TAG | B2B
I love presenting. I’ve not always been very good at it. My first outing was at a christmas party I had organised years ago, and I was told I had to introduce the evening. Legs shaking, I was nearly sick with nerves as I prepared to talk to 100 or so people. I can even remember holding the microphone with both hands to stop them shaking.
Also, unbeknownst to me, one of the exec team had been suddenly struck down with severe appendicitis and was on his way to hospital with a couple of others. But, all I knew, was that none of the exec team had showed up. I was a bit fed about it, but not that bothered, and thought I would make a joke. Turns out that was a bad move…this is how it went…just imagine this coming out in one big, nervous breath:
“Thank you all so much for coming, shame the others couldn’t bother, still, you’re better than nothing”
Then I realised what I’d said. Cue a bit of silence, and frantic introduction of next people and a large gulp of wine.
So, since then, I have been trying to improve my skills, the good news being that there was nowhere to go but up! I’ve made progress since then, but have struggled to make it interesting and captivating.
I read a great article a few weeks ago, by HubSpot, called “7 lessons from the world’s most captivating presenters“, I’ll let you read it, but it crystallised for me where I’d been going wrong. I used the advice at an event last week and it worked brilliantly – I’m no Steve Jobs, but am one step closer! The key lesson for me was:
- 30 hours planning
- 30 hours putting it together
- 30 hours practice
A lot better than that Christmas of 1999!
This week we have a guest blog from Claire Grove, EMEA Customer Reference Manager from Juniper Networks.
Claire will be dipping in and out of our blog with some handy tips, in the lead up to our event on April 13th – look out for an invite or email me.
Welcome to the big time!
Look at the jobs on LinkedIn and a host of other jobsites; listen to the voicemails from recruiters. Yep, Customer Reference Programmes (CRP) finally seem to have made it to the big time, and are coming into their own as a recognised marketing and communications discipline. To be fair, it’s certainly been a part of many organisations’ marketing departments for a while, but dig a little deeper and you’ll often discover poor budgets and a junior-level person running the program (and for this I am truly grateful; it’s the way I fell into customer referencing), without much real support from elsewhere in the business. All of this is sometimes accompanied by scratching of heads by Execs, and a lofty wave of the hand with a murmuring of “we need case studies”.
Of course I’m being flippant, but certainly when I got into customer referencing this was more the rule than the exception. However since then, it’s been great riding the crest of a wave with other CRP managers, feeling our way from ‘just’ case studies to where the best CRPs are today:
- Providing a mutually beneficial platform for company and customer alike (without resorting to bribes, err I mean incentives)
- Adding value to an organisation, by first understanding what that value actually looks like and then delivering against it
- A philosophy of ‘Think Customer First’; you are the gatekeeper, funnel (for multiple requests from across your business), and salesperson all rolled into one when you are a CRP manager
In this guest blog series for Ice Blue Sky, I’m going to give you some (hopefully) handy tips and insight – garnered through 15 years of customer reference experience in one guise or another – to help demonstrate how CRPs can move from being a ‘nice-to-have’ to a commercially imperative programme.
So, how do you gear for success from day 1?
1) Find out what your company’s business goals, objectives, strategy and tactics are (GOST model)
2) Do a Gap analysis. Speak to stakeholders, find out what’s working, what’s lacking and where you need to be within the next year and beyond
3) Set expectations. Show what you intend to deliver; have a 90-120 day plan in place in addition to your yearly objectives. Short-term wins are important in establishing a trusted programme
4) Design your programme to scale and flex to changing business needs. Your goal isn’t to have a CRP that works well for the next 1-3 years, but is eventually rendered obsolete by changing priorities
5) Measure results. Not just the number of assets created, but what that has meant to the business in terms of impact to the sales achievement/PR coverage/reputation with industry analysts/social media impact/marketing programmes support, or whatever goals you have selected
6) Communicate those results to all interested parties. Get support for your program. If you have achieved XXX results with the budget and staff you have, imagine what can be achieved with more investment and focus from the business.
It’s worth noting that we rarely work within ideal scenarios 100% of the time. Budgets are cut, people are busy, customers say no; but if you are clear about your overall strategy and direction, these issues are rarely insurmountable.
What do you see as your challenge here?
I look forward to your comments, and look out for the next blog in the series – coming to you soon.
