2424 .CPlase_panel {display:none;}

In recent months, I’ve been listening to Paramore’s song “Hard Times” a lot. Their 2017 hit talks about struggling to overcome challenging circumstances above ’80s-inspired new wave pop. It’s a bop, as the kids say, and confronts hardship — truthful and emphatic with a spoonful of sugar.

During this global health crisis, I’m sure most marketers want to wake up fine, be told that they’re alright, and — in their weakest moments — have “wonder[ed] why [we] even try.”

While we have no control over the state of the world, we do have control over how we react or work in tandem with it. With data, we get a glimpse into how our respective markets have been impacted, and it can inform a new perspective and next steps. Let’s take a look at how the pandemic affects data and analytics, and if B2B marketers need to shift their pre-pandemic goals.

This may be the first time in our lifetimes where the whole world is going through the same crisis, but that doesn’t mean that all businesses are being affected in the same way. Some businesses within industries like tech, religious goods, home improvement, and health and fitness are finding themselves in higher demand. Other industries see buyers backing away from the table or putting processes on hold, waiting for more certain times.

Since stay-at-home orders across the U.S. started in early March, we now have enough data to see how this time has impacted shopping and purchasing. We can examine market trends — for example, has search volume around your target keywords changed since March? If so, how? Look at website traffic and revenue data for the last 90 days and compare it to pre-crisis and average or seasonal data. It should be evident whether your business is growing or slowing.

Both camps can benefit from an update in goals. I say “update” rather than “pivot” because sales expectations haven’t disappeared. The journey has just changed.

Businesses that are experiencing increased demand want to become as visible and available to their customers as possible while supplies last, while those with the short end of the stick want to mitigate sales losses and prepare for the end of the crisis. An update to marketing goals may bring changes to strategies, which brings changes to how we measure performance.

[bctt tweet=”“Sales expectations haven’t disappeared. The journey has just changed.” @birdie_zepeda” username=”toprank”]

As shared in a previous SEO for B2B Marketers post, we are seeing reports that both B2B and B2C brands have seen increases in website traffic, improving 13 percent in March 2020 compared to February, according to HubSpot benchmark data. Buying online is even more popular and many users are using search engines to find online stores.

Consequently, those with sales-centric goals should focus on optimizing landing pages with high conversion rates and that target keywords for the bottom of the sales funnel (i.e. Intent, Purchase, and Customer Loyalty).

Even if growing brand awareness isn’t the primary target of your updated crisis goals, it’s important to update copy to reflect the tone of current times. Customers or clients may not want to partner with someone who isn’t acknowledging that the way of the world has changed, even though it may be temporary.

This allows for the opportunity to ensure high trafficked pages have calls to action that are relevant for visitors that navigate or land there. That way, you can help customers best find what they’re searching for during this time.

Similar to SEO efforts, focusing on search queries or campaigns that are high converters or at the bottom of the funnel can make the most of your ad spend. If possible, consider increasing ad spend where you’re already seeing great returns.

We’re seeing marketers anticipate longer sales cycles by shifting focus from explicit sales to brand awareness for when the crisis begins to settle, so that customers and clients think of your business first when they’re ready to act. For example, just because I can’t travel right now doesn’t mean I’m not dreaming of being on a beach or visiting my family once travel restrictions are lifted!

Content with a distinct voice is at the center of any brand awareness campaign. It supports SEO efforts by creating content for gaps in coverage of top- and middle-of-funnel search queries. It builds credibility and thought leadership when paired with industry leaders and influencers. As audiences become more skeptical of brand marketing and tired of in these uncertain times, we’re here for you ads, unique content can build relationships.

Find your voice and work to make it stand out and provide value to your audience.

Identifying keywords and optimizing content for the top and middle of the sales funnel (such as: Awareness, Discovery, and Evaluation) supports brand awareness efforts and can help you reach sales goals without coming off as “salesy.” While your customer may not be ready today, you’re proactively helping them make a buying decision.

If you find your budget is smaller, target smarter. Are there geographies that are or aren’t buying? Can your targeting better reflect your converting demographic? Can you focus on keywords or tactics that have a better return on advertising spend (ROAS)?

If you find your budget is unchanged or has even increased, don’t be afraid to try new tactics to gain visibility. This can come in the form of display campaigns, social media promotions, or commercials on digital media platforms.

[bctt tweet=”“Content with a distinct voice is at the center of any brand awareness campaign. It supports SEO efforts by creating content for gaps in coverage of top-and-middle-of-funnel search queries.” @birdie_zepeda” username=”toprank”]

These hard times are trying, but we hope in covering this topic that times start to feel a bit easier.

If hard times were to be easier with some extra support or guidance, reach out to TopRank Marketing to learn how we can help.

In recent months, I’ve been listening to Paramore’s song “Hard Times” a lot. Their 2017 hit talks about struggling to overcome challenging circumstances above ’80s-inspired new wave pop. It’s a bop, as the kids say, and confronts hardship — truthful and emphatic with a spoonful of sugar.

During this global health crisis, I’m sure most marketers want to wake up fine, be told that they’re alright, and — in their weakest moments — have “wonder[ed] why [we] even try.”

While we have no control over the state of the world, we do have control over how we react or work in tandem with it. With data, we get a glimpse into how our respective markets have been impacted, and it can inform a new perspective and next steps. Let’s take a look at how the pandemic affects data and analytics, and if B2B marketers need to shift their pre-pandemic goals.

This may be the first time in our lifetimes where the whole world is going through the same crisis, but that doesn’t mean that all businesses are being affected in the same way. Some businesses within industries like tech, religious goods, home improvement, and health and fitness are finding themselves in higher demand. Other industries see buyers backing away from the table or putting processes on hold, waiting for more certain times.

Since stay-at-home orders across the U.S. started in early March, we now have enough data to see how this time has impacted shopping and purchasing. We can examine market trends — for example, has search volume around your target keywords changed since March? If so, how? Look at website traffic and revenue data for the last 90 days and compare it to pre-crisis and average or seasonal data. It should be evident whether your business is growing or slowing.

Both camps can benefit from an update in goals. I say “update” rather than “pivot” because sales expectations haven’t disappeared. The journey has just changed.

Businesses that are experiencing increased demand want to become as visible and available to their customers as possible while supplies last, while those with the short end of the stick want to mitigate sales losses and prepare for the end of the crisis. An update to marketing goals may bring changes to strategies, which brings changes to how we measure performance.

As shared in a previous SEO for B2B Marketers post, we are seeing reports that both B2B and B2C brands have seen increases in website traffic, improving 13 percent in March 2020 compared to February, according to HubSpot benchmark data. Buying online is even more popular and many users are using search engines to find online stores.

Consequently, those with sales-centric goals should focus on optimizing landing pages with high conversion rates and that target keywords for the bottom of the sales funnel (i.e. Intent, Purchase, and Customer Loyalty).

Even if growing brand awareness isn’t the primary target of your updated crisis goals, it’s important to update copy to reflect the tone of current times. Customers or clients may not want to partner with someone who isn’t acknowledging that the way of the world has changed, even though it may be temporary.

This allows for the opportunity to ensure high trafficked pages have calls to action that are relevant for visitors that navigate or land there. That way, you can help customers best find what they’re searching for during this time.

Similar to SEO efforts, focusing on search queries or campaigns that are high converters or at the bottom of the funnel can make the most of your ad spend. If possible, consider increasing ad spend where you’re already seeing great returns.

We’re seeing marketers anticipate longer sales cycles by shifting focus from explicit sales to brand awareness for when the crisis begins to settle, so that customers and clients think of your business first when they’re ready to act. For example, just because I can’t travel right now doesn’t mean I’m not dreaming of being on a beach or visiting my family once travel restrictions are lifted!

Content with a distinct voice is at the center of any brand awareness campaign. It supports SEO efforts by creating content for gaps in coverage of top- and middle-of-funnel search queries. It builds credibility and thought leadership when paired with industry leaders and influencers. As audiences become more skeptical of brand marketing and tired of in these uncertain times, we’re here for you ads, unique content can build relationships.

Find your voice and work to make it stand out and provide value to your audience.

Identifying keywords and optimizing content for the top and middle of the sales funnel (such as: Awareness, Discovery, and Evaluation) supports brand awareness efforts and can help you reach sales goals without coming off as “salesy.” While your customer may not be ready today, you’re proactively helping them make a buying decision.

If you find your budget is smaller, target smarter. Are there geographies that are or aren’t buying? Can your targeting better reflect your converting demographic? Can you focus on keywords or tactics that have a better return on advertising spend (ROAS)?

If you find your budget is unchanged or has even increased, don’t be afraid to try new tactics to gain visibility. This can come in the form of display campaigns, social media promotions, or commercials on digital media platforms.

These hard times are trying, but we hope in covering this topic that times start to feel a bit easier.

If hard times were to be easier with some extra support or guidance, reach out to TopRank Marketing to learn how we can help.

#post-2423 .CPlase_panel {display:none;}

B2B Decision-Maker Survey: COVID-19’s Impact on Marketing, Buying, and Sales
65 percent of enterprise B2B buyers now view online interactions as being more important than traditional vendor conversations, one of several findings of interest to digital marketers contained in newly-released U.S. B2B pandemic response survey data. MarketingProfs

LinkedIn Stories Is Almost Here: Will It Reinvent the B2B Social Media Landscape?
LinkedIn (client) has tested its variation of the popular ephemeral stories format. When rolled out to the Microsoft-owned platform’s 690 million users, LinkedIn Stories would bring B2B marketers on the platform a new digital storytelling tool option. MarketingProfs

Brand Awareness is Top of Mind in Email Signature Marketing
82 percent of marketers seek brand awareness from email signature marketing, topping the list of objectives in recently-released survey data, which also showed that 48 percent look to drive website traffic via email, while just 19 percent are looking for customer retention, the survey found. MarketingCharts

Google is auditioning candidates to succeed the third-party cookie
With the use of traditional Web tracking cookies largely being abandoned, Google has continued its testing of the firm’s recently-announced Privacy Sandbox alternative, which still works with the ad auction format, the search giant announced. Digiday

ANA Report Finds Most Marketers Have Supplier ‘Diversity’ Programs, About Half Impact Marketing/Ad Services
While some 75 percent of marketing firms incorporate supplier diversity initiatives, just 40 percent is specifically for advertising services, one of several findings of interest to digital marketers in recently-released report data from the Association of National Advertisers (ANA). MediaPost

Facebook’s ‘Messenger Rooms’ Multi-Participant Video Chat Option is Now Available to All
Facebook has launched its Messenger Rooms video messaging feature with a global release that includes up to 50 video participants and the ability to drop in via Facebook’s feed, the firm recently announced. Social Media Today

Reddit overhauls ad sales, with a new boss from Pinterest
Reddit has tapped a former Pinterest and Google advertising leader in a new move aimed at bringing more brand advertising activity to the platform, a shift that has also seen the firm restructuring its sales team to adjust to changes brought by the global health crisis. Digiday

Pandemic Sentiment Shifts From ‘Acute’ To ‘Transitory,’ Here’s What Consumers Want From Brands
Some 56 percent of global consumers say that they now approve of brands advertising primarily as normal, according to recently-released survey data of interest to online marketers. 10 percent of respondents, however, said that they somewhat disapprove of brands returning to normal advertising, while 5 percent strongly disapprove, the survey noted.MediaPost

Marketers at B2B Firms Tout the Value of Social Media
37 percent of B2B decision-makers see a brand’s social media presence as the biggest online differentiator, according to newly-release survey data, followed by the digital experience and self-service options both at 33 percent, and content marketing and community involvement, both at 31 percent. MarketingCharts

A lighthearted look at “communicating in a crisis” by Marketoonist Tom Fishburne — Marketoonist

TOPRANK MARKETING & CLIENTS IN THE NEWS:

Have you found your own top B2B content marketing or digital advertising stories from the past week of news? Please let us know in the comments below.

Thanks for joining us this week, and we hope you’ll return again next Friday for more of the most relevant B2B and digital marketing industry news. In the meantime, you can follow us at @toprank on Twitter for even more timely daily news. Also, don’t miss the full video summary on our TopRank Marketing TV YouTube Channel.

