MAD Perspectives Blog

Engaging Thoughts on Social Media

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I've been traveling for business and pleasure for the past 2 weeks.  It was a great trip and I reconnected with former colleagues and made new connections.  As I was preparing for a social media workshop with Ivory Europe, an independent strategic communications and experiential agency, and some of their marquee clients I used the internet and social media platforms to gain insight about these clients.  My goal was to facilitate an engaging, interactive discussion about corporate use of social media.

Preparing some slides to guide our conversation was the easy part. Understanding how the participants (a combination of Ivory employees, PR firms representing financial services companies, public sector marketing and employees from leading social media companies) would engage was the challenge. Ivory Europe was kind enough to give me advance notice as to the identities of the possible attendees.  I checked out their company websites to see if they had integrated social networks into their websites. I was surprised to find that only 50% of the sites reflected any kind of social media. I also looked up the individuals on LinkedIn. (Yes, all of them are on LinkedIn). Based on their profiles, I was able to quickly understand who they were, how active they were in using social media and how their backgrounds might influence their participation. Interestingly, there was an intriguing mix of journalism and military service in their prior experiences. 

What did I take away from gaining this insight?  I felt that this was a group of people who understood the value of communicating, but who also would crave structure around the process.
This group was a great audience for me as I constantly emphasize the importance of planning.  I believe in the power of relevant communication.  And let me emphasize the word relevant.  We discussed how and why businesses are using social media, how they get started, where we think it is all going and why certain platforms make more sense for some businesses versus others (see my previous blogs for how to get started and aligning your use of the various platforms).  Our key takeaways from this 5 hour session were:

     1. Planning is critical as it helps to align strategy with business goals
     2. Understanding your brand and its voice is critical for a successful campaign 
     3. Content can be re-purposed, but it must be aligned to audience and goals
     4. Consistency is important to building a following
     5. Listening is the easiest way to get started (and it's addictive!)
     6. Human resource is the biggest obstacle.  There was a clear understanding that being social takes time and finding the right resources within your business to represent your firm is very important.

Depending on the. nature of your business, your implementation of social media will vary.  Whether you are a start-up with an exit strategy to be acquired or a government agency reinforcing policy or an established enterprise planning for a new product launch - social media is an expected element of your integrated marketing strategy. Learning from others and brainstorming internally can lead to a plan that achieves great results. Seek help where you need it (possibly in the planning stage), align resources (make sure they understand your brand and your goals) and get started!

What's your perspective?



B2B Marketing Budgets - Show Me the Money!

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, January 25, 2011

OK.  We're almost one month into the new year.  How's it going for you?  Have you been buried in snow?  Awash in floods?  Bemoaning the loss of budget dollars and resources to pursue effective marketing and communication strategies?  I've been looking at the plethora of data provided by marketing firms such as Marketing Sherpa and Marketing Profs related to B2B marketing budgets for 2011.  Just in case you have not seen their reports or presentations, I'm going to share some highlights.

The good news is - marketing dollars are on the upswing.  Of course, this is an increase after 2 or more years of dramatic cuts, so we're not really back to normal.  But then, what is normal?  The past few years have seen a marked shift from offline marketing to online marketing.  The question is, where is the money being spent and how effective are the different marketing strategies.  The key metric for ALL B2B marketers is Lead Generation. 


Offline marketing activities such as executive breakfasts, PR, tradeshows and insides sales/telemarketing are still big parts of the budget, yet their effectiveness is shifting.  Inside sales is considered one of the most effective strategies for improving the number and quality of leads, yet companies continue to limit the budgets allocated to this valuable effort. At the same time PR budget may be stagnant, but these agencies are increasingly asked to expand their capabilities to include social media.

