Archive for the ‘Sales’ Category

Using Twitter for Marketing and PR: Do the Pros Practice What They Preach?

By Kent Huffman, Chief Marketing Officer at BearCom Wireless and Co-Publisher of Social Media Marketing Magazine

It seems that everyone claims to be a Twitter expert these days. Of course, most are not. But several of the real Twitter pros I know—including those who have written books about using Twitter as an effective marketing and public relations instrument—have figured out how to best leverage the 140-character microblogging tool to promote themselves, their books, their firms, and their clients. And some of them actually follow their own advice!

How Smart Marketing Book Authors Use Twitter

The Tao of TwitterFor example, Mark Schaefer of Schaefer Marketing Solutions is the author of the book The Tao of Twitter: Changing Your Life and Business 140 Characters at a Time. He and his firm provide affordable outsourced marketing support to address both short-term sales opportunities and long-term strategic renewal.

Mark uses Twitter to help deliver on that promise for a number of his blue-chip clients, including Nestle, AARP, Anheuser-Busch, Coldwell Banker, Scripps Networks, Keystone Foods, and the U.K. government. He also very effectively promotes himself and his book on Twitter as part of his own marketing, branding, and relationship-development strategy.

“I’ve literally built my business from networking on Twitter and connections from my blog,” Mark said. “That’s what most people miss. Twitter can be a powerful business networking platform. It’s so much more than ‘what you had for breakfast!’ ”

Hollis Thomases is the CEO of Web Ad.vantage. She is also the author of Twitter Marketing: An Hour a Day, a book that offers marketers, advertisers, brand managers, PR professionals, and business owners an in-depth guide to designing, implementing, and measuring the impact of using a complete Twitter strategy.

Hollis uses Twitter to generate qualified website traffic that gets converted into actions, leads, and sales for her clients, most of which are challenger brands or large non-profit organizations.

Much like Mark, Hollis’ strategy includes using Twitter as an effective promotional tool for her book and firm. She also leverages Twitter to expand her speaking engagement schedule, which features topics such as “Social Media 101,” “Twitter Automation,” and “Social Media Etiquette.”

And finally, Laura Fitton, co-author of Twitter for Dummies and founder/CEO of oneforty, has been an active Twitter user for some time. She has amassed approximately 80,000 followers and engages with them daily.

Laura’s firm helps people get started with Twitter, organize the chaos of their daily social media routines, and connect their social media efforts to their core business to drive ROI.

“The single most important thing is to make yourself useful, which you can do by curating great content, answering questions, shining a spotlight on others, and trying to turn everything inside-out to make it more about your readers,” noted Laura. “I tell people to ‘Listen. Learn. Care. Serve.’ (in that order), and then keep cycling through that process.”

Twitter’s Impact on How Journalists Search for SMEs

In an environment where fewer and fewer journalists are covering more and more stories than ever before, media members are increasingly taking a “don’t call us, we’ll call you” approach to finding sources and stories to cover. Rather than waiting around to be pitched by traditional PR reps, many media members are looking for their own sources—not only Google and HARO, but Twitter as well—to search for and connect with subject matter experts (SMEs). Book authors and other experts who have built digital platforms that showcase their credentials and provide valuable information on their topics have widened their nets to catch such queries on Twitter.

Beth Gwazdosky is the Vice President of Digital Marketing at Shelton Interactive, an Austin-based firm that works with its author clients to create social media and interactive marketing/PR strategies and platforms that generate attention—online and off. “We help our authors understand how best to use Twitter and other social media channels to stand out in this new environment,” said Beth. “Creating strategies to organically pull media hits, speaking opportunities, and client relationships has proven to be much more efficient than trying to pitch our way onto the air.”

So if you’re interested in promoting yourself, your book, your organization, or your clients, why not use Twitter to your advantage? But don’t jump in without a well-thought-out strategy. Pay attention to the real Twitter pros who are actually practicing what they preach, and then emulate their approach.

