B2B Content Marketing Trends for 2015

2014 is almost coming to an end and it is that time for all marketers to look out and observe what all the ‘gurus’ / ‘pandits’ / experts are saying about whats in store for next year. As a marketing professional who is responsible for Thought Leadership content – the topic of ‘content marketing’ is very close to my heart, and ‘core to my professional responsibilities’. So when I came across an interesting infographic on 2015 Content Marketing trends, I could not resist sharing on my blog. So here goes: B2B Content Marketing Trends for 2015

Online, Digital, Social – 9 Insights from the lens of a Marketer

A few months ago, I was in conversation with the CEO of a multi-billion$ global consumer goods company. One of the topics of discussion was around online, digital and social strategies that the enterprise was embarking on (yes! They are  some-what “old school” in operations even in 2014 and as I learned there are so many companies who are NOT ONLINE, NOT adopting DIGITAL, and NOT really SOCIAL – and many are successful with impressive growth targets), and the conversation got exceptionally interesting when we spoke about the below questions:

  • Is there a boundary between online, digital and social strategies?
  • Does business strategy drive online marketing strategy?
  • Does digital drive social?
  • Does social drive digital?

The questions stayed with me..

A few days later, I was in discussion with another entrepreneur friend who runs a successful manufacturing unit which has a diversified business portfolio of apparel manufacturing and agricultural machinery. He was planning to launch a social campaign and again had some basic questions

  • Is online marketing necessary?
  • Digital / Social marketing – What first and What second? Why?

And then a few days back I had the opportunity to connect with a high-end fashion designer who again asked me the same question?

  • Should I do social? Which social channels?
  • Should I have a digital marketing strategy?

All led to long long long conversations and some interesting insights. Before I get into my views, I did some online research on the basic definitions.. Sharing snippets I found relevant:

Online Marketing (or Internet Marketing) refers to a set of powerful tools and methodologies used for promoting products and services through the Internet. Online marketing includes a wider range of marketing elements than traditional business marketing due to the extra channels and marketing mechanisms available on the Internet.

Digital Marketing refers to any marketing delivered via an online platform or involving an interactive response channel including mobile. Digital marketing is: Building awareness and promoting a brand or product using all available digital channels

Social Media is the social interaction among people in which they create, share or exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks.

Without much ado, let me now share my key insights from the lens of a marketer

(1) Business Strategy should drive the Marketing Strategy; and Marketing insights can drive Business Strategy For e.g: If your business strategy is to provide a portfolio of products and services to your customers, your marketing strategy should be aligned accordingly. And if your marketing insights indicate that your customers want you to add a new service, then your business strategy should be open to the consideration

(2) Marketing initiatives should ALWAYS be based on marketing objectives

(3) Online, Digital and Social Media Marketing are marketing channels and a marketing strategy. The boundaries blur. Below is a conceptual view

Online Digital Social

Online Marketing examples include web-sites, blogs, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), SEM (Search Engine Marketing), online ads, e-mail marketing, online Press Release (PR)

Social Media Marketing examples include leveraging social media platforms like Twitter, FaceBook, LinkedIn for your marketing and promotional activities

Offline Marketing examples include print ads, Press Release, Direct Mail, Telemarketing, etc.

Real-world Social Marketing refers to marketing through ‘real-world’ social interactions and conversations at events, word-of-mouth publicity, etc.

(4) It is (near) impossible to show quantitative ROI (Return on Investment) for every marketing initiative – specially for Internet Marketing initiatives. In marketing parlance, the qualitative ROI can be subtle, long-term and not directly attributable. Below is an good way to showcase ROI

ROI

[Src: http://www.infographicsshowcase.com/roi-on-internet-marketing-services-infographic/ ]

(5)  “No Money Marketing” is often misunderstood. It is NOT about ZERO $ marketing spend, but optimally leveraging marketing channels coupled with creative marketing strategies to have maximum customer reach and impact in line with marketing objectives

(6) Social and Digital – What comes first? : It depends on your business, and your understanding of social and digital. I know of companies whose digital strategy drove their social media marketing strategies, and I know of companies whose social strategy drove their digital initiatives. Suffice to say, the digital world and social world are closely coupled and if you do one, you (or / and the ecosystem you’re a part of – like partners, customers, community, suppliers) also make inroads into the other. In most cases, Social Media Marketing is a sub-set of Digital Marketing.