This leads us to the discussion of online marketing.  This segment is seeing budget increases for 2011.  The key areas for investment are corporate website, search, webinars and social media.  Despite many statements in the past year that social media and Facebook in particular, will displace the need for a corporate website, B2B companies place their website as the fulcrum of their overall online marketing strategy.   This is a smart decision by B2Bs.  Their websites are the validation of themselves as a meaningful, differentiated, competitive business.  Optimizing the website for search, ease of use, availability of relevant content and interactive discussion requires ongoing investment and a cohesive strategy.

Note the topics related to the corporate website.
  
     - Search - this is more than keyword analysis.  This is development of content and web pages that will improve organic search on Google (where 93% of B2B buyers start their research).  This is also social search.  How, when and where are B2B buyers seeking recommendations about the solutions they need.  Are they on LinkedIn?  Twitter?  What terminology do they use to search?

     - Content - There is simply not enough that can be said about creating and delivering the right content at the right time to the right audience.  while the corporate website can become a repository for piles of information, it is important that prospective buyers can find the content they need easily and quickly.  

    - Social Media - Social platforms enable a company to increase their reach.  They allow companies to become more personal.  They also allow companies to understand their customers better.  It is about more than just listening to what their customers are saying.  It's about engaging, resolving, promoting, inciting and inspiring.

    - Webinars - This is the MOST effective online tactic as reported by Marketing Profs.  This is also one of the leading areas for increased online marketing investment.  This technology has become more sophisticated (incorporating social chat, polling and survey capabilities) and more affordable, enabling even the smallest B2B company to inform and educate its target audience.  Bottom line (as I've mentioned repeatedly), video is memorable.

The challenge is to balance your marketing budget across the most effective marketing channels.  Sometimes the less effective channels consume an inordinate amount of budget.  Understanding your customers and where they will be physically or virtually may help justify shifts in budget allocation.  Understanding how your customers are talking about your company will help you develop a content marketing strategy that leverages online and offline channels.  Check out both Marketing Profs and Marketing Sherpa (yes, I'm a member of both groups) to see their 2011 projections and the details that I allude to here.  The online marketing landscape continues to shift and evolve.  Will 2011 be the year for B2B breakthroughs via social media?

What's your perspective?



Influence B2B Buying Decisions with Social Media

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What actions do you take to encourage your customers to make a purchase?

The goal for any company is to drive revenue, manage expenses and earn profits.  Companies employ a variety of strategies to encourage customers to purchase their products or services.  These strategies increasingly incorporate different types of digitial media, from online advertising, SEM and SEO to social media, from online video to video conferencing.  Use of any of these customer centric efforts is to motivate customer action.  The ultimate desired action is for the customer to make a purchase, however, there are many other actions that may lead to that purchase.

Much emphasis is placed by B2B companies on lead or demand generation.  The basic premise is that the larger the funnel of opportunity, the greater the number of closed deals.  However, how does a B2B company inspire action through social media?  B2C companies offer special promotions or discounts to their fans and followers.  B2B companies have not, generally, seen increased sales directly related to limited time offers or discounts.  However, they have seen increased webinar attendance, increased whitepaper downloads and website visits when using social networks to enhance the visibility of the companies' programs.

North Plains, a digital asset management vendor (see North Plains case study), participates in many DAM related LinkedIn Groups.  By promoting their educational webinars in the groups, they increased anticipated attendance at their webinars.  Increased attendance equates to increased awareness and potentially increased sales.

The goal is consider what phase of the sales cycle your audience  is in.  Are they building knowledge?  Are they assessing vendors and options?  Or, are they in the decision making phase?  Aligning your content efforts with these different phases can help drive a desired action.  TechTarget shared the following findings in 2009 as related to IT buyers interest in online content based on stage in the buying process. 



This study provides some interesting insights that can help you target your content efforts to drive the desired action.  It reinforces the need for an integrated marketing strategy that incorporates social media, streaming media, marketing collateral and whitepapers, shared across a combination of your corporate website and social outlets.  It reinforces the need for a strategy that aligns content development efforts with all phases of the buying cycle.  It reinforces the need to understand your customer's needs when creating content to drive a specific action.

