Rich Clark Marketing

Opinions from Rich Clark one of the UK's leading Marketing Professionals


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Using Social Media in a B2B World

Without a doubt Social Media is a really important element of modern life.  Individuals use it to connect with friends, old acquaintances and even celebrities.  Organisations of all sizes are using the likes of Facebook to make contact with their customers.  This doesn’t appear to change, if anything Social Media is likely to play an increasingly prominent role, especially now that Google states it will use buzz as an influence in its ranking.

When I speak to friends who work in a B2B environment they often ask what can they use it for.  I am also asked the same question when I speak at conferences.

Despite the repeated questions on how should B2B organisations adopt Social Media a Bizreport study outlined some interesting and surprising statistics.  86% of B2B firms already have an active Social Media presence compared to only 82% of B2C companies.  However the same report suggests that those B2B firms aren’t making the most of their presence with 32% engaging with their base on a daily basis, compared to 52% of B2C companies.  This is backed up by the fact that 34% of B2B companies aren’t tracking their activity in any way either.

Gut instinct is the same as if I was in a B2C environment. Use the channels in the way they should be used and create approaches that are right and targeted to your audience. The key thing I would advise anybody to do first however is understand why your business should be in Social Media and what is your aim of being there?  Can you offer the audience something they can’t get elsewhere or provide them with a point of view they don’t easily get.

Once you have defined your sense of being (in Social Media terms) you should integrate it into both your overall business processes and your overall Marketing strategy.  The reason for doing this is to ensure it becomes a part of your everyday activity in your business, automatically enabling you to avoid the pitfall of engaging in the stats in the report.

Perhaps more importantly in B2B than in B2C you really need to define what each channel will be used for.  That being said this is still an important factor in B2C however there is also more of an overlap of channels for B2C.  Remember, just because all the buzz and scale is with the likes of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube you may decide that one or all of these channels are not suitable for your business.

A key part to any social media strategy is the reason for being.  Offer your customers something to engage with, provide a currency that will ensure they want to engage with your company. This will be different depending who your business is, what it does and your position in your sector and with your customers.

For example, if you are perceived as an expert in your field then your strategy will be completely different to if you are purely a distributor of kit.  We need to take one step back to the start of that sentence, the key part is how you are perceived by your customers, not how you perceive yourself.  You don’t need to undertake expensive brand studies just generally ask your customers some new questions, unless you already know the answers.

Obviously in a B2B environment customers are often as concerned by the commercial aspect so if you are in a position to offer something unique for those that engage with you via social media (voucher codes or free services) that could provide a boost to your numbers, however that alone will not necessarily help you achieve your goals unless its a continued programme of activity that provides real additional value.

The whole ethos of being an expert provides real social media gold.  What can you give to your customers that will help interaction and engagement.  A great example is to provide content they wouldn’t get elsewhere.  A builders merchant could provide HowTo guides for builders on ways to save money and time on specific projects such as building a conservatory.

A distributor of electrical components could provide a service to the end user but as an aid for their B2B customers.  The distributor could provide a mash-up of the UK map which is fully searchable and links to electricians in their area, with examples of their work and testimonials.  The distributor in theory could also create income from charging electricians to appear on their platform if scale was achieved.

IT training companies could really demonstrate their expertise by providing a community and forum on their own website where their trainers can answer delegates questions on site and in theory offer clinics at agreed dates to really give in-depth support to their delegates.  This would really add ongoing value to delegates and support them and their employers further in to the lifecycle.

These were just some basic ideas that could be adopted and across a number of sectors.  If you are in a B2B environment, feel free to make contact and I can see if I can devise something specific for you.  Also check out this B2B Social Media infographic

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Internet Impact on Music

The trend of music being owned via the traditional model of labels dictating play has been under threat for some time.  This has been moved when Napster was first formed as an illegal file (music) share service, all the way through to the massive business of digital music on the likes of iTunes and to a lesser degree the legal Napster.

The model for established artists doesn’t end there, with internet radio stations shooting up and the likes of Spotify meaning more channels are now open for signed artists, even if it is less traditional.  Some of the traditional artists have suffered but others have grown their fan base as a result.

The likes of YouTube have presented both opportunities and threats to artists and now the commercial models are more established, YouTube provide a huge reach for music videos, bigger than any TV station.  YouTube still needs to work on protecting copyright if it is to become a channel of choice and one where only official videos are rated and viewed.