(7) The choice of which social channels to use depends completely on your social media objectives and where your customers are. Don’t do Social because everyone is doing social and because it is the new buzzword. Do it because you believe it will add value to your business and marketing

(8) It is better not to start social media initiatives if you don’t have a long term plan, management commitment and the “right brains” behind your social initiatives. Too many companies start and stop too soon, and that impacts your brand negatively

(9) Digital and Social are evolving and will continue to evolve. Everyone is learning, so be open to learning, failing and course-corrections. That is the only way to succeed.

What do you think? Leave a comment to let me know…

Viral Content | A Marketer’s Dream, Dare, Delight or Doom?

“Viral Content” – Those 2 words can be the dream, dare, delight or doom for many a marketer.

A dream because you aspire for it

A dare because you can’t really say for sure if your content will go viral

A delight because if it does, then you are bound to be a hero / shero of some sort, in some circles

A doom because if it does not, then you are bound to be viewed with a critical lens, in some circles

And the reality of today is that “viral content” is probably the fastest & most cost-effective way to get your message out in the market place.

There are ample examples of content gone viral that it must seen easy to repeat the formula. But it is not so simple…

In this post, I am sharing from my personal experience as a content consumer what truly differentiates viral content from the rest

(1) A catchy compelling title : In today’s day of explosive content, you need to have a title which compels a reader to stop-by your content. The title has to be unique, inviting, enticing and engaging – And most important have mass appeal! Phew – Tough one to crack!

(2) Touching an emotional chord with a reader : From my personal experience, almost every piece of viral content that I’ve come across touched an emotional chord with a reader, i.e., it brought out a deep human emotion in a reader – joy, surprise, fear, contempt, disgust, sadness or anger

(3) Timing of your post : The timing of when you publish your content is critical, and surely acts as an enabler in riding with current trends and sentiments.

(4) The Zing and Zest of the post itself : I mean the content itself has to be unique, new, relevant, positive and refreshing in its message and in articulation. Pictures / Videos are definitely more effective, but there are blog posts and even tweets which have gone viral, so it really depends on the content

In this post, I’m sharing a round-up on the many views / perspectives written on the subject of “viral content”. You’d think after reading all of these – I now know the magic mantra and am on my way to create the “viral content” of tomorrow. How I wish! :) In spite / Despite so much written on the subject, this is a tough one to crack, and even all the “Content Gurus” don’t seem to have a consensus.

Nevertheless, let me share the posts..

7 Things Marketers Can Learn From 2,616 Viral Headlines.

7 Key Elements for Viral Content

 Social Media Images: 5 Ways to Go Viral

How To Make Your Content Marketing Go Viral

How to write copy that goes viral

57 Facts and Figures on the Money and Power in YouTube Viral Videos – Infographic

3 Reasons Why YouTube Videos go Viral

4 Key Elements for a Viral Video

5 Steps to Going Viral on Twitter

Top 7 Reasons Your Content Goes Viral

How to Make Your Content Go Viral

How to create viral content

When an Obituary Goes Viral

How to make something go viral: tips

How do I make my post viral?

Lastly, an interview from Brian Solis which is real, well-grounded and probably one of the best advice I’ve come across

 

 
What is your mantra? Leave a comment to let me know

2014 : What I’ll be blogging here?

So its a new year! The time when everyone embarks on all new things
New Year Resolutions
New Year Wishes
New Year Changes

Well, as I mulled over what I’ll be doing here on my blog, the one thing that I was clear that I would continue to write..

So, how frequently will I post?
Once a week

And when will I publish a post?
Every Thursday at 3 PM IST

So what will I be blogging about?
Well.. The focus will continue to be on areas of professional interest which range from Marketing, Social Media, Leadership, Innovation, Strategy and Business.

So is there a specific plan for the postings?
Well yes!
Week 1 of the month – A post on Social Media
Week 2 of the month – A post on Marketing
Week 3 of the month – A post on Leadership
Week 4 of the month – A post on Innovation / Strategy / Business

Will I do anything different this year on my blog?
Well, there will be a few surprises along the way. So wait and watch.. And do follow my blog to know what these surprises are!

Till then, continue reading..
And LIVE, LAUGH, LOVE
Its one life to LIVE

Happy New Year 2014…

CMO – Chief Marketing Officer or Cheap Marketing Officer?

Its the close of another year 2013. And looking back, I can definitely say that Marketing is increasingly becoming a very important function across the globe – Be it books, schools, services, organizations, individuals, social media, e-commerce, consumer goods, etc etc etc – You name it , and there are ample examples of how marketing made all the DIFFERENCE! And organizations are cognizant of it! And with that, the role of the CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) is increasingly becoming more important and powerful!

