Can't decide what to get Dad for Fathers' Day?
Are you a father who wants to drop a hint to your family?
Here is the perfect gift. (Awesomeness in a box).
Learn from Tim about how to create a video like this for your company.
Can't decide what to get Dad for Fathers' Day?
Are you a father who wants to drop a hint to your family?
Here is the perfect gift. (Awesomeness in a box).
Learn from Tim about how to create a video like this for your company.
The Boeing Company recently launched a completely new approach to the Web.
The dramatic shift in direction brings what was a dull technology and product focused site to one focused on brand journalism, with interesting stories about people.
Brand journalism is the creation of videos, blog posts, photos, charts, graphs, essays, ebooks, and other information that deliver value to your marketplace. Brand Journalism is not a product pitch. It is not an advertorial. It is not an egotistical spewing of gobbledygook-laden, stock-photo enhanced corporate drivel.
The new Boeing site does an excellent job at putting a human (and canine) face on the company.
One of the featured stories as I write this is Rocky earns his rest, about a Belgian Malinois, who served for 56 "dog years" as a Boeing explosive detection dog.
"Rocky's story is unusual and we never would have used him on the site before," Todd Blecher, Communications Director, at The Boeing Co tells me. "Now on our site we show there are real people who work in the company. And we are willing to talk about them even if they are a dog."
Humanizing a giant company
Todd heads up the editorial team at Boeing, gathering story ideas from all over the company. An interesting aspect of the brand journalism approach now used at Boeing is that each of the stories carries a byline of the person who wrote it.
"The bylines are another way that we humanize the stories," Todd says.
I particularly liked Freezin' in Florida, about testing the 787 Dreamliner in the largest refrigerated hangar in the world. The hangar simulates temperatures as low as minus 65 degrees Fahrenheit or as high as 165 degrees Fahrenheit. There is a fascinating two-minute video of the very, very cold airplane featuring the people who are testing it.
"Rather than have a standard news release that describes testing, we take you inside the hanger to actually show what people have to do to freeze the airplane," Todd says. "No airplane comes together without the people who work on it. Now we're talking about our technology from the perspective of the people."
This is a terrific example of brand journalism from a company whose products I fly in almost every week.
I'll be keeping an eye on the site and look forward to watch what comes next.
Rocky photo by Boeing’s Marian Lockhart
But get this - my family has been in college shopping mode for three years!
It started when my daughter entered high school. Nearly three years ago, she started to get interested in the process of choosing and applying to schools and soon after started her research on specific colleges and universities. She spent time checking out college Web sites and we’ve visited around a dozen campuses so far.
Now she's on the mailing list of dozens of colleges and they send her materials by both email and physical mail. Plus she’s now getting unsolicited direct mail offers because her name is on various databases due to the standardized tests she has taken.
This all happened years before applications are due.
By the time we actually choose a school in early 2011, it will have been a four-year sales process.
This got me thinking about products and services with very long sales cycles. Many B2B offerings have sales cycles measured in months and years.
So what does a long sales cycle mean for how you create online content?
The college Web site is often the ﬁrst place that a student comes into contact with the college. Because students visit years before the application process the site must cater to an audience of young teenagers who won't be ready to apply for admission for three or four years.
Creating appropriate content to develop a lasting relationship over a long sales cycle is possible only when an organization knows the buyer personas well and understands the sales process in detail. The college must provide high school students with appropriate content so they get a sense of what college life would be like if they were to attend and what the admission process entails.
Many marketers make the mistake of assuming that all visitors are ready to buy right away. (The auto industry is my favorite example of this flawed strategy because most automaker sites are only about selling cars, not educating consumers).
Effective Web marketers take Web site visitors' buying cycle into account when creating content and organizing it on the site.
People in the early stages of the sales cycle need valuable information that help them. This content should be easy to find from the home page.
Soon after the basics are solved, buyers look for content (videos, ebooks, blogs) detailing the ways that your organization solves problems for them.
Those further along in the process want to compare products and services, so they need detailed information about the benefits of your offerings. A great way to do this is by showcasing satisfied customers and letting them speak for you.
And when buyers are ready to whip out their credit cards for smaller purchases (or mortgage the house for four years of college), they need easy-to-use mechanisms linked directly from the content so they can quickly finish the purchase (or donation, subscription, and so on).