B2B Decision-Maker Survey: COVID-19’s Impact on Marketing, Buying, and Sales
65 percent of enterprise B2B buyers now view online interactions as being more important than traditional vendor conversations, one of several findings of interest to digital marketers contained in newly-released U.S. B2B pandemic response survey data. MarketingProfs

LinkedIn Stories Is Almost Here: Will It Reinvent the B2B Social Media Landscape?
LinkedIn (client) has tested its variation of the popular ephemeral stories format. When rolled out to the Microsoft-owned platform’s 690 million users, LinkedIn Stories would bring B2B marketers on the platform a new digital storytelling tool option. MarketingProfs

Brand Awareness is Top of Mind in Email Signature Marketing
82 percent of marketers seek brand awareness from email signature marketing, topping the list of objectives in recently-released survey data, which also showed that 48 percent look to drive website traffic via email, while just 19 percent are looking for customer retention, the survey found. MarketingCharts

Google is auditioning candidates to succeed the third-party cookie
With the use of traditional Web tracking cookies largely being abandoned, Google has continued its testing of the firm’s recently-announced Privacy Sandbox alternative, which still works with the ad auction format, the search giant announced. Digiday

ANA Report Finds Most Marketers Have Supplier ‘Diversity’ Programs, About Half Impact Marketing/Ad Services
While some 75 percent of marketing firms incorporate supplier diversity initiatives, just 40 percent is specifically for advertising services, one of several findings of interest to digital marketers in recently-released report data from the Association of National Advertisers (ANA). MediaPost

Facebook’s ‘Messenger Rooms’ Multi-Participant Video Chat Option is Now Available to All
Facebook has launched its Messenger Rooms video messaging feature with a global release that includes up to 50 video participants and the ability to drop in via Facebook’s feed, the firm recently announced. Social Media Today

Reddit overhauls ad sales, with a new boss from Pinterest
Reddit has tapped a former Pinterest and Google advertising leader in a new move aimed at bringing more brand advertising activity to the platform, a shift that has also seen the firm restructuring its sales team to adjust to changes brought by the global health crisis. Digiday

Pandemic Sentiment Shifts From ‘Acute’ To ‘Transitory,’ Here’s What Consumers Want From Brands
Some 56 percent of global consumers say that they now approve of brands advertising primarily as normal, according to recently-released survey data of interest to online marketers. 10 percent of respondents, however, said that they somewhat disapprove of brands returning to normal advertising, while 5 percent strongly disapprove, the survey noted.MediaPost

Marketers at B2B Firms Tout the Value of Social Media
37 percent of B2B decision-makers see a brand’s social media presence as the biggest online differentiator, according to newly-release survey data, followed by the digital experience and self-service options both at 33 percent, and content marketing and community involvement, both at 31 percent. MarketingCharts

A lighthearted look at “communicating in a crisis” by Marketoonist Tom Fishburne — Marketoonist

TOPRANK MARKETING & CLIENTS IN THE NEWS:

Have you found your own top B2B content marketing or digital advertising stories from the past week of news? Please let us know in the comments below.

Thanks for joining us this week, and we hope you’ll return again next Friday for more of the most relevant B2B and digital marketing industry news. In the meantime, you can follow us at @toprank on Twitter for even more timely daily news. Also, don’t miss the full video summary on our TopRank Marketing TV YouTube Channel.

#post-2421 .CPlase_panel {display:none;}

On this Memorial Day of 2020, it is important we remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice serving our country – not only in the military, but those on the front lines of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Thank you to first responders, law enforcement, healthcare workers and all that support them!

The health and economic crisis we are all facing now compounds the many other uncertainties of our time including trust and expectations in the brands we buy from. The COVID-19 pandemic and our society’s reaction to it have changed the reality we have lived with into something different and very digital.

The why of business matters. For those of us in marketing, we have an obligation to seek answers about how social changes, culture, the economy, politics and consumer behaviors will change how business is done. As we peel back the onion for answers, it means revisiting the why of our business, the value of our customers and employees.

Pivot one way or another. Many companies have pivoted their business models and others have adapted their solutions to be more relevant to the time. In most cases, messaging and marketing tactics have changed and along with that goals and how to measure them have changed.

Sales expectations have not gone away. While there has generally been a shift from explicit sales/push marketing content to messaging that is more aligned with the times in terms of being more empathetic to customers, purpose oriented and branding focused, sales expectations still exist. Sales still need to be made and the work still needs to be done – just differently.

Will your brand be the best answer tomorrow? Not only do companies need to mitigate sales losses because of “these uncertain times” but it will be a land grab to be the most relevant for customers when purchasing behavior starts to ramp up again. Because of that, branding goals measured by share of voice for social, share of search and earned media are just as important now as measuring for leads and sales.

SEO more timely than ever. To reach those sales goals but without being “salesly” and tone deaf, there have been many changes in how marketers reach their customers and one in particular has been a shift towards organic search. In fact, 63% of marketers say SEO will be most important marketing tactic during the pandemic according to research from Conductor, as a way to hit lead and sales numbers.

Understanding that B2B buyers already prefer to pull themselves through most of the sales experience with their own research and content, B2B marketers are increasingly emphasizing SEO for the current time when field marketing, events and experiential marketing are no longer an option.

Buyers are in search of B2B technology. More specific to our industry of focus, G2 Crowd has reported B2B tech categories having 200-600% increase in organic search traffic during the pandemic. All capable marketers are closely monitoring changes in organic search traffic and ramping up to meet the increased demand.

Findability meets credibility in crisis marketing.  Customers are as skeptical of brand marketing as ever and are tiring of the “in these uncertain times, we’re here for you” ads and messaging. Bypassing that with search works well for customers but content with 3rd party experts works even better.

Are you optimizing for trust? Demand Gen Report’s study on content preferences showed that 95% of B2B buyers prefer content featuring industry experts. Marketing during a crisis that emphasizes SEO to help buyers pull themselves to brand content that ALSO includes credibility inspiring content from industry experts is what can really create trust and the confidence for buyers to make the connection.

During uncertain times, one thing is true in marketing. There is a lot of uncertainty right now but there is also the truth about what your customers need and the value your brand can deliver to them. Creating useful information, aka content marketing, is more than important than ever, especially in more engaging formats like video, podcasts, interactive and livestreaming.

ABO – Always Be Optimizing. Marketing is about optimizing for improved performance and the role that organic search plays in pulling customers to your brands solutions at the very moment of need is clear. Including trusted industry experts that have the attention and confidence of your customers is even clearer. Here are 5 steps on how to get started.

When it comes to learning more about the intersection of SEO, influence and content marketing, this blog is a useful resource. We have 469 posts about SEO, 159 posts on influencer marketing and over 800 posts on content marketing. Of course if you have unique questions, we are happy to hear and answer them at TopRank Marketing.

On this Memorial Day of 2020, it is important we remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice serving our country – not only in the military, but those on the front lines of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Thank you to first responders, law enforcement, healthcare workers and all that support them!

The health and economic crisis we are all facing now compounds the many other uncertainties of our time including trust and expectations in the brands we buy from. The COVID-19 pandemic and our society’s reaction to it have changed the reality we have lived with into something different and very digital.

The why of business matters. For those of us in marketing, we have an obligation to seek answers about how social changes, culture, the economy, politics and consumer behaviors will change how business is done. As we peel back the onion for answers, it means revisiting the why of our business, the value of our customers and employees.

Pivot one way or another. Many companies have pivoted their business models and others have adapted their solutions to be more relevant to the time. In most cases, messaging and marketing tactics have changed and along with that goals and how to measure them have changed.

Sales expectations have not gone away. While there has generally been a shift from explicit sales/push marketing content to messaging that is more aligned with the times in terms of being more empathetic to customers, purpose oriented and branding focused, sales expectations still exist. Sales still need to be made and the work still needs to be done – just differently.

Will your brand be the best answer tomorrow? Not only do companies need to mitigate sales losses because of “these uncertain times” but it will be a land grab to be the most relevant for customers when purchasing behavior starts to ramp up again. Because of that, branding goals measured by share of voice for social, share of search and earned media are just as important now as measuring for leads and sales.

SEO more timely than ever. To reach those sales goals but without being “salesly” and tone deaf, there have been many changes in how marketers reach their customers and one in particular has been a shift towards organic search. In fact, 63% of marketers say SEO will be most important marketing tactic during the pandemic according to research from Conductor, as a way to hit lead and sales numbers.

Understanding that B2B buyers already prefer to pull themselves through most of the sales experience with their own research and content, B2B marketers are increasingly emphasizing SEO for the current time when field marketing, events and experiential marketing are no longer an option.

Buyers are in search of B2B technology. More specific to our industry of focus, G2 Crowd has reported B2B tech categories having 200-600% increase in organic search traffic during the pandemic. All capable marketers are closely monitoring changes in organic search traffic and ramping up to meet the increased demand.

Findability meets credibility in crisis marketing.  Customers are as skeptical of brand marketing as ever and are tiring of the “in these uncertain times, we’re here for you” ads and messaging. Bypassing that with search works well for customers but content with 3rd party experts works even better.

Are you optimizing for trust? Demand Gen Report’s study on content preferences showed that 95% of B2B buyers prefer content featuring industry experts. Marketing during a crisis that emphasizes SEO to help buyers pull themselves to brand content that ALSO includes credibility inspiring content from industry experts is what can really create trust and the confidence for buyers to make the connection.

During uncertain times, one thing is true in marketing. There is a lot of uncertainty right now but there is also the truth about what your customers need and the value your brand can deliver to them. Creating useful information, aka content marketing, is more than important than ever, especially in more engaging formats like video, podcasts, interactive and livestreaming.

ABO – Always Be Optimizing. Marketing is about optimizing for improved performance and the role that organic search plays in pulling customers to your brands solutions at the very moment of need is clear. Including trusted industry experts that have the attention and confidence of your customers is even clearer. Here are 5 steps on how to get started.

When it comes to learning more about the intersection of SEO, influence and content marketing, this blog is a useful resource. We have 469 posts about SEO, 159 posts on influencer marketing and over 800 posts on content marketing. Of course if you have unique questions, we are happy to hear and answer them at TopRank Marketing.

#post-2420 .CPlase_panel {display:none;}

(This
article was originally published in the MarketingExperiments
email newsletter.)

COVID-19 has
necessitated that many marketing departments quickly pivot their plans, and thus agencies and other
vendors have to quickly adapt right along with their clients.

So the ability to
pitch an idea — that crucial marketing skill set –– is more valuable than ever.

But a successful pivot doesn’t end with the pitch. After getting the sign-off from key business leaders and decision-makers, a successful plan requires execution throughout the company, and also from agencies, distributors, retailers, consultants and vendors.

In other words,
after you pitch to the decision-makers, you have to pitch to each and every individual
involved in executing your plan.

Not in person of
course. At least not for all of them.

To help you do that, we’ve created a simple template that can help simplify and communicate your big idea. While you still might need a full plan in a Word document, a full budget in Excel, an in-depth PowerPoint deck, or a detailed project plan, this template is designed to quickly, clearly and easily communicate the value prop for your IT project, marketing plan, advertising campaign, etc.

After you download the template, here are four key points to keep in mind to increase your chances for success.

When working internally, it’s easy to overlook the fundamental value proposition questions that you might naturally seek to answer when marketing to customers.

But those value
proposition questions should be answered for everything you do — internally and
externally — because they are the questions that key decision-makers will also
ask, whether they verbalize the question or not.

I would word the internal proposal value proposition question like this:

“Why should the [company/organization/client/department/etc.] invest [money/time/resources/goodwill/etc.] in this [project/campaign/plan/etc.] instead of in any other way?”

The MECLABS Value Proposition methodology can help you answer that question (MECLABS is the parent organization of MarketingExperiments). Consider these four factors:

Why is your idea
appealing to the company? This is the benefit to your company (or client’s
company) of launching the plan you are proposing. Here are some questions to
spark your thinking.

What’s in it for
the company? Will the company make more money? Or perhaps it will save money?
Will this initiative help the company better deliver on its value proposition?
Or fulfill its mission? Does it support a business transformation that is
taking place? For example, could the proposal help your company better appeal
to your current or new target market? Does it help your company react to
macro-economic and societal changes (for example, COVID-19)? Etc., etc.