But then there’s the other side of the coin. The one in which as a marketing professional – I can’t help but rant about the constant pressures, advice and suggestions on cutting marketing costs year-on-year!

Don’t get me wrong! Let me make my point with a few examples of situations which most marketing professionals typically face:

Scenario 1 – Its start of the year. The time when everyone in an organization does a grand budgeting exercise. And most marketing teams work on their plans and budgets for the year. In most instances, only a partial marketing budget approval in received ; And that too 1 – 2 months into the year (So precious time is lost!). After all, time is money; and since most marketing teams are lean – This “lost time” significantly adds up to “loss of productive and tangible output”

And then when any marketing expense is to be accounted, it needs “management approval” – which involves putting up a business case, and providing explanation of Why? – What? – How?.  And then comes the “approval” / “questions” / “rejection” – Again, usually delayed (So precious time lost again). All the precious time lost in waiting for approvals is completely unaccounted!

Scenario 2 – Everyone wants to go Social. Everyone wants to have a grand social media presence. Everyone wants to drive customer engagement on Social media. And they expect the current marketing teams (In most cases – who have limited  / no knowledge on Social Media) to make Social a success, with limited / no additional budgets at all. Does the math add up? Of course, NOT!

Social Media is a different “Beauty and Beast” – As you want to call it! And the beauty needs to be enhanced, and the beast needs to be tamed. And that’s not the core skill of every marketer – especially if what you do on Social is “real-time” and has “global reach and impact”. So the best way to do Social is to hire consultants to guide you on how to do it OR hire experts to do it for you OR Go slow on the Social strategy. Expecting current marketing teams who don’t understand Social to define a “brilliant Social Media strategy” for your organization may not in your organization’s best interests! And then, investing in the right Social Media tools also come at a price.

Whatever you pick – It comes with good & bad – Be cognizant of this!

So coming back to why I started this post –  The point is increasingly a significant majority of individuals and enterprises want to “cut down” on “marketing costs“. Some of the most common explanation is – “Go online“, “Go social“, “Go lean

yes Sir, yes Madam -
We can look at cutting costs,
We can go online,
We can go social,
We can go lean,
But they will still cost us – in terms of minds and time (people) and tools and technology (hardware and software)
And they will come at a price – in terms of gains and losses – of customers and brand-value

Are you willing to pick up the costs?
Are you willing to pay the price?

And yeah! Till then Do you want to consider calling your CMO – Cheap Marketing Officer instead?

Awesome Quotes on Marketing

“Business has only two functions – marketing and innovation.” BY Milan Kundera

“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.” BY Peter F. Drucker

“It is all about marketing; that is where the real craft comes in. The best actors do not necessarily become the biggest stars. And vice versa.” BY Dirk Benedict

“If you have more money than brains you should focus on outbound marketing. If you have more brains than money, you should focus on inbound marketing.” BY Guy Kawasaki

“Marketing takes a day to learn.  Unfortunately it takes a lifetime to master.” BY Phil Kolter

“Give people what they want and they will like you for now. Give people what they need and they will value you forever.” BY Simon Sinek

“The sole purpose of marketing is to sell more to more people, more often and at higher prices. There is no other reason to do it.” BY S Zyman

“What really decides consumers to buy or not to buy is the content of your advertising, not its form.” BY David Ogilvy

 

Whats your favorite quote on Marketing? Leave a comment to let me know

The Online : Offline Marketing Mix

In a recent discussion among fellow-marketers, there was a debate around getting the Online : Offline Marketing Mix right…

Some said “Online : Offline Marketing Mix should be 100 : 0″
Some said “Online : Offline Marketing Mix should be 80 : 20″
Some said “Online : Offline Marketing Mix should be 60 : 40″
Some said “Online : Offline Marketing Mix should be 50 : 50″

And it ended there. No one suggested that the Offline Marketing should exceed the Online Marketing…

After the discussion, I was mulling over this.. I mean in theory, we can all argue about the right Online : Offline marketing mix – And come up with very scientific, logical, analytical and data-driven explanations for our argument  – And rightly SO!

Whatever one is trying to market – Books, Blogs, Products, Services, People, Organizations, Brands, etc.

Have we reached the level of maturity where the Online Marketing should be at the very least the same as the Offline Marketing mix?

