Category Archives: B2B

Marketing Crime Series: Is Your Marketing not Converting? – Crime #1: Structure

Sherlock Holmes

Being Sherlock Holmes on marketing crime scenes

In one of my last posts I promised to share with you some of my experiences as a Marketing Consultant. So here we go. Welcome to crime #1 from a series of four of typical crimes that companies committed and still commit. As a result, these crimes prevented marketing departments from performing to expectations, let alone achieving any conversion rates.

Back in the UK, I was hired as a Marketing Consultant by a British mid-sized IT company that had huge problems. The biggest problem, next to employee engagement and continuity, was identity and sluggish sales. Curious though, the market was ready and the company offering was very innovative and competitive. However, no matter what their sales people did, how hard they tried, they only had little success.

People were coming and going

It took me many conversations with different employees and observations, until I found out why. They simply had entirely different views on what their company was all about and what they sold. Many of them were fairly new to the company, since others had been laid off. People were coming and going. “Very strange”, I thought, and felt like Sherlock Holmes just without my Doctor Watson. I had to question the management for further investigations. Very quickly, I realized they had the same disagreements about their business.

I found the dead body

Okay, they needed someone to give them a sharp, competitive profile. So I did, based on all the interviews I had done. I also developed a marketing strategy and drew up a plan on how to deliver it. After a couple of weeks, I realized, nothing happened. Not even a single decision. After more investigations, I worked out that – even though they hired me to help them – marketing had no stake in this company. No one believed in it. I don’t think all my predecessors did such a bad job. I started investigating again. And then, I found the dead body that stirred up all the problems. The lack in feedback and decisions for all marketing aspects had just one crime scene: The management board. On this board you could find all functions represented. Apart from anyone from marketing. The guy responsible for sales was also a COO and had an IT background. He believed in trainings called “The Samurai” and in number or word plays as the key to sales success. But marketing was as foreign for him, as IT was for me. Hence, no one on the board really presented the marketing point of view. No voice, no decisions, no solutions.

Once the crime scene was secured and studied, the lack in structure could be sorted quickly with a matching job profile for the management board.

Companies aren’t successful if there is a gap

Well, it is a fact: leading brand focused companies are marketing-centered. Their marketeers are close to top management and help them shaping their business strategy, develop brand strategies and enable the company to follow their vision. Some of these companies have even introduced the long time missing CMO position among their chiefs in recent years. They had realized, too, companies aren’t successful, if there is a gap between the management board and the marketing department. However, they must be analytical and strategic thinking. If they have good business acumen and are entrepreneurial driven, with a solid understanding of the market, the clients and the competitors, these marketeers are valuable consultants at the top. And you? Would you agree to that?

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Social Media for B2B Companies: An Artificial Marriage?

Do you have an engaging social media strategy?

Do you have an engaging social media strategy?

The beauty of social media lies within its many opportunities: companies can act very local or be totally International in their communication strategy. For B2B companies, social media tools are ideal to broaden their communication strategies, their image and their brand building. Some tools are even for marketing and talent acquisition.

Take The DOW Chemical Company, for example. As a global organization, they cultivate its image globally, but inter-act also locally. In The Netherlands, DOW is praised for its use on Facebook, where they engage locals in easy-to-digest news about what´s going on in their immediate environment and within DOW. This way, the region isn´t only up-to-date as far as the DOW industrial area concerns, but also triggers more positive talk about DOW. (See Marketingfacts: Hoeveel social mediacases in het B2B wil je hebben?)

Overall, at DOW, social media is very much about communication, image and brand building. They’re doing it in a superb way: by detaching from the entire awkward chemistry-subject. Instead they´ve looked along the entire value chain at the “end-consumers” and the benefits they have from solutions coming from DOW. In their communications they concentrate on the impact DOW has on the modern world and on its progress as a “solutions-focussed” company. DOW calls it “solutionism”. This way, the chemical company has many topics to engage with consumers – which aren´t their target group, obviously, but allies in many other ways: DOW´s followers are one big opinion leader, influencing high potentials, shareholders and other stakeholders.

Another positive example for excellent social media engagement is ABB. Personally, I never really knew in how many industries they engage. To me, it was just a big conglomerate. Then I started following them a while ago, read their blog and really enjoyed it. Within a short period, I figured out so many interesting innovations and products that came from ABB I had no idea about before.

Having said this, there are also the “hold-outs”. B2B companies, where employees made some half-hearted attempts in social media and then neglected the sites or tweets. You can find multiple Facebook pages for some of these companies that have questionable content. Even worse: they are liked (I wonder what for?) or followed and therefore shared. This can seriously damage the company´s reputation. They not only lose out in the above opportunities, but are even ridiculed.

All in all, it remembers me a bit of the early days when the Internet started out. I remember employees in an attempt to build their company´s first website. It was all far away from any corporate identity and communication strategy. With animated gimmicks and turning logos. Now, it seems, as if history catches up. At one point, though, these big B2B names won´t be able to withdraw from social media for longer. Right the opposite, the sooner they mark their presence, the bigger the opportunities on declaring their fields of expertise.