MySpace is also a well established channel for music.  However many users have moved away from the platform due to its overtly commercial nature.  One of the most well-known early cases of a UK act making it via the Internet has to be the rise of the Arctic Monkeys. They were one of the first to make it big due their profile on MySpace and the active promotion they took off that base.  Culminating in hit albums, tours and awards, including being recognised by the coveted Mercury Music Award.

All of this is a lovely background, but what does this mean for the industry at large?

There are two main shifts, one being the major labels are losing some of the control over their artists.  Due to the higher number of avenues open to artists, they can also utilise more routes to market.  A number of newer acts are actually starting to push their music via social channels rather than performing all over the pubs and clubs hoping to get noticed.

For me the acts that embrace the channels in their true way, stand a great chance of getting out there.  If the acts engage with their fans, followers or friends then they will get a massive following. Facebook the acts should share pics, videos and updates.  They should also respond to comments.  On Twitter the acts should Retweet (just not too much) they should also message their followers when asked a question, Professor Green does this well.  This will provide a massively loyal following.

On any channel, You Tube included, the acts should supply something unique, maybe snippets of forthcoming tracks or accoustic versions.  One of the acts that has done this successfully at present is Duchess, an up and coming girl band.

For the marketeers in this area there are great options. Targeting is very easy. With Facebook for instance you can target fans or potential fans on geo-demographic factors but more interestingly on what they like.  This is a great option in terms of picking people with interests in your genre or looking at people who like similar or rival acts.  Twitter is moving along these lines as well with the introduction of sponsored trends, tweets and profiles.

Sites such as LinkedIn allow people in the industry to connect to others, bringing managers, agents together with record industry people.  It also allows bands to secure contacts with corporates and gain input in to areas such as styling, image and coverage.


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5 F’s of Social Media

5 F’s of Social Media

Over a few posts I will highlight a number of case studies highlighting examples where brands have successfully implemented a social media concept.  To help illustrate the cases I may also identify a couple of the social media disasters.  A great recent example is the DSGi Facebook group where employees openly criticised customers.

However in this post I would like to highlight something that I call the 5 F’s of social media.  Don’t worry I’m not going to teach 5 new profanities beginning with the letter F.  Us marketeers like simple number-letter concepts to help add context to a piece of theory (4 P’s of Marketing).  This will also help me frame the case studies in future posts.

My 5 F’s theory does exactly that.  It highlights 5 distinct criteria – that if all are met, I believe most social media campaigns or activity will succeed.  Each campaign doesn’t necessarily have to hit all the buttons and success could also be achieved by simply turning up the volume on one or two of the areas.

Familiarity

To make any social media/participative marketing campaign a success brands really need to understand their target audience and the objectives of engaging with them.  If you can really get to grips with who your audience is and what they want then you will gain a genuine connection.  With this connection the community or audience should do your work for you, participate and  help towards growing the campaign.Pepsi Amp App

The best method to underline the importance of this particular F is when people get it wrong.  Pepsi’s recent campaign “helping men pull girls” which helped alienate half their audience (namely women).  They obviously had great intentions to undertake something cool and exciting on social media utilising app technology – however it seems to be a classic case of letting the technology rule the idea.

Even if your intention isn’t to run a ‘cool’ participative marketing campaign but to have a presence within social media, you still need to be familiar with your target audience.  Remove the word media from social media and you have social.  People using these channels generally do so to communicate with each other.  They align themselves with likeminded people and as a consequence, generally don’t like companies just plying them with promotional messages.  Brands need to earn trust and the right to have a place talking to people via social.  You need to be familiar to know what messages people want to receive, above all you must be open enough to reflect the audience wishes and feedback.

Fortune

Fortune covers two angles.  Participative marketing campaigns can be amplified if brands put budget behind them.  Social is not free.  You need to make the same investment in those campaigns as you would any other.  Don’t be so blinkered to imagine all promotion has to take place through social media.  People engaging with social media also consumer other media, the ObaWalkers Do Us A Flavourma campaign perfectly illustrates.  The campaign lived within social media, utilising strengths of various platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, however substantial investment was made in traditional channels to support this activity.

That being said, the investment doesn’t necessarily need to be in promotional activity.  Participative marketing can benefit from having a great (relevant) payoff for the participants.  A prize or even an ongoing cash amount for people submitting entries (Walkers – Do Us a Flavour).  This incentivises participants to think in detail about their response or become more creative.  The lure of some ‘fortune’ will also help spread word of mouth associated with your campaigns.

Fame

In 1968, Andy Warhol once famously created the phrase, “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.”  This seems to be the undertone for the society we currently live in.  With the rise of reality TV shows and YouTube heroes, everybody does have their opportunity and indeed millions are positively striving for their shot at fame.  Just look at some of the hopefuls on XFactor.