There may be many
possible actions your company could take to get the appealing benefit already
mentioned. What’s so special about your proposal? Here are some questions to spark
your thinking.

Is your idea more
likely to succeed than other options? Easier or less expensive to implement? Is
your company already better positioned to launch this plan than other plans?

If the proposal is
not mutually exclusive from other proposals and plans, you should note that.
Provide an option to roll it out with those proposals, explaining why they will
mutually benefit each other. For example, if your company has the cash to
acquire two potential companies, why is that combination of acquisitions a
better path to take with the company’s cash instead of any other way it can be
spent or held onto for future opportunities.

Note, if you work
for an agency, I’m not talking here about your agency’s exclusive ability to pull
this off. There will come a time for that (see “credibility”), but first,
decision-makers need to understand why they should even launch this initiative
instead of any other initiatives that might be able to bring the company the
same or similar benefits.

While you are
trying to convince someone (or a group of people) of something, be wary of hyperbole.
Focus on being clear and letting your idea shine through.

Another element of
that clarity is clearly communicating the project scope and tasks. Is this for
the entire company? A specific business unit, product line, or division? What
does success look like? What is the KPI? How will you (or someone else) audit
the results to ensure they are accurate?

Details like this can make or break your idea’s acceptance and ensure everyone is on the same page. Because the goal isn’t just to get your proposal approved, the goal is to have a successful initiative. One key to success is defining it in the beginning so you don’t get to the end of the project and hit your intended goal only to hear a business leader say, “Oh, that’s all it did? I thought it would do [something more.]”

This is a biggie.
How many meetings have you been in where a sales leader or agency account
executive promised that something was going to be huge? “We’re going to get
10%, 20%, 50% increase in sales!” Start hiring now because when I’m done with
this, our biggest challenge is going to be keeping up with demand!”

All that may be
true. But why should key business leaders believe it? This is where credibility
comes in.

Do you have a track
record of success in this area? Do the colleagues or vendors you’re working
with? Perhaps the project will be delivered on time because you’ve gotten the
company’s most effective project manager to agree to run this project?

What about the
overall marketplace? Is there data that supports this decision? Are there case
studies that show other companies succeeding from similar proposals? (feel free
to search MarketingSherpa case studies)

Does current sales
data, A/B testing or customer feedback indicate this is the right direction?
Could you begin by launching a pilot or experiment to get more data and build
up credibility?

To get the budget
and other approvals necessary to launch your idea, you need to communicate the
primary (company-level) value proposition.

However, to get through a successful project from start to finish, you need the skill sets of (and even better-impassioned buy-in from) many different people within and from outside your organization. For example, you may need to get the IT department on board, customer service, product development, sales reps, etc. Externally, you may need to work with advertising and marketing agencies, management consultants, freelance copywriters and graphic designers, distribution and sales partners, retailers, contract manufacturers, co-branding partners, investors, and a whole host of other business partners and vendors.

Most people and
organizations will work for money. Sure.

But you get their
highest and best production when they understand why it matters to them.

So … why does it
matter?

For your products and services, you should have different prospect-level value propositions. For example, some customers may be looking for a car that’s economical, some want eco-friendly, others want a safe car, a sporty car, or a luxurious car. Understanding the different motivations of different customer sets helps you create more targeted and compelling value propositions.

The same is true
for your internal projects. Do you need the IT department to build a new tool
for this project? What is the value prop? That they get to build it from the
ground up in-house and assure it is PCI compliant? Or perhaps you’ve secured
enough budget that they get to select three top tools for this field and
integrate them? Or maybe the project requires trying something totally new (AI?
Machine learning? VR?) that they’ve wanted to sink their teeth into but haven’t
gotten a chance to do so yet?

What is the value
prop for your advertising agency? Perhaps this is their chance to burn down the
budget allotted to them? Or perhaps, you’re really going for a creative
implementation they can enter into awards shows? Or both?

Depending on the
size of the team involved, you may want to get as granular as the individual
level. If you know your team well enough, you can hopefully tap into their
individual passions with the way you assign roles for the project, and
therefore create a compelling value prop for them.

There tends to be a
lot of excitement at the beginning of a project or plan. But that excitement
can quickly give way to the drudgery of execution. As a project drags on … six
months, nine months, 18 months, etc., the team and company can forget why
you’re doing it to begin with.

There is a great
leadership maxim — “vision leaks” — that aptly describes this challenge (not
sure who first coined the term, maybe Andy Stanley or Bill Hybels?)

If you don’t remind
your team of the initial vision, it will leak away over time as they shift
their focus to other priorities.

So keep these value
props in front of them. When we’re back in a world of physical closeness, it
could make sense to print out a poster and hang it up in the physical locations
where the teams are working.

If you’re working
with a distributed team or teams, perhaps there is a consistent PowerPoint slide
you use on weekly team Zoom meetings to remind everyone of the value
proposition. Or you could send weekly status update emails to share how the
team is progressing to make the value proposition a reality.

Once the project is
done, follow up with the results metrics you promised, share praise and
appreciation for those who made it possible, and actually show the value
proposition(s) coming to fruition.

After all, you may
want to do this again sometime. And nothing builds credibility better than
coming through on what you promised.

This might seem
like a lot of effort. After all, shouldn’t business leadership understand and
trust in your ideas? Shouldn’t people just do their jobs?

Of course, it would
also be nice to eat Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream every
night for dinner and stay slim, trim and healthy. It would be very, very nice.

But that is not the
way of the world. Things don’t just happen. The status quo is a tenacious
opponent. Determined people must make things happen. And it all begins with a
clear and compelling value prop.

We didn’t get to
the moon just because 400,000 engineers, technicians, scientists and factory
workers poured their lives into building the technology. And we didn’t get to
the moon because three brave astronauts climbed to the top of an exploding
36-foot tall firecracker.

We got to the moon
because — before any of that — a compelling value proposition was cast and
repeated to spur the passionate use of all those fine individual skills.

Before we could
hear “The Eagle has landed,” we had to hear John F. Kennedy say, “We choose to
go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other
things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal
will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because
that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to
postpone, and one which we intend to win.”

You can follow Daniel
Burstein, Senior Director, Content & Marketing, MarketingSherpa and MECLABS
Institute, on Twitter @DanielBurstein.

How to Amplify the Power of Your Value Proposition: This four-part framework represents the number one way to drive results in the next quarter

Customer Value: The 4 essential levels of value propositions

Value
Force: How to win on value proposition and not just price

6
Good (and 2 Bad) B2B and B2C Value Proposition Examples

The post How to Get Buy-in for Your Projects, Plans and Proposals From the First Pitch to Successful Completion (plus free template) appeared first on MarketingExperiments.

(This
article was originally published in the MarketingExperiments
email newsletter.)

COVID-19 has
necessitated that many marketing departments quickly pivot their plans, and thus agencies and other
vendors have to quickly adapt right along with their clients.

So the ability to
pitch an idea — that crucial marketing skill set –– is more valuable than ever.

But a successful pivot doesn’t end with the pitch. After getting the sign-off from key business leaders and decision-makers, a successful plan requires execution throughout the company, and also from agencies, distributors, retailers, consultants and vendors.

In other words,
after you pitch to the decision-makers, you have to pitch to each and every individual
involved in executing your plan.

Not in person of
course. At least not for all of them.

To help you do that, we’ve created a simple template that can help simplify and communicate your big idea. While you still might need a full plan in a Word document, a full budget in Excel, an in-depth PowerPoint deck, or a detailed project plan, this template is designed to quickly, clearly and easily communicate the value prop for your IT project, marketing plan, advertising campaign, etc.

After you download the template, here are four key points to keep in mind to increase your chances for success.

When working internally, it’s easy to overlook the fundamental value proposition questions that you might naturally seek to answer when marketing to customers.

But those value
proposition questions should be answered for everything you do — internally and
externally — because they are the questions that key decision-makers will also
ask, whether they verbalize the question or not.

I would word the internal proposal value proposition question like this:

“Why should the [company/organization/client/department/etc.] invest [money/time/resources/goodwill/etc.] in this [project/campaign/plan/etc.] instead of in any other way?”

The MECLABS Value Proposition methodology can help you answer that question (MECLABS is the parent organization of MarketingExperiments). Consider these four factors:

Why is your idea
appealing to the company? This is the benefit to your company (or client’s
company) of launching the plan you are proposing. Here are some questions to
spark your thinking.

What’s in it for
the company? Will the company make more money? Or perhaps it will save money?
Will this initiative help the company better deliver on its value proposition?
Or fulfill its mission? Does it support a business transformation that is
taking place? For example, could the proposal help your company better appeal
to your current or new target market? Does it help your company react to
macro-economic and societal changes (for example, COVID-19)? Etc., etc.

There may be many
possible actions your company could take to get the appealing benefit already
mentioned. What’s so special about your proposal? Here are some questions to spark
your thinking.

Is your idea more
likely to succeed than other options? Easier or less expensive to implement? Is
your company already better positioned to launch this plan than other plans?

If the proposal is
not mutually exclusive from other proposals and plans, you should note that.
Provide an option to roll it out with those proposals, explaining why they will
mutually benefit each other. For example, if your company has the cash to
acquire two potential companies, why is that combination of acquisitions a
better path to take with the company’s cash instead of any other way it can be
spent or held onto for future opportunities.

Note, if you work
for an agency, I’m not talking here about your agency’s exclusive ability to pull
this off. There will come a time for that (see “credibility”), but first,
decision-makers need to understand why they should even launch this initiative
instead of any other initiatives that might be able to bring the company the
same or similar benefits.

While you are
trying to convince someone (or a group of people) of something, be wary of hyperbole.
Focus on being clear and letting your idea shine through.

Another element of
that clarity is clearly communicating the project scope and tasks. Is this for
the entire company? A specific business unit, product line, or division? What
does success look like? What is the KPI? How will you (or someone else) audit
the results to ensure they are accurate?

Details like this can make or break your idea’s acceptance and ensure everyone is on the same page. Because the goal isn’t just to get your proposal approved, the goal is to have a successful initiative. One key to success is defining it in the beginning so you don’t get to the end of the project and hit your intended goal only to hear a business leader say, “Oh, that’s all it did? I thought it would do [something more.]”

This is a biggie.
How many meetings have you been in where a sales leader or agency account
executive promised that something was going to be huge? “We’re going to get
10%, 20%, 50% increase in sales!” Start hiring now because when I’m done with
this, our biggest challenge is going to be keeping up with demand!”

All that may be
true. But why should key business leaders believe it? This is where credibility
comes in.

Do you have a track
record of success in this area? Do the colleagues or vendors you’re working
with? Perhaps the project will be delivered on time because you’ve gotten the
company’s most effective project manager to agree to run this project?

What about the
overall marketplace? Is there data that supports this decision? Are there case
studies that show other companies succeeding from similar proposals? (feel free
to search MarketingSherpa case studies)

Does current sales
data, A/B testing or customer feedback indicate this is the right direction?
Could you begin by launching a pilot or experiment to get more data and build
up credibility?

To get the budget
and other approvals necessary to launch your idea, you need to communicate the
primary (company-level) value proposition.

However, to get through a successful project from start to finish, you need the skill sets of (and even better-impassioned buy-in from) many different people within and from outside your organization. For example, you may need to get the IT department on board, customer service, product development, sales reps, etc. Externally, you may need to work with advertising and marketing agencies, management consultants, freelance copywriters and graphic designers, distribution and sales partners, retailers, contract manufacturers, co-branding partners, investors, and a whole host of other business partners and vendors.

Most people and
organizations will work for money. Sure.

But you get their
highest and best production when they understand why it matters to them.

So … why does it
matter?

For your products and services, you should have different prospect-level value propositions. For example, some customers may be looking for a car that’s economical, some want eco-friendly, others want a safe car, a sporty car, or a luxurious car. Understanding the different motivations of different customer sets helps you create more targeted and compelling value propositions.

