Summit Presentation: Take Your Search Engine Marketing to the Next Level 2010

Every year for the ISA Marketing & Sales Summit, I give an annual update on what’s happening in the world of search engine marketing.  I always find it interesting how much things change from year to year. This year social media is having an impact on search engine marketing, adding a new “real time” element to the world of search.  Being found isn’t just about having the right content, it’s also about being in social media networks and building large but relevant networks.

Google still dominates the world of search with 10 billion searches in July 2010 (Yahoo and Microsoft follow). Compare that with Facebook’s 395 million searches conducted on its site in January 2010.  Facebook has 400M users with profiles, and it has been investing resources in improving their search capability.  They also recently partnered with Bing, so this is an area that is evolving as we speak. Google cannot rest on its laurels anymore.

There is also a convergence of professional and personal information, it’s becoming harder to separate the two with the prevalent use of Facebook and other social networks.  The bottom line is, the site with the most content wins.  It helps you win in both search and social networks.  Publishing interesting, value-added content is what every business needs to be thinking about as we near the end of 2010 and move into 2011.  Content is still king and the more you can publish to the public (without sacrificing confidential information), the better off your search engine rankings will be. If you are wondering where that content is, we suggest to start where you are and look around for materials that can be put into electronic form: PDFs, PPTs, articles, papers. Then start building a content plan to identify how you can produce more educational, technical information over the next 6-12 months.

To learn more about the details behind my analysis, check out my presentation below.  It is what I presented at the ISA Marketing & Sales Summit in Atlanta.  You can also view the video portion of my presentation on ISA’s Marketing and Sales Summit web site.

Name Games: Syrup vs. Sugar…1830DX vs. PlantFloor Pro

Anyone who has been involved in naming anything knows how much thought goes into selecting that name.  I’ve facilitated many groups to help work through a naming process for a new brand, product, or service.   I’ve had some really great experiences and others where it comes to a grinding halt.  The problem often stems in balancing the expectations of what the “vision” of the product is and how the name helps communicate that.  Often  times we want the name to solve too many problems, and things get off track.

There’s also the tangled problem of registering a name.  Checking the availability of a name is critical, and often leads people back to the drawing board.   Social media only adds more layers of complexity. Even a prime time sitcom I watched on TV the other night made fun of a Twitter name with an “Underscore”… So true, no one wants the darn underscore but our choices are slim these days.  It’s a real challenge out there.

It’s not just technology companies either.  Just a couple weeks ago, the Corn Refiner’s Association wants to change the phrase from “Corn Syrup” to “Corn Sugar” in an attempt to change our negative perceptions about high fructose corn syrup.  It feels like the food industry is polishing a rock here.  Fortune Magazine summed up the corn syrup/sugar issue here, with reasons for and against:

Sucrose’s comeback comes thanks in large part to the critics of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) who have spent years attacking the substance not as part of an overall campaign against sugar, but as part of a very focused campaign against HFCS alone. Rather than condemning all sugars, they instead have tended to compare HFCS, unfavorably, to sucrose. The unintended effect? Convincing the public not only that HFCS is poison, but also that sucrose is a not-so-bad alternative. Both notions are false.

Some of those critics made big fun last week of the CRA’s request to the Food and Drug Administration for the name change. As they note, it’s a transparently craven, desperate marketing maneuver. And yet, the new name, if approved, is actually much more accurate than high fructose corn syrup, which isn’t particularly high in fructose. HFCS is sugar made from corn.

Frankly, I’m tired of the tom foolery as a consumer we have to process.  We’re informed consumers, we know the dirty secret of high fructose corn syrup. Will this switch sell more corn products?  Time will tell.  It just seems a slight bit deceptive to me, all I can think of is some magician guy trying to trick us with what hand is holding the quarter.

It struck me that we do that to our customers.  We make things nifty or tricky and end up confusing things even more.  In a recent discussion thread in our ISA Marketing & Sales LinkedIn group, one of our members raised the question about product naming conventions in the automation industry.

I must say the automation industry is one of the worst offenders in creating names that are irrelevant to the product, especially when it comes to hardware. The responses in the discussion thread were mostly about war stories of horrible names chosen, but it got me thinking about the importance of simplicity.   In the end, it does all come down to how you market the product/services.