We’ve found a few more interesting B2B resources this last week, even though it’s been hectic running the QlikView Business Discovery Event which happened on October 23rd!
Just so you know, if you join our group on LinkedIn you can see these resources as we find them: Access the B2B Symposium group here!
Read these handy tips for killer call to actions, from HubSpot.
Twitter have launched some great changes, giving you some great creative options for your page – especially if you’re a business. Read this article from Social Media Examiner if you’re wanting to create more Twitter engagement!
We’ve been experimenting with Google +, still early days but there are some great tips here. Join us on Google + here!
So, there you have it – a few resources that make for interesting reading!
Upcoming Ice Blue Sky events
(email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in coming along!)
End of November – tips to aim for less than 10% drop out rate at events
February – Customer Referral Programmes – SO much more than case studies!
OK, so it’s not rocket science – like most effective tactics, they are mostly plain common sense and attention to detail.
We all know how challenging it is to get people to come to events, and then even more challenging to turn them into leads.
I often get asked how we do it, so thought it might be useful to share a list of tips to help get you to a 10% drop out rate (same as ours).
- Keep it relevant – OK, sounds obvious doesn’t it? Focus – don’t try to be everything to everyone – focus on a group, pick something that’s really keeping them up at night, it might not always be something that you do, but hey, it will get your key prospects all in a room.
- Don’t sell – if they want to find out more about you they will, focus instead on getting them in with great content and showing how they will benefit from giving up some of their time. Sell later, marketing is for creating connections (leads), get them talking to sales in the room, don’t make it the focus of the content.
- Make it easy – make it easy to register, make it easy to get there, make it easy to park, make it easy to find, make it easy to find the room, make it easy….to do ANYTHING related to the event. It’s easy to have blinkers on and miss really obvious things that will lead delegates to say “can’t be bothered”
- Risk assess – honestly, what would you do if the power failed? If there was a car accident outside the venue (happened to us once!), if there is a transport strike, if your speaker is ill? Go to town on your run through and think about what you would do.
- Be regular - the more events you run the more you will build up a following. Simple. Publicise through all channels, don’t be lazy and just rely on email. Talk about your events ALL THE TIME, get sales involved.
- Keep in touch – don’t forget about your delegates the minute they register. It takes quite a few touch-points to remind them they are coming, what they will miss if they don’t and how they will benefit. Don’t overload them, use different channels to mix it up.
Have any to add?
What a great concept. I get invited to a lot of “new experiences” but I have to say this one truly lived up to its billing. We arrived on the second night it was open, so I was expecting a few teething troubles, but was pleasantly surprised.
We were greeted at the door by the two head chefs and had a glass of champagne in the bar area just inside the door and down some steps. The bar was modern and very Scandinavian. Lots of attention to detail created a modern, high end feel. I particularly loved the wooden walls leading to the kitchen area.
We were then led into the kitchens, we didn’t really know what to expect, we just knew there would be some cooking and some eating involved! The place is divided into 5 kitchen areas, some of which link up to accommodate multiple groups. The kitchen was beautifully modern and clean, and had a simple table setting for the 20 of us in our group. There were 4 stations set up, each for a different course. We were given an overview by the three chefs as to what each course consisted of, and how the evening would play out. We were allowed to select which course we wanted to cook, I plumped for the starters, mostly as I figured I could then enjoy the rest of the evening after serving.
As a team on each station, we divvied up the tasks for each course. I was on a vegetable garnish (which was more complicated than it sounds), for a scallop and pike perch dish. One of our team had to create mayonnaise from scratch which was probably the biggest challenge on our table. The chefs did an admirable job of moving between us all explaining what we needed to do, I had to delicately slice root veg and then cook in fish stock.
Overall we learnt some great cooking techniques, had a great time getting to know each other in a relaxed environment, with fine wines and fine food. Each team served their food to the group, and I have to say that the food rivalled that of some of the great restaurants. We all felt very proud to have created such masterpieces!
Masterchef, here I come!
Find out more here:
The Grange Tower Bridge Hotel is the latest addition to the London hotel chain’s portfolio and it opened its doors for the soft opening in the first week of June. Situated five minutes’ walk from Tower Hill tube station it has some impressive views (from upper floors) across the river and of the nearby Tower of London and Tower Bridge.
