From Concentrate: PWB Marketing Expands Client Base, Geographic Area

Our C.O.O. Sean Hickey was interviewed by Concentrate the other day. Here is an exerpt of the article posted to their site today. To read more about our expanding client base and business growth, be sure to read the full PWB Marketing Concentrate article.

Sean HickeyPeterson, Williams & Bizer, known to all as PWB Marketing Communications, traces its roots to the 1970s but took its current form in 1986. PWB Marketing Communications has not only seen its client base in Michigan grow over the last year, it’s also expanding its geographic reach.

The Ann Arbor-based marketing agency has recently added to its customer list a software firm based in Montreal called Miya. The two share a business relationship with a third company and started to do some work together over the last year. [Read More]

B2B Social Media Fact or Fiction

Know B2B social media fact from fiction. Fiction: Social media offers limited value to B2B marketers. Fact: 86% of B2B companies are using social media. 

B2B companies are absolutely using social media to generate leads, connect with customers, and reach business goals. We compiled twelve tweetable facts about the prolific use – and success – of social media among B2B marketers. Dispel the myth that social media isn’t for B2B and tweet the truth

Thanks to Hubspot for the “tweet this” blog post inspiration.

[FACT] B2B companies that blog generate 67% more leads/month than those who do notTWEET THIS

[FACT] 69% of B2B marketers are shifting their budgets toward social media. TWEET THIS

[FACT] B2B companies that blog more than 4x/week see the biggest increase in traffic and leads, according to @HubSpot. TWEET THIS

[FACT] 51% of B2B marketers plan to increase their spend on content marketing, per @MarketingProfs. TWEET THIS

[FACT] 86% of #B2B companies are using #socialmediaTWEET THIS

[FACT] Top use of B2B social media is for thought leadership at 60%, per @btobmagazine. TWEET THIS

[FACT] B2B companies are more likely to use Twitter than B2C companies: 75% vs 49%, per @businessdotcom. TWEET THIS

[FACT] 41% of B2B companies are acquiring customers through Facebook. TWEET THIS

[FACT] 39% of B2B marketers say blogging is their most valuable content asset, per @eMarketer. TWEET THIS

 

Did you notice the rules of marketing have changed?

If you’re like many of us who have been around for a while (I’m pushing four decades as a marketer), you’ve noticed that the old standbys aren’t working as well as they used to. Somewhere along the line, the web changed things.

In the old days, when you wanted to market a product or service, you took out your wallet and set about interrupting people you thought might be interested by running ads in the magazines, radio stations or TV shows where you thought they might be. Well, targets, er people have gotten a lot better at ignoring your interruptions.

This old school style of marketing still works. But less well than it used to. Today, buyers more often than not, aren’t waiting to be interrupted, but are out looking for your product or service. The question is, will you be found?

Being something of an autodidact, a couple of months ago I started researching the literature as they say, and I found quite a bit about the topic, and as is often the case, a book title often crystalizes a new model for thinking about this problem. It turns out that the traditional marketing methods that are declining in effectiveness are called “Outbound Marketing.” This is, as you’d expect, in contrast to the new approach, “Inbound Marketing.”

If you feel like you’d like to do some catch-up on understanding all these changes and how they should impact your marketing thinking, I recommend a couple of books:

Inbound Marketing, Get Found using Google, Social Media and Blogs, by Brian Halligan and Darmesh Shah. (who’ve built a business helping companies get good at it).

The New Rules of Marketing and PR, by David Meerman Scott

Five Tips in Choosing a Perfect Domain Name

For most of our assignments, a domain name is already part of the equation. Sometimes, however, we get a project where we have the chance to invent a domain name for a website, blog, or a new product launch. The problem with coming up with a domain name isn’t the registration process. It’s fairly inexpensive and straightforward to purchase one. The challenge really is coming up with a domain that is memorable and appropriate for your business and brand.

Domain names play a key role in online (and offline) visibility and popularity. A few things to consider: Avoid hypens, shorter is better, make it easy to spell, stick with .com extensions, and use a domain name generator.

Avoid hypens. Hypens make it harder to verbally share your domain name. You’ll get tired of always having to say repeat yourself.

Shorter is better. Shorter names are easier to remember and will fit better on a business card or outdoor billboard.

Make it easy to spell. Avoid using numbers or letters to represent words, such as “2” to mean “to” or “u” to mean “you”. For example, instead of Flowers2Go.com use FlowersToGo.com. And don’t even think of using CarpetCare4U.com.