A focus on understanding buyers and the sales cycle and developing appropriate content that links visitors through the cycle to the point of purchase is essential for a great site.
Do you have an example of using web content to market a product or service with a long sales cycle?
Image credit: Shutterstock / doodle
How do you market your company, products, and services?
Are you sitting around your comfortable offices with your colleagues just making stuff up? Or do you really understand your buyer personas and what problems they have that you can solve?
I share my thoughts on making "stuff" up in this short video.
Thanks to Stacy Melillo Spognardi at Cisco for asking the question that prompted this answer. I spoke with Stacy in my office (yes that's my junk you see in the background of the video).
The six-part series resulting from our discussions called “Social Media Marketing for Telcos” will be posted on the Cisco SP360: Service Provider blog over the next several weeks.
Disclosure: I have done work for Cisco including speaking at several Cisco conferences.
Most B2B communications is dry and boring. Most B2B content offers send buyers to a squeeze page requiring an email address. As a result most buyers just can’t be bothered.
I really enjoy when I find a B2B ebook that surprises me by its originality. Here's one from CareerBuilder. Once you get to the landing page, you can punch that big, sweet Download Now button to get the ebook right away.
The purpose of this eBook is to teach HR people the tips and tricks for easier, faster and more effective resume database search so they can find that perfect candidate.
Have you got a great B2B ebook to share?
Thanks to Jason Ferrara for sending me this.
Back in June, I keynoted the Business Marketing Association annual conference.
Fortunately, the BMA made a video of my presentation and gave me permission to put it onto Vimeo.
This 45-minute keynote presentation The New Rules of Marketing & PR for B2B Businesses is the first time my entire keynote for a B2B audience has been made available in this way. After the keynote, I answer a few questions for another ten minutes.
I hope you can find time to watch.
Gary Slack, BMA Chairman says of this presentation:
"David delivers! That's why we've invited him back to speak to "ENGAGE!," the Business Marketing Association’s 2010 national conference June 2-4 in Chicago. As one of 12 keynoters, David kicked off our 2009 "UNlearn" conference and mesmerized 450 business marketers from 27 states, earning the #1 speaker rating in our post-conference survey from among 55 keynoters and panelists in all, no small feat when you consider the many top marketers and authors who graced our podium."
I'm psyched that the BMA has invited me back next year. Information on the 2010 BMA event here.
Robert Scoble emerging out of Microsoft is a good example. Robert was the first person to put a human face on Microsoft (other than Bill Gates). As a result of Robert's blog and videos, we were able to get insight into Microsoft that was impossible before.
But how much of the "fame" is the brilliance of individual? And how much is based on the existing brand equity of the company they work for? I was thinking of this question while reading the comments in my post from last week Colin Warwick shows how a B2B company makes the first page on Google. Colin has done a great job of personal branding with his signal integrity blog.
Of course, this is a question that’s impossible to answer with certainty. But we can look at it from a few angles.
Robert Scoble became famous as "the Microsoft blogger." But he remains popular today, several years after leaving Microsoft, because he is still at it – creating content online that people are eager to consume. Robert remains popular because of his blog, Twitter feed, videos, and appearances.
What about the Wall Street firms and the superstar traders who work there? If you are a trader at Solomon Brothers or Morgan Stanley and you're trading a book worth a billion dollars of your firm's capital and all of your trades are backed by your famous firm's reputation in the market, are you worth ten million a year in compensation? And consider this: Can that very same trader make ten million a year on their own or at a much less famous firm?
Marshall Kirkpatrick Why Jeremiah Owyang is leaving Forrester Research
Jay Deragon Why do they leave Forrester?
So I wonder this: How much of Charlene's and Jeremiah’s online fame is a result of their personal efforts via blogs, twitter and the like? And how much because of the Forrester name and the cachet that brings?
Charlene is building the next phase of her career as an independent and she's blogging, speaking and writing a new book (which sounds interesting – read about it on her blog). She seems to be making the transition just like Robert did. (Jeremiah has yet to announce his next career move. But I suspect that he'll make the transition successfully like Robert and Charlene.)
Lots of Forrester analysts (and those form other firms like Gartner) have reached celebrity status and then left over the years. But many of them find it is tough going when they do not have the famous firm behind them.
Can you still book keynote speaking gigs with "former" in front of the analyst firm in your bio? Will you still get published? Will people still love you?
And what happens to the firm when the stars leave?
