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Archive for the ‘best practices’ Category

Title: Enterprise 2.0: New Collaborative Tools for your Organization’s Toughest Challenges

Author: Andrew McAfee (not the security guy)

Pub Date: 2009, Harvard Business Press

This is not another “2.0” fluff book. McAfee’s book is a great overview of the changing competitive landscape and the role Web 2.0 tools can play in helping enterprises stay competitive. How? Mostly by helping enterprises become more innovative within and outside their corporate walls.

Corporations can no longer rely on inside R&D and product development teams as the only means of innovation. Instead, if they want to remain competitive, they must reach out to employees throughout the enterprise, as well as vendors, customers, and even competitors. McAfee believes (and I agree) that enterprises who use new collaborative Web 2.0 tools to facilitate innovation inside and outside their enterprises will be more successful than those who don’t.

Using real examples along with current research findings McAfee outlines the potential and benefits of Web 2.0 tools for innovation within large and small enterprises.

Some tidbits:

  • “Enterprise 2.0…allows good new business ideas to emerge from anywhere and spread organically, rather than being developed at the center and imposed from the top down.”
  • “I have yet to come across any true horror stories – scenarios that make me question whether the risks associated with deploying [Web 2.0 tools] actually do outweigh the benefits.”
  • “I do not advocate that decision makers should ask for quantitative ROI analyses, either before approving and Enterprise 2.0 effort or to assess its progress.” A controversial statement to be sure, but McAfee makes a compelling argument for this stance.

Best piece of advice:

“Enterprise 2.0 is about abandoning the assumption that unilateral control is the best way to achieve desired outcomes, and instead trusting in people’s ability to interact productively without constant supervision from above.”

Want to hear more?

You can keep up with McAfee here:

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­I often hear people ask, “How do I go about creating an online community?”  “What resources will I need?” “How much time will it take?”  All good questions, but taken out of the context of “why” you want to create a community, they’re difficult if not impossible to answer.

It’s the “why” that needs to be answered first.  The “what” and the “how” are merely the tactics you’ll use to implement the why.

Online communities aren’t about you.

When I ask B2B companies “why” they want to start online communities, they typically answer with things like:

  • To drive sales.
  • To get more leads in the pipeline.
  • To push out information about our products to our customers.

If you’re starting here, ask yourself, “Would a community really want to help me do those things?”  The answer is they wouldn’t – none of this benefits the member.

Shift your focus and think about what the community does for its members.

Successful online communities focus on benefits to members.  Generating leads and driving sales may be desired outcomes, but they shouldn’t be the “why.”

For example, Deloitte is creating a community for CFO’s that allows them to discuss Sarbanes-Oxley regulations in terms of its effects on their businesses.  Which regulations are working, which are onerous, and what they think should be done to reduce the burden on businesses while protecting the public.  Deloitte plans to provide the information to the legislature to help them gain a better understanding of the real impact of the law.

Benefits to members?  Sharing information with other experts, learning from others, potentially having a positive effect on legislation that reduces impacts to their organization.

Benefits to Deliotte?  Getting into the heads of potential customers and having a better understanding of their issues and needs.  Now they’re better positioned to adapt services to address those needs.  They’re also increasing awareness with this specific audience.  All things that should positively impact leads and ultimately drive product innovation and sales.

Ask yourself “why” members would care.

So if your thinking about whether an online community makes sense for your company, ask yourself first if it makes sense for the members.

If you focus on truly trying to help or facilitate the needs of the community, you’ll be more likely to be successful at realizing benefits to your company.

What communities have you see that have succeeded?  Why did they work?

­Many B2B companies are looking into whether they should leverage communities as part of their marketing strategy.  Whether your objective is to create a closer connection to your customers, connect customers to each other, or explore new ideas, it’s important to build communities around something people are already interested in.

So how can you know in advance if people will be interested?