Stick with .com extensions. Dot com domain names are by far the most popular. And they are perceived as being more credible. How many websites do you visit that have .TV‚ or .biz, or .us? One more thing – Most web browsers default to adding a .com to the end of a web address when someone types in the name of website. If someone types in “WhiteHouse” in the browser bar, Internet Explorer will automatically go to “WhiteHouse.com” and not “WhiteHouse.gov”.

Use a domain name generator. I like to use NameStation.com when brainstorming potential domains. This site has various tools to help you come up with domain name suggestions, generate hundreds of names based on selected keywords, and check the availability of thousands of domain names in minutes.

If you like what you see and want even more advice on your social media and interactive marketing programs, contact us .

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

A teammate and I have been discussing respect and professional courtesy lately. Things we would have both thought common courtesy seem to have fallen by the wayside with more regularity lately. This seems to mostly happen in new business situations. And I’m not talking about outbound cold-calling. By this, I mean situations where we’ve been asked for a proposal or request for information (RFI) response.

For example, a prospect called recently looking to meet. After a lengthy meeting, I delivered a customized proposal. After e-mailing it, as instructed, NOTHING. No acknowledgement, no thank-you, zip.

Another prospective client asked for our help in developing a strategic plan. We put together a comprehensive proposal and media overview. At which point, the contact vanished. Multiple e-mails and voice mails later, nothing. So I throw the Hail Mary pass with the “Did we offend you?” message. This gets a response of, “Oh, we decided to go with a PR firm. I thought I told you that.” Well, since I never got a return voice mail, nor e-mail (and yes, I did check my Spam file) I’m thinking you didn’t.

If you’re talking to prospective service providers, keep something in mind –  these proposals don’t write themselves. We allocate precious time to deliver a response that meets your business needs. Yes, it’s a competitive economy and we value every lead, but that doesn’t mean you should all drop civility and processional courtesy. If you’re talking to so many potential partners that you can’t take a moment to respond, you’re evaluating too many anyway.

Be Brave

Need to get noticed with a small media budget? Competing against entrenched competitors with huge market share? As my friend John Lichtenberg, Marketing Dude Extraordinaire for Wash College wisely says, “Be brave.” If you’ve seen John’s ads, you know what he’s talking about. This creative platform redefines the ordinarily poor world of educational marketing creative with the introduction of humor, simplicity, and power.

Even with a small budget, impactful creative creates a multiplier effect. As an example, when we were working with Citizens Insurance who needed to re-energize its brand with a small budget, we steered them to the bold and impactful creative platform over other more conservative ones. The result? Big results from a small budget.

In the consumer world, I have two heroes this year.

The first is Kia for their Sorrento compact SUV. Think Kia’s are just low-cost clunky Korean cars? Wrong, they’re hip, cool and edgy – this single spot completely re-positioned them in my mind. And someone at the clients had some chutzpah for approving them.

The second are the new short TV spots for Weber grills. Grilling should be all about fun, relaxation, personal expression, creativity, and more. Weber hits it without a single word of copy in this :30 second spot. Again, this was not “safe” creative.

All too often we see conservative b-to-b clients talk themselves out of bold creative (that they liked initially) and into safety. Safe has a time and a place, but if you’re trying to move up in the marketplace, give that slightly wacky idea we just delivered a second look.

4,356 Channels and Nothing On

In recent years, there’s been tremendous buzz regarding the rise of social media as a marketing tool. Many have championed them as the future of marketing communications (mostly the self-appointed gurus of social media marketing). But the reality is, this phenomenon isn’t really anything new –  there’s ALWAYS something new in the zoo when it comes to marketing communications. Yes, Facebook has 14 million users. But according to the 2008 Census, there are about 116 million households in the U.S., so maybe direct mail will experience a numbers-fueled renaissance, if the social media logic holds true.

As we’ve tracked and explored social media for our clients, we’ve uncovered one key truth – these exploding new media channels are simply that; channels. Much like traditional advertising, search, direct marketing, or other tools you have to use them wisely, and integrate your message across media. Sure, you can Tweet all day, but if your tweets don’t support your communications strategy, who cares? And if your audiences aren’t on Twitter, you’re just talking to yourself.

I participated in a recent marketing panel where an audience member asked, “What should your blogging strategy be?” This question perfectly illustrated my point – your blogging strategy should be derived from your marketing strategy, which should be derived from your business strategy. If your goal is to regain perceived leadership in the X segment of Y industry, then your blogging strategy should support this position. Conversely, if your marketing strategy is simply to increase natural search, your blogging strategy might support this initiative with lots of keywords and links into your main web site.

While we’re on the topic,  Twitter has been referred to as “micro blogging”. So perhaps the goal of your tweeting should be to attract attention to your blog additions? And here’s an idea, if you’re running a PR push on a specific program, that integrates with a paid advertising push on this same program, then MAYBE your social media efforts should tie in to that?

