Sometimes the easiest way to not only get through the gatekeeper, but to get your prospect’s attention is to deliver the “WOW” factor. See, most gatekeepers see the same emails. They get the same phone calls. You are just one of many, and most are boring.
If you were in their position, what would happen if you received something super personal? Well, I can tell you that almost every FedEx package is opened. Likewise, hand-written notes also receive special attention. They show the recipient that the sender has taken a specific interest and investment in making a contact. When Lead Liaison added the ability to send hand-written notes, many of our clients began to report instant success in reaching audiences that previously ignored them. Success rates went through the roof where competitive environments existed.
Think about it: “Thank you” emails have become so ubiquitous that many people have stopped sending them all together. However, a physical note sits on a desk for hours…days…even weeks! It makes a physical impression, and raises brand awareness, which leads to the one thing you need most in your sale: trust. They’re thinking, “Hey, it’s a real person that cares about my business!”
Unfortunately, legacy Marketing Automation platforms think in solely digital terms and have become email dinosaurs. If you are not already thinking outside of email with your automation strategy, I would highly encourage you to look at an advanced system like Lead Liaison in order to grow some ideas on how you can improve your sell-through rates.
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There isn’t just one key to success for a company, no matter the size. Success is usually a product of persistence, best practices, and even a little (or a lot of) luck. One very important key to success is creating brand awareness. We’ve talked about brand awareness several times on the Lead Liaison blog, but today we’ll be talking about the relationship between social media and brand awareness.
An Argument for Social Media for B2B Companies
I’m sure I don’t need to go into why brand awareness is essential for any company, especially a small-to-medium sized company. When another business has a need that pertains to your line of work, you want that company to think of you immediately. Brand awareness is the result of nurturing and education, both of which can be done via social media in small, easy-to-consume spoonfulls.
Why should B2B companies use social media to promote brand awareness? Example: in my off time, I occasionally (okay – more than occasionally) scroll social media. Even though I’m not “on the clock”, I’m still thinking about to-do lists, and I am aware of what I am consuming. I’ve usually got an even clearer head because I’m in more of a relaxed state of mind. When I see advertisements for tools that I could use at work, it doesn’t make me cringe. It makes me think. During the workday, I’m so busy with tasks and emails that I rarely stop what I’m doing to assess the situation and see if I could be doing anything better or more efficiently. That’s not good – but it’s fact.
What Should Be Different About a B2B Company’s Social Media Efforts?
As with most B2B marketing, it’s more about education than hard selling. Remember, the goal with your social media is brand awareness – not immediate sales. You want to help businesses learn to trust your company’s name as a resource. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be the first company that comes to mind when their need comes to fruition. Because of this, your social media marketing should not focus on selling, but rather on education. Share best practices, tips & tricks, or links to informative articles (yours or others’).
Where Should You Focus?
Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are some of the most active social media sites. However, LinkedIn Groups can be extremely effective for B2B social media marketing, as well as a YouTube channel. As an introvert, I much prefer to skim YouTube videos about a software that I’m interested in purchasing, rather than speak to a salesperson on the phone.
But, it’s not necessarily where you focus your social media efforts. It’s more about how you communicate. A recent study from The MarketingProfs, The State of Social Media Marketing, shows that B2C and B2B social media marketers are mostly using the same social media approach, in terms of which platforms they utilize. The differences instead lie in how social media is used, not which social media are used.
In social media, small companies can act like big ones. Sure, there are paid advertising options for most social media sites. However, the reach is essentially the same, depending on the amount of followers a company has. Because of this, we see that social media activity does not vary much between large and small companies.
Social Media for Brand Awareness
The message is simple. B2B companies should use social media to help educate and nurture members of the marketplace. If done properly, that brand awareness will lead to increased trust, which leads to increased sales. This is a modern strategy for communicating with your potential clients, and it’s time to get on board!
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Digital marketing has leveled the playing field for companies of any size to build awareness. Unfortunately, it has created some unique challenges as well. Whereas an established brand may have carried value for years (or even decades) with traditional media; brands may become stale or erode in a matter of months in the new media environment.
Taking a quick SWAT analysis of branding in a digital environment, we can quickly identify the following opportunities and challenges:
Strengths of Digital Marketing: There’s a low cost/ease of entry. And, you have the ability to reach the world in one “market.”
Weakness: Your competition can create a lot of noise. New entrants can continually challenge your brand position.
Opportunity: A sustained/successful approach to digital branding will generate an influx of qualified leads. Converting such leads should cost a fraction of the cost of traditional media, and traditional sales efforts. The world can become your marketplace!
Threat: If your competitor has a head start on you, it’s hard to catch up to their brand. The greater their lead, the harder it is to overtake their position. Many companies have solutions that can out-compete their competition at every level, but lose opportunities because of their failure to win the branding war.
So What is the Solution?
Each solution is going to be unique to the company that is being advised. What we do know is that nearly 100% of all purchases over $100 will result in some sort of online investigation by the decision maker and influencers. As such, it is important to build your brand with a balanced approach of attraction (ex: PPC/SEO, retargeting, proactive outreach, etc), listening (visitor tracking, data intelligence, surveys, etc), relevant communications/education (targeted email, direct mail, videos, etc), and execution (sales calls, relevant calls to action) and remarketing (effectively supporting and upselling to your existing list of fans and customers).
If you are interested in learning more about how you could build your brand, Lead Liaison is currently offering a free brand analysis to all interested parties. Simply click here to talk to someone about our process and to enroll in the program.
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Five or six years ago, John’s company was already spending money on things like SEO/PPC/Adwords and other affiliate programs to drive people to his website. The website was beautiful, informative and ahead of it’s time. The results however, were abysmal. The company had failed to develop a strong brand message and image.
Then something changed. The company started to develop relationships through on-going content that consistently told a story, tone, and image. People started to equate their messaging as the gold standard in the industry. Within a couple of years, people would call John and feel honored just to be able to talk with him. Just a couple years before, these same people wouldn’t even call him back! So, what changed? Simple: He applied a brand that others were aware of, trusted, and would be top of mind when a need arose.
Oftentimes, companies assume that they are not ready to use marketing automation or brand strategy until they fix their website, improve their traffic issues, or develop an SEO /PPC/Adwords/Retargeting strategy. The reality is that your company cannot afford to wait a single day when it comes to building your brand reputation. Each day that you wait is a day in which you raise the white flag of surrender to your competitors in the battle for the mindshare of your prospects.
Remember this: You can have an effective marketing automation/branding approach without a website… but you can’t have an effective website without a successful and sustainable branding message.
Interested in learning more about how you can build a brand strategy with marketing automation?