Bridging the Digital Gap with SnapTags

By Jeffrey Hayzlett, author of Running the Gauntlet: Essential Business Lessons to Lead, Drive Change, and Grow Profits

If you are a marketer, I can almost guarantee that one of your goals for 2012 is to figure out your mobile strategy. You’re not alone. Everyone is talking mobile, but very few have figured out how to integrate a mobile strategy into an existing marketing plan. I found an answer to this dilemma, and it’s called “SnapTags.”

SnapTags are similar to QR codes but way sexier, offering more options for the user and a wider reach (SnapTags have capabilities on 88% of mobile phones, compared to 13% with QR codes). I’m encouraging marketers to integrate SnapTags into all their existing marketing campaigns. It’s a low-cost solution that bridges the gap between your physical marketing campaigns and your mobile and digital marketing goals.

In my case, I’m using SnapTags in my new book, Running the Gauntlet: Essential Business Lessons to Lead, Drive Change, and Grow Profits. Readers can “snap” a SnapTag at the beginning of each of the 37 chapters to view the video that accompanies each section of the book. This creates a more personal connection with my readers, as they get to see and hear me introduce each chapter on their mobile phones! Plus—and this is the best part—the reader is provided with links to my Facebook and Twitter pages each time they “snap.” I’m bridging the gap between the physical book and the digital relationship I’m building with my readers through social media.

The advantage of this strategy is that your brand can create more than a simple piece of print media. SnapTags enhance simple print media to:

  • Forge a digital connection across social networks
  • Drive new customers through your digital sales funnel
  • Create a point of purchase through virtually any placement

Some of the largest brands in the world are already using SnapTags, like Bud Light and Coca-Cola. Most recently, SnapTags were deployed in the September issue of Glamour magazine, being featured on the cover and across both editorial and advertising pages. This campaign netted Glamour more than 100,000 consumer activations and more than 500,000 consumer interactions (includes scanning the codes with an app, texting a picture message, taking subsequent actions such as agreeing to “like” an advertiser or article, signing up for the deal or sweepstakes being offered, or sharing the offer with friends).

Mark my words—in 2012, mobile integration will play a critical role in your overall marketing plan. The key to bridging the gap between your traditional and digital marketing campaigns is the mobile device. SnapTags Founder and CEO, Nicole Skogg says, “In 2012, you will see shopping SnapTags create a new way for consumers to buy whenever and wherever they encounter a brand message. Anticipate seeing SnapTags in some transformative brand marketing campaigns.”

I’ve already integrated SnapTags into my big marketing campaign for 2012. Have you?

Social Media: Still a Mystery to Most Small Businesses

By Amy Howell, CEO of Howell Marketing Strategies

Not a day goes by that someone doesn’t ask me about social media for business. LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are all new media tools that can help bolster your Internet or digital “footprint.”

You can read all about how social media is ramping up the conversation by doing a simple Google search. But the more important question small business owners want answered is how to use social media to boost sales and get the phone ringing. I call it “turning on the water faucet.” Social media for businesses should mean one thing: free tools that can strengthen your organization’s SEO (search engine optimization), help get your message out, and engage with customers and prospects.

Now these tools may be free, but the time you must spend executing the work can be extensive. A lot of writers just re-hash what’s already been written, so what I find most helpful is to share what we help clients do in the trenches every day. Below are the main barriers to using social media and why it remains a mystery, followed by how to get started and what to do first.

