WEBINAR 5/22: PR 101 – Effective Marketing Communications for the Automation Industry

NOTE: This webinar has been rescheduled to May 22nd.

Sponsored by the ISA Marketing & Sales Summit…

PR 101 – Effective Marketing Communications for the Automation Industry
April 4, 2013 12:00-1:00 PM EDT


The one and only Walt Boyes, automation industry pundit, presents a totally revised and updated version of PR101, his very popular Marketing Communications Master Class. This is an updated version of his standing-room only seminar presented a few years ago at the ISA Marketing & Sales Summit.

This webinar is for both newbies to marketing communications (product managers, sales managers and engineers who have been “promoted” into marketing) and those who have been doing marcomm in the automation industry for a while.

PR101 is specific to the automation industry and discusses:

– Marketing “bang for the buck”
– Integrated marketing
– Public relations in the automation industry
– How to place a press release
– Product releases and news releases
– Relationship building with editors, influencers, and thought leaders
– Social Media: Inbound and outbound marketing — a cascade control loop
– Metrics and measuring results

Walt has more than 25 years of experience in sales, sales management, marketing, and product development in the automation industry, including Executive Committee experience and board of directors service in both for-profit and not-for-profit companies.

Walt is currently serving as Editor-in-Chief of CONTROL magazine. In addition, he is a principal in Spitzer and Boyes LLC, a technology consulting firm devoted to assisting companies to better market their products in manufacturing and automation. Walt also acts as a freelance acquisitions editor for Momentum Press, a division of iGroup, on Instrumentation and Automation texts. Walt has published professionally in the technology and science fiction fields, and is a member of SFWA, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

WEBINAR 3/19: How to Price Solutions Without Giving the Software Away

All too often, industrial companies set product prices based on their incremental costs and wind up under-valuing their products. If hardware-based products are priced incorrectly, can this be avoided when prices are set for software deliverables that have very low incremental costs? How can a company get software revenue when they encourage hardware sales by giving software away? How should a company deal with customers who expect software to be free? Find out how to stop leaving money on the table when pricing the software component of systems…

Join us March 19, 12:00pm eastern for
ISA Marketing & Sales: Getting Paid Fairly from Software Sales


In this webinar, Jim Geisman of Software Pricing Partners will show how systematic pricing and packaging of software can increase revenue and profits including:
• How software pricing techniques compare with hardware pricing
• How a software pricing model can improve pricing quality
• How software deliverables change the tasks of sales and marketing
• How to overcome the challenges of software revenue generation

Jim Geisman is founder and principal of Software Pricing Partners, Inc. Since 1990, he has helped B2B senior managers address fundamental pricing issues affecting business success. Before founding Software Pricing Partners, he held marketing management positions at Tektronix and served as the first director of marketing at Apollo Computer. He was also a member of the ARPANET team at Bolt Beranek and Newman where he performed throughput testing of the forerunner of the Internet. Jim is widely published and an expert in software pricing strategy and sales negotiations. He is a sought after speaker for computer trade and industry association meetings. He has BS and MS degrees in Electrical Engineering from Tufts University and an MBA from Harvard.

Jim will be doing a full-day pricing workshop, http://bit.ly/PPS-SWP-workshop, at the Professional Pricing Society meeting in May 2013.

Using Social Networking to Boost Sales & Marketing

There’s a lot of upheaval going on in the social media realm. Google Reader is about to be retired (anyone got any recommendations on good “listening” tools?). Google is giving a little search ranking boost to those who use Google+ — maybe that will make G+ a relevant social network. LinkedIn has dropped LinkedIn answers because sites like Quora are doing a great job handling Q&A. In fact, Quora has quietly grown to 1.5 million visitors per month.

It’s hard to keep track of which end is up. So each year, my good friend Michael Holbrook, Senior Business Advisor at the MSBDC Network Center at Clark University, invites me in to give a talk to business owners about digital marketing. This year, the focus was “Using Social Networking to Boost Sales & Marketing.” You can find the full presentation on SlideShare. Here’s a quick recap.

In many ways, social media marketing is like public relations. It’s all about reaching out to prospects and influencers to build your brand recognition and generate leads (and, hopefully, sales). Social networks give us the added value of more interaction with the people we’re reaching. But, like PR, social media marketing requires a fundamental focus on building trust and credibility. To make that happen, we need to consistently and persistently deliver relevant, meaningful, and interesting stories.

For those who haven’t heard me say it already, today’s marketing is all about STORIES and KEYWORDS. But back to today’s story… 🙂

When people ask me about social media, they almost always start with “Which networks should I use?” and “When do I post?” WRONG WAY TO START!
To succeed in social media marketing, you must first and foremost know your target market. Then ask, who are you trying to reach, what do you want to accomplish, and what do you have to say.