Why did we go?
To experience the hotel and see how it feels compared to other hotels in the chain.
What did we do?
We stayed for one night in June about four days after it opened its doors.
Look and feel of hotel:
The ‘soft’ opening means that the accommodation and restaurant are open, with other facilities such as conference space and spa still being completed. There was also quite a bit of landscaping to be completed outside so the initial impressions are of a building site!
The lobby has a very sparse, almost industrial look, which wouldn’t be to everyone’s taste and is quite different to a lot of hotels we have experienced. It feels very spacious with lots of open space and high ceilings, but with stones floors and pillars, ‘cosy’ isn’t an adjective that would fit here.
Once up on the 7th floor, the feeling changes completely and this is the first time it really felt like a 5-star hotel, with deep carpets and immaculate decor. Our room also felt very plush with floor-to-ceiling windows, extremely thick curtains and excellent quality furnishings. The bathroom was also great quality with separate shower and different light settings.
The bedroom had everything you would expect from this level of hotel, including robes and slippers, although we did only have one set. The media connections are very good with a panel across the top of the desk containing different mains sockets for different countries and connections to all the media in the room (iPod etc) so very good for business travellers. Interestingly the mini-bar was empty and it wasn’t clear if this was the usual situation or if it had never been filled.
It is worth mentioning that although the hotel pool and spa are not due to open until September, guests are able to use the facilities at the nearby Grange City Hotel for a charge of £10 per person.
This was the area where it was most obvious that this is a new hotel and they were certainly having their share of teething problems. Upon arrival there were about six staff behind the check in desk and all seemed busy trying to sort out problems with new arrivals. We had a bit of a wait but the actual check-in was very quick and efficient.
Breakfast the following morning was a bit of a shambles. They have a huge restaurant but clearly not enough staff to service it properly, as there was not a single table that had been cleaned when we arrived, despite many tables being clear of guests. We, along with a few other people, were therefore not able to be seated until the head waiter was able to track down a colleague to clear some tables.
Eventually we were offered a seat at a dirty table while we waited, which was not a good suggestion. It would have been better to stand rather than stare at the previous diners’ debris. However, once we did have a table, the food itself was very good with plenty of choice, although we did have to ask more than once for some tea.
This has all the makings of a really good hotel for leisure or business, with a great location, especially for those who want to be close to central London as well as the City. A lot of the staff appeared to be trainees and they will naturally have a learning curve, however if a hotel markets itself as 5-star it should be able to operate at this level from the outset. Judging by some of the comments on TripAdvisor, we got off quite lightly!
It will be very interesting to return to the hotel once the conference space is open to see how things have changed and to experience the service levels once the staff and the systems have bedded in.
Our new weekly spot!
Each week we highlight an interesting piece of technology we’ve come across, which we think could be life-changing, a bit useful, or just a bit of fun!
Any suggestions? Add a comment to suggest a piece of tech you’ve come across that’s worth sharing.
This week: Prezi
What is it?
Prezi is a great tool for jazzing up presentations and avoiding “death by powerpoint”
What does it do?
Essentially the love child of powerpoint and flash, it enables you to create presentations that look like flash animations.
Why should I care?
It’s easy to use, and looks really impressive – you can look like a creative and technical whizz quickly and easily!!
Where can I find out more?
By the way, we are not linked to any of the products we mention, nor do we receive anything for featuring them, it’s just genuine feedback from genuine techies!!
We’ve all seen them, the square box, with some random black squares arranged within – gradually beginning to appear on consumer products and advertising.
We’ve been thinking about how to use them in a B2B environment.
The most obvious one (to us anyway) seemed to be to pop it onto our business cards:
All you have to do is download a Barcode Reader app to your smartphone of choice, then use that to take a picture of the QR Code, and your phone will automatically register the contact details and should prompt to save as a V Card.
From a B2B perspective, we think it would work well in the following scenarios:
1. Email marketing & Events – include a QR code image in HTML emails that people can scan to download event venue details, someone’s contact details, special offer information etc ( as they can be scanned from on screen as well as in print)
2. Include a QR code in print ads – really handy for tracking responses as you could share a “secret” URL only accessible by scanning the code
3. Include a QR code in printed direct mail – especially great if marketing products – if you go one step further and develop your own app (if relevant) you can integrate the two to enable product reminders and ordering.