The same is true
for your internal projects. Do you need the IT department to build a new tool
for this project? What is the value prop? That they get to build it from the
ground up in-house and assure it is PCI compliant? Or perhaps you’ve secured
enough budget that they get to select three top tools for this field and
integrate them? Or maybe the project requires trying something totally new (AI?
Machine learning? VR?) that they’ve wanted to sink their teeth into but haven’t
gotten a chance to do so yet?

What is the value
prop for your advertising agency? Perhaps this is their chance to burn down the
budget allotted to them? Or perhaps, you’re really going for a creative
implementation they can enter into awards shows? Or both?

Depending on the
size of the team involved, you may want to get as granular as the individual
level. If you know your team well enough, you can hopefully tap into their
individual passions with the way you assign roles for the project, and
therefore create a compelling value prop for them.

There tends to be a
lot of excitement at the beginning of a project or plan. But that excitement
can quickly give way to the drudgery of execution. As a project drags on … six
months, nine months, 18 months, etc., the team and company can forget why
you’re doing it to begin with.

There is a great
leadership maxim — “vision leaks” — that aptly describes this challenge (not
sure who first coined the term, maybe Andy Stanley or Bill Hybels?)

If you don’t remind
your team of the initial vision, it will leak away over time as they shift
their focus to other priorities.

So keep these value
props in front of them. When we’re back in a world of physical closeness, it
could make sense to print out a poster and hang it up in the physical locations
where the teams are working.

If you’re working
with a distributed team or teams, perhaps there is a consistent PowerPoint slide
you use on weekly team Zoom meetings to remind everyone of the value
proposition. Or you could send weekly status update emails to share how the
team is progressing to make the value proposition a reality.

Once the project is
done, follow up with the results metrics you promised, share praise and
appreciation for those who made it possible, and actually show the value
proposition(s) coming to fruition.

After all, you may
want to do this again sometime. And nothing builds credibility better than
coming through on what you promised.

This might seem
like a lot of effort. After all, shouldn’t business leadership understand and
trust in your ideas? Shouldn’t people just do their jobs?

Of course, it would
also be nice to eat Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream every
night for dinner and stay slim, trim and healthy. It would be very, very nice.

But that is not the
way of the world. Things don’t just happen. The status quo is a tenacious
opponent. Determined people must make things happen. And it all begins with a
clear and compelling value prop.

We didn’t get to
the moon just because 400,000 engineers, technicians, scientists and factory
workers poured their lives into building the technology. And we didn’t get to
the moon because three brave astronauts climbed to the top of an exploding
36-foot tall firecracker.

We got to the moon
because — before any of that — a compelling value proposition was cast and
repeated to spur the passionate use of all those fine individual skills.

Before we could
hear “The Eagle has landed,” we had to hear John F. Kennedy say, “We choose to
go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other
things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal
will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because
that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to
postpone, and one which we intend to win.”

You can follow Daniel
Burstein, Senior Director, Content & Marketing, MarketingSherpa and MECLABS
Institute, on Twitter @DanielBurstein.

How to Amplify the Power of Your Value Proposition: This four-part framework represents the number one way to drive results in the next quarter

Customer Value: The 4 essential levels of value propositions

Value
Force: How to win on value proposition and not just price

6
Good (and 2 Bad) B2B and B2C Value Proposition Examples

The post How to Get Buy-in for Your Projects, Plans and Proposals From the First Pitch to Successful Completion (plus free template) appeared first on MarketingExperiments.

#post-2419 .CPlase_panel {display:none;}

When it comes to sharing B2B marketing advice, I prefer not to clown around too much and do my best to be positive and optimistic with trends, insights and how to’s focused on looking forward towards best practices and getting better results.

Marketers expect serious results but unfortunatley, many B2B marketers insist on clowning around with half-hearted or incomplete influencer marketing efforts.

I know this from stories told by brand marketers that have worked with other agencies and from being on the receiving end of clueless pitches, minimum viable engagement efforts and willfully ignorant attempts to get me to promote something I really have no business caring about. I’ve heard much of the same from other people who are often engaged as influencers as well.

This post is an appeal to B2B marketers to stop clowning around with influencer marketing efforts, especially now when marketing has no room to be wasteful or unsuccessful. Below is a list of some of the worst offenders. If your B2B company is doing these things, whatever efficiency or shortcut you’re hoping for is a joke on you in terms of program success and building real relationships with the credible experts your customers listen to.

1. Lead Gen Disguised as Brand Awareness – Marketers initiating an influencer program with stated goals of increasing brand awareness inevitably always shift their thinking midway through and start talking about lead generation and sales expectations if not from the start. Of course building brand awareness and lead generation are two different strategies with different types of metrics. Expecting both from the same campaign is like expecting a flying car to also be a submarine. It’s possible, but not very practical.

2. Choosing Influencers Based on What? – Companies hire influencer marketing staff, consultants or agency specialists to help with influencer identification and qualification more than just about any other aspect of an influencer marketing program. And yet, some marketers prefer to choose influencers based on who they think would be influential or based on the opinions of a few executives vs. based on data.

Influencer Programs have a strategy for how to achieve a particular goal with the identified audience using a specific mix of content and tactics. Influencers play a role like ingredients in a recipe and data informed selection incorporates a minimum of topical relevance, audience resonance, network size, publishing type, style and cadence as well as brand alignment into consideration. When you start deciding on ingredients for recipe you haven’t made before based on what you like vs. what tastes good for your guests, it’s possible the dish will be tasty, but probably not.

3.  Overpromise and Underdeliver – Marketers are busy and often overzealous when pressed for time and resources to recruit influencers for a project. Value exchange scenarios emerge where the influencer is asked to X and the brand will do Y in exchange. Then surprises start to happen, like being asked to do this one extra thing. Or two. Or three.

When a big exposure opportunity implied in the recruiting effort falls through (it was actually speculative), gets switched for another thing the influencers don’t want or requires the influencers to sell their soul to the brand with some kind of endorsement to participate – all contribute to the experience the brand is creating for the influencer. When expectations are not met either by the brand or the influencer, nobody wins. Such disconnects are avoidable with effective influencer program management.

4. Transactional Engagement – Efficiency is an expectation now more than ever in marketing departments and at the same time, influencer engagement is a relationship focused practice. When marketers treat influencer interactions like sales transactions or as impersonal exchanges, it may create conveniences for the marketer, but it’s nothing special or worth repeating for the influencer.

The classic transactional engagement example is when the marketer invites the influencer to contribute to a project of relevance and then sends a link to a form with 10 more questions than implied in the invite. Once the form is complete, there is no thank you, no acknowledgement and no follow up until the content is published and the marketer sends an email with the exact same 5 social share message suggestions that were sent to the other 49 people who were asked to fill out the form. Yuk.

5. Nowhere to Publish – Less an issue with small or medium sized companies, publishing influencer content on the large B2B brand websites or blogs should already be coordinated and approved before the influencers are recruited and informed where they will see exposure. Nobody wins when a top lineup of experts share their expertise and the brand doesn’t have somewhere for that content to live.

Also, simply publishing episodic content like a podcast to aggregators and not creating a web page index for the podcast or episodes is a huge missed opportunity. Web pages are hooks in the water for search engines, social shares, industry blogs and media websites. Plus, those web pages also create exposure for the contributing influencers, which is probably why they said yes to the invitation.

6. Fear of Commitment – Relationships take time, effort and investment of resources and can pay incredible dividends over a long period of time. It’s definitely a best practice for B2B brands to conduct a pilot influencer project to work out processes and capture initial data for insight into building a program. But make no mistake, it is an ongoing effort towards influencer engagement that builds the kinds of relationships that drive high ROI advocacy from the people your customers trust the most.

Fear of committing to some kind of ongoing effort to nurture influencers as part of a strategy to drive brand conversations, grow brand influence, reach new customers and inspire more business has a cost that shows no ROI.

7. Management by Spreadsheet – Like any marketing program, there are many elements to manage in an influencer program from the marketing plan, campaign, assets and measurement to the management, engagement and measurement of influencers. Doing all of that by spreadsheet can work for a pilot but for any B2B company to scale it’s influencer marketing efforts, investment in technology like an influencer marketing platform will be worthwhile.

An influencer marketing platform should enable marketers to find, manage and measure influencer relationships (at a minimum).

8. Promotion Black Hole – Imagine an exciting new project where everything comes together: the influencers, the brand executives and SMEs and the content is impressive. Then the content publishes and… nothing.  Sometimes brands overestimate the value of publishing on their own properties including social channels.

Promotion of influencer content is a bit part of why influencers agree to contribute to a brand’s influencer marketing program. Of course the influencer will promote to their own channels and the brand will benefit from that. But if the content the influencer contributed to is not promoted on brand channels, it deflates the influencers motivation and that’s a lost opportunity for the brand.

9. One Night Stands – Engaging and activating influencers comes in many forms and some marketers miss the boat entirely on the relationship aspect of co-creating with influencers in search of quickie content capture and social shares. That quickie for a listicle might be satisfying for the marketer as efficient content creation, but it does very little to create a real relationship with trusted experts making product and service recommendations to their loyal audiences.

It’s perfectly fine to engage in small or individual projects with influencers. Just don’t make that the only thing. Ongoing, or “always on” influencer engagement is practical, manageable and it creates a mutual will scenario for the brand, its customers and the influencers.

10. Goals to Measurement FUBAR – Influencer Marketing is still relatively new to B2B and many marketers add-on influencer contributions to existing content marketing programs than implement dedicated influencer programs on their own. Ambiguity about goals for the influencer part of a content marketing program leads to lack of defined metrics and performance measurement.

It could happen that a B2B brand adds a few high profile influencers to a demand gen project that achieves millions of social impressions. But it turns out, very few people shared their email for the download. If the project had goals of name capture, a specific type of influencer that more middle-funnel appropriate should be engaged and provided with UTM encoded URLs for influencer level tracking.

When goals to measurement are not clear with influencers that are part of a content project or a dedicated influencer marketing program, measuring and reporting success is basically guesswork.

For even more laughs about the ways B2B marketers are sidetracking the results of their influencer marketing efforts, check out this timeless list of 50 ways to fail at influencer engagement.

There’s nothing funny about failing but it’s a lot of fun to hit and exceed program goals. Be sure to check out these examples of successful influencer marketing for B2B brands, big and small and here are 25 campaign ideas.

When it comes to sharing B2B marketing advice, I prefer not to clown around too much and do my best to be positive and optimistic with trends, insights and how to’s focused on looking forward towards best practices and getting better results.

Marketers expect serious results but unfortunatley, many B2B marketers insist on clowning around with half-hearted or incomplete influencer marketing efforts.

I know this from stories told by brand marketers that have worked with other agencies and from being on the receiving end of clueless pitches, minimum viable engagement efforts and willfully ignorant attempts to get me to promote something I really have no business caring about. I’ve heard much of the same from other people who are often engaged as influencers as well.

This post is an appeal to B2B marketers to stop clowning around with influencer marketing efforts, especially now when marketing has no room to be wasteful or unsuccessful. Below is a list of some of the worst offenders. If your B2B company is doing these things, whatever efficiency or shortcut you’re hoping for is a joke on you in terms of program success and building real relationships with the credible experts your customers listen to.

1. Lead Gen Disguised as Brand Awareness – Marketers initiating an influencer program with stated goals of increasing brand awareness inevitably always shift their thinking midway through and start talking about lead generation and sales expectations if not from the start. Of course building brand awareness and lead generation are two different strategies with different types of metrics. Expecting both from the same campaign is like expecting a flying car to also be a submarine. It’s possible, but not very practical.

2. Choosing Influencers Based on What? – Companies hire influencer marketing staff, consultants or agency specialists to help with influencer identification and qualification more than just about any other aspect of an influencer marketing program. And yet, some marketers prefer to choose influencers based on who they think would be influential or based on the opinions of a few executives vs. based on data.

Influencer Programs have a strategy for how to achieve a particular goal with the identified audience using a specific mix of content and tactics. Influencers play a role like ingredients in a recipe and data informed selection incorporates a minimum of topical relevance, audience resonance, network size, publishing type, style and cadence as well as brand alignment into consideration. When you start deciding on ingredients for recipe you haven’t made before based on what you like vs. what tastes good for your guests, it’s possible the dish will be tasty, but probably not.