With this in mind, if you can offer X Factor Logothe chance of fame as part of your social media strategy, no matter how small, their is a greater chance of success.  As with the familiarity section, the accolade has to be in tune with your audience.  There is no point providing the platform to be an Exhibitor in the Tate to a group of stereotypical football fans.  Neither would a DJ contest be of any interest to a group of traditional BBC Radio 4 listeners.

If you get it right, the element of fame can really engage with your audience.  Even if the fame is only restricted to a particular social network.  The YouTube phenonomen is a classic example of this.

Fun

As with most activity online, making it fun is a key consideration.  If you can entertain your audience you are more likely to gain the talkability factor.  A sense of fun adds an element of personality to a brand.  This does not necessarily mean the concept has to be funny, more just fun, engaging and entertaining to the audience.

Again, being in-tune with your audience is crucial.

Forwardability

If you have one or all the of the above elements cracked to a good level then you should have produced activity that has the potential to be forwarded.  Your presence needs to be in peoples’ e-mail boxes.  On their phones and referenced on their individual social media profiles.  Your need to be so current to the audience and reflect what they want that they are proud to be associated with the brand.  The audience will do the work for you.

Remember, get it wrong and they are just as likely to forward to their friends but paint a very negative and potentially damaging response.

The package

So this was an initial attempt at placing some theory behind social and participation marketing.  This is by no means exhaustive and I will hopefully come back from time to time to refine the concept of the 5 F’s.  I will also be looking at some case studies to critique and test my theory of the 5 F’s, so if you have any candidate campaigns or brands, please feel free to contact me.


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Attention Planning – Social Media

Attention Planning

There is always a mass of hyperbole surrounding social media and branding.  This can be due to lack of understanding, the fact that few hard measures are put in place or just the fact it is in the interests of some marketeers to keep the mystique around these subjects.  Whilst both areas may not be as simple to analyse as an immediate ROI from a PPC campaign, or coupon redemption through DM, there are ways to measure their impact and effectiveness.

This post looks very simply at some of the methods of measuring social media campaigns and in a way, branding campaigns online in general.

Social Media sites

Desirability

This is the section that traditional ATL or brand advertisers would call consideration.  Essentially it is the measure to ascertain if people actually like your brand or not.  Traditional advertisers will run surveys, perform focus groups or take a spurious number from a third party research house.  However, these are sometimes the route of the reason why we never truly know the impact of our activity.  How many times have you been asked to take part in ‘research’ and declined the opportunity.

There is a (relatively) quantifiable way of doing this online.  Tapping into the social media cloud around your brand, you can see how people view your brand, both positively and negatively.  This can be done through buzz metrics (reputation management) which effectively analyses all the commentary your brand receives through social media channels.

Awareness

The central point for any brand has to be has your target audience seen the brand and are they aware of it?  These are important (although not necessarily critical) questions to answer prior to your campaign, as it is easier to raise awareness if there is existing rapport.  As users become increasingly sophisticated and engaged with your brand, campaign materials will be spoken about, distributed by users and eventually searched on.  Again as a brand you need to extract these conversations, it not only allows you to evaluate awareness, it also allows you to understand impact and perception.

A great example of a campaign that has generated large levels of awareness is ComparetheMeerkat.  The TV ad aired and created a stir.  A microsite was available that was then promoted via the majority of online channels, social and other.

Compare the meerkat

Frequency

The old rule of traditional advertising was developed in the 1970s by Krugman.  He stated that you need to expose your target to your message three times. What? Why? and the payoff.  Essentially this still rings true.  Potentially even more relevant in social media.

Be aware when developing campaigns or activity for your brand you need to have a sufficient campaign base and content to maintain users engagement and buy-in.  Users aren’t willing to see and review the same content on a regular basis, they are even less likely to be interested in distributing this to their friends.

Engagement

This is quite simply how deeply entrenched your brand is within the consumers’ minds.  How often are you referenced in blogs, on forums or other social media platforms.  This is how many times are you commented on, how long were the conversation strings and were the messages postive or negative.  The ultimate and potentially more difficult to measure is did the activity spark other activities.  A great example of this in action can be found on YouTube, where users in the YouTube community post video responses.

Pay-off

With more media becoming available at an accelerated pace both online, in print and on broadcast media with the advent of digital TV and Radio, users attention is becoming more and more difficult to obtain.  Key measures to see if you have grabbed the attention are simple methods such as click-throughs, UVs and repeat visits.  This indicates your content is engaging enough to offer users some form of pay-off.

