Suzanne Vranica’s article “On Madison Avenue, A Digital Wake-Up Call” in today’s Wall Street Journal (page B4) highlights how critical it is for today’s ad agencies to understand and embrace digital media.
Nike has worked with the brilliant creative agency Wieden + Kennedy since 1982. Their founders have a longstanding close relationship.
Yet Nike needs more than terrific traditional campaigns. They need to take full advantage of the internet and build a cohesive online strategy to reach their target audience, build their brand, foster their community and drive sales.
Apparantly Wieden didn’t prioritize online marketing to the degree Nike needed. And so earlier this month, Nike announced that they’ll move their interactive assignments elsewhere.
This wakeup call about online expertise isn’t just for big consumer ad agencies. B2B marketers, consultants and agencies should pay attention as well.
After all, B2B marketing budgets are on the rise. Veronis Suhler Stevenson forecasts that B2B online spending will reach $2.4 billion this year, a 23.7% jump. And a BtoB Online report says that marketers plan to spend those budgets on customer acquisition (62.3%), brand awareness (19.5%) and customer retention (11.0%).
Many large B2B companies understand that the internet has fundamentally changed selling. They use the web to provide prospects with the information they need, when they need it, to make a buying decision. And their web strategies include lead generation, brand building, sales support and customer retention.
You don’t need to panic if you don’t have an integrated digital media plan in place. Most small to medium sized B2B companies don’t. A standard website, some occasional email blasts and a few paid search campaigns is often the norm for many companies between $50 MM and $250 MM in revenue.
But it’s time to start leveraging the power of the internet in your marketing mix. Start learning about these opportunities and incorporating them now — they’re only going to become more important with each passing quarter.
Here are 9 tips to get you started:
1. If you use a marketing agency or consultant, really learn about their online (aka “interactive”) expertise. Many agencies are scrambling to add this expertise to their offerings, and many have a long way to go.
2. Get smart about online opportunities. Start using more web services, read online marketing blogs and pay attention to what other firms in your industry and outside it are doing online.
3. If you’re a B2B consultant or agency, trumpet your interactive expertise and show clients how you can truly help them build their business. You should be able to execute a cohesive internet strategy including robust web development, paid search, organic SEO, email marketing, content offerings, blogging and social media, online publicity, and online ad buys. And make sure to fully integrate these tactics with your clients’ traditional campaigns.
4. Make sure your website conveys your brand. Ten years ago it was all about your corporate brochure. Now it’s all about your website. What impression does yours leave? If you’re not sure, take an informal poll and match it to your brand personality traits. If they don’t match, revamp your site.
5. And make sure your website sells. Everyone reviews websites before engaging in a sales process. Make sure your site gives prospects the information they want and need at each stage of your sales process.
6. Help prospects find you. To show up in search engine listings, offer rich content on your site and launch an ongoing search engine optimization program that includes link-building, content strategy and on-page optimization techniques.
7. Consider paid search campaigns. If your website is effective at generating qualified leads for your product or service, test some Google Adwords campaigns to generate more targeted business traffic. Consider creating a white paper or valuable report to generate qualified leads, or promote a special offer directly in your campaign. Don’t forget to create specific landing pages to grab attention and hold the traffic you’ve just paid for.
8. Improve your email marketing. Many B2B companies just use email to send out one-way sales messages instead of engaging prospects in an interactive, meaningful dialogue. When done well, your email campaigns can truly help move prospects through the sales process, making reps more efficient and reducing costs. You can also use email to upsell and cross-sell to existing customers.
9. Learn more about online advertising. As more and more industry journals and publications move online, online advertising becomes more effective and important. Make sure to use landing pages to continue your call-to-action and ensure that response turn into qualified leads.
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