Social networks are a relevant source of information.  They can help a potential customer increase his/her knowledge of your company and its products.  They can faciliate community discussions.  They can inform a potential customer on where or how to find more detailed information, but can they actually convince a cusotmer to make a purchase in the B2B space?   In my opinion, the jury is out on this topic at this time.  While there have been many reports indicating that B2B marketers have found success increasing awareness and knowledge, I have not seen clear evidence that shows Twitter or LinkedIn, much less Facebook, are driving significant sales of B2B products and solutions.  Companies such as IBM claim to have sophisticated listening tools to help them uncover leads, however that is not a sale.  Perhaps it's a matter of time.  Perhaps it is dependent of understanding key drivers influencing the buying decision and aligning that understanding with the right social networking.

How well do you know your customers?  Stay tuned for further discussion on this topic.

What's your perspective?



B2B Social Media - just more Push Marketing?

Peggy Dau - Thursday, January 13, 2011

So, it's 2011.  How are your social media efforts working out for you?   2010 was a watershed year for companies adopting social media as a part of their overall marketing strategy.  Large companies, small companies, mid-size companies - they all jumped on board and started tweeting and blogging and posting...and wondered about the benefits. 

Many social media marketing firms talk about the benefits of Pull Marketing over Push Marketing.  Just as a brief reminder, Pull Marketing is the development of content, messaging or ads directing at the end customer who will make a purchase decision.  The content is created to drive an action by the customer to inquire or purchase your product.  On the other hand, Push Marketing is the development of content, messaging or ads directed at a distribution channel or other intermediary that provides your products, with the intent to get them to promote your product on your behalf. 

social media pundits emphasize the benefit of social media marketing in giving companies an opportunity to interact DIRECTLY with their customers.  This means they can implement a greater number of pull marketing strategies.  They can interact with customers to understand their needs, provide discounts and other incentives, not available through other channels,and inpsire action by the customer.  This works reasonably well in the consumer space, but how about the B2B space? I have talked to companies who have offered free software, free iPads, free services to fans or followers, without any meaningful result. Therefore, we could state that Pull marketing does not have the same impact in the B2B space.  And,  I would argue that the implementation of social media by B2B companies is an extension of Push Marketing, rather than an increased use of Pull Marketing.   Is this a problem or is this ok?

Right now, it's probably ok.  Many B2B companies have adopted social media to increase brand awareness, to be perceived as thought leaders, or to address customer service issues.  When we look at the goals for these types of communications, measures of success are not centered around customer action (except for customer service).  To date, measures of success have been about numbers of fans or followers, but not about actual sales. Social media is yet another communication channel through which the company can educate its target market about the company culture, industry trends, product developments.  These companies may sell their products directly or through a distribution channel of some sort.  Regardless of the purchase model, they want to increase knowledge about their products.  They do want to be "top of mind" when potential buyers are defining their requirements and considering potential solutions.  Social Media provides the opportunity to increase the volume of communication.

Social media continues to be one part of an overall marketing strategy.  The focus on a 360 degree integrated strategy is still very important.  I have mentioned before, that it is very important to tailor your story to your audience and the channel through which they hear your story.  While it is reasonable to re-purpose existing content for use through social channels, it is important to remember the origin of these channels.  They are personal.  They are meant to be interactive.  Adapt your social media marketing to reflect the culture and personality of your company.  It's ok for social media to be another push marketing channel, but think about ways to drive meaningful interaction with your customers.  Think about what will have real impact on your business?

I'll be blogging further about inspiring customer action, measurable benefits and meaningful storytelling over the next few weeks.  Stay tuned!

What's your perspective?



The Social DAM

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, July 06, 2010

In this world of all things social, there is a lot of focus on making existing platforms social.  As an example, there have been many discussions about social CRM.  While salesforce.com is considered to be social, traditional systems (i.e., Oracle) are not.  A simple definition of social CRM is “having a discussion when, where and how the customer wants it.”  Coming from a world of digital media, should we be talking about Social Digital Asset Management (DAM) systems? Should users be able to access or provide digital assets when, where and how they want?   Is this an oxymoron or redundant?  Let’s review what functions a DAM system performs.