Here are some thoughts when it comes to naming conventions:

  1. KISS – Yes, the Keep it Simple, Stupid principle applies.  Let’s not overcomplicate things.  Once you are weeks into a process and you still have not settled on a name, it’s already gone too far. Scrap it all, start over and add some new minds to the mix to move the log-jam.
  2. Involve only who you must.  While it’s great to pull together a brainstorming crew, remember at the end this is not a democracy.  Engineers who are tightly involved with the product development often feel territorial about the product and can be difficult to manage in the process.  A final decision will need to be made and it may not be what everyone wants.
  3. Make sure the name you choose has some flexibility to expand, especially if it’s a new brand or product line.  Consider up front how future products would work with that name before you finalize a decision.
  4. Do a quick litmus test:  If there is a remote possibility that you think customers won’t get it, then they most likely won’t.  This goes back to #1.
  5. Remember that getting names registered expands to the major social media networks too, not just domain URLs anymore.
  6. Try not to be too literal.  Numbers, dates, acronyms can be confusing.  Think from a customer’s point of view and the value it is bringing to them.  Ex., a customer needs a quarter inch hole, not a quarter inch drill.
  7. Once it’s settled, keep it consistent.  If you choose numbers, then stick with a standard approach for naming subsequent products. Don’t start tacking “A”, “B”, “C” on the end of model number and expect that people will know the difference, or more importantly, remember the difference.

More tips are included in an article I wrote an article called “What’s In A Name? Six Key Considerations” that may be helpful to review.

If we all agree that simplicity is important, then maybe we’ll discover a newer, easier way to communicate our brands, products and services.  What is your experience with naming products, brands, services?

Summit Presentation: Building Detailed Marketing Profiles to Drive Better Sales

At this year’s ISA Marketing & Sales Summit, Scott Sommer and I tag-teamed again for the third year in a row to talk about the intersection of marketing and sales.  Since the theme for this year was “In Search of the Holy Grail:  Integrating Marketing and Sales” we put together a presentation that looked at how to answer three key questions:

1.  With all the distractions of today’s technologies like social media and the rising level of messaging noise, how can you make your brand successfully stand out in the crowd?

2.  How  likely is it for your sales representative to go in to a new prospect meeting with a high degree of confidence that previous marketing programs/messages have been seen and heard?

3.  How can a technical brand develop better, more effective communications that will help drive sales?

These are challenges for any organization in any industry, especially discrete and process manufacturers who face growing global competition and often end up competing on “price vs. value”. So Scott and I walked our audience through a path to illustrate how the process of building detailed marketing profiles can create more targeted 1-to-1 messaging campaigns that can potentially increase campaign conversion rates and help sales win more sales cycles.

Here’s what we outlined:

  • We opened with a funny video clip from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” that really helped paint the pictutre of the challenges of getting a message through the stone walls of the castle — it ends with “Is there anyone else we can talk to?”  …

  • Challenges in Getting Messages Heard – Based on a study Scott and I did last year, we discovered that only 1 in 10 emails really get read and 1 in 100 get some sort of response.  With those kinds of numbers and the rising noise, what can marketers do to get their message heard?
  • Creating Detailed Customer Profiles – why we need to go beyond our basic demographic profile of geography, functions, customer type, product type etc
  • Integrating the Message into Marketing – I outline three steps: 1.  Build learning experiences.  2.  Create smaller, more targeted campaigns 3.  Add personalization
  • Moving the Message to Sales – Scott discusses the challenges of how a message flows into the sales cycle
  • Amplifying the Message – Scott talks about how sales personnel can enhance marketing messages and build upon them in the sales cycle
  • Translating the Message – Scott shares how critical it is for sales to accurately translate marketing messages so it resonates strongly
  • Extending the Message – This gets to spreading the message beyond the initial recipient.  How do you carry the message forward to the buy team?
  • Alignment of Marketing and Sales – finding the Holy Grail :-)

You can download the presentation and watch the video stream  hosted on the Marketing and Sales Summit web site. The video picks up mid-way through the presentation when Scott does his piece.  Scroll down toward the bottom to where the slides and video stream are posted.

Corporate Blogging and B2B Social Networking Take Off

Millions of personal blogs can be found across the Internet. Some aren’t worth the digital ink they’re written with; others are filled with interesting information about a person’s area of expertise. Here’s a journal about one person’s journey through the horrors of chronic Lyme Disease (something our own family knows all too much about).

The same e-opportunities to establish expertise and share detailed knowledge exist for corporations. And we are now seeing a rapid rise in the number of blogs being added to the corporate marketing mix.

This year, eMarketer estimates just over one in three companies have a public-facing blog used for marketing, a proportion that will rise to 43% by 2012. “Studies have shown that marketers perceive blogs to have the highest value of any social media in driving site traffic, brand awareness, lead generation and sales—as well as improving customer service,” said eMarketer’s senior analyst Paul Verna.

According to a 2010 study by Burston-Marsteller, one third of Fortune global 100 companies have corporate blogs. Those companies that do have blogs, tend to have corporate blogs so divisions and product lines can highlight their own areas of expertise.

This study also discusses use of other major social media networks, including Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube. It’s worth a look. Thanks to Brenna Larson at Rogers Corp. for passing this study on to us.

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