Another measure (depending on your content) is time spent interacting.  Generally in brand building (social) campaigns the longer users spend on site, the better.

Spread

Traction is key here.  As an advertiser you can only target certain media channels, it would be impossible to target all possible channels.  Therefore organic spread is a great measure of success.  Your campaign needs to spread from mailbox to mailbox if it is to progress.  Perhaps more importantly does the campaign spread from social network to social network?  Another great track is to see if your campaign gets bookmarked on social bookmarking sites such as Digg or Stumble.

Reach

Remember you need to track your campaign.  Remember review how many people have seen your campaign and are they in your target audience?  Reach is important and the more people that see your campaign the better.  However it would be better to sacrifice some numbers in order to maximise your reach within your target audience.

Summary

Whilst none of the points raised in this post are as complex as rocket science, they may seem obvious, many organisations forget these principals when placing their brands in social media.

They often believe just because they are established brands or are well known, they deserve their place in people’s everyday social networks.  If that was the case the job of the Internet Marketeer would be a very simple one.  However, social media has made the landscape more complex.  You must have a reason for being in social media and above all track what you are doing.

To enable this, you need to set out some clear objectives that can be measured.  In my opinion I would also suggest employing a reputation management specialise.  Somebody along the lines of Market Sentinel that could also analyse the benefits of all your activity on SEO and overall marketing efforts.


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Top Organic Search Terms – Helps with PPC development?

Fastest Growing Search Terms

So it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that finding the top search terms can help your PPC.  You don’t have to be a Marketing guru to comprehend that allowing your PPC and SEO to work hand-in-hand enables you to create maximum efficiencies from you SEM.  But what else can this simple analysis provide?

Well the 2008 Search Reviews from the major players, gives us some fascinating yet simple views.

Search as Navigation

Of the Top 10 search terms in Google in 2008, only three could be described as non-navigational.  This could be the output of lazy typing or perhaps a result of Google toolbar being installed on more regular internet users.   Does Google’s feeling lucky help make it quicker than typing a full URL in the address bar?  Maybe it is a consequence of the new generation of surfers typing addresses in the toolbar and thinking it is the navigational tool.  (I know people that do that).

Aside from the obvious trend of people typing in simple websites that need little investigation, e.g. BBC – it also uncovers a growing influence of Social Media.

Has it evolved?

In 2006 there were different terms, however navigational searches still dominated, as did “Web 2.0” – a major sporting event also dominated with World Cup being in position 3.  Interestingly the word video was number 7.  No sign of YouTube at the time.

The Difference Between Engines

The Top 10 UK Searches on Google in 2008

facebook

1. Facebook

2. BBC

3. YouTube

4. eBay

5. Games

6. News

7. Hotmail

8. Bebo

9. Yahoo

10. Jobs

Compare this to Yahoo

britney-spears1

1. Britney Spears

2. Big Brother

3. X Factor

4. Oasis

5. High School Musical 3

6. US Election

7. Amy Winehouse

8. Heath Ledger

9. Kate Moss

10. Eastenders

The comparison would clearly indicate a difference in behaviour between the two main search engines in the UK.  Google Top 10 contains more navigational and generic searches (possibly related to toolbar), whilst Yahoo contains more celebrity based enquiries.  The queries also centre more around topics with potential scandal or gossip attached.

What does this mean?

Well whilst it could be argued that this comparison can be taken with a pinch of salt, there is an indication of searchers.  If I was responsible for a Finance brand, I would feel more alliance with the Google base.  If however, I was running PPC for a DVD or music retailer, I would push more towards maximising my presence on  Yahoo.  Whilst this is easy to push in pure black and white, one must remember that Google dominates the search market spectrum in the UK.  No matter what sector, who your audience is or what you are trying to say, unless you are very specific in your targets or operate in a niche, you must always use Google.

The findings in the comparison may however help you to adapt your ad copy to a certain degree.  Depending on your brand you may wish to adapt your tone of voice as well.

As a quick bonus tip, use a site called GrabAll, this tool allows you to see the search results of the major search engines side by side.  Not great for complex research or reviews, but very useful for quick snapshots.


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Free Online Promotion

Free Lunch?

OK, so not everybody is an SEO genius, able to generate copious amounts of free website traffic.  What other options are there?  The beauty of “Web 2.0” is that most of the concepts are still trying to find their commercial purpose. A a consequence the majority still offer free possibilities for any business. If you are clever and have something decent to offer you can also find your message or promotion spreading exponentially.