DAM systems evolved to address the challenges facing organizations who manage a variety of digital assets.  In an enterprise business, these assets would traditionally be managed by the marketing department.  They would include corporate logos & images.  If anyone outside of the marketing department needed these images, for any reason, they needed to go through the marketing department to gain access to these assets.  This could be a slow process with many bottlenecks.

Digital Asset Management systems evolved to provide a central repository for digital assets.  As these assets have evolved beyond static images into rich media assets incorporating audio and video, DAM systems became more elegant in how they addressed issues of tagging, metadata, taxonomy, ontology and overall semantics.  DAM systems, by necessity, must be easily integrated with other systems such as editing, transcoding, storage, digital rights and distribution.

Today, DAM systems are accessible by users across the enterprise, whenever they want.  Marketing may own the responsibility for establishing a corporate wide policy for tagging, metadata, etc., but groups such as sales, engineering, product management have access to the company’s digital media assets.  There is still separation between producers and consumers.  Does providing access make the system social?  Or does it become social when those same groups can become producers and contribute their own content and assets? 

Perhaps a DAM system with the ability to annotate, rank and comment on these assets makes it social within the enterprise.  Or, perhaps it’s the option for online, interactive communication that facilitates effective collaboration.  System features now enable users to rank assets or for managers to understand how many times an asset is viewed partly or in full. DAM systems providethe intelligence and elements of social platforms.  DAM systems continue to evolve and incorporate features that feel social.  Perhaps they are already social as these capabilities are core components of many social sites and platforms.

The ability for a DAM system to accept and manage user generated content (UGC) is increasingly important.  If companies recognize the social web as a relevant content distribution outlet, they may also need to consider it as a source of content input.  The DAM system can become more social by enabling content upload and the assignment of relevant tags, metadata by establishing and automating a standard taxonomy and ontology.  Thus the DAM enables users to access all digital media assets for the company, when, where and how they like.

Are you accessing your companies DAM system?  Does it feel social to you?  If so, why?  If not, what would make it more social?

What's your perspective?



6 Tips for B2B Blogging

Peggy Dau - Monday, June 21, 2010

Many companies recognize the potential value of blogging, but struggle to organize their thoughts and the actual writing of the blog.  Subsequently, the blogs imply doesn't happen.  Yet, according to the Business.com 2009 B2B Social Media Marketing Study, 74% of companies surveyed maintain one or more blogs.  What are all these companies blogging about? And, how do they manage it?

When I look at companies or sites who are blogging regularly and considered leaders in their industry, I've learned the following:

     1. Empower Your Employees - Encourage your employees to blog and share their insights, their smarts, their personalities.  Invite employees from different business groups to write about what's going on the industry.  They will have unique perspectives given the groups they represent (i.e., marketing, sales, engineering, R&D, support).  Their perspectives will be interesting to your current and prospective customers.

     2. Share Your Policy - Many companies will be concerned with giving their employees a public voice.  This is where establishing a policy will alleviate many concerns.  The policy is basical the rules of engagement for your employees...and for your customers.  It should provide guidance to your employees about what is acceptable or unacceptable blogging behavior.  By sharing your policy publically, your customers will know what to expect when engaging with your blogs.  Here are some examples from HP, IBM, SAP and Intel.  My thanks to the high tech community for being so open about their policies!

     3. Enable Comments - Invite and encourage readers to comment!  Comments are what make blogs interactive.  They enable the conversation.  They provide you, the company, with honest, candid, immediate feedback.  It may be supportive, discouraging, antagonistic or enthusiastic.  Aside from concerns about foul language, do not disable comments for fear of negative comments.  common sense must be employed to determine the best approach to addressing negativity, but that negativity can have positive results.

