Influencer Marketing in B2B (as in Back To Basics) With @markwschaefer

Influencer marketing is getting big. Here and there, a lot of noise is made about instagram influencers and suchlike. With sponsored posts reaching a €2,000 pricetag in France and up to £75,000 in the UK, “influence” is becoming big business indeed. Even though some marketeers are still wondering whether what they are doing is the right thing and besides some people are trying to abuse the system.

Less is known about B2B influence strategies and much can be learnt, including for the above-mentioned marketeers, from some of the very elaborate influence strategies developed for B2B and especially in the high-tech world. In B2B, it is hard to cheat. Influence is built upon business practice and knowledge, not on hearsay. B2B is also conducive to more long-term, in-depth strategies and ethics is key. This, in my mind is the cornerstone of any good influencer marketing strategy. To prove this point I have interviewed Mark Schaefer who recently co-authored a White Paper with Traackr’s Evy Wilkins entitled “The Rise of Influencer Marketing in B2B Technology”.

the rise of influencer marketing in B2B technoogy

In this interview recorded over Skype from Mark’s home in Tennessee, the famous blogger and author has covered all the most important aspects of influencer marketing and provided tips which, in my mind, are useful to all kinds of marketeers who want to get involved in similar projects, be they in B2B or B2C marketing.

I’ve got a few questions for you about a white paper you co-authored with Traackr, which is entitled “The Rise Of Influencer Marketing In B2b Technology”. Are technology companies ahead of the bunch?

As far as the people I talked to are concerned, they really are. In fact, it was quite inspirational to me. Because like you I’ve been working in the influencer space for a long time. I wrote an early book, maybe the first book on social influencer marketing that was published in 2012, so I’ve been keenly interested in this and I’ll tell you it was so inspiring to hear how sophisticated this has become and how integrated this has become into mainstream marketing strategies. This was a very energizing exercise for me. Read more

Digital Training: My Advice to Executives In the Middle of a Career Move

Digital training? But what the hell is digital in the first place?

digital training
GEM’s deputy director, Jean-François Fiorina, presenting on 07/04/2017 in front of my students. His master class was about his social media strategy for Grenoble Ecole de Management. After all, if the Boss can do it, students can do it too, can’t they?

Digital training in the information age seems pretty straightforward. And yet. The very definition of the digital domain is mind-boggling and fuzzy. Where does it start, where does it end? Also, choosing a digital training programme, like any other kind of training programme for that matter, in any area, implies that executive students spend quite a lot of time thinking about what they want to do in the future.

This is why I have written these few bullet points, in order to help them with their choice. As you may or may not know, I am programme director at Grenoble Ecole de Management (aka GEM, a leading European school) since I am in charge of the Advanced Masters in Digital Business Strategy which welcomes 40 students from various origins every year.

Approximately 30% of these are executive students. A lot of these executive students have questions and issues they are trying to solve through a digital training programme, which remains a means for them to put a stake in the ground and show both management and themselves that a career move is nigh. In this piece, I have put together some advice for them to ensure that they are choosing the right programme and to help them with their choice of career.

  • Number one advice is, above everything, to start focusing on your career move: an executive student’s focal point must be her/his career move. You have to avoid throwing everything away just because you are oping through a midlife crisis. In other words, the first thing I do when I interview executive students for my Masters is to check whether their motivation is positive and not negative. I understand that frustration at work can happen, and that execs may have enough of working with the same people. For somebody like me who has worked for more than 30 years, it’s not very difficult to imagine nor understand what’s behind the frustration. I have been there before. Yet, All negative motivation (I hate this!) must be turned into a positive one (here is what I want to do!). To put it in the words of Daniel Porot, think of your move as as runway and imagine you are landing and not just taking off. Landing is more important, it’s the end state that matters. As a recruiter if I do not understand where you will be landing I try to help candidates with their plan and if I still can’t understand what they want to achieve, I will try and evaluate a better solution with them. Obviously, digital training and digital in general must be part of the landing plan if one wants to join the masters.

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Let’s build content brands not branded content #imbs17

Content brands vs branded content: the concept appealed to me. The iMediaBrand Summit opened with a very exciting keynote this morning in Biarritz in the South West of France. Andrew Davis (picture below) taught us not to focus on branded content anymore, and build content brands instead. Sound advice.