The barriers for most small businesses using social media are:

  • Time and education: It takes time to read and learn about the ever-changing, growing tools online, and most business owners don’t have extra time to devote to this. I hear it every day, and as a small business owner myself, I certainly understand this constraint. Small businesses have limited resources and must focus on revenue development and all that comes with running a business. Social media can help a small business tremendously, but most owners have not had time to get up to speed.
  • Lack of resources: It takes a dedicated effort to employ social media tools. Most companies can hire help, but many simply don’t have the extra resources to do so.
  • Reluctance to embrace new media: A lot of people are just flat out skeptical of social media. There are legitimate reasons to ignore it, especially if you are in a regulated industry (banking, insurance, finance, etc.), as some governing entities such as the SEC have policies against any use of social media for work. I think that will change soon, as I’m already seeing some large organizations issue new policies on social media use.
  • Generational: Most people would be surprised to know that the average age of a Twitter user is between 40 and 55. Age isn’t an excuse to avoid social tools, but it is often an explanation.

How to get started if you want to add a social media strategy to your marketing toolkit:

  • Read, read, read. There are some excellent blogs (like this one) and other resources online that can tell you all you need to know. There is no “magic wand” that will do this for you. If you really want to jump in, you have to do the reading yourself. You can hire it out of course, but the ideal results spring from the business understanding social media and embracing it, even if it means only monitoring at first. Let’s take the Judy McLellan Team for example (@JudyMacTeam on Twitter). Judy hired my firm to help with a real estate marketing and PR strategy that included the use of social tools. At first, we did some of the tweeting and posting. But now, you can find Judy out selling homes while using her iPad and iPhone to tweet and spread information about her listings.
  • Pick one tool and learn that first. For me, it’s Twitter. Once I understood Twitter, I moved on to learning about some other tools. I think by mastering one tool, small businesses can see results faster. Let’s take Cheffie’s Cafe (@Cheffies on Twitter) as the next example. We helped Cheffie’s Cafe spread the word by using Twitter, along with traditional PR during the previous few months. A good Twitter strategy is key to a successful PR campaign.
  • Look at what your competition is doing. Get online and do a little research to see what your competition is up to in the social space. Let’s take OrthoMemphis, a successful orthopaedic practice in Memphis that adopted social media long before its competition did. We have helped OrthoMemphis (@OrthoMemphis on Twitter) use social media tools to not only market their sub-specialists (knee, hips, and shoulders), but also to launch OrthoStat, its acute care walk-in clinic. Combined with direct mail, PR, and patient communications, Twitter and Facebook have been tremendously helpful.
  • Get a social media policy in place and communicate it to your organization. There are some great examples online and free resources available. I suggest any small business that wants to use social media tools have a policy in place just like a media policy. Talking online is like talking in the newspaper, and it’s important to have a strategy and know the dos and don’ts of posting online. Good examples are Coca-Cola, Kodak, and Intel. (A list of these can be found on my blog.)

The smaller the organization (or flatter), the easier it is to employ social media. Even though they may have more resources, larger companies are often more bureaucratic and have more red tape. Larger companies are also usually slower to “get it,” and we have found that companies without all the red tape can move faster and are often more decisive. Social media gives the little guys a leg up and is a great way to have a big voice online.

Four SEO/SMM Strategies to Get Your Blog Listed on the First Page of Google

By Marci Reynolds, Director of Operations for Global Help24 at ACI Worldwide

Business blogs have become critical tools in any social media marketing tool box, and they are an excellent medium to share expertise and build your business brand. But just creating a blog is not enough. You must also focus on blog SEO (search engine optimization) to ensure that it receives top placement in Google, Bing, and the other search engines.

I began blogging in 2009, when I launched The Sales Operations Blog, and in 2011, I launched a second blog called Rat Terrier Mom. What do the two blogs have in common? They both appear on the first page of Google for multiple search terms and get the majority of their traffic from organic search engine links. Social media marketing nirvana!