There’s a reason this stuff is called Integrated Marketing. Consumers of information don’t treat these channels as wholly separate – why should we as marketers?

No, Much Different

Years ago we shared an office building with one of our largest clients. Upon returning from lunch a couple of us found a comp we’d delivered to the client the day before on the front desk. On the front cover was a Post-It note that read:

No, much different.

This incident, which happened over a decade ago, has become part of PWB folklore. It’s our metaphor for those times when we get feedback that’s just not helpful in meeting a client’s expectations. This got me to thinking – what DOES constitute helpful feedback. I think it more client-side folks understood this concept, they’d get better end results, faster turnaround, and likely even reduce costs. So here are a few:

1. Be as specific as is prudent. “It’s not cool” is much less helpful than, “I’d like a less conservative color palette”.

2. Tell us what’s working and what isn’t – don’t feel like you need to solve it for us. Our designers have decades of experience and usually we can come up with ideas that you might never have thought of.

3. Ask us before you “Chinese Menu” by mixing elements. Some elements mix, others don’t.

4. In many cases, a poor end product is the result of a number of little innocuous bad decisions leading to a design by committee. If we raise our hand with a concern on this front, it’s worth truly considering.

5. If you’re excited by something, tell us! That kind of enthusiasm is infectious.

6. We do this for a living; we don’t take criticism personally. We get more rewarded by learning how to please our clients and deliver solid solutions.

7. Unless you have Nike’s budget (and maybe shoes on Jordan’s feet), you will never attain the status of the Nike swoosh. Ever. The sooner you get past that, the easier it will be for all of us.

8. Be open-minded; you may or may not share much with the target market. It’s all too easy to let personal preferences squash good ideas.

9. Try to be mindful of your budget. If you asked for a low-cost solution and we met that, don’t ask us for 42 rounds of revisions.

10. Have fun. This isn’t brain surgery. We’ve found that sometimes light-hearted good humor led to some of our coolest and most effective creative.

Renewal

I love the New Year. It’s a fresh start. New beginnings. A clean slate. Whatever you choose to call it, it’s a chance to learn from the past and put that to work creating success. Like many businesses, 2009 is one year we at PWB are happy to see in the rear-view mirror. We survived it, while many in our industry weren’t so lucky.

For myself, I’d like to see 2010 become a year of growth for PWB and our clients. With the recent economic correction/crash/recession the world of marketing changed yet again. PWB and our clients made some surprising discoveries. Some were the result of focused efforts to test and learn, others were simply happy accidents. In 2010, I think we can all start putting what we learned in 2009 to work creating success.

A couple of examples illustrate my point.

One of our clients enjoyed a rousing success at a series of regional trade shows targeting end-use markets. At one show, they found new prospects so numerous that they ran out of materials to give them (even business cards!). Trade shows are far from dead, but the ways we need to use them, and how we select which ones to attend have certainly changed.

Another client adopted extensive analytics tools for their online marketing efforts. The configuration and deployment were painful, but the resulting data is immensely useful in so many ways. In 2010, I hope to put this data to even more effective use in testing creative variations and media selection tactics. Without this data, much of the selection process was about gut instinct – now it’s about results delivered and cost metrics.

So, think about it, what did YOU learn in 2009 that you could put to work for you in 2010?

Brave New World

If you’re considering a technology shift in your product, take a moment to consider something most companies don’t – your customers. When I worked for a large chemical company years ago we were always changing some formulation without considering that many of our customers had optimized their processes for a modulus of X when running ABC123. Recent events with my cable provider have extended this into the brave new world of integrated communications.

These folk are currently doing a migration to a digital system in my area. I learned about it with a rather abrupt letter that arrived in my mailbox. No real discussion of benefits, only that I needed to get some new hardware, hook it up to all my TVs, and then activate with them.

This is a great example of where marketing communications can help. Instead of positioning this with customers through direct mail, spot cable ads, and online we get no communication of benefits, only what we’ll give up if we don’t migrate. Then when it comes time for the migration, I wait an hour in an understaffed office to get hardware. When I hook it up, only 50% seems to work and the support person on the phone has an urgency to get me off the phone quickly. Again, with no promise of benefit to me as the customer.

But, in today’s world of social media, the stakes are far higher. When I added a mention of my frustration to my Facebook page, it immediately lit up with comments (mostly critical) from friends. A quick scan on Tweetdeck shows pretty heavy traffic on this topic. The moral of the story? If you don’t handle marketing communications properly up-front, your customers may handle it on the back end, and you may not care for the result.