     4. Invite Guest Contributors - Every industry has its pundits.  They exist in the form of analysts, columnists, technologists and executives.  Inviting these thought leaders to contribute to your blog can bring a new perspective to a hot topic, insight to emerging trends and clarity to industry debates.  Your alignment (or lack thereof) with these pundits may attract new readers to your blog.
 
     5. Establish an Editorial Calendar - Creating a plan can simplify the effort associated with managing and writing blogs.  While it is often useful to allow the blog to just "happen" in response to industry trends or to incite new discussion, it is also beneficial for it to reinforce annoucnements or events.  Laying out the calendar will help define the need for content or resources, and give you time to fill that need.

     6. Be Interesting - This is most important.  Think about what you would want to read.  What kind of information are you seeking that only a blog can fulfill?  A blog is not a product or press release, allow your personality to shine through.  As always when thinking social, be transparent and authentic.

What companies or blogs did I check out when thinking about this blog?  After 25 years in high tech, I folow blogs from the companies reference above.  However, I also check in with Marriott, Nike, and Whole Foods.  With my focus in digital/social media, I read streamingmedia.com, Mashable, Social Media TodaySmart Blog on Social Media and more.

Does your company blog?  What's your blogging experience?  I'd love to hear the good and the bad!

What's your perspective?




Key Learnings from Marketing Profs B2B Forum 2010

Peggy Dau - Thursday, May 06, 2010

IMG_2522 by MarketingProfs Live.


I attended Marketing Profs B2B Forum 2010 in Boston this week.  For anyone seeking new ideas, validation, case studies, real life examples on how B2B companies are integrating social media into their overall marketing strategy - this is the event to attend!  (note:  I am not paid or in any way compensated by Marketing Profs).  While the event focuses on all aspects of B2B marketing (lead management/generation, SEO, Pipeline management, conversion rates, social media), I was most interested in the social media and content publishing topics.

The sessions were all led & hosted by B2B marketeers sharing their real life experiences.  Some key takeaways:

    - Align your social media strategy with your overall marketing strategy.  You've likely invested in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and defined keywords.  Incorporate those keywords into your social communication.  Align your overall editorial calendar.

    - Think about who your customers are and how they consume content. Do they want to read a detailed whitepaper or do they want a high level overview?   What part of the buying process are they in as they seek, access and consume content?

    - How do you track success of your marketing programs?  Do you invite feedback from your sales team and customers about the value of the content you  provide?

    - Think about how you can repurpose existing content into social media channels (i.e., blogs, tweets, slideshare, video).

    - Gain some insight into your company's social reputation as you define your strategy.  Who is mentioning your company or products online?  What and where are the sharing their thoughts?  Who are the key influencers in your industry and do they mention your company?

Humans are social.  Your employees are human. Ergo, your employees are social at least at a personal level.  They may enjoy being social, within company defined guidelines, on behalf of the company.  As a result you may learn more about external perceptions of your company that may help you refine your marketing strategy, communicate more effectively and positively influence the buying process.

The bottom line is that business buyers are investigating solutions to their business problems online, before they engage in active discussion with your sales team.   Your company has the opportunity to influence buyers via a wide variety of distribution channels.  Know your customer.  Know what content they need, when & where.  Adopt the right tools for the right conversation.

What's your perspective? 

 



What was Hot or Not at NAB 2010?

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, April 21, 2010




I went to the NAB show in Las Vegas last week.  My reasons were twofold.  Reason #1 was to see what's new and intriguing in the technology addressing the broadcast and studio markets.  It is always exciting to see what's going on in this industry and as you can imagine, the buzz word was 3D!  In addition, there is a lot of attention being paid to multi-screen content consumption and how to enhance the online viewer experience.  As often happens, sports is the target market for a lot of the enhancements that will soon be available for online video.  ESPN has been a leader in how they incorporate technology into the viewing experience and many small vendors are uniquely focused on making the online experience as interesting and compelling as the living room experience.  Pay attention as local sports comes online.  By local, I mean the town little league teams or soccer/football teams.  It's exciting and accessible!