Here’s my view – The Online : Offline Marketing Mix would typically be based on:

(1) Where you’re existing / potential customer’s are? At the end of the day, the purpose of marketing is to reach your existing / potential customer to trigger a potential sale. And the mantra for marketing success is to reach and connect and communicate with your customers.But firstly, do you know who you’re customer is? If no, then find out!

If you’re customer is going to be more receptive in the online world, then do marketing online.
If you’re customer is going to be more receptive in the offline world, then do marketing offline.

Take-away =>  Know who your customer is. Go where you’re customers are. Online : Offline Marketing mix is incidental

(2) Your industry ecosystem Every industry has certain dimensions which are unique to it, and create a distinct ecosystem. For e.g: The way you market agricultural machinery is very different from the way you market a book is very different from the way you market an IT service. And the online : offline marketing mix will be influenced by the industry ecosystem. Sure, you can innovate and leverage best practice from other industries, but the core of how in industry functions takes decades to change. So ensure you’re marketing strategy is aligned accordingly

Take-away => Align you Online : Offline Marketing mix in line with the industry ecosystem

(3) Your brand-image Every product / service has a brand. And a brand is really a “perception in the minds of your customer”. One of the factors that influences your online : offline marketing mix is your brand image. For e.g: When I was consulting a high-end designer fashion label, the designer mentioned that she DID NOT want to do too much online marketing as it could negatively impact her brand image. She had her reasons based on her clientele – And rightly so! So we devised a marketing strategy which had significantly offline marketing, and she continues to do well today!

Take-away => Brand-image is important, personal and subjective. Ensure your Online : Offline Marketing mix is in line with your current brand image, and the brand image you want to create for the future

(4) Your marketing objective Last and most importantly, what is the specific marketing objective you are working towards? Is it awareness? Is it customer engagement? Is it sales? Is it brand re-enforcement? Is it re-positioning?.. Whatever it is, your online : offline marketing mix should be aligned with this objective.

Take-away => Your Online : Offline Marketing mix should be in line with your marketing objective

In my view, there is no one and right answer. It depends on what you’re marketing objective is.

What do you think? Leave a comment to let me know

Marketing in Public Toilets?

Over the recent past, I have been surprised to find a great deal of marketing material in public toilets (in malls, at the movies, etc.) – Initially, I was surprised to even find posters, banners, even audio clips, etc. in public toilets. From soaps to laptops to clothes to footwear to exciting deals – They were all there! Initially I was surprised. But as I observed more consciously over the past few weeks, I recognized that it was intentional, and also probably a BRILLIANT MARKETING STRATEGY!

Here’s why? – The Number 1 Challenge of MOST MARKETERS today is to get “CUSTOMER ATTENTION” to what you have to say… Simply because (1) Everyone has so little time; and (2) There are just so many options for any customer.. – So how do you get “customer attention” to what you want to say.

As I think logically, I guess a public toilet is a great place to get “CUSTOMER ATTENTION” /”AWARENESS” / “INTEREST” to what you have to say. Here’s WHY?

(1) People have time, and their “eyes” (& “ears”) open : A public toilet is one place where many people are usually found waiting, i.e., they generally have time (& no specific agenda or nothing specific to do apart from wait for your turn). And in most instances, you probably don’t really like to indulge in small talk with others. So you find many people idly looking at the walls, mirrors, ceiling, etc.

Now as a MARKETER, if you recognize this window of opportunity (say 30 seconds to 3 minutes) to get customer attention on your product / service, you can use this time effectively

(2) Mobiles are a NO-NO : The other real challenge for most marketers is to get people to look / hear to what they have to say; and mobiles can be the real “villain” in getting customer’s time and attention. (I mean I know of people who call their mobiles their only LOVE in LIFE!).

Here’s the good news for marketers – The “villain” is usually not in the picture in a public toilet. Most people (at least from what I know) usually don’t like to use their mobile phones in the toilets (Again, I personally know of exceptions here, But then there are exceptions to everything in life)

So as a MARKETER, if you recognize this window of opportunity when your target customer is without his / her mobile, you can use this time to create awareness on your product / service

(3) People are usually relaxed : The other challenge for most marketers is to connect with the customer when he / she is probably relaxed / open or in a neutral state of mind (People will more likely to listen or see any marketing material when they are relaxed / less stressed). Most people are usually relaxed after they use a public toilet, and hence are in general in a reasonably “open” state of mind to listen / see what’s around them.