3.  Overpromise and Underdeliver – Marketers are busy and often overzealous when pressed for time and resources to recruit influencers for a project. Value exchange scenarios emerge where the influencer is asked to X and the brand will do Y in exchange. Then surprises start to happen, like being asked to do this one extra thing. Or two. Or three.

When a big exposure opportunity implied in the recruiting effort falls through (it was actually speculative), gets switched for another thing the influencers don’t want or requires the influencers to sell their soul to the brand with some kind of endorsement to participate – all contribute to the experience the brand is creating for the influencer. When expectations are not met either by the brand or the influencer, nobody wins. Such disconnects are avoidable with effective influencer program management.

4. Transactional Engagement – Efficiency is an expectation now more than ever in marketing departments and at the same time, influencer engagement is a relationship focused practice. When marketers treat influencer interactions like sales transactions or as impersonal exchanges, it may create conveniences for the marketer, but it’s nothing special or worth repeating for the influencer.

The classic transactional engagement example is when the marketer invites the influencer to contribute to a project of relevance and then sends a link to a form with 10 more questions than implied in the invite. Once the form is complete, there is no thank you, no acknowledgement and no follow up until the content is published and the marketer sends an email with the exact same 5 social share message suggestions that were sent to the other 49 people who were asked to fill out the form. Yuk.

5. Nowhere to Publish – Less an issue with small or medium sized companies, publishing influencer content on the large B2B brand websites or blogs should already be coordinated and approved before the influencers are recruited and informed where they will see exposure. Nobody wins when a top lineup of experts share their expertise and the brand doesn’t have somewhere for that content to live.

Also, simply publishing episodic content like a podcast to aggregators and not creating a web page index for the podcast or episodes is a huge missed opportunity. Web pages are hooks in the water for search engines, social shares, industry blogs and media websites. Plus, those web pages also create exposure for the contributing influencers, which is probably why they said yes to the invitation.

6. Fear of Commitment – Relationships take time, effort and investment of resources and can pay incredible dividends over a long period of time. It’s definitely a best practice for B2B brands to conduct a pilot influencer project to work out processes and capture initial data for insight into building a program. But make no mistake, it is an ongoing effort towards influencer engagement that builds the kinds of relationships that drive high ROI advocacy from the people your customers trust the most.

Fear of committing to some kind of ongoing effort to nurture influencers as part of a strategy to drive brand conversations, grow brand influence, reach new customers and inspire more business has a cost that shows no ROI.

7. Management by Spreadsheet – Like any marketing program, there are many elements to manage in an influencer program from the marketing plan, campaign, assets and measurement to the management, engagement and measurement of influencers. Doing all of that by spreadsheet can work for a pilot but for any B2B company to scale it’s influencer marketing efforts, investment in technology like an influencer marketing platform will be worthwhile.

An influencer marketing platform should enable marketers to find, manage and measure influencer relationships (at a minimum).

8. Promotion Black Hole – Imagine an exciting new project where everything comes together: the influencers, the brand executives and SMEs and the content is impressive. Then the content publishes and… nothing.  Sometimes brands overestimate the value of publishing on their own properties including social channels.

Promotion of influencer content is a bit part of why influencers agree to contribute to a brand’s influencer marketing program. Of course the influencer will promote to their own channels and the brand will benefit from that. But if the content the influencer contributed to is not promoted on brand channels, it deflates the influencers motivation and that’s a lost opportunity for the brand.

9. One Night Stands – Engaging and activating influencers comes in many forms and some marketers miss the boat entirely on the relationship aspect of co-creating with influencers in search of quickie content capture and social shares. That quickie for a listicle might be satisfying for the marketer as efficient content creation, but it does very little to create a real relationship with trusted experts making product and service recommendations to their loyal audiences.

It’s perfectly fine to engage in small or individual projects with influencers. Just don’t make that the only thing. Ongoing, or “always on” influencer engagement is practical, manageable and it creates a mutual will scenario for the brand, its customers and the influencers.

10. Goals to Measurement FUBAR – Influencer Marketing is still relatively new to B2B and many marketers add-on influencer contributions to existing content marketing programs than implement dedicated influencer programs on their own. Ambiguity about goals for the influencer part of a content marketing program leads to lack of defined metrics and performance measurement.

It could happen that a B2B brand adds a few high profile influencers to a demand gen project that achieves millions of social impressions. But it turns out, very few people shared their email for the download. If the project had goals of name capture, a specific type of influencer that more middle-funnel appropriate should be engaged and provided with UTM encoded URLs for influencer level tracking.

When goals to measurement are not clear with influencers that are part of a content project or a dedicated influencer marketing program, measuring and reporting success is basically guesswork.

For even more laughs about the ways B2B marketers are sidetracking the results of their influencer marketing efforts, check out this timeless list of 50 ways to fail at influencer engagement.

There’s nothing funny about failing but it’s a lot of fun to hit and exceed program goals. Be sure to check out these examples of successful influencer marketing for B2B brands, big and small and here are 25 campaign ideas.

#post-2418 .CPlase_panel {display:none;}

COVID-19’s Impact on B2B Software Budgets
31 percent of B2B software buyers say they’ll spend less due to the pandemic, while 30 percent said that spending won’t be affected, according to recently-released survey data. Web conferencing, collaboration, and remote desktop software were the three top segments for expanded spending, the survey also noted. MarketingProfs

90% of people buy from brands they follow on social media, study says
Nine out of 10 people purchase from the brands they follow on social platforms, and the amount they spend climbed 12 percent from 2019 figures — two of numerous findings of interest to digital marketers contained in new report data. Just 23 percent of marketers use social media data for measuring return-on-investment (ROI), the report also noted. Mobile Marketer

LinkedIn Adds Poll Feature
LinkedIn (client) has rolled out a user polling feature to members, offering marketers a new avenue for gathering community sentiment, the Microsoft-owned professional social media platform announced this week. Adweek

Eric Schmidt, who led Google’s transformation into a tech giant, has left the company
Longtime former Google chief executive Eric Schmidt — a staple public face at the company — has exiting the firm, after nearly 20 years with Google and its parent company Alphabet, the firms recently announced. CNET

Digital ad market not yet ‘back to normal’ but recent stability fuels optimism
Advertisers are finding more stability in the global ad market than was seen during March, according to newly-released data of interest to digital marketers from Socialbakers, which also found that traditional daily ad performance click-through-rate (CTR) peaks have largely disappeared, as most consumers have been working from home. Campaign

Brands and Retailers Are Changing Their Approach to Influencer Marketing
Financial firms have increased their use of influencer marketing to drive awareness of services in higher demand due to the global health crisis, according to recently-released survey data which also found that app developers have turned up their use of influencers. eMarketer

Consumers tire of COVID-19-related ads, survey finds
41 percent of consumers are ready to hear brand messaging that’s not pandemic-related, while 73 percent said that recent increases in the frequency of messages from brands has been appropriate — some of the findings of interest to online marketers in newly-released global survey data. Marketing Dive

New Survey Looks at How Marketers and Consumers View Social Media Engagement
Sprout Social’s latest Social Index report explores social engagement challenges and solutions, and found that 69 percent of marketers use social media primarily to increase brand awareness, with 46 percent doing so to expand a brand’s audience. Social Media Today

Twitter is rolling out tweet scheduling feature to some users
Twitter has been actively testing a variety of new desktop tweet scheduling functionality that could eventually expand brand marketer publishing options on the platform. The Next Web

B2B Decision-Makers Say Changes to Their Go-to-Market Approach Are Likely to Stick After COVID-19
57 percent of B2B U.S. firms have cut back spending on marketing due to the global health crisis, recently-released survey data shows, while self-serve interactions such as e-commerce and use of web support have both increased, the B2B sales study also noted. MarketingCharts

A lighthearted look at “resilience and change” by Marketoonist Tom Fishburne — Marketoonist

Former Reddit Mod Successfully Re-Enters Society as Wikipedia Editor — The Hard Times

TOPRANK MARKETING & CLIENTS IN THE NEWS:

Do you have your own top B2B content marketing or digital advertising stories from the past week of news? Please let us know in the comments below.

Thank you for taking the time to join us this week, and we hope you’ll join us again next Friday for more of the most relevant B2B and digital marketing industry news. In the meantime, you can follow us at @toprank on Twitter for even more timely daily news. Also, don’t miss the full video summary on our TopRank Marketing TV YouTube Channel.

COVID-19’s Impact on B2B Software Budgets
31 percent of B2B software buyers say they’ll spend less due to the pandemic, while 30 percent said that spending won’t be affected, according to recently-released survey data. Web conferencing, collaboration, and remote desktop software were the three top segments for expanded spending, the survey also noted. MarketingProfs

90% of people buy from brands they follow on social media, study says
Nine out of 10 people purchase from the brands they follow on social platforms, and the amount they spend climbed 12 percent from 2019 figures — two of numerous findings of interest to digital marketers contained in new report data. Just 23 percent of marketers use social media data for measuring return-on-investment (ROI), the report also noted. Mobile Marketer

LinkedIn Adds Poll Feature
LinkedIn (client) has rolled out a user polling feature to members, offering marketers a new avenue for gathering community sentiment, the Microsoft-owned professional social media platform announced this week. Adweek

Eric Schmidt, who led Google’s transformation into a tech giant, has left the company
Longtime former Google chief executive Eric Schmidt — a staple public face at the company — has exiting the firm, after nearly 20 years with Google and its parent company Alphabet, the firms recently announced. CNET

Digital ad market not yet ‘back to normal’ but recent stability fuels optimism
Advertisers are finding more stability in the global ad market than was seen during March, according to newly-released data of interest to digital marketers from Socialbakers, which also found that traditional daily ad performance click-through-rate (CTR) peaks have largely disappeared, as most consumers have been working from home. Campaign

Brands and Retailers Are Changing Their Approach to Influencer Marketing
Financial firms have increased their use of influencer marketing to drive awareness of services in higher demand due to the global health crisis, according to recently-released survey data which also found that app developers have turned up their use of influencers. eMarketer

Consumers tire of COVID-19-related ads, survey finds
41 percent of consumers are ready to hear brand messaging that’s not pandemic-related, while 73 percent said that recent increases in the frequency of messages from brands has been appropriate — some of the findings of interest to online marketers in newly-released global survey data. Marketing Dive

New Survey Looks at How Marketers and Consumers View Social Media Engagement
Sprout Social’s latest Social Index report explores social engagement challenges and solutions, and found that 69 percent of marketers use social media primarily to increase brand awareness, with 46 percent doing so to expand a brand’s audience. Social Media Today

Twitter is rolling out tweet scheduling feature to some users
Twitter has been actively testing a variety of new desktop tweet scheduling functionality that could eventually expand brand marketer publishing options on the platform. The Next Web

B2B Decision-Makers Say Changes to Their Go-to-Market Approach Are Likely to Stick After COVID-19
57 percent of B2B U.S. firms have cut back spending on marketing due to the global health crisis, recently-released survey data shows, while self-serve interactions such as e-commerce and use of web support have both increased, the B2B sales study also noted. MarketingCharts

A lighthearted look at “resilience and change” by Marketoonist Tom Fishburne — Marketoonist

Former Reddit Mod Successfully Re-Enters Society as Wikipedia Editor — The Hard Times

TOPRANK MARKETING & CLIENTS IN THE NEWS:

Do you have your own top B2B content marketing or digital advertising stories from the past week of news? Please let us know in the comments below.

Thank you for taking the time to join us this week, and we hope you’ll join us again next Friday for more of the most relevant B2B and digital marketing industry news. In the meantime, you can follow us at @toprank on Twitter for even more timely daily news. Also, don’t miss the full video summary on our TopRank Marketing TV YouTube Channel.

#post-2417 .CPlase_panel {display:none;}

“Wilson, I’m sorry!”

Work, lately, feels a little like being a castaway.

Isolating yourself. Dreaming of the past. Trusting in technology — however advanced or primitive — to get us through.

And work could stay this way for a while.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought an unprecedented number of information workers, including marketers, home for work. In fact, 62% of American workers said they’ve worked from home at some point during this crisis. But many experts are estimating that this volume of distributed and remote work won’t decrease after the pandemic ends. They see that hundreds, if not thousands, of businesses are realizing they never really needed an office — they could have operated remotely all along.