It’s likely you’ll never really know what the response will be until you try, but I did hear a great tip in a podcast the other day about looking at what your buyers are already doing offline and moving those communities online.  It’s a great idea, so I started thinking how we could leverage that idea for our clients.

How do I pick the right topic to explore?

Start by identifying regularly scheduled industry events or meetings where your buyers get together to discuss topics of interest.  These can be centered around topics or specific roles.  Don’t forget to look at local and regional meetings too.  Heck, you likely already participate in some of these meetings.

Next, ask yourself:

  • Which group would benefit the most from real-time, more frequent communications?
  • Which group discusses topics that are I/my company can add value to?
  • Which groups do I already have a connection with?

Prioritize the list, then start exploring the benefits an online community would bring to the participants.  There must be a clear benefit to the participants or you won’t succeed.

If you can sync the group’s objectives with your company’s objectives you’re more likely to have a winning topic.

For those of you who’ve already started online communities, how did you go about selecting and audience or topic?

I’ve been a fan of Adaptive Path for a while now, but never expected to ever have any influence or input when it came to their marketing tactics.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with them, they’re a big user experience shop out on the West coast.  They have clients like Intel, Crayola, NPR, and Cathay Pacific.  Who’d ever think they’d be listening to what I was saying.  But I was wrong.

On Monday, I posted about eNewsletter subject lines.  I used Adaptive Path’s as an example.  Much to my surprise I got an email that same day from Roland Smart, Senior Marketing Manager for Adaptive Path.

He said he’d been having conversations internally about the subject line and that my post was “enough of an impetus to make something change.” “Please note that our next newsletter will have a new subject line!”

And sure enough, they were true to their word.
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Adaptive Path is a company who understands the need to monitor the blogosphere for conversation around their company and what they provide.  But more importantly, they engag­e in conversation and truly listen.

Are you listening in?  You should be.

It’s easy.  Just set up an iGoogle Home page and pull in searches from Google Blog Search for your company’s name.  Take it one step further and add your competitors.  You’ll be surprised what you find and who’s talking about you.

For those you not familiar with Adaptive Path, they work with companies to create better products and services through experience strategy and experience design. This involves focusing on the end customer, and their total experience, from the start of the development cycle through an ongoing relationship with the brand.

To see comments, go to original post on Erickson Barnett Blog.

For B2B technology companies, whitepapers are a great way to generate awareness and educate potential buyers about your solutions.

­According to a recent KnowledgeStorm study:

  • 65% of IT buyer decision makers and 62% of influencers said they read a whitepaper within the last 90 days
  • 58% of decision makers and 63% of influencers said they read 2-5 whitepapers in that period
  • 57% of technology buyers said they passed on a whitepaper to others within their organization

So how do you increase interest in and downloads of your whitepapers?

  • Give buyers content they value.
    • Survey data, how-to guides, and educational content are the most valued.
    • 82% of IT buyers said content targeted at their specific industry was most valuable, followed by 34% who said content targeted to their specific job function was highly valued.
  • Give buyers a preview – titles alone aren’t enough.
    • 75% of buyers want to read at least one paragraph before providing registration info.  Interestingly enough, only 48% of marketers provide this type of info.
    • You can increase downloads by simply providing one or more paragraphs of content prior to registration.
  • Remove barriers to registration.
    • Most buyers will give you their correct name (72%) and email (68%) (however they often use a personal email instead of their business email – this helps them separate work related email from outside sources). Less than 40% give a real phone number or answer additional questions.
    • Try asking for just a name and email.  It’s easy for buyers and gets you the information you need to follow up.
    • Clearly state how you will use registration information.
    • Include a link to your privacy policy next to the submit button.
  • Repurpose your whitepaper content.
    • 60% of IT buyers indicated that whitepapers would be more interesting as podcasts.
    • Some B2B companies have found that repurposing whitepapers into podcasts increases downloads.
  • Follow up on downloads within 2 days.
    • The majority of buyers who download your content are quickly scanning it for relevance and putting it away to read it more thoroughly later.  So, it’s important to follow up quickly because it reminds them that they’ve downloaded your content.
    • 72% of buyers say that timeliness of follow-up impacts their impression of the company and it products.
    • Use email to follow up as it’s the preferred method of buyers.  (Whitepaper downloads typically signal a buyer in the early phases of the buying cycle.  As this point, they aren’t ready to talk directly with someone at your company, they prefer being contacted via email.)