Define your target market and create a Content Marketing Plan. Latest data from eMarketer shows that articles, videos, and white papers provide the best ROI.

The Content Marketing Plan is based on one of the little secrets to successful marketing — Write Once, Use Many. For instance, if I create an article on social media marketing, I can first try to place it in a publication, like my local business newspaper or an industry journal. Once it’s run there, I can turn it into a blog post, then link to it from short blurbs on my LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter accounts. That’s a Write Once, Use Five. I like those numbers. But don’t overdo it or it will get repetitious and undermine your cred.

Now that we have the base in place, let’s look at my list of the 10 Steps to Social Media Marketing Success:

1. LISTEN. Start with one social network that is likely to have target customers and/or relevant influencers. Gather data. Look at how people talk on that network. What’s posted? What’s not posted? Most social networks frown on crass commercialism, so tread lightly.

Here’s a look at some of the recent posts for the Twitter hashtag/keyword #pauto (short for process automation).

2. AVOID THE HARD SELL. Be very careful with outright pitches. That can turn a lot of people off. Follow the 80:20 rule — 80% talking about the industry and technology and tutorials and news, 20% talking about your company and its products and services. For your 20%, think about what you can promote without being “spammy.” That’s a technical term. Lol.

One of the best examples is my favorite viral video, Corning’s “A Day Made of Glass.” It was created for their key investors, but ended up going viral because it tells an incredibly good story about how technology is about to change our lives…again. Along the way, Corning subtly talks about the different products they make.

3. HELP OTHERS. This goes back to building trust and credibility. Your prospects are out in the digital ether looking for help to fill a need or solve a problem. Your job is to educate them while being authentic and credible. Here are some interesting infographics from Dell’s pinterest page.

4. HUMANIZE YOUR BRAND. Tell stories. Converse, don’t spout corporate speak. Let your company culture show. Then, empower your employees to spread the word.

5. MAKE YOUR BRAND MEMORABLE. It’s all about being relevant, creative, and engaging. Yeah, I know, easier said than done. Here’s a great example: Gucci’s Cut and Craft contest that had Facebook users create their own custom purse out of paper.

6. BE MORE VISUAL. Social media is words and pictures. People’s patience continues to diminish each year. Visuals are a great way to get to the point quickly. Here’s a great infographic on just how visual social media has become.

7. DON’T ENCOURAGE SPAMMY BEHAVIOR. That means be careful with contests and sweepstakes. Encouraging people to post thousands of pictures of your products on their pinterest page is just going to turn off visitors to that profile.

8. FIND YOUR SWEET SPOT. Start with one social network and experiment. Get it right, then expand to another network. If things didn’t go well, pivot and spend your time on a different network (or your enewsletter or your blog…etc.) HubSpot, which regularly recommends your company start with a blog, discovered they can’t be everything to everyone. They launched a manufacturing blog some years ago. But they didn’t get the engagement they wanted because they didn’t know that manufacturing isn’t a single niche market…it’s a series of niche markets that adds up to a whole heck of a lot of topics to cover. No one blog can be broadly of interest to manufacturers.

9. BE CONSISTENT & PERSISTENT. Create a presence for your brand. This takes time. Nuff said.

10. BE QUICK & POSITIVE. Respond to customer comments quickly. And don’t let negative situations spin out of control. Learn from Nestle and their disastrous performance when Greenpeace made a video about their use of a non eco-friendly supplier. Nestle censored the video. Bad, bad choice. Censorship and social media don’t operate in the same universe. Instead, deal with the situation and fix it, like Domino’s did when two idiot employees created a video of themselves violating health codes. They were quickly fired and Domino’s apologized.

One last tidbit. Many small businesses ask me if they need a web site and a blog. I tell them, put their money where it will get the biggest bang for the buck — DO A BLOG FIRST. If you have a complex product line and need hundreds more pages, you can add a web site later on. But get your content marketing plan in place first. A blog is the best repository for that information. You’ll get better search results from it and you can reuse the content in multiple places…like the company enewsletter and social networks.

Are Searchers Looking at Pay Per Click Ads? Latest Research Says Yes!

Since the late 1990’s, research has shown that Internet users are “functionally blind” to ads on a web page. In 2005, Burke, Hornof, Nilsen, and Gorman concluded,

Eye tracking data reveal people rarely look directly at banners. A post hoc memory test confirms low banner recall and, surprisingly, that animated banners are more difficult to remember than static look-alikes. Results have implications for cognitive modeling and Web design.