Here are four strategies that I recommend and have leveraged to get my blogs listed on the first page of Google:

  • Focus and differentiate the content on your blog. There are thousands of blogs on the Internet, so if you want yours to stand out and appear on the first page of Google, it must offer something unique. Before I started The Sales Operations Blog, I did some research on blog competition and the popularity of search terms related to my content. I found that there were thousands of blogs on “how to sell” but very few on sales support. I also discovered that the phrase “sales operations” was one of the more frequently used search terms related to my topic. So before launching your blog, check out the competition, do some research on how potential readers search for your content, and attempt to focus and differentiate your blog.
  • Include a power search term in your domain name. Google does not like cute, it likes relevant. For this reason, I chose the domains SalesOperationsBlog.com and RatTerrierMom.com. (Okay, Rat Terrier Mom is a little cute.) When choosing your domain and blog name, select a frequently used search term that aligns with your content. In my domain research, I have found that many of the most popular words or phrases alone are already taken, but if you add the word “blog” at the end, most of them are available. For example, B2Bemail.com is taken, but B2BemailBlog.com is still available. Check out GoDaddy.com to research domain options.
  • Identify and leverage the top 20 search terms in your blog content. Use Google Adwords or a similar tool to identify the top 20-ish search terms that readers use to find content like yours, and then use this intelligence throughout your blog. This includes your post titles, post content, categories, HTML image labels, and in-post HTML tags. Note that the search terms should enhance your high-quality, interesting blog content, not actually make up your blog content. In addition to using the Google Adwords tool, monitor the “real time” search engine terms driving traffic, as reported in your WordPress dashboard. Copyblogger is an excellent resource for tips on keyword research and blogging SEO.
  • Keep the content fresh. As part of your social media marketing plan, publish high-quality, relevant blog content, ideally once per week. There is a direct correlation to the frequency in which you publish content, your ranking on search engines, and your website traffic. Add your Twitter stream or another user’s topic-relevant Twitter stream to the home page of your blog. Every time a tweet is posted, your blog home page will get fresh content. Add a specific page to your blog that includes links to other similar, recent online content. Refer to the Other Sales Ops Articles page on The Sales Operations Blog for an example.

If you focus and differentiate, choose a powerful domain name, include popular keywords in your content, and keep your content fresh (and high quality), there is no doubt that your blog popularity and traffic will climb.

I wish you good luck in your adventures in blogging and social media marketing!

Nordstrom Does Twitter Right

By David Meerman Scott, Author of The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use News Releases, Blogs, Podcasting, Viral Marketing, and Online Media to Reach Buyers Directly

The other morning, I popped over to my local Nordstrom store to check out what’s new for spring. Dave Angiulo helped me choose some styling shirts that I can wear with my blue Peter Millar suit.

As we were heading to the cash register, Dave asked me if I was on Twitter. It was a very low-key, casual question. It did not feel pushy in any way. “Absolutely,” I said. “Are you?” He gave me his business card, which included his Twitter handle: @NordstromDave. Damn. I wanted to learn more.

Dave said he uses Twitter to keep his customers informed. He tweets photos of clothes he likes. Sometimes he comments on what’s happening, like this tweet on the Academy Awards: “I think my vote goes to Colin Firth for best dressed last night… or maybe Tom Hanks. Just proves again that you can’t go wrong with a classic look.”

Dave also told me that he has a bunch of clients who he sends direct messages to. He knows their tastes in clothing, and when something new comes in, he informs them, privately, right away. This real-time effort frequently generates immediate sales, as Dave already has his customers’ sizes and payment information, and he ships the items right out. Brilliant.

As I was checking out his Twitter feed upon returning to my office, I found myself fascinated by a video that Dave pointed to about Ex-Girlfriend jeans. Dave’s not too fond of them. Can’t say I blame him. His tweet read, “Not sure I’m up on this skinny jeans for men thing… slim, straight is okay, but “jeggings” for men? Video from @GMA: http://abcn.ws/idsVn2.” Others jumped into the Twitter discussion.

This is how you use Twitter at work!

In a corporate environment where many companies fear letting employees use social networking, Nordstrom is doing it right. Yes, there is a corporate @Nordstrom Twitter account, but Dave’s personal touch is a fantastic way to use Twitter for business, pushing the interaction down to people who work directly with customers.