Test what works best for your buyer.

Whitepaper downloads are a great place to start testing what works best for your buyers.

  1. Start by measuring the number of downloads you get today.
  2. Change up one aspect based on the best practices above.
  3. Measure the difference.
  4. Keep what works, and discard what doesn’t.

Keep tweaking the process until you’ve optimized downloads for your audience.  Let us know what works best for you.

To see comments, go to original post on Erickson Barnett Blog.

­According to a recent study by MarketingSherpa, there seems to be a disconnect between what marketers feel is valuable to their buyers and what buyers say has value.  In order to determine what content had the most value, MarketingSherpa asked B2B buyers and B2B marketers to indicate which types of content they felt was worthy of registration.

Where they agreed:

  • Both marketers and buyers felt whitepapers still had the most value (assuming the content is good of course).
  • There was also agreement on the perceived value of analyst reports.  But that’s where the agreement ended.

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Where they disagreed:

  • Marketers placed a heavier value on demos, podcasts, and online videos than did their buyers.
  • Buyers placed a heavier value on case studies, product literature, and archived articles than their marketing counterparts.
  • One of the most striking differences was in the perceived value of demos, webcasts, and podcasts.

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So why the big differences?

It makes sense that marketers would place a heavy value on rich media assets like webcasts, podcasts, and videos because they tend to cost more and take more time to create than other types of content.  It may be that in marketers’ minds, their value can’t be detached from the time and effort it took to create them.

From the buyers’ perspective, they’re looking for information that helps them make an informed buying decision.  They want product details (e.g., literature), insights into why your solution is better (e.g., whitepapers), and comfort in hearing how others have succeeded using your solutions (e.g., case studies).

They also want to get a good idea of what your product does early on in the decision process (e.g., demos).  Since this is a key factor in helping them understand what you have to offer, they likely expect to have access without registration.

What does this mean for me?

The take away here isn’t that you should add registration for product literature and case studies (whitepapers yes).  Or, that podcasts and webcasts have no value.  Instead what’s revealing is the type of content B2B buyers value.

According to what they said, whitepapers, case studies, analyst reports, and product literature are at the top of their list (in that order).

Armed with that knowledge, take a fresh look at your site and your content from your buyer’s perspective.  Do you have what they want?  Is it easy to find?  Are you promoting the most valuable content across your site?

(Charts from MarketingSherpa, 2008-09 Business Technology Marketing Benchmark Guide).

Think about the last time you were at a cocktail party.  Think back to the people you met there. They likely fell into one of 3 types:

  • ­Blah Blah Barry: Barry didn’t make a connection with you in any way.  You know you interacted with him but you don’t remember anything about the experience.  You have a faint recollection of what he looked like but you don’t remember what you talked about, or what he said.  The whole conversation reminded you of that Far Side cartoon with Ginger the dog.

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  • Ima Important: Ima talked incessantly about herself.  She prattled on and on telling you her complete life story and all the great things she had accomplished.  At some point she even asked for your name and email so she could keep you updated on her latest “venture.”  You found the first opportunity to bail out of the conversation and spent the rest of the evening avoiding her along with everyone else.
  • Breath of Fresh Aaron: You had an immediate connection with Aaron.  He spent most of the time asking you questions about yourself and making insightful comments.  He seemed completely engaged and interested in every word.  At some point in the conversation he gave you an great tip that you can’t wait to try out tomorrow at work.

Now think about your web site.  What personality does it have?  When potential buyers engage with it will they feel like their talking with Barry, Ima or Aaron?


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