Quick quiz: Name a Microsoft blogger.
Star image: Elaine Barker / Shutterstock
Colin Warwick, Signal Integrity Product Manager in the EDA Design & Simulation Software division of Agilent Technologies, is responsible for marketing software to help engineers overcome limitations in high speed digital connections.
As he was working on his marketing plans, he came to the realization that traditional business-to-business marketing like tradeshows are expensive and increasingly ineffective. He also understands the importance of the search engines for his business.
"Everyone understands Google," Colin says. "Everybody can instantly see when you enter a phrase into Google if your competitors come up and you don’t or vice versa."
The most important search term for Colin's products is signal integrity, and Agilent product information was coming up on the fifth page of results, clearly not ideal. So Colin set out to make Agilent appear at the top of the search results.
But unlike many organizations that use SEO techniques to try to creep up a few spaces in the results, Colin started writing a signal integrity blog.
Everything from the name of the blog and the URL to the excellent content was designed to appeal to the buyer personas interested in this topic and to drive solid search engine rankings.
"There are only 50,000 signal integrity engineers in the entire world and our average sale is about $10,000 with a six-month sales cycle," Colin says. "While the competitors show their brochures, we have a valuable blog. It helps a great deal to have such valuable information, both for search engine results and in the selling process."
The results have been very encouraging. "Many customers say that they like the blog and our salespeople tell prospects about it," Colin says. "Having a blog allows me to be spontaneous. For example, I can put diagrams up very quickly and let people know valuable information. If we needed to put content on the corporate site, it would take 3 days. With the blog I can get into a conversation in just five minutes."
So what about the Google search results? On Google, for the phrase signal integrity Colin’s blog is now on the first page of results (number five position when I checked).
"Prior to starting my blog, the company products page was ranked number 44 on Google," Colin says. "That’s a huge improvement."
But there are many added benefits to having a blog that took Colin by surprise.
"Trade magazine journalists read the blog and they include links to it in their blog rolls and I am making great web connections," he says. "For example, I asked Paul Rako, an important journalist at EDN, to moderate a panel for me and he did because he knows me from the blog."
Fundamentals of B2B marketing don't.
I keynoted the Business Marketing Association's 2009 “UnLearn” national conference in Chicago last month.
Just prior to my gig was a live staging of McGraw-Hill's classic 1950s "Man in the Chair" ad. Fortunately it was captured on video because it is terrific. (Tough act to follow!)
It's fascinating how the fundamentals of business-to-business marketing are the same today as they were 50 years ago. It's still about relationships although today we have new tools and techniques at our disposal.
Direct link to the video on YouTube here.
Times change. Markets change. Technologies change. Fundamentals don't.
How are you changing? How are you staying the same?
This is a long post detailing my analysis of 12 speakers bureau websites. While it will be of tremendous interest to people who work at speakers bureaus (particularly the ones I profiled), this analysis should also be valuable to any B2B marketers in a service business.
Earlier this week, I delivered a special presentation at the Convention Industry Council annual CMP Conclave in San Antonio. The 200 or so people in the audience were professional meeting planners who frequently book professional speakers like me for the events that they organize.
After my speech and later at the cocktail reception, I had an opportunity chat with several dozen meeting planners, and I asked many how they use speaker bureaus (specifically the bureau websites) in their job.
I was doing classic buyer persona research to understand how the buyers of speaker services (the meeting planners) make decisions. Based on the buyer persona research (what the meeting planners told me), I have analyzed and ranked the top speaker bureau websites and provided specific recommendations for improvement for each.
What the meeting planners said
The themes that came through in my discussions with the meeting planners are that they want websites to be more than just a database of speakers. In particular, they wanted the bureaus to tell them something they didn’t already know. The meeting planners said there are many places to book a speaker when you already know who you want to hire, but very few places to have someone provide valuable suggestions when you don’t know who you want to speak.
The meeting planners said the speakers bureau websites were mostly boring and were interchangeable. They said that the sites make it seem like this is a commodity product. When I looked at the sites, I found that was generally true. However the bureaus at the top of my rankings were excellent.
All the sites I looked at had the database approach front and center, and nearly all talked about how they are "focused on you, the client" (or words to that effect).
One meeting planner said: "What makes your bureau and site different? And it isn't your 'client focus' because everyone says that." (ouch).