As we all come to grips with what could become the new normal, I realized there are lessons to be learned from feeling like a castaway. So, I turned to the world’s most famous — and successful — castaway: Chuck Noland.

His actions are actually great examples of how we should approach project management for remote marketers. Don’t believe me? Keep reading to learn my top project management tips for remote marketers with lessons from Cast Away.

There are a lot of iconic relationships shown in film. Bert and Ernie. Lucy and Ethel. And, of course, Chuck and Wilson.

As the film progresses, Chuck talks to Wilson more and more. In a lot of ways, he helps Chuck stay sane and talk through challenges like making fire, building a raft, and more.

While we aren’t physically together, it’s still incredibly important to keep open lines of communication among your marketing team. Similar to Chuck and Wilson, communicating often will keep you sane and organized, as well as give you a sounding board. You may even feel that you’re over-communicating with your team, but this is natural and necessary. When we’re remote, it’s more likely we’ll skip over a message, misinterpret text, or a host of other things. Over-communicating helps ensure those details are less likely to be missed or misunderstood.

Over-communicating doesn’t just apply to your team, either. Over-communicating with clients reaps the same benefits — your messages are less likely to be missed or misunderstood. And in my experience, clients appreciate the update, even if it’s only a couple of sentences.

Chuck shows us just how resourceful he is: he fashioned a figure skate into a knife, a porta-potty into a sail, a volleyball into a companion, and more. And if there’s one thing you need to be when stranded on an island, it’s resourceful.

That same holds true while we all work on our own remote “islands.” Physically separated, we need to rely on our technology resources to bring us closer together and closer to our goals. Here at TopRank Marketing, we use Slack for team communication, Google Drive to collaborate, Zoom to meet virtually at any time, and Mavenlink to organize our work. We used them while in the office, but we’ve become even more dependent on them outside of the office. We’ve also started to use these tools in new ways to help us adapt to the changing work environment. For example, we’re now using Slack for informal voice calls between teams since we can’t just stop by someone’s desk or stay in a meeting room together after a client meeting to discuss a plan of attack.

Once the time jump happens in Cast Away, Chuck has a plan. He’s getting off the island. But to stay on track, he has to organize his materials and plan out his actions carefully. He even makes a chart and counts down the days on the walls of his cave so he can stay organized and catch the trade winds in time.

To help your team stay on track, you need to stay organized and regularly check in on your plans. Keeping a chart or countdown like Chuck isn’t a bad idea, either. It’ll help you stay up to date on your projects and tasks without having to chase down details or remind yourself of progress.

Early on in Chuck’s journey, he and Wilson realize they need more information to aid them in their survival. They need to know just how lost they really are. So, they crunch the numbers. And what they find out is harrowing: the search area they’re lost in is over 500,000 square miles. The chance of someone finding them is slim to none.

Realizing that a search party is unlikely to find them, Chuck and Wilson spur into action. It empowers them to make the life-saving decision of getting off the island.

Information is powerful and reporting helps surface insights that aid your team in their decision making. From a project management perspective, increasing the frequency of your reporting will also help illuminate how your efficiency has changed since shifting to remote work. Run and share reports often with your team and it will help your projects progress and your team adapt to remote work.

[bctt tweet=”“From a project management perspective, increasing the frequency of your reporting will also help illuminate how your efficiency has changed since shifting to remote work.” — Anne Leuman @annieleuman” username=”toprank”]

Chuck Noland eventually made it off the island with a lot of hard work and a small miracle.

You, however, have the luxury of being able to leave the mental “island” of work at any time. Schedule a happy hour with the team. Call each other and go on a group walk. Have a Halloween in April party. We’ve done all of those things here at TopRank and it’s done wonders for our engagement with work. Taking breaks and giving yourself a mental escape is essential to staying motivated with and focused on your projects.

It’s normal for us all to feel like we live on our own islands during this time. Because we do, we’re all separated by distance. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways to come together and overcome the physical barriers between us.

Over-communicating, relying on technology, staying organized, sharing reports, and giving yourself and your team an escape are the best project management tips for overcoming these remote challenges.

And I’m sure this will be all of us once the crisis passes:

“Wilson, I’m sorry!”

Work, lately, feels a little like being a castaway.

Isolating yourself. Dreaming of the past. Trusting in technology — however advanced or primitive — to get us through.

And work could stay this way for a while.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought an unprecedented number of information workers, including marketers, home for work. In fact, 62% of American workers said they’ve worked from home at some point during this crisis. But many experts are estimating that this volume of distributed and remote work won’t decrease after the pandemic ends. They see that hundreds, if not thousands, of businesses are realizing they never really needed an office — they could have operated remotely all along.

As we all come to grips with what could become the new normal, I realized there are lessons to be learned from feeling like a castaway. So, I turned to the world’s most famous — and successful — castaway: Chuck Noland.

His actions are actually great examples of how we should approach project management for remote marketers. Don’t believe me? Keep reading to learn my top project management tips for remote marketers with lessons from Cast Away.

There are a lot of iconic relationships shown in film. Bert and Ernie. Lucy and Ethel. And, of course, Chuck and Wilson.

As the film progresses, Chuck talks to Wilson more and more. In a lot of ways, he helps Chuck stay sane and talk through challenges like making fire, building a raft, and more.

While we aren’t physically together, it’s still incredibly important to keep open lines of communication among your marketing team. Similar to Chuck and Wilson, communicating often will keep you sane and organized, as well as give you a sounding board. You may even feel that you’re over-communicating with your team, but this is natural and necessary. When we’re remote, it’s more likely we’ll skip over a message, misinterpret text, or a host of other things. Over-communicating helps ensure those details are less likely to be missed or misunderstood.

Over-communicating doesn’t just apply to your team, either. Over-communicating with clients reaps the same benefits — your messages are less likely to be missed or misunderstood. And in my experience, clients appreciate the update, even if it’s only a couple of sentences.

Chuck shows us just how resourceful he is: he fashioned a figure skate into a knife, a porta-potty into a sail, a volleyball into a companion, and more. And if there’s one thing you need to be when stranded on an island, it’s resourceful.

That same holds true while we all work on our own remote “islands.” Physically separated, we need to rely on our technology resources to bring us closer together and closer to our goals. Here at TopRank Marketing, we use Slack for team communication, Google Drive to collaborate, Zoom to meet virtually at any time, and Mavenlink to organize our work. We used them while in the office, but we’ve become even more dependent on them outside of the office. We’ve also started to use these tools in new ways to help us adapt to the changing work environment. For example, we’re now using Slack for informal voice calls between teams since we can’t just stop by someone’s desk or stay in a meeting room together after a client meeting to discuss a plan of attack.

Once the time jump happens in Cast Away, Chuck has a plan. He’s getting off the island. But to stay on track, he has to organize his materials and plan out his actions carefully. He even makes a chart and counts down the days on the walls of his cave so he can stay organized and catch the trade winds in time.

To help your team stay on track, you need to stay organized and regularly check in on your plans. Keeping a chart or countdown like Chuck isn’t a bad idea, either. It’ll help you stay up to date on your projects and tasks without having to chase down details or remind yourself of progress.

Early on in Chuck’s journey, he and Wilson realize they need more information to aid them in their survival. They need to know just how lost they really are. So, they crunch the numbers. And what they find out is harrowing: the search area they’re lost in is over 500,000 square miles. The chance of someone finding them is slim to none.

Realizing that a search party is unlikely to find them, Chuck and Wilson spur into action. It empowers them to make the life-saving decision of getting off the island.

Information is powerful and reporting helps surface insights that aid your team in their decision making. From a project management perspective, increasing the frequency of your reporting will also help illuminate how your efficiency has changed since shifting to remote work. Run and share reports often with your team and it will help your projects progress and your team adapt to remote work.

Chuck Noland eventually made it off the island with a lot of hard work and a small miracle.

You, however, have the luxury of being able to leave the mental “island” of work at any time. Schedule a happy hour with the team. Call each other and go on a group walk. Have a Halloween in April party. We’ve done all of those things here at TopRank and it’s done wonders for our engagement with work. Taking breaks and giving yourself a mental escape is essential to staying motivated with and focused on your projects.

It’s normal for us all to feel like we live on our own islands during this time. Because we do, we’re all separated by distance. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways to come together and overcome the physical barriers between us.

Over-communicating, relying on technology, staying organized, sharing reports, and giving yourself and your team an escape are the best project management tips for overcoming these remote challenges.

And I’m sure this will be all of us once the crisis passes:

#post-2415 .CPlase_panel {display:none;}

Always-on influence is especially vital today as brands look to combat increasing mistrust and apathy.

Why have top B2B firms including our clients LinkedIn, Adobe and Dell Outlet chosen always-on influencer marketing programs, and what results are they achieving using continuing influence programs?

We answer these questions and more with examples of always-on influence in action.

In the first installment of our new #AlwaysOnInfluence series, our CEO and co-founder Lee Odden explored what always-on influencer marketing is and why B2B brands need it now more than ever, and now we’ll move forward and look at why five major B2B firms have chosen ongoing influencer marketing.

First let’s refresh our marketing lexicon with an overview of just what always-on influence is.

Always-on influencer marketing is the practice of ongoing relationship-building, engagement and activation of a specified group of influencers to build community, content and brand advocacy.

Always-on marketing replaces on-again off-again campaigns with a fluid ongoing effort, continually cultivating and carefully building efforts that allow businesses to seamlessly adapt their marketing efforts, rather than playing catch-up, stopping a campaign, and waiting to build a new one.

“Relationships take time and that means influencer engagement is an ongoing effort, not just when influencers are needed to provide content or promotion,” Lee explained, adding that “a relationship-driven endeavor like engaging with influencers requires an ongoing effort.”

Always-on influencer marketing also happens to be an ideal way for brands to drive digital conversations during the global health crisis, as B2B brands seek to defeat audience apathy and skepticism by creating powerful influencer-infused content that bolsters brand credibility and authority.

Financial firms have increased their use of influencer marketing to drive awareness of services in higher demand due to the global health crisis. (eMarketer)

Using always-on influencer marketing helped our client 3M establish and popularize the Science Champions Podcast, paved the way for client DivvyHQ to see a 500 percent increase in awareness of its content platform, and led to our client Prophix seeing a 642 percent increase in engagement.

Our team at TopRank Marketing has been involved in always-on B2B influencer marketing since its inception, and we’ve had the honor of working with an array of major brands, and the success they’ve achieved utilizing ongoing influencer programs can serve as a guide for other B2B brands looking to try continuing influencer marketing.

“Working with influencers, to co-create content, delivers value and can inspire audiences to take action,” Amisha Gandhi of client SAP Ariba noted.

[bctt tweet=”“If you’re in B2B, influencer marketing should be on your to-do list. 2020 is a new decade. And a new era for B2B #InfluencerMarketing.” — Amisha Gandhi @AmishaGandhi” username=”toprank”]

There are many benefits to ongoing B2B influencer marketing programs, and we’ll explore them and then look at examples.

“When planned and implemented effectively, B2B influencer marketing programs build trust and confidence for buyers, influencers and the brand,” Lee recently noted.

“Many companies are meeting a boost in demand for information by engaging influencers to provide thought leadership, insights and how-to content. By collaborating with influencers on educational, entertaining and interactive online content, B2B brands can satisfy the hunger buyers have for credible content experiences that engage and inspire,” Lee added.

The uncertain times we face today can also be successfully addressed by brands through the use of always-on influencer marketing.

“Influencers are tapped into the current mood and interests of their audience. Their insights can help you craft your messaging to better resonate with your customers,” Tom Treanor, global head of marketing at our client Arm Treasure Data, recently said.

Ongoing influencer marketing also helps keep the kind of steady cadence consumers expect today more than ever from brands.

“Marketers are being ultra-cognizant of their messaging and publishing cadences, and ensuring their point of view and messaging on COVID-19 — or lack thereof — are aligned with their brand values. Influencer marketing is a fantastic way to bridge the gap between what once was our 2020 marketing plan and what we now need to achieve,” Elizabeth Williams, TopRank Marketing account manager shared.