To be sure, this is Dave’s initiative. He’s making it happen. But the effort is fully supported by Nordstrom. Dave has access to computers and iPads at work to tweet, and he usually uses his personal iPhone for the photos.

I’ll DM @NordstromDave the next time I need something. I want to make sure he’s there before I go in.

How Social Media is Helping Marketing, PR, and Sales Become Better Friends

By Michael Brenner, Senior Director of Global Marketing at SAP

The biggest question I get asked on B2B Marketing Insider is about the challenges of sales and marketing alignment. I try to address the big issues in B2B marketing—such as integrated marketing, demand generation, and social media—but somehow, the topic comes back around to the relationship between sales and marketing. And it extends to our colleagues in PR.

I guess this shouldn’t be a huge shocker. I started my career in sales. Then I quickly moved into marketing to follow my frustrations. The alignment problem is what drove me into marketing.

BtoB Magazine recently reported on a Forrester survey that proves the point that this is huge challenge: only 8% of B2B companies say they have tight alignment between sales and marketing. Just 8%. They identify marketing’s long-term view vs. sales’ short-term view as the main reason for this disconnect.

So how can marketing and PR lead our organizations to better alignment with sales? The answer is social media.

A recent survey of 175 CMOs by Bazaarvoice and the CMO Club tells us that 74% of CMOs will tie their social media activities to quantifiable ROI in 2011. While that should help address the timing differences, I think there is more to it.

Today more than ever, marketing sells and sales people are marketing. And we are all communicators—some of us just more highly trained or capable. As Joe Pulizzi recently exclaimed, “Yes, We’re All Media Companies. What Now?” We need the content we produce across our companies to be professional, solve real customer problems, and be easily found.

Along comes social media, causing even more of a collision between sales, marketing, and PR/communications. The reason? We are all trying to align around customers through social channels. Add customer service, support, HR, and operations folks, and we have a real social media cocktail party happening.

Steps towards social alignment:

  • Define the goal. Marketing and PR should help lead our organizations to a better total customer experience in alignment with sales, but also across our entire organizations.
  • Work together. Social media can help us all get along (better). Marketing and PR should continue to take a leadership role in social media by defining how to best orchestrate social media strategy with sales, customer service, support, and other customer-focused groups across our companies.
  • Develop a crisis plan. This is really where PR can take the lead. They have the skills and best practices knowledge, but they also need to partner with marketing, sales, HR, and customer service so that a 360-degree process is identified. As the Kenneth Cole fiasco on Twitter showed us, the crisis can come from anywhere, even within. So get your crisis plan in place today.
  • Manage responses. One of the biggest opportunities for companies in social media is to develop a full response plan for inquiries, complaints, and so-called “trolls.” Here is an excellent example of a social triage process that can be used a model. By taking a leadership role in defining how we listen to social conversations and how we will respond, our companies can begin to achieve the true goal of a positive total customer experience.

I believe that by following these steps, we will start to see marketing, sales, PR, and all the functions across our companies become much better friends. And we just might create some new, happy customers along the way.

Are We There Yet? Tuning Up Your Metrics

By Marian Burk Wood, Author of The Marketing Plan Handbook

Before you roll out a new social media marketing program, be ready to answer one key question about results: are we there yet? Here’s a roadmap for tuning up your metrics so you’ll know where you’re headed and how to track progress along the way.

Look Ahead, Look Behind

Just as your GPS needs a street address to plot a route, you need three types of specific objectives to serve as destinations for your social media activities:

  1. Marketing objectives for brand building and relationship building (such as targets for brand awareness or customer acquisition). Ford’s campaign for the new Fiesta—initially a social media event reinforced by traditional media—set (and achieved) objectives for brand impressions and awareness as well as pre-launch information requests. In the follow-up to P&G’s super-viral Old Spice Guy campaign, one marketing objective was to attract a million Facebook fans to the brand’s social media “sacred club,” part of the push to increase brand awareness and change consumer attitudes.
  2. Financial objectives for money-related results (such as sales and profitability—by channel, by customer, etc.). QVC can set sales objectives for sales driven from its Facebook page (which has 300,000-plus “likes”) and its Twitter presence (more than 30,000 followers), track repeat business, and calculate profit by product and channel.
  3. Societal objectives that give your social media marketing a larger purpose (such as raising money for a worthy cause). P&G’s Dawn relied on the brand’s Facebook and Twitter interactions to get customers involved in achieving its target of donating $500,000 to wildlife conservation organizations.