1.Facebook offers real opportunities to get your message out there, via your personal profile, a company page and/or groups
2. Twitter – its one of the most talked about sites at the moment and you can easily send your message to thousands
3. MySpace, if you’re related to music, this is still the place to put your messages – millions still look at MySpace
4. YouTube – depending on the concept, good video with a viral element will gain great mass coverage and quickly
5. Classifieds – places like GumTree and even eBay are great place to put your message out there
6. Directories and search engines – these are critical to your success
7. Guerilla – use tactics on forums, chatrooms to get your message out, but make sure they are relevant or you will be hounded out and lose any credibility
8. Produce blogs and articles, some good resources have already been listed in terms of areas to place and feed content.
9. Yahoo! Answers. Become a knowledge partner, great source if your area is interesting and has a number of questions
10. Do some real PR and contact online publications or journalists. You really need to sell yourself – I don’t think Press Releases are enough, you need to make contact with the key figures.

These are just ten ideas, however there are endless opportunities and if you want to put even just a small amount behind it, you can really make it take off.


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Top 5 TV Ads

 

This is a list of my Top 5 favourite recent or current TV ads.This won’t feature the usual high-budget productions from Nike, Guinness or Coca Cola that you are used to seeing. For me the ads on this list off something different. Create engagement, impact or break the mould in their sector. 

1. Cadburys Dairy Milk

The latest series of ads are both creative and show a brave move from the Cadburys Head of Advertising. Rather than concentrating on the chocolate or people enjoying the flavours, Cadburys have created a new stance. They have managed to mix music with humour and creativity and not once does if feel like the brand is being bastardised. Hats off to Cadburys and their agency on these. I could have picked any of the recent series, the Gorilla is probably best known, however due to currency and sheer weirdness I have selected the two kids with the 80s watch and eyebrows.

2. Compare The Market

This ad is a fine example of where creativity takes a lead over the brand police. Obviously the outcome of a creative think tank, the agency that came up with this concept probably couldn’t believe their luck when their client bit. The ad lends itself to some neat viral activity with a spin off website comparing Meerkats. It also very simply gets the message of Compare the market across. Its use of the web to extend the campaign further is a fabulous example of using all channels effectively. The Meerkat with his simples slogan, could also become a great icon. Visit Compare the Meerkat – its worth a look

3. PG Tips

The series of ads featuring Johnny Vegas and Monkey from ITV Digital is a genius idea from the outset. However the latest ad which shows the over complex method of making a cup of tea. Including the milking of the cow and Vegas dancing with Monkey to the Stripper by David Rose. It takes on some classic cartoon style moments as well as classic slapstick. There is no other tea to beat PG

 4. T-Mobile

The first time this was aired was as an exclusive to channel 4. With over 2 minutes of footage from a ‘flash mob’ in Liverpool Street train station, London – it took a while for the pay-off to show that it was an ad for T-Mobile. What T-Mobile created here was a talking point, a stand-still moment that is very rare in advertising. The slimmed down versions are no less entertaining. Whether this is more than a good one-off remains to be seen. The snippet showing a bar-code is hardly inspirational. However as a piece of creative with standout, this is up there.

5. Virgin Atlantic

The ad works on a number of levels. Maybe it is a generation thing. Maybe it’s the visual clues to the 80s, Wimpey and Our Price. Maybe it’s the distinctive Frankie sound-track. Maybe it’s the vivid colours used on the cabin crews uniform and the photogrpahy in the background. Whatever the reason. The ad works – it simply and effectively puts Virgin’s birthday message across (something I wasn’t even aware of before the ads)

Nearly made it: 

 

Nationwide Building Society OK, so I may be a little biased here (having had a hand in the development of these ads). However, Nationwide broke the mould in terms of advertising Financial Services products. Rather than solely concentrating on the product and the potentially good rate, they took a brave step of moving to a situational approach. It focussed on exactly what Nationwide isn’t by introducing the bungling Bank Manager, played by Mark Benton. This combination of good story, good one liners and a pay off, mean it is without doubt worthy of a place. Also, it was a contributory factor to the downfall of those annoying Halifax/Howard ads.

 Barclaycard  The ad with the slide is another fine example of standout within a sector. Finance is slowly moving away from the stayed boring ads. Visually it stands out with good filmography and great visual clues to every day life (Scanning card in supermarket). The music is unusual (Let your love flow by The Bellamy Brothers) offering standout. The addition of a few funny elements such as getting stuck on the slide and the towel line, means this deserves a mention.

Love to hear your views.  Do my choices resonate with you?  Or do they jar with every sense you use?