Live-streaming video from influencers is also increasingly helping to keep the ongoing drum-beat of brand messaging active.

“There has been a rush of business influencers live-streaming video on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter,” Lee said.

[bctt tweet=”Successful B2B influencer relationships take time to build and require time to maintain.” @LeeOdden” username=”toprank”]

The ongoing influencer relationships that brands build today can form a strong foundation from which to grow in the years ahead.

“Engage an influencer for a campaign and they are your friend for the day. Help someone become more influential and they’re your friend for life,” Lee has astutely noted since the early days of B2B influencer marketing.

Consistency and persistence are among the key factors in successful always-on influencer marketing programs.

“Long-term engagements, founded on solid relationships and strengthened through an always-on influencer strategy, will help you steer clear of stops and starts,” our senior content strategist Nick Nelson noted.

Always-on influencer marketing offers brands a multitude of benefits, and is a multi-faceted undertaking, with some of the qualities being that it:

“Look beyond individual campaigns and think about how the brand and influencer relationship can create mutual value, influence and trust over time,” Lee has said, also noting that “Marketers need to be ‘on’ when it matters, and that might have to mean always on.”

Now let’s look at five examples of why major brands have chosen always-on influencer marketing, starting with LinkedIn.

[bctt tweet=”“Engage an influencer for a campaign and they are your friend for the day. Help someone become more influential and they’re your friend for life.” @LeeOdden” username=”toprank”]

Fresh off its latest tally of 690 million members, our client LinkedIn has continued to grow, with a 26 percent increase in user sessions and LinkedIn Live video streams that increased by 158 percent since February, according to parent company Microsoft’s fiscal year 2020 third quarter results release.

LinkedIn has remained in the top spot among senior B2B marketers for nurturing leads, with some 84 percent saying the platform is the most effective social media channel (Chief Marketer).

87 percent of Inc. 500 firms used LinkedIn for social media during 2019 (UMass Dartmouth), and for the third consecutive year LinkedIn has garnered the most-trusted social media platform spot, according to Business Insider Intelligence’s Digital Trust Report.

It may come as no surprise that engagement levels at LinkedIn have also risen during the pandemic, and this has been driven in part by the increasing use of always-on B2B marketing influencer initiatives.

A powerful example of how LinkedIn has used the always-on influencer marketing approach is LinkedIn Sales Solutions’ “Here’s Where Sales Leaders Should Focus in 2020, According to Experts,” which asked a variety of leading industry experts to share their top priorities for  B2B sales leaders.

Ty Heath, global lead of The B2B Institute at LinkedIn, sees the power of influence in building ongoing relationships.

“People can break through the noise. People trust people. Influence is about relationships,” Ty has said.

[bctt tweet=”“Business buyers expect more personalized attention and customization of content.” — Ty Heath @tyrona” username=”toprank”]

Humanizing a brand using B2B influencer marketing is explored in more detail in a Break Free B2B video interview we conducted with LinkedIn’s marketing manager Judy Tian.

Judy finds that the relevancy and engagement influencer marketing offers is especially important.

[bctt tweet=”“Even though I think reach is part of the equation, and we want to work with influencers who have a substantial amount of reach, the relevancy and engagement are what’s most important.” — Judy Tian @judytian07″ username=”toprank”]

Our own Nick sees always-on approaches as becoming a part of the new marketing normal.

“Brands need to be readily available, with the right content at the right time. Strategies must account for every touch point. Always-on approaches are becoming the norm,” Nick Nelson wrote.

It’s a view echoed by our vice president of client accounts Alexis Hall.

“Campaigns should be intertwined with an overall, always-on strategy to create marketing harmony and get the ultimate value out of all your efforts,” Alexis noted.

There are many benefits to building long-term influencer relationships that simply won’t occur when brands view influencer marketing as a tactic that can be turned on and off at will, however.

“Brands are best served by fostering long-term and mutually beneficial B2B influencer relationships, going beyond seeing influencers as just another of many projects. The loyalty an influencer will have towards your brand is largely dependent on building and maintaining ongoing relationships,” Lee shared during a recent webinar.

“When a brand provides long-term commitment to a partnership with an influencer, even when an influencer may not be actively involved in a campaign for the brand, the strength of the ongoing relationship will drive continued incentive for the influencer to be advocating for the brand,” Lee added.

LinkedIn has seen continuing success using the power of always-on influence, and to help you learn more about how the firm incorporates influencer marketing into its efforts, here are seven recent related articles we’ve written.

[bctt tweet=”“Brands need to be readily available, with the right content at the right time. Strategies must account for every touch point. Always-on approaches are becoming the norm.” @NickNelsonMN” username=”toprank”]

Our client Adobe has successfully used always-on influencer marketing in multiple ongoing programs over a period of years.

Adobe engaged multiple influencers to provide insights around customer experience management in a popular interactive infographic in support of the Adobe Summit conference.

For its “Reshaping Customer Experience Management: The Future of #CXM” campaign, Adobe worked with TopRank Marketing to create a unique interactive online story that featured a wealth of helpful B2B influencer content to increase awareness of Adobe’s Customer Experience Management solutions.

The campaign combined expert insight from top industry experts including Jay Baer of Convince & Convert, Ann Handley of MarketingProfs, Scott Monty of Scott Monty Strategies, Rachel Richter of Dun & Bradstreet and others, with enticing and genuinely useful interactive elements to bring Adobe’s CXM to life.

As we’ve seen, always-on influencer marketing delivers numerous benefits, including one that Rani Mani, head of social influencer enablement at Adobe, sees as especially important — bringing more of the humanizing element to B2B brands.

“The main benefit of B2B influencer collaboration is that influencers humanize a brand and capture the personality behind the logo,” Rani said.

“Influencers raise brand awareness and engagement by giving companies access to an audience they may not otherwise have through a trusted and credible source,” Rani added.

“We at Adobe pride ourselves on cultivating and nurturing long term relationships with our influencers,” Rani noted, adding that “With an always on approach like this, it’s easier to match the right influencers with the right campaigns as they get launched.”

[bctt tweet=”“The main benefit of B2B influencer collaboration is that influencers humanize a brand and capture the personality behind the logo.” @ranimani0707″ username=”toprank”]

In our annual list of top B2B influencer marketing predictions Rani suggested that influencers and brands will continue to strengthen their ongoing relationships both digitally and in the real world, something that will undoubtedly resume once the global health crisis subsides.

“In 2020, I predict in-real-life experiences between brands and influencers will grow and facilitate a greater sense of community,” Rani noted.

Rani also sat down with Lee and shared how working with B2B influencers can drive marketing results, how influencer engagement is organized at Adobe, along with a variety of tips on recruiting and engaging influencers, as well as listing some of her favorite B2B influencers to work with.

You can dig in with Rani and Lee’s entire fascinating exchange here.

Among Adobe’s always-on influencer initiatives has been its successful #AdobeInsiders program, which features top B2B influencers assembled by Rani and her team, with insider members including Lee, Monica Grant, Goldie Chan, and others.

Goldie recently explored the role of personal branding — an element important to savvy influencers — in a Forbes article which also features several take-aways from Lee.

“Adobe has not only built continued trust in its brand amongst a community of influencers but with the Adobe customers those influencers reach as well,” Lee noted.

[bctt tweet=”“With an always on approach, it’s easier to match the right influencers with the right campaigns as they get launched.” @ranimani0707″ username=”toprank”]

Our client Dell Outlet’s certified refurbished server, PC, and workstation program has used always-on influence as part of its award-winning marketing.

An fine example of how Dell Outlet has utilized always-on influencer marketing comes from the “Into the Wild: The Buyer’s Guide to Picking the Best Computer” guide it launched, featuring insight from a variety of “fit-for-you and fit-for-earth” tips from industry experts.

Dell Outlet was also a finalist at the B2BMX Killer Content Awards — the Finnys — with a campaign featuring small business influencers advocating on video and audio, and testing for the value of refurbished computers.

Dell Outlet needed to build awareness as an entity distinct from their parent brand. With a focus on refurbished hardware and a commitment to a more sustainable, circular economy, Dell Outlet built a unique personality, purpose and value proposition. They needed — however — to both establish themselves as their own brand, and educate a small business audience on the value of refurbished equipment.

With targeted research and outreach, Dell Outlet connected and co-created content with small business influencers who had relevance and resonance with the brand’s target audience. The full campaign, featuring videos, a landing page, and social promotion, achieved strong results that were only possible with always-on influencer marketing:

The campaign was 175 percent over its goal for traffic to product pages, and even though it was primarily an awareness campaign, the influencer contributions succeeded in driving conversions — a powerful testament to how successfully the campaign built trust with its target audience.

Our client Dell Technologies has also developed relationships with a network of influencers, including Mark Schaefer and Doug Karr, who host the popular Dell Luminaries podcast. Their discussions with technology visionaries from both inside Dell and elsewhere, put a human face on technology innovation, and build trust in the Dell Technologies brand.

It’s another of the many ongoing benefits of always-on influence that Lee has observed.

“Don’t make your influencer involvement a one-and-done. Keep following and engaging with your influencers, helping promote them and developing a community. Better yet, introduce influencers to each other. They’ll have your brand to thank for meaningful connections they make with their peers,” Lee noted.

Here’s another example from Dell Outlet, highlighting the insights they’ve gathered from an array of small business experts and entrepreneurs on making smart tech purchases.

[bctt tweet=”“Always On Influencer Marketing is a strategic approach to creating communities of trusted experts that is relationship and content focused.” @LeeOdden” username=”toprank”]

Our client RateLinx has used always-on influence to achieve new levels of engagement and reach for its platform in the supply chain software and consulting industry, whether through co-created blog content, influencer-rich information resources, or other forms of digital content.

For its recent “14 More Supply Chain & Logistics Leaders You Need to Follow” guide, RateLinx worked with industry influencers including Inna Kuznetsova, Ph. D. and Beth Morgan to provide ongoing advice, insight, and guidance, following up on an earlier successful effort.

Supply chain industry influencer Lisa Anderson was featured in another recent blog post, “Supply Chain Strategy: Modernization Tips from Lisa Anderson.”

For RateLinx and all of the brands we’ve shared examples from, the time for always-on influence in marketing has arrived, however brands have been slow to adopt the practice, as we explored in “Why Always-On Is Always Better for Driving B2B Influencer Marketing Success.”

[bctt tweet=”“Campaigns should be intertwined with an overall, always-on strategy to create marketing harmony and get the ultimate value out of all your efforts.” @Alexis5484″ username=”toprank”]

Whether it’s a major name influencer or niche industry micro-influencers, AT&T’s always-on influencer approach has seen continued success, such as its recent inclusion in the popular “#SomeGoodNews with John Krasinski” YouTube videos.

AT&T also notes that “92 percent of people trust recommendations from people over brands, even if they don’t know them,” and has worked with influencers on campaigns including its successful “History by Us” initiative to celebrate Black History Month.

As we’ve seen with our examples from LinkedIn, Adobe, Dell, RateLinx, AT&T and others, always-on influence is a powerful long-term method for driving brand authority and increasing brand trust and engagement, especially during uncertain times.

We hope that you’ve found inspiration in these various examples for your own efforts. To learn more about how TopRank Marketing can help you develop a premier always-on influencer marketing program, please contact us.

Always-on influence is especially vital today as brands look to combat increasing mistrust and apathy.

Why have top B2B firms including our clients LinkedIn, Adobe and Dell Outlet chosen always-on influencer marketing programs, and what results are they achieving using continuing influence programs?

We answer these questions and more with examples of always-on influence in action.

In the first installment of our new #AlwaysOnInfluence series, our CEO and co-founder Lee Odden explored what always-on influencer marketing is and why B2B brands need it now more than ever, and now we’ll move forward and look at why five major B2B firms have chosen ongoing influencer marketing.

First let’s refresh our marketing lexicon with an overview of just what always-on influence is.

Always-on influencer marketing is the practice of ongoing relationship-building, engagement and activation of a specified group of influencers to build community, content and brand advocacy.

Always-on marketing replaces on-again off-again campaigns with a fluid ongoing effort, continually cultivating and carefully building efforts that allow businesses to seamlessly adapt their marketing efforts, rather than playing catch-up, stopping a campaign, and waiting to build a new one.