Why is this relevant for MAD Perspectives?  Well, what happens in the M&E space usually is adapted, in some way, by other industries.  while the demands from M&E are quite high, companies in healthcare, manufacturing, green tech, oil & gas and other industries are using video more frequently in their messaging and communication strategies.  In addition, video or imaging is increasingly a core part of their information gathering or business process.  Understanding where video trends are heading, can help these industries provide enriched services.  Imagine the benefits of 3D medical imagery!

What are some of the key things I learned?

-enabling multi-platform content consumption is HUGE (manage, encode, transude, protect, distribute, display)

- encoding bitrates have made big improvements (meaning, less bandwidth required for delivery of MPEG2, SD and HD content)

- telcos are FINALLY enabling CDN services (why let Akamai have all the fun?)

- 3D is super hot (and you shouldn't try to make a project if it wasn't shot that away originally, quality does matter)

- camera prices are decreasing, meaning UGC (user generated content) quality will improve


Reason #2 for heading out to Vegas was to check in with the myriad of vendors with whom I have relationships based on my past life at Hewlett-Packard.  I was interested to see what new products they had to offer but also to understand why they don't leverage digital media more effectively in the way they tell their story online.  These are vendors who live in the digital media market.  Their solutions focus on every nuance of the moving image, yet only a few of them tweet, blog or even use video on their websites.  These companies have interesting and compelling stories about how they have solved problems of encoding, content management, broadcast automation, storage, asset management, content distribution and more.  They understand the power of video.  They understand the importance of personal relationships.  Yet, they haven't "crossed the chasm" to utilize various digital media solutions available to them to make their stories come alive.

I think the challenge for many of these companies is the understanding of how to leverage social media, in particular, in a B2B market.  We all understand social media as a person to person medium and have even seen the benefits in B2C markets.  Yet, B2B lags behind.  This is primarily due to:

- lack of time and resource - many companies have thinned their marketing staffs and are concerned about the time it may take to tweet or blog

- risk management - companies fear employees misrepresenting the company, sharing confidential information, or exposing compone networks to viruses

- traditional marketing mindset - these companies are still in a push marketing mode where they control the message

I believe we will see a shift in B2B adoption of digital media to tell their story as we move through the next couple years.  The economy is slowly turning, as evidenced by the increased attendance at NAB this year vs. 2009.  I think we are also seeing other indicators (i.e., strong earnings reports, flat unemployment, upward movement in the stock market).

Yes, it takes time to define a digital media strategy.  However, your customers are spending more time online researching, learning and comparing solutions.  You need to be memorable and share your story in a meaningful way.  You need to reach out to your customers via the channels that they use (and the "millennials" are visual and social). 

What's your perspective?



What is Digital Media? You use it Every Day!

Peggy Dau - Thursday, March 25, 2010

MAD Perspectives' charter is to help companies define and plan their digital media strategy.  But, I often am greeted with quizzical looks.  These looks are that individual's request for further definition about my business.  Their primary question is, what is digital media?!  Interestingly, this is a term that has been around for quite some time, but with new buzz words emerging every day, it is no wonder that this term has been lost in the shuffle.  Let me take a few minutes to share my opinion on what digital media is and how it can help you and your business (btw, you use digital media every day!).

Digital Media is an amalgamation of tools that allow us to communicate, electronically, using text, images, audio and video.  These tools include software, hardware and hosted platforms to create, edit, store, manage, deliver, protect and distribute digital content.  These tools allow individuals and companies to connect, collaborate and communicate for fun or for business.  Let's explore a bit more.

The term digital media is the result of the marriage of technology and creative arts.  It is the digitization of compelling content (i.e., pictures, graphics, audio or video) for distribution across a network.   It is assumed that these are not analog radio or tv networks, but IP (or some evolution there of) networks.  As the internet became commonplace and networks became more sophisticated, businesses and consumers alike, eagerly consumed online content.  We looked forward to the old AOL message "You've Got Mail".  We took email a step further and started attaching files, pictures and video.  Digital media made the world seem a little bit smaller.