Let’s build content brands not branded content 

 
We are swimming in data, linkedin, data base, Big data , data you wish you had  some you didn’t. But marketers are withdrawing nice insights from very small data Andrew Davis told us today. Yet the marketing pie isn’t getting any bigger. The CMO pizza is shared among a growing number of things for we have, over the years, added so many things, we are overwhelmed.
 
We have added websites, and SEO and promotions and advertising and then we have had social media, so all budget ended up being sliced up but the marketing budget isn’t getting any bigger. “So what is the ROI for this?” Andrew asked. We need to be able to measure it.
 
We have CPC, CPM and CPA etc. but what we have at the end of the day is a very shallow understanding of our marketing actions and their impact. What we need, according to Andrew is a new way of looking at the world.
 
And I liked very much what he said about how marketers should look at the world.

Marketers should look at the world in a different manner

We look for intelligent insights which shape our marketing initiatives but to do that we have to challenge the basics of marketing understanding.
 
content brand - sales funnel
 
Like the funnel for instance. The funnel was invented in 1898 by St Elmo Lewis (above). Lewis didn’t draw a funnel though, he drew a scale. A lot has changed since then but much of what we so is still based on this 1898 knowledge though.
 
Let’s rethink the funnel 
 
To this end we need a new world view. The old world view is Ptolemy’s, Andrew said, whereby we were the centre of the universe. The way we brought people to our websites was like this but we need to adopt a Galilean view of the universe now. “We are just a small planet revolving around the Sun” Andrew Davis said. It’s hard to swallow for marketers to understand they aren’t the most valuable thing in the world though. Google has become central to people’s world today and our Websites has become lost in the middle of nowhere. As a result, the insights aren’t going to come from us but from the embracing of a Galilean model, from “acting as a customer” he added.
 
As a result, marketers should “stop asking themselves the wrong questions. This is why we have to rethink the customer journey.

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Content Marketing Tips Based On Experience (part 2)

Content Marketing tips: I built this list for my students a month ago and I’m sharing it now as I think it could be useful to many. It’s one of these subjects which seem to be very easy but it’s not. You could learn it, or at least its principles, in a matter of minutes. Teaching it is extra hard unless you are not afraid of teaching things that aren’t really – or at least not always – true and are ready to stand up for it and pretend you know the truth and all the content marketing tips and they are all fault-proof.

content marketing tips

Of course they aren’t. Ditto for Word of Mouth marketing and so it is for most subjects linked to digital marketing. One thinks one knows it but when you’re asked to do it then you realise you know nothing. Even I who have been practicing this for 22 years and more. I’m still learning everyday and it’s a good thing because it means I’m never resting on my laurels. Content marketing is all a matter of practice and field experience, trial and error and no truth holds for very long before it is questioned and all you know must be reinvented. So here’s the sequel to our latest post on Content Marketing based on the questions asked by mrs MSC students in Grenoble last month. Our last point was about time and money. I repeat the last question below and we will take it from there. This is part 2 of this blog post, which will be published in 3 instalments.

Content marketing tips

(here I will deliver my content marketing tips through the answer to a few questions I had from my students)

As for SEO vs SEA, engagement could either mean that you pay or you invest time. It’s your choice

(as seen in part one of this blog post)

But that doesn’t mean that the value of social media is in engagement dashboards. In fact, it’s not. It’s in the power to interact and to gain insights from people: clients/partners/influencers/or even the average punter (who cares as long as you have an insight?). One insight only is sufficient for you to change positively and durably a product or service and make a strong impact in your market. Yet, most marketers are lazy and prefer to pay Facebook so that they can show “big” engagement numbers even though you and I know that they are not really “big”.