And to steer clear of potholes, don’t forget to check the rearview mirror—learn from how and why existing programs hit bumpy roads in the past.

Prepare to Shift into High Gear

With objectives in place, your next step is to set up standards and a timetable for checking these metrics:

  • Compass points. Are you going in the right direction? For marketing objectives related to brand awareness or preference, metrics such as the number of Facebook “likes” and the number of positive blog comments can give you a sense of whether you’re gaining ground, standing still, or going south. QVC, for instance, regularly monitors the number and sentiment of comments on each blog post, promotional tweet, and Facebook post. Bounce rates, referral rates, and engagement duration are other compass points; think of indicators that make sense for your objectives and business.
  • Mile markers. You should be able to estimate how far along you need to be at various points in the journey so you can make interim adjustments as needed. For example, are you attracting and converting enough visitors every day/week/month to reach your long-term targets? Check these metrics early and often to avoid nasty last-minute surprises. QVC drills down into its sales statistics—sometimes minute by minute—to determine whether each product or promotion is on the right track and make mid-course corrections as necessary.
  • Speed. How quickly are you moving toward your destination? Look at viral rates for your communications to analyze how quickly you’re gaining new friends, subscribers, or customers (depending on your objectives), and investigate unusual lags or patterns in response to social media initiatives. If something is working especially well, use it to accelerate your results.

Now you’re all set to hit the road and put the pedal to the metal!

The Online Newsroom: The Factory that Runs a Brand’s Content Engine

By Ed Lallo, Principal at Newsroom Ink

Google your company’s name and see what comes up. Do the stories at the top of the search results reflect the business you’re running? If not, why not? Maybe it’s because your company has a better story to tell than is currently being told.

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google have changed the playing field for integrated marketing communications. What has not changed is the need for companies, organizations, and even politicians to communicate their stories from a unique perspective that only they can offer.

Social-integrated marketing communications offers an ever-increasing amount of tools to connect with targeted markets, but what has been lacking is a centralized content engine that drives conversation and integrates the elements of the promotional mix of advertising, public relations, direct marketing, and sales.

The online newsroom is the factory that runs a brand’s content engine. It’s the place to address brand issues, public relations, crisis management, marketing, and communications—all aligned with the CEO’s agenda. It’s the one place that consumers, vendors, and employees—as well as local, national, and international media—can obtain stories, photos, and videos told from your unique perspective, 24 hours per day.

But an online newsroom can be much more than just a newsroom. It can become the “landing site” for the social media efforts of companies, organizations, and political campaigns. The online newsroom translates your corporate agenda into a compelling story that the press, your customers, employees, vendors, and stakeholders want to read, learn more about, believe in, and contribute to on a regular basis. Using a proven model that delivers timely and influential news, the newsroom becomes an indispensable tool for a brand’s communications program.

A recent study of online newsrooms by the Corporate Executive Board—a member network of the world’s leading executives that spans more than 50 countries and represents more than 85% of Fortune 500 corporations—showed online newsrooms to be the top channel for disseminating information and effectively telling a company’s story.

Dynamic online newsrooms are not about pushing the company agenda from the top down, but instead letting the voices of others tell your story in a way that increases the credibility of your company’s brand. This “corporate journalism” style adds balance and influence and gives your brand a unique distinction.