Websites evolved from static, brochure-like pages of information to interactive destinations that enabled consumers to post opinions, share recommendations and download information.  Depending on the site, we could watch video.  I remember watching clips from the 2003 World Series between my NY Yankees and the Florida Marlins (yeah, the Yankees lost, sigh!) on a PC while I was traveling in Europe.  Performance was sketchy at best, but it was awesome to be able to see at least a little bit of the game.

Technology has advanced.  Forget the arguments over formats, codecs, bitrates, bandwidth, editing suites, platforms, etc. They can all be sorted out.  Now, we take online video for granted.  In some cases we still have high expectations for video quality, but YouTube has taught us that quality may not always be the primary concern.  Many business websites incorporate video, flash or animation to augment their story.  User-generated content is de-rigueur for consumer sites and broadcast television.  Our perspectives, our thoughts and our images are all part of the story, regardless of whether it is entertainment, news, B2B or consumer oriented.  We do this via online video, social media, web conferencing, video conferencing or interactive marketing.  This is digital media.

Digital Media is our ability to share information, images, pictures, presentations, videos, animations about our companies, our products, ourselves while we are online, regardless of network or device.  What's your strategy for using digital media to tell your story?

What's your perspective?




Developing a 360º Perspective

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, February 16, 2010

As I was watching the women’s mogul skiing competition at the Winter Olympics on Saturday, I saw how they bounced down the moguls, taking great care to maintain the correct form.  Then they would flip head over heels with in layout positions or skis crossed or spin 360º, only to land and ski through more bumps.  I thought about how companies struggle to integrate digital media solutions into a 360º interaction with customers.  What do I mean by this?  I’m thinking about how companies reach out to their customers or business partners via their website, press releases, events, in-person or online training or customer support.  There are new solutions for managing your access to or accessibility by customers, emerging every day.

Does digital media make this easier?  Harder?  Or just more confusing?  Hopefully it makes it easier, but it does require some thinking on several topics.  First, think about who your customers are and how they prefer to consume content.  While face to face meetings are always preferred, depending on the information being shared it can be equally effective, and less costly, to reach a geographically dispersed or broad range of customers through live and on-demand webinars.  What level of interaction do they prefer?  While some webinar solution allow for instant messaging or audio interaction, others don’t.  Or, perhaps a webinar is too broad and complementing in person meetings with video conferencing makes more sense.

Second, think about the kind of information you are sharing.  We have been in the mode of pushing content, through formal, relatively static channels, to our customer and business partners.  With the variety of solutions now available, we are increasingly sharing content in a more casual manner.   How can the information being shared be best presented?  A simple, concise press release can inform a very wide audience, but does not allow for interaction.  On the other hand, using social networking platforms, to reinforce the press release and listen for feedback, does enable interaction.  The goal is to strike a balance across the variety of communication channels. 



Simplistically, you can consider the following
         
  •  Company website:  informative content about your company and its products
  • Press Release:  announce compelling news about your company, its products, partnerships, customers or   executives   
  • Interactive Marketing:  online advertising and promotion of your company
  • Online Video:  one way communication of information about your company and its products
  • Webinars:  communicate targeted content about the company and its products with the ability for structured   interaction between the presenter(s) and participants
  • Video conferencing:  live interaction between a defined set of participants; enable geographically dispersed participants to meet more frequently
  • Events:  targeted representation of your company and its products based on the focus of the event; enable face to face contact
  • Social Networking:  less formal communication with a broad audience with the ability for immediate feedback

    • How do you connect with your customers and partners? Who and where are they?  Where are your competitors and how are they connecting?   How does each element of a communication strategy enable you to connect or collaborate more effectively?  Think about developing a strategy to allow your customers or partners to get a 360º perspective of your business.  In return, you will gain a 360º view of your customers and their needs.
    • What’s your perspective?

     




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