To sum it up in a few words, I think there is no other technique or strategy to increase engagement, whatever it means. In my eyes, content marketing tip number one is that what is most valuable is the quality of your content (in the broad sense of the term: content could be anything from entertainment to something which is particularly mesmerising or inspirational, something extraordinary which people want to share). I know that the term quality is very subjective and that it’s difficult to define and that it could mean different things to different audiences. That’s exactly the point. Define what that “quality” means for your audience: B2B audiences will most probably favour in-depth content and B2C entertaining content. That’s a starting point, there is no matrix for defining what “good quality content” is. Yet, all we know is that…

Once your content is superior (re the above-mentioned caveat) , all the rest will follow. This is the power of Word of Mouth Marketing. Read more

Questions You May (Still) Have About Content Marketing (1)

content marketing : internet bankingContent Marketing is new. It’s brand new. So declared a few pundits a couple of years ago and to an extent they are right. I can testify for this, I was already practicing it (aka inbound marketing as it is known today) 22 years ago. But as Lyman Bryson once said: “The error of youth is to believe that intelligence is a substitute for experience, while the error of age is to believe experience is a substitute for intelligence.” So let’s not fall into that trap and let’s realise that content marketing, like any other discipline, has evolved over time. I was lucky enough to experiment with it at Unisys in the very early days of Internet Banking and Web content. Here is a screenshot of the old Internet-banking.com Website on the right hand side.

From the easy days of content marketing to today’s field of innovation 

Of course it looks a bit weird now but at the time its little animated barometer looked pretty cool. We’d had some record sleeve designers design this for us, they were a lot cheaper than anyone else because they weren’t working for any business (apart from the major companies of the Music industry) and they wanted to have a go at the Corporate world. They came all the way from Crystal Palace to my house in Pembroke Mews W8 and we had tea and they showed me that barometer and there it staid for at least 5 or 6 years. I moved on to other ventures and somebody else looked after the Website. But this experiment of ours had proven so successful that I never quite looked for a job anymore, people started calling in. That was great. 4 years ago my personal coach made me update my CV and I realised I hadn’t touched it for so long it nearly made me weep. So I founded my own company in order that I wouldn’t have to update it anymore. And guess what I’m doing? Content marketing of course. And Word of mouth marketing too, goes without saying. Writing content for a living is pretty cool. It’s also what I’ll be teaching at Grenoble EM business school tomorrow onwards. 

content marketing - Grenoble EM

And so I asked my MSC students what their main questions about content marketing were and I devised this little booklet which I will publish in three instalments. This is no.1 of these 3 instalments on their content marketing questions and how I propose to address them. At the same time it serves my purpose: I lecture on content marketing, hence answering questions on content marketing, therefore producing content for the blog, hence raising more questions. And so on, and so forth. Many of the students’ questions which aren’t addressed in this document are part of the main syllabus for the March 29-31 lecture. As a matter of fact, some of the questions below were asked in earnest by our students. I made a selection of the most intriguing ones and those that I thought deserved answers and weren’t already covered in my course. 

Forewarning: no one hold the truth, least of all me. I tried my best to answer these questions to the best of my knowledge but it must be understood that my angle is very personal. 

A few questions about content marketing and my HTG answers (part one)

Do you need to possess creative writing skills to produce good content marketing?

 

content marketing - sounding board On one hand, I would like to answer yes to that question. Of course, you need to be creative to capture the imagination of your readers. It goes without saying. When I refer to content marketing however, I do not refer to Facebook or Twitter posts which are seen more as a mere relay of proper content. Social media is like a sounding board. Your content is like the strings on your guitar (or viola as on the picture). No sounding board, no music. No strings, no sound at all. As simple as that. I know most brands are keen on posting stuff on Facebook for God knows what reason and sometimes, as engagement plummets, they bring Lol cats to the rescue (don’t laugh, I did it one day for Orange, on purpose and it worked). To me, real content comes mostly in the form of long form blogging when talking about B2B. a little less so for B2C. But often you have to write stories on your Website too. Websites and blogs are two different things. Most brands overlook this. They have weak product-centred websites with poor content and they think all content must go somewhere else. This is very weird. So yes! Creativity is a must-have. Not just in writing though, but also with multimedia and God knows most brands are poor with their use of multimedia too.

At the same time, I feel like answering ‘no’ to that question. As far as I’m concerned, I never honed my creative writing skills, I picked it up as I went along, but I have always enjoyed writing stories. I tried and tested things and sometimes succeeded and often failed, and this is how you learn. Would you ask successful writer if she/he took creative writing courses? At the end of the day, I do not know whether you need creative writing skills or not, but I certainly value creativity over anything else. We even use this as a cornerstone of our engagements at Visionary Marketing. Each and every of our employees is capable of not only writing but drawing as well, which enhances the quality of our content and makes it stand out from the crowd.

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