Top and Right are Deadly Locations for Banners

This “banner blindness” is particularly high when banner advertisements are located on the top or right of a web page. Unfortunately for us marketers, those are the locations most offered for ad space.

I’ve fought many a battle with trade publications about where and how to format ad space. I’ve won some and lost some. In those cases where I’ve convinced the magazine to place the ads in a different location – one that isn’t already associated with advertising – the ads have produced well. When stuck in the typical banner space, the ads do poorly.

It’s interesting to see publications like Industrial Laser Solutions now offering banner space that expands as you open the web page, converting the ad from a typical banner size to one that encompasses most of the page space above the fold.

What About Text-Based Pay Per Click Ads?

In a 2011 study on banner blindness and text advertising, Owens, Chaparro, and Palmer concluded that users are now exhibiting banner blindness to text ads, just like display and banner ads.

Hmmm…based on the results of our clients’ PPC programs, I’m not convinced.

As previously covered in this blog, I am particularly interested in the research of Professor Soussan Djamasbi in the User Experience & Decision Making Research Lab at WPI. Her newest paper is, “Do Ads Matter? An Exploration of Web Search Behavior, Visual Hierarchy, and Search Engine Results Pages.” Djamasbi joined with fellow WPI researchers Assistant Professor Adrienne Hall Phillips and Ruijiao (Rachel) Yang (a former student of mine ☺ ). Using eye tracking experiments, they investigated how users view list formatted search engine ads. For those of us in the biz, these are also known as pay per click ads, like Google AdWords.

According to the authors,

Although location and type of search is a factor, users ignore ads unless perceived to be useful in completing their search task. We speculate users continue to exhibit this type of behavior because of the over-saturation of advertisements that tend to clutter the tops and sides of the web page. Would the presence of ads affect the attention to the returned search results? Do users spend more time looking at ads than at entries?

The WPI research asked study participants to search Google for specific keyword phrases. Eye tracking studies were then used to generate heat maps of viewing behavior. Results are shown in Figure 1.

NOTE: I am concerned that the phrases used generated only top of page ads (ads located above the search results). Google also displays ads down the right hand side of the SERP. Those were not included in this study.

Users Do Look at PPC Ads

The good news is this research showed that users do, in fact, look at text-based search engine ads. In this study, 77% of users look at the ads.

The analysis of the heat maps indicated that users looked at the advertisements and the top entries of the SERPs. The fixation patterns for these users appear to favor the top portion of the entries, including the advertisements if present. Users seem to neglect the lower portion of the page, including the numbers listed for the additional pages of results.

We expected all the users to ignore the advertisements generated by Google that were presented in the SERP. However, to our surprise, 77% of the users, who were presented ads, looked at the ads, contradicting the theory of banner blindness.

We discovered that users looked at more entries (entries 1 – 9) when there were no ads, but only six entries (entry 1 – 6) when ads were present. This is consistent with competition for attention theory, suggesting that when ads were present, fewer entries were viewed.

When at least one advertisement was presented, 9% of the subjects clicked on an entry (as opposed to scrolling) as their first action. Nearly 54% of the subjects clicked on an entry as their first action when there were no ads presented. The amount of time it takes for the user to get to their first action (clicking or scrolling) has a significant relationship with the number of ads on the page. As the number of ads decreases, so does the first action duration.

As an interesting side note, even when searching for free products or services, users still look at the PPC ads.

We expected that users who were looking for [the keyword phrase] ‘free screen recording’ would not look at advertisements, because these ads were for paid software products. However, our results showed that the users did look at the ads, although they knew they were required to look for free offerings. We believe that this is good news for marketers, since the ads get attention even at times when users are not necessarily looking for their products. However, our results showed that regardless of the number of ads present, users still only looked at one ad. This highlights the importance of ranking of ads on SERPs.

The problem is that the #1 PPC rank also results in extraneous clicks…clicks that you have to pay for. Some are people who click but didn’t mean to, some are students doing research but have no intention of buying, some are people who misread or misinterpreted your ad, etc.

Btw, what about for the search engines themselves? Obviously they love their advertisers and their ad budgets. Are there any negative implications of having ads run on their SERPs?

Our findings also suggest that the presence of ads had an impact on the number of entries that were viewed following the ads. When ads were present, fewer entries were viewed. This suggests that ads had a negative impact on how deep the search results were examined. This in turn, may result in a negative impact on user experience by discouraging users from fully utilizing the search results presented.

This leads me back to my prior post, “Is Google Making Us Stupid, A Marketer’s Perspective.” As we learn to search and browse through vast amounts of online info, our brains are changing (thanks to their neuroplasticity). We are becoming better at broad but shallow reading vs reading in depth.

Congrats if you make it to the end of this post. Lol

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