“Relationships take time and that means influencer engagement is an ongoing effort, not just when influencers are needed to provide content or promotion,” Lee explained, adding that “a relationship-driven endeavor like engaging with influencers requires an ongoing effort.”

Always-on influencer marketing also happens to be an ideal way for brands to drive digital conversations during the global health crisis, as B2B brands seek to defeat audience apathy and skepticism by creating powerful influencer-infused content that bolsters brand credibility and authority.

Financial firms have increased their use of influencer marketing to drive awareness of services in higher demand due to the global health crisis. (eMarketer)

Using always-on influencer marketing helped our client 3M establish and popularize the Science Champions Podcast, paved the way for client DivvyHQ to see a 500 percent increase in awareness of its content platform, and led to our client Prophix seeing a 642 percent increase in engagement.

Our team at TopRank Marketing has been involved in always-on B2B influencer marketing since its inception, and we’ve had the honor of working with an array of major brands, and the success they’ve achieved utilizing ongoing influencer programs can serve as a guide for other B2B brands looking to try continuing influencer marketing.

“Working with influencers, to co-create content, delivers value and can inspire audiences to take action,” Amisha Gandhi of client SAP Ariba noted.

There are many benefits to ongoing B2B influencer marketing programs, and we’ll explore them and then look at examples.

“When planned and implemented effectively, B2B influencer marketing programs build trust and confidence for buyers, influencers and the brand,” Lee recently noted.

“Many companies are meeting a boost in demand for information by engaging influencers to provide thought leadership, insights and how-to content. By collaborating with influencers on educational, entertaining and interactive online content, B2B brands can satisfy the hunger buyers have for credible content experiences that engage and inspire,” Lee added.

The uncertain times we face today can also be successfully addressed by brands through the use of always-on influencer marketing.

“Influencers are tapped into the current mood and interests of their audience. Their insights can help you craft your messaging to better resonate with your customers,” Tom Treanor, global head of marketing at our client Arm Treasure Data, recently said.

Ongoing influencer marketing also helps keep the kind of steady cadence consumers expect today more than ever from brands.

“Marketers are being ultra-cognizant of their messaging and publishing cadences, and ensuring their point of view and messaging on COVID-19 — or lack thereof — are aligned with their brand values. Influencer marketing is a fantastic way to bridge the gap between what once was our 2020 marketing plan and what we now need to achieve,” Elizabeth Williams, TopRank Marketing account manager shared.

Live-streaming video from influencers is also increasingly helping to keep the ongoing drum-beat of brand messaging active.

“There has been a rush of business influencers live-streaming video on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter,” Lee said.

The ongoing influencer relationships that brands build today can form a strong foundation from which to grow in the years ahead.

“Engage an influencer for a campaign and they are your friend for the day. Help someone become more influential and they’re your friend for life,” Lee has astutely noted since the early days of B2B influencer marketing.

Consistency and persistence are among the key factors in successful always-on influencer marketing programs.

“Long-term engagements, founded on solid relationships and strengthened through an always-on influencer strategy, will help you steer clear of stops and starts,” our senior content strategist Nick Nelson noted.

Always-on influencer marketing offers brands a multitude of benefits, and is a multi-faceted undertaking, with some of the qualities being that it:

“Look beyond individual campaigns and think about how the brand and influencer relationship can create mutual value, influence and trust over time,” Lee has said, also noting that “Marketers need to be ‘on’ when it matters, and that might have to mean always on.”

Now let’s look at five examples of why major brands have chosen always-on influencer marketing, starting with LinkedIn.

Fresh off its latest tally of 690 million members, our client LinkedIn has continued to grow, with a 26 percent increase in user sessions and LinkedIn Live video streams that increased by 158 percent since February, according to parent company Microsoft’s fiscal year 2020 third quarter results release.

LinkedIn has remained in the top spot among senior B2B marketers for nurturing leads, with some 84 percent saying the platform is the most effective social media channel (Chief Marketer).

87 percent of Inc. 500 firms used LinkedIn for social media during 2019 (UMass Dartmouth), and for the third consecutive year LinkedIn has garnered the most-trusted social media platform spot, according to Business Insider Intelligence’s Digital Trust Report.

It may come as no surprise that engagement levels at LinkedIn have also risen during the pandemic, and this has been driven in part by the increasing use of always-on B2B marketing influencer initiatives.

A powerful example of how LinkedIn has used the always-on influencer marketing approach is LinkedIn Sales Solutions’ “Here’s Where Sales Leaders Should Focus in 2020, According to Experts,” which asked a variety of leading industry experts to share their top priorities for  B2B sales leaders.

Ty Heath, global lead of The B2B Institute at LinkedIn, sees the power of influence in building ongoing relationships.

“People can break through the noise. People trust people. Influence is about relationships,” Ty has said.

Humanizing a brand using B2B influencer marketing is explored in more detail in a Break Free B2B video interview we conducted with LinkedIn’s marketing manager Judy Tian.

Judy finds that the relevancy and engagement influencer marketing offers is especially important.

Our own Nick sees always-on approaches as becoming a part of the new marketing normal.

“Brands need to be readily available, with the right content at the right time. Strategies must account for every touch point. Always-on approaches are becoming the norm,” Nick Nelson wrote.

It’s a view echoed by our vice president of client accounts Alexis Hall.

“Campaigns should be intertwined with an overall, always-on strategy to create marketing harmony and get the ultimate value out of all your efforts,” Alexis noted.

There are many benefits to building long-term influencer relationships that simply won’t occur when brands view influencer marketing as a tactic that can be turned on and off at will, however.

“Brands are best served by fostering long-term and mutually beneficial B2B influencer relationships, going beyond seeing influencers as just another of many projects. The loyalty an influencer will have towards your brand is largely dependent on building and maintaining ongoing relationships,” Lee shared during a recent webinar.

“When a brand provides long-term commitment to a partnership with an influencer, even when an influencer may not be actively involved in a campaign for the brand, the strength of the ongoing relationship will drive continued incentive for the influencer to be advocating for the brand,” Lee added.

LinkedIn has seen continuing success using the power of always-on influence, and to help you learn more about how the firm incorporates influencer marketing into its efforts, here are seven recent related articles we’ve written.

Our client Adobe has successfully used always-on influencer marketing in multiple ongoing programs over a period of years.

Adobe engaged multiple influencers to provide insights around customer experience management in a popular interactive infographic in support of the Adobe Summit conference.

For its “Reshaping Customer Experience Management: The Future of #CXM” campaign, Adobe worked with TopRank Marketing to create a unique interactive online story that featured a wealth of helpful B2B influencer content to increase awareness of Adobe’s Customer Experience Management solutions.

The campaign combined expert insight from top industry experts including Jay Baer of Convince & Convert, Ann Handley of MarketingProfs, Scott Monty of Scott Monty Strategies, Rachel Richter of Dun & Bradstreet and others, with enticing and genuinely useful interactive elements to bring Adobe’s CXM to life.

As we’ve seen, always-on influencer marketing delivers numerous benefits, including one that Rani Mani, head of social influencer enablement at Adobe, sees as especially important — bringing more of the humanizing element to B2B brands.

“The main benefit of B2B influencer collaboration is that influencers humanize a brand and capture the personality behind the logo,” Rani said.

“Influencers raise brand awareness and engagement by giving companies access to an audience they may not otherwise have through a trusted and credible source,” Rani added.

“We at Adobe pride ourselves on cultivating and nurturing long term relationships with our influencers,” Rani noted, adding that “With an always on approach like this, it’s easier to match the right influencers with the right campaigns as they get launched.”

In our annual list of top B2B influencer marketing predictions Rani suggested that influencers and brands will continue to strengthen their ongoing relationships both digitally and in the real world, something that will undoubtedly resume once the global health crisis subsides.

“In 2020, I predict in-real-life experiences between brands and influencers will grow and facilitate a greater sense of community,” Rani noted.

Rani also sat down with Lee and shared how working with B2B influencers can drive marketing results, how influencer engagement is organized at Adobe, along with a variety of tips on recruiting and engaging influencers, as well as listing some of her favorite B2B influencers to work with.

You can dig in with Rani and Lee’s entire fascinating exchange here.

Among Adobe’s always-on influencer initiatives has been its successful #AdobeInsiders program, which features top B2B influencers assembled by Rani and her team, with insider members including Lee, Monica Grant, Goldie Chan, and others.

Goldie recently explored the role of personal branding — an element important to savvy influencers — in a Forbes article which also features several take-aways from Lee.

“Adobe has not only built continued trust in its brand amongst a community of influencers but with the Adobe customers those influencers reach as well,” Lee noted.

Our client Dell Outlet’s certified refurbished server, PC, and workstation program has used always-on influence as part of its award-winning marketing.

An fine example of how Dell Outlet has utilized always-on influencer marketing comes from the “Into the Wild: The Buyer’s Guide to Picking the Best Computer” guide it launched, featuring insight from a variety of “fit-for-you and fit-for-earth” tips from industry experts.

Dell Outlet was also a finalist at the B2BMX Killer Content Awards — the Finnys — with a campaign featuring small business influencers advocating on video and audio, and testing for the value of refurbished computers.

Dell Outlet needed to build awareness as an entity distinct from their parent brand. With a focus on refurbished hardware and a commitment to a more sustainable, circular economy, Dell Outlet built a unique personality, purpose and value proposition. They needed — however — to both establish themselves as their own brand, and educate a small business audience on the value of refurbished equipment.

With targeted research and outreach, Dell Outlet connected and co-created content with small business influencers who had relevance and resonance with the brand’s target audience. The full campaign, featuring videos, a landing page, and social promotion, achieved strong results that were only possible with always-on influencer marketing:

The campaign was 175 percent over its goal for traffic to product pages, and even though it was primarily an awareness campaign, the influencer contributions succeeded in driving conversions — a powerful testament to how successfully the campaign built trust with its target audience.

Our client Dell Technologies has also developed relationships with a network of influencers, including Mark Schaefer and Doug Karr, who host the popular Dell Luminaries podcast. Their discussions with technology visionaries from both inside Dell and elsewhere, put a human face on technology innovation, and build trust in the Dell Technologies brand.

It’s another of the many ongoing benefits of always-on influence that Lee has observed.

“Don’t make your influencer involvement a one-and-done. Keep following and engaging with your influencers, helping promote them and developing a community. Better yet, introduce influencers to each other. They’ll have your brand to thank for meaningful connections they make with their peers,” Lee noted.

Here’s another example from Dell Outlet, highlighting the insights they’ve gathered from an array of small business experts and entrepreneurs on making smart tech purchases.

Our client RateLinx has used always-on influence to achieve new levels of engagement and reach for its platform in the supply chain software and consulting industry, whether through co-created blog content, influencer-rich information resources, or other forms of digital content.

For its recent “14 More Supply Chain & Logistics Leaders You Need to Follow” guide, RateLinx worked with industry influencers including Inna Kuznetsova, Ph. D. and Beth Morgan to provide ongoing advice, insight, and guidance, following up on an earlier successful effort.

Supply chain industry influencer Lisa Anderson was featured in another recent blog post, “Supply Chain Strategy: Modernization Tips from Lisa Anderson.”

For RateLinx and all of the brands we’ve shared examples from, the time for always-on influence in marketing has arrived, however brands have been slow to adopt the practice, as we explored in “Why Always-On Is Always Better for Driving B2B Influencer Marketing Success.”

Whether it’s a major name influencer or niche industry micro-influencers, AT&T’s always-on influencer approach has seen continued success, such as its recent inclusion in the popular “#SomeGoodNews with John Krasinski” YouTube videos.

AT&T also notes that “92 percent of people trust recommendations from people over brands, even if they don’t know them,” and has worked with influencers on campaigns including its successful “History by Us” initiative to celebrate Black History Month.

As we’ve seen with our examples from LinkedIn, Adobe, Dell, RateLinx, AT&T and others, always-on influence is a powerful long-term method for driving brand authority and increasing brand trust and engagement, especially during uncertain times.

We hope that you’ve found inspiration in these various examples for your own efforts. To learn more about how TopRank Marketing can help you develop a premier always-on influencer marketing program, please contact us.

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