With cutbacks in budgets, staff, and resources, print, broadcast, and digital media have turned to online newsrooms to obtain information and story ideas. According to the 2009 Journalist Survey on Media Relations Practices conducted by online public relations site Bulldog Reporter, “Public relations practitioners should shift their energies to online newsrooms, blogs, and social media,” and “journalists’ usage of these technologies continues to increase.”

Most importantly, online newsroom results are measurable. A recent study for the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board by Cision, a leading media tracking firm, found that for a three-month period, media exposure of Louisiana had reached an estimated audience of more than 3.4 billion in the United States. The Board used the online newsroom as the content engine, supported by traditional PR, Twitter, and Facebook.

Turning the online newsroom into a landing site for social media creates a centralized place to openly engage audiences, tell your brand’s many stories, and paint a picture of the uniqueness of your organization. It is like inviting someone into your house so they can see everything at a glance, and at the same time, putting the CEO’s agenda in the middle of the news.

Using One-to-Many Technologies to Create One-to-One Experiences

By David Harkleroad, Chief Marketing Officer at Hay Group

I’m re-reading Neil Rackham’s B2B classic, Major Account Sales Strategy. While written in 1989, it is still remarkably relevant—and he would have included a section on social media had it existed at the time!

Neil asked experienced B2B sales professionals about the hardest part of selling, expecting to hear, “getting a consensus of needs when several different people are involved in the decision” or “getting customers to see that the need is urgent enough to justify action.” Surprisingly, they said, “getting in the door in the first place!” He concluded, “if you’re trying to penetrate a new account, the easiest starting point is to find a receptive individual—somebody who’s prepared to listen.”

To find those receptive individuals, B2B firms traditionally rely on business developers—or, as any Mad Men aficionado knows, the Roger Coopers or Pete Campbells—who leverage relationships, cold call, or, in its modern day equivalent, spam (does anyone ever open those?) to get in the door. As an aside, many B2B business leaders confuse these prospecting activities (a one-to-one activity) with marketing (one-to-many), much to all of our chagrin.

Today, social media, as many thoughtful B2B marketing peers have learned, offers real opportunities for marketing success by, in essence, using one-to-many technologies to create one-to-one experiences. To build those connections takes time, creativity, repetition, and the right content—similar to any other marketing approach. The challenge is tweaking that content to raise brand awareness, and more importantly, to create sales leads and conversations. A few simple, cost-effective ways to experiment:

  • Make it easy for people to opt in to your content. Listen to what your targets have to say, and create content that both supports your marketing objectives and matters to your online audiences. At the same time, think through a clear call to action for every touchpoint you have online. Offer a clear and simple way to connect for additional information, and track those leads.
  • Have a content hub. A blog isn’t realistic for everyone, although that is the ideal. Consider creating a robust microsite as a center for information on a key topic. It’s a nice platform for external audiences but can also effectively rally internal audiences and salespeople. Or, for those without the corporate resources, a social media news release, such as those found at PitchEngine, can house a variety of multimedia content. Whatever the method, offer clear ways to connect or to solicit input.
  • Build relationships with bloggers. As Kevin Briody notes in The Very Basics of Blogger Outreach, you must identify the right bloggers—and get to know them. This is the time to roll up your sleeves, because there is no “easy” list. However, there are some sources that can help point you in the right direction: Alltop, Google Blog Search, and Technorati. Once you identify a few key bloggers, look around their sites for any helpful information on blog rolls or lists they might produce themselves, such as this one, which offers a robust community of management and leadership bloggers.
  • Engage on Twitter. It’s critical to build your followers before you launch a social media campaign. Adam Holden-Bache provides six useful steps to find your B2B audience on Twitter. Listen for a while. Check to see if your LinkedIn connections are on Twitter. Scan for any customers, prospects, key bloggers, and competitors.

At Hay Group, these efforts have already generated one-to-one meetings with organizations we want to do business with. And our consultants report much more receptivity to meeting requests, which is perhaps the most satisfying result, since it increases their confidence to go open some more doors.

What tactics have worked for you? Please share your successes, so we can all learn.