4. Web – using QR codes on the website can be a great addition to a contact us page, or to share URLs
5. Well, that was the business card idea
Want to know more about they work? The below link takes you to a great blog that has the top 14 things you should know about QR Codes:
If you’ve any other ideas for use in a B2B environment, please comment below!
OK, so the title might be a little over dramatic, but recent events have reinforced my belief that for most marketing content/organisations/events B2B gets forgotten.
FMCG companies fare the best when it comes to marketing column (and web) inches, followed closely by retail. I suspect because a large proportion of us are exposed to these brands constantly, so they seem relevant.
However, when you’re trying to find case studies to support the latest B2B marketing proposal/idea/technology, it’s like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack. Mind you, if you think that’s challenging, try looking for useful information on the latest trend, that is not written by a vendor with a (more than) slight bias!
So, I am on a mission – by this time next year I want there to be 100% more content focused on B2B!
Being one to put my money where my mouth is, I have started with the Marketing Society – to cut a very (very) longstory short, I started a LinkedIn discussion in their group to see if anyone cared about B2B – as previously the MS focused on B2C pretty much exclusively. This languished for about a month or so, and then suddenly garnered about 30 comments and the attention of the CEO and Marketing Director of the MS. We had a great meeting last week, and we are launching a B2B Steering Committee next month with a view to driving B2B content and evets – hurrah!
Next target – the Institute of Directors – again, pretty much all their events that help businesses with marketing, focuses on B2C, or is very generalised. Most of the people I meet at the IOD are B2B, so it struck me that I can’t be the only one frustrated with the lack of knowledge and information. So, am in touch with one of the regional leaders and we are going to investigate the appetite. I did try LinkedIn with this one too, received a couple of replies, and one person helpfully moved the discussion to the jobs section?!
We (as in Ice Blue Sky) are also launching a B2B networking group – specifically for marketers and business leaders. We will scour the country for industry experts and relevant case studies to provide as much value as possible. First event likely to be June/July time.
So, watch this space, and if you want to join the crusade, let me know!
Well, this week has been a mixed bag! With the snow staying away, business has actually been able to proceed!
We also visited the TFM&A Exhibition (along with Confex) – with a view to looking at exciting developments in technology to support marketing.
What did I learn?
I now know there are more CRM and automated emailing systems than you can shake a stick at.
I also discovered that “Marketing Automation” is the new buzz phrase.
I also learnt that while a lot of companies talk about Marketing Automation, what they actually mean is “automation of one part of the process” such as email sending for example.
Marketing Automation in itself is in its infancy – which I suspect is why many are talking about it, but still working out how to do it. What concerns me is that the term itself will become diluted as organisations jump into the sector, but have offerings that don’t stack up.
It was also interesting to see the divide in these systems when it comes to B2C and B2B – while B2C platforms looked very robust, and talked about understanding B2B it was clear that the systems could not easily translate between the two. Not surprising in that the two disciplines require different approaches, processes and management – what is suprising is that the providers didn’t seem to want to specialise in one or the other.
Which brings me to my point (there is one) – ultimately, like any technology platform, unless the system is completely aligned to the goals of the user then it won’t do what’s needed.
In marketing, there is definitely a place for technology that enables the marketing process – but without the underlying expertise and process management, the success of campaigns managed through these technologies will be limited.
Take email platforms for instance – they have enabled a large increase in companies bringing email sending in-house (37% increase in 2009 according to the DMA), but this has been accompanied by a decline in the quality and effectiveness in email communications.
Imagine if you could bring TV-quality production in-house using a video camera and some fancy software – would the company be guaranteed to produce successful and good quality TV shows? Probably not. Some might, but most wouldn’t.
It’s the same with email – the DMA acknowledges this and found in its research that a large percentage of companies sending emails from their internally managed systems are ambivalent about the technology (which can impact how your reader sees the email in their email client), and worse, aren’t processing unsubscribes, and hard and soft bounces correctly.
I don’t want to pick on email, but it highlights that we probably need to wait to see a solid marketing automation platform that covers all the bases, and that we shouldn’t rely on the technology to ensure we do the right processes, but on our own disciplines – as technology sometimes lets us do things we shouldn’t!