Wired Pursuits

Posts Tagged ‘B2B

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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­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?

­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.

content-1_1.jpg
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).

Title: The New Rules of Marketing & PR

Author: David Meerman Scott­

Pub Date: June, 2007

marketing_pr.jpeg The best book I’ve read that deals with the blurring lines between marketing and PR.  Scott speaks from knowledge based on a long a history of breaking the rules when it comes to reaching his buyers.

Scott’s number one focus is connecting with the buyer and his book is full of examples and great advice that’s easy to digest.

Some tidbits:

  • “Content drives action.”
  • “Don’t tell journalists [and bloggers] what your product does. Tell them how you solve customer problems.”
  • “The web has changed the rules. Today, organizations are communicating directly with buyers.”
  • “You are what you publish.”

Best piece of advice:

“Do not write about your company and your products.  Thought leadership content is designed to solve buyer problems…”

Scott recommends developing personas through research and interview with your buyers to help identify their needs, the language they use, and what they’re looking for from your company.

Business take-away:

The web has opened a whole new world for both companies and buyers.  It doesn’t eliminate the need for PR and marketing but it should change how you go about communicating with your buyers.

  • Use personas to understand your audiences’ needs.
  • Look for ways to shift from one-way to two-way communications.
  • Use the web to give your company a voice and create a direct, personal connection with your buyers.
  • And finally, look for agencies who understand and embrace this new world.  Ones who can help you navigate and leverage it to your advantage.

Scott is speaking at the MarketingProfs B2B conference, up in Boston June 9 -10.


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