Site analysis methodology
A) I chose the 12 speakers bureaus to analyze by going to Google and typing in "speakers bureau." I chose the top 8 listings in the natural search results and the top 4 in the paid Google AdWords sponsored links results at the time I looked.
B) I did a several minute gut check on each bureau website as if I were evaluating bureaus based on the site alone. The short time I devoted for each site (exactly as a potential client might evaluate) meant that the homepage was critical and the main links from the homepage were important.
C) Since every bureau has a speaker database, I was looking for what else was there to set that bureau apart. Did the bureau make it easy to browse? Were there recommendations? Any surprises? Was there a "wow factor"?
D) I looked for bureaus that are active in social media networks like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. (Note that if there wasn't a link from the homepage, I may have missed it.)
E) I ranked the bureaus in rough order. Note that bureaus near one another in rank were very close and are basically interchangeable.
F) To be helpful to those people who work in the bureaus who read this post, I have provided a specific recommendation or two for improvement for each site.
Disclosure: I am a professional marketing speaker and have been booked by many of the speaker bureaus listed here. My evaluations were made on the sites alone and not my experience with the bureaus nor any specific feedback on individual sites from the meeting planners.
Speakers Bureau Website Analysis
1) Speakers Spotlight site
This is a great site. There is tons of valuable information starting with the Speaker Buzz blog. I really like that as each speakers' image comes up on the homepage, there is one word to describe that speaker. Words like "Courageous," "Passionate," and "Visionary" help meeting planners to immediately grasp the essence of the speaker.
WHAT'S COOL: OMG – I really like the Speakers' Bookshelf. As an author and a speaker, I am keenly aware of the direct link between a speakers writing and their speeches. As an aside, Speakers Spotlight is based in Canada and Canada is cool in many ways.
RECOMMENDATION: I'd love to see you add some of your own expertise to the "Browse a Speaker" section. Who do you recommend and why?
2) American Program Bureau site
This is a very well done site with an interesting "This week at APB" section detailing information about speakers. I very much like how the featured speakers (such as Alan Alda, Bob Geldof, and Mikhail Gorbachev) are highlighted on the home page.
WHAT'S COOL: This is by far the most social media savvy speakers bureau I checked out. I love that APB has an active blog Speaking of a Speaker, is on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and the social media sites and the links are available right on the homepage.
RECOMMENDATION: It was impossible to find the APB twitter ID and blog URL via Google search for American Program Bureau. The reason is that sometimes the company calls itself APBSpeakers and sometimes American Program Bureau. The bureau should go with one name throughout and make sure the other is in the description for Google to find.
3) The Lavin Agency site
By far, the Lavin Agency does the best job in helping event planners browse for a speaker. It is incredibly intuitive. When you mouse over "I have a pretty good idea of who I'm looking for" / "I'm looking for someone to speak about a specific topic or industry" / "I'm looking for the latest, the greatest, the hottest, the hippest speaker" it is simple to find what you're looking for.
WHAT'S COOL: The tools for browsing are terrific.
RECOMMENDATION: I'd like to see Lavin humanize themselves a bit more on the site. Who works there? There is a message from the president of the agency, which is good, but why not shoot a video from the president instead?
4) Big Speak site
I like that Big Speak lists some of their big corporate client logos on the home page. That says to potential buyers that they are big.
WHAT’S COOL: The For Meeting Planners tab has valuable information about booking speakers, working with a bureau, how to promote the speaker, and speakers bureau FAQ. This is really good stuff.
RECOMMENDATION: Take the great content in the meeting planners tips section and re-purpose it into an ebook like my ebook The New Rules of Viral Marketing that you offer on the homepage as well as use to create a world wide rave viral phenomenon.
5) Premiere Speakers Bureau site
Premiere Speakers Bureau has some intriguing news and blog posts on the right side of the homepage. I was drawn to this because it was different from the other sites I have reviewed. While really interesting, the news was confusing because some posts were news about the speakers PSB represent (such as a TV appearance), some seemed to be written by the speakers, and some were valuable advice for buyers written by PSB people (like Top 10 tips for finding the right speakers). I noticed that all of the most popular posts were ones that PSB staff wrote
WHAT'S COOL: The blog, which generates the newsfeed.
RECOMMENDATION: The blog posts need much better categorization so that it becomes instantly clear what each post is about. You might consider two blogs, one about your speakers and one providing valuable advice on meeting planning for your clients. If you stick with one blog, consider color coding the posts or having a simple and intuitive category code.