So again as a MARKETER, if you recognize this window of opportunity when your target customer is relaxed, you can leverage this time to generate interest in your product / service

These are the positives; and there are some negatives too

But then it is an opportunity to “connect” with your customer…

So, what’s your view on MARKETING in Public Toilets

Leave a comment to let me know

9 Must Have’s for a Senior Marketing Executive

Over the past decade, technology companies have realized the importance and difference the Marketing function plays in their external brand image.

The success of the Marketing function is directly linked to two important variables:
1) The organizational priority associated with Marketing
2) The individual / team that shoulder’s the Marketing responsibility

Many business leaders are often plagued with the question “What is the right profile for a Senior Marketing Executive in a Technology company?

The Top 9 Must-Haves for a Senior Marketing Executive in a Technology Company are listed below:
1) Techno – Marketing Knowledge and Experience: A good blend of technology and marketing knowledge and experience is a definite pre-requisite. Pure marketing knowledge & experience can help one plan and strategize great marketing initiatives, but many times fall short in execution as there is a complete dependency on the technology teams. Over a period of time, this will impose severe limitations in what one can achieve. On the other hand pure technology knowledge & experience will impose restrictions in what one can even strategize from a marketing perspective. Hence, a suitable profile could be either one who has worked in a technology role for a few years, then studied Marketing and followed it up with relevant marketing experience OR one who has studied Marketing and then worked in the Marketing function of a technology company & upgraded their technology knowledge along the way. Additionally, if one has worked with a successful Senior Marketing Executive in their careers, there is a great amount of learning that can be amassed.

2) Understanding of the Organization’s Marketing Philosophy: Every organization has a marketing philosophy which in unique to its overall vision, values and offerings. If one is new to an organization / the Marketing role, it is imperative that some time is invested to understand this. Clarity and comprehension on the organization’s marketing philosophy go a long way in ensuring that any marketing initiative is in line with the organization’s overall marketing philosophy.

3) Focused & Objective: While focus and objectivity are essential for any job function, it takes a different meaning for a marketing role. Simply because, many times the Marketing function gets limited time, support and recognition from internal stakeholders. And yet, the marketing outcome is non-negotiable. So it is important that the individual / team is focused and objective on what needs to be achieved by the Marketing Function; & continuously strive towards achieving the same.

4) Leverage New Marketing Platforms: Firstly, this requires awareness on what new / alternate marketing platforms exist & how they can be utilized to achieve the organization’s marketing objectives. Secondly, openness of mind and perspective to effectively leverage these platforms for marketing. For e.g.: Social media. Quiz many Marketing executives on why they embark on certain marketing initiatives, what marketing platforms they usually leverage & what marketing channels they typically operate on; and one will realize that the only reason some of these are being used today is because of legacy, i.e., simply because they were always being done this way for several years. Thirdly, to get the buy-in of internal stakeholders to pioneer these marketing initiatives. And lastly, to successfully roll-out these initiatives.

5) Creative : Creativity is one of the most important elements of marketing. One needs to be creative in thought, creative in expression and creative in resource mobilization. If one is creative, there is no limit to what can be achieved.

6) Networking Skills : To be successful in a marketing function, great networks and relationships are vital – Both inside and outside the organization. Inside the organization, marketing executives needs to build relationships with Internal Marketing Teams, Technology Teams that they are associated with, Business Leaders, Support Functions, etc. Outside the organization, relationships with Customers, Analysts, Third party agencies, Marketing professionals in other organizations, etc. go a long way in what and how much one can achieve. While building the relationships is one side of the coin, maintaining these relationships over a period of time is the other side of the coin. And this requires intent, time and conscious efforts. But definitely, well worth it in the long run.

7) Collaborative : The real world is full of constraints. Constraints in finances, Constraints in resources, Constraints in time, etc. And one of the time tested ways to work around constraints is to collaborate. A marketing executive should successfully collaborate with internal and external teams to achieve the desired marketing objectives.

8) Holistic View of Marketing : Senior marketing executives need to maintain a fine balance between macro and micro issues of marketing. Hence, a holistic view of marketing is essential. There are some aspects of marketing which are based on hard facts, data and numbers. They can be analyzed, critiqued and objectively evaluated. However, there are some aspects of marketing which cannot be measured and quantified. They are soft. They are subjective. They are based on perceptions. And yet they really exist and make a difference. One needs to be cognizant and sensitive to these aspects of marketing and work constructively to maintain a fine equilibrium between the hard and soft aspects.

9) Personal Brand : Last but not the least, marketing executives need to have a personal brand of their own. What this means is a mind of their own, a voice of their own, and a presence of their own – Both in the real world and in the virtual world.

Originally published here