B2B Marketing

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fresh experiences on marketing topics for the B2B enterprises and more

Don’t forget to invest in marketing these days…

…even if you’re quite busy dealing with the mighty crisis! J Which is perfectly understandable, since the CRISIS is everywhere on the news and in the papers, as if it were another self for the business people. Seriously now, it seems like the only preoccupation of the media and of the business environment is to offer us tips & tricks on how to fight/escape/overcome this downward spiral of our economic state. „Cut the marketing budget” seems to be one of people’s favourite tunes these days.

Sad to say, but they forgot to tell us something even more important: no matter waht we do, the crisis will not go away only by using reactive methods to fight it. We need to get proactive for a change, and, instead of cutting your marketing budget (which is one of the first mistakes businesses make during times of economic crisis), spend your money in a more intelligent manner to bring results.

Use all your flair, skills and knowledge to find out what people really need and want these days, and go for it! It works both for b2c, and for b2b. The secret is to view your marketing spending as an investment not an expense. Use the customer knowledge that you already have and implement intelligent marketing strategies during these times of financial distress. Some crucial tips are to:

  • Have a rock-solid strategy
  • Research your customer more thoroughly than ever
  • Maintain market spend

This is not the first crisis economy has ever gone through, and it will certainly not be the last. Don’t be surprised to find out that companies have survived difficult times and have come out strong. Procter & Gamble, Intel or Wal-Mart are only a few companies that launched well-positioned companies during difficult times  and were successful with them. Why? Because they took marketing seriously during times of crisis more than ever.

Of course, you’ll have to adapt to all the fast changes the crisis has brought upon us: know who the customers are, what they think, what they dream of and how the crisis affects them. Revise your entire product line if necessary. Look at developing lower cost solutions, if possible. Be flexible, but at the same time be aware and always assessing.

Maybe I should have mentioned this at the very beginning, but the fact is obvious: if you cut your marketing budget, how will your potential consumers find you?!

Filed under: Best Practices, General, Internal Marketing, Marketing Accountability, Marketing Planning, Marketing Results, Marketing ROI, objectives, Strategy, , , , ,

Social networks, “the new pink” in crisis communication

Are you having a hard time keeping up the newly emerged technologies when you need to manage instant Web updates? Or when you have to efficiently distribute tones of e-mails to clients or stakeholders and communicate through text messages to critical audiences? With the constant evolution of social media it has become obvious that this is a new must have for every company, as social media tools facilitate the dissemination of information in multiple modes, in real time.

Crisis communicators and PR professionals are starting to incorporate social media into their plans. When you plan for things that might go wrong, you also need a plan for the role that social media will play and how its involvement will impact your reputation.

Here are a few guidelines you should follow if you decide to start using social media in crisis situations:

1. Act quickly. Online information spreads instantly, therefore it is highly important for a company or organization to act quickly and manage the crisis. Do not let matters get out of control on Twitter, Facebook, Digg and everywhere else without an immediate response from your company to address the issue.

2. Have a team of social media specialists. Another important aspect is to have a crisis team that knows exactly how to jump into social media and strategize accordingly. These individuals should be able to take social media and use it to address an issue or problem effectively, in a proactive manner.

3. Keep a constant communication flow. In social media environments, the message is constantly changing. It is important to have a steady flow of information coming from your company. Social media is a great way to get your message through to large audiences, but communication must be consistent in order to be effective.

4. Be transparent. Transparency is very useful in gaining trust in social media. It allows an audience to connect with an organization In crisis communication most companies impose drastic barriers, and try to communicate as little as possible. But transparency and an honest message carry many more benefits for an organization, especially in times of crisis. It shows that the company is willing to be upfront with the audience, in an effort to reduce speculations and false information.

A very important aspect that organization leaders need to take into consideration is that social media should be seen as a place for conversation and dialog rather than a channel for directing messages.

Filed under: b2b marketing, Best Practices, Marketing Planning, Marketing Tactics, Relationship Marketing, Strategy, , , , , ,

Make personnel your best asset in company branding during crisis

As if people weren’t annoyed enough with the image of happy, shining employees in all TV commercials, you can see, even these days, that some companies try to display the same immaculate image, as if nothing was wrong on the labor market these days.

Even if the type of clients I’m working for aren’t very deeply affected by the global crisis, I still find a challenge in talking about means to support company growth.

There are two conflicting trends on the market right now, as far as the employees are concerned: some of them (maybe most) try to prove their skills even more than ever, while others just sit tight, waiting for the crisis to pass them by and hoping to keep their jobs no matter what.

If how to deal with the second category is pretty obvious, how do you motivate the first category to get even more involved and help sustain company brand in times of downturn?

Here are some ways to begin the process of internal brand alignment and improve employee engagement at your company.

1. Hire the best people possible

Those soft skills that fall under the heading of “emotional intelligence” (social skills, controlling your emotions, correctly sensing what others are feeling, etc.) are critical for short and long term employee success. These skills can be tough to identify in an interview but it’s worth making the extra effort.

Labor is the largest expense any business has (and most businesses right now are mostly preoccupied in cutting labor costs), but you have to pay people a living wage and create an environment where people feel valued. If you don’t do this and you manage to hire some good people, they’ll leave as soon as they’re able to.

2. Communicate even more than ever

Educate your staff about your business, your product, and your services. Educate employees on the state of the business, the goals and plans you have. Otherwise, they will not be able to give clients and prospects any kind of relevant information that they might need in order to stay/become clients.

3. Be consistent with statements and rewards

Make sure your employees really feel that what you call a company value is treated as such.  A great example is when you say things like “Teamwork is critical” and then you promote the person who can’t seem to get along with anyone. Allow employees to show other points of inconsistency, and this will help you pick up important tips on the type of image you should display in and outside the organization.

4. Help employees do their job

If one of your corporate values is excellent performance, then you need to have staff trained to perform that way.

In addition to formal training, providing top of the line equipment and supplies sends the message that the staff is important and they deserve the best tools. Your marketing efforts may attract customers, but the experience they have with your employees is what will bring them back again. It costs much less to get an existing customer to do business with you again, compared to the cost of obtaining a new customer.

Converting a project-based customer into a long time customer and then build your brand on referrals from happy customers requires dedication to provide an outstanding customer experience with every interaction. Investing in your staff is one of the best ways to help your company do just that and should be a critical part of your overall brand strategy.

Filed under: Best Practices, General, how to, Internal Marketing, Marketing Planning, Marketing Results, Marketing Tactics, Strategy, , , , , ,

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