6) Washington Speakers Bureau site
WHAT'S COOL: It is certainly cool to be ranked number one on Google for the term "speakers bureau." I also love that WSB is booking gigs for Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger of US Airways landing in the Hudson fame.
RECOMMENDATION: The site is built with the "Nobody ever got fired for going with Washington Speakers Bureau" mentality. Can WSB afford to just make do with a basic (but pretty) site much longer? The nice interactive brochure approach is dated. I'd worry about sitting at the top of the heap without an interesting and content rich site. Just ask GM where that got them…
7) AEI Speakers Bureau site
The categories on the site are extensive, but seem to be a disjointed jumble of job types (astronaut), speaking topics (inspiration) and even ethnic types (Asian Pacific Americans). The speaker profile pages are good and cross-referenced against categories.
WHAT'S COOL: I like the extensive Industry Terms list.
RECOMMENDATION: The long and wordy welcome message is not an effective use of the real estate on the home page. There really isn't anything there that is unique or exciting. I'd like to see AEI wow people with something better in this position, something like a featured speaker video or your pick for breakout speaker of the year or something like that.
8) International Speakers Bureau site
The ISB site has a hip and stylish design that draws you in, particularly if you've been reviewing many speakers bureau websites.
WHAT'S COOL: The sleek, black design is quite different from other sites. I also like that ISB is on Twitter.
RECOMMENDATION: The extensive text at the bottom of the page "Gain unparalleled VIP access to today's hottest celebrity speakers, thought leaders and entertainment" is very egotistical. It reads like advertising copy. The section "client resources" could be made better if it focused on more on the client perspective than the ISB perspective. Rather than make these sections all about what ISB does, why not re-write it to reflect what problems you solve for your clients? I would also like ISB to update Twitter more than a few times a week and would like to see the full company name in the Twitter profile.
9) Executive Speakers Bureau site
This is a generic speakers bureau site with no pizzazz. The Executive Speakers Bureau site needs something to set it apart.
WHAT'S COOL: I really like the Meeting Planners Survival Guide Meeting Time Line. I learned a lot from this!
RECOMMENDATION: The homepage shows photos of five speakers, but I only recognize one. The bureau should add the speakers' names to the photos. I would really like to see a link to the excellent timeline from the homepage and you should make it easily printable as a PDF (with your company logo and contact information on it).
10) Leading Authorities site
I had a very difficult time getting past the really annoying video that plays automatically on the home page.
WHAT'S COOL: The speaker news section is very well done.
RECOMMENDATION: Leading Authorities must lose the self-playing video. It's okay to be there with a manual start, but don't force it on your visitors. You might also consider using some color to brighten up the washed out feel of the light gray color scheme.
11) All-American Speakers Bureau site
This is a very basic speakers bureau site. The focus seems to be on "celebrity" with the more famous the person the better. The focus of the site implies that customers book people through All-American who they already know from TV, rather than helping meeting planners find the perfect speaker.
WHAT'S COOL: Love the scrolling list of the actual speakers you've booked. Showing the name if the speaker and where he or she is speaking is very interesting. While I think this is very cool, I wonder if the companies doing the booking know you're doing it?
RECOMMENDATION: I know that the company name is All-American Speakers Bureau, so the American flag on the top of the site is okay. But to me the exclusive use of red and blue color on a white background is very annoying and an overkill of the American thing.
12) American Speakers Bureau site
This site is way too confusing. It seems like there is two company names (American Speakers Bureau and Motivational Speakers Bureau). The site has the feel of being so highly search engine optimized that the content for users is compromised.
WHAT'S COOL: Sorry to say this, but nothing on this site is cool (at least for me). However, the URL speakersbureau.com is very cool for search engine optimization purposes.
RECOMMENDATION: The homepage currently has something like 50 different font and color combinations, which is extremely confusing. I kind of felt hung-over as I was looking at the site. I'd make it much simpler. Also, I would definitely delete the blog, which was last update on July 11, 2006. The abandoned blog (which has lots of links to it from the mains site) implies that the bureau either doesn’t care or is asleep.
If you work at one of the bureaus I analyzed, than you for reading this far. I would be pleased to spend time with you either on the phone (or in person the next time I am in your city) to discuss your site in more detail.
Photo credit: Shutterstock