B2B social media in 2014

Social MediaB2B Marketing has unveiled a new study and infographic detailing the social media landscape in 2014.

The infographic reveals the social media behaviour of B2B companies and which best social networks are best for communicating the organisations’ messages.

LinkedIn and Twitter are the most popular platforms for B2B organisations, citing them as the best channels to boost brand awareness.

Other statistics, such as key challenges for B2B companies and what type of content performs the best, are also included in the infographic.

Take a look at the infographic here or download a summary of the report.

Top tips for writing a good call to action

A good call to action can make or break any form of marketing communication.

Whether you want to drive enquiries or encourage downloads of your latest Whitepaper, a good call to action can make all the difference in helping you propel customers or readers to where you want them to go online.

Here are a few top tips for writing a call to action that makes its mark:

1. Use clear and concise language – this will give readers a fast and obvious understanding of what your call to action is for.

2. Consider placement and position. A call to action on a website will often be located towards the top of the page – this is because it will have a high level of exposure here. However, where you place your call to action can still depend on the type of webpage you are building, so it’s important to look around at other websites targeting the same audience to see what works well.

3. Making your call to action feel more personal can significantly affect its success. It is critical to understand the audience you want to engage with: you can do this by first researching terms that resonate and the best tone to use. 

To find out more about writing a great call to action, take a look at B2B Marketing‘s article about common mistakes to avoid here.

Top tips for writing a good call to action

A good call to action can make or break any form of marketing communication. A good call to action will be able to propel customers or readers to just the conclusion you want, be that driving up leads or just to simply download your latest Whitepaper. Here are a few top tips for writing great call to actions:

The first tip would be the usage of very clear and concise language – this will be readers a fast and obvious understanding of what they are clicking onto.

Another essential tip to consider is the placement of your call to action. This will depend upon factors like the goals of your page and the complexity of its information. For example, lead generation or ecommerce are generally displayed at the top of a page, but the important thing is to research and ensure you have a thorough understanding of the goals you want to achieve from your call to action.

The right level of personalisation can significantly affect the success of your call to action. The critical thing is to understand your audience and appreciate the level of personalisation that resonates with them.

To find out more about writing great call to actions take a look at B2B Marketing‘s look at common mistakes made in call to actions here.

B2B Marketing Awards 2013 a great success

B2B Marketing AwardsThursday night was yet another amazing B2B Marketing Awards night that seems t have been enjoyed by all.

This year’s theme was based around classic rock and pop with graphics, music and the actual event all using classic and recognisable styles to present the award nominees.

The Think Tank team ran the event on behalf of Silver Bullet Publishing (publishers of B2B Marketing Magazine) for the 6th year with compare Josh Widdicombe, and created the entire theme includng web site, posters, invites, awards graphics and introductory video.

Many thanks to the whole team who put in a great effort and a lot of time to make this a very successful event.

Find out more and see all the winners here.

(Picture: Some of the The Think Tank Team)

WHITEPAPER: How to create a brand story with PR

This whitepaper was produced by The Think Tank director Samantha Dawe as part of our on-going sponsorship of B2B Marketing’s PR knowledge bank.

It highlights the importance of writing your brand story in a way that engages a wide range of audiences.

Included are a set of rules to help write successful PR stories in the B2B sector.

Read or download it below.

How to create a brand story – The Think Tank.pdf (406 kb)

Content marketing on the rise!

New statistics, published by Brightcove, have shown that a massive 93% of B2B marketers in the US are now using content marketing.

These statistics won’t come as a huge surprise to experienced B2B marketers who will have seen a new plethora of social channels open in the last decade that make social engagement easier than ever.

These statistics demonstrate that B2B marketers are using content to proliferate social engagement and grow larger followings, central to this marketing philosophy is relevant and interesting content that gets people talking!

The research also shows that marketers who utilise content do so predominantly for three main aims; firstly to increase brand awareness, secondly to generate leads, and lastly to maximise customer acquisition.

So it would seem that content is becoming an ever more critical component of contemporary B2B marketing strategy.

You can see more of this research on the B2B Marketing website here.

WHITEPAPER: How to measure PR ROI

WhitepaperThis whitepaper was produced by The Think Tank director Samantha Dawe as part of our on-going sponsorship of B2B Marketing’s PR knowledge bank.

It examines the varying aims of PR activity, explains the challenges and champions an approach you can take to quantify the returns your PR activity is providing.

Effective measurement has an important role to play in marketing communications work, particularly with the need to show a return on investment (ROI). However, how PR is measured has been the topic of much debate.

Read it or download here.

Measuring PR – The Think Tank.pdf (181 kb)

Video an internet star (B2B Marketing blog post)

This post was written by The Think Tank’s PR Director Samantha Dawe as part of our on-going sponsorship of B2B Marketing’s PR knowledge bank.

With respect to all those who remember the song ‘Video killed the radio star’ knowing that it didn’t… video is becoming an increasingly useful tool in the PR world. Well actually it always was, but somehow today it is so much more accessible as communications tool.

All of those of us who visit b2b websites will it seems happily watch a short video bringing a story to life, and it is a great way of showing how a product or solution works.

Even a discussion can come to life when you watch the participants it seems, and it builds more trust and credibility.

Actually video is a great way of bringing all sorts of short-form content to life, and we are increasingly using it for PR because of this. The recent PR Lions Grand Prix at the Cannes Festival of Creativity was won by a video animation ‘Dumb Ways to Die‘ – a safety reminder PR campaign for Metro Trains in Melbourne (incidentally created and produced by McCann Melbourne – an ad agency).

Viral videos for product launches have been doing the rounds for a while, but the whole corporate world has woken up to how content can be made more ‘entertaining’ when delivered in this form.

A large PR group has even recently hired an ad director to launch its own video production arm; and just last week at the Think Tank we were having discussions with a prospect about video logs as part of bringing the world of recruitment services to life.

Here are 10 ways to be using video for PR purposes today, along with the written word of course:
news releases
product launches
company newsletters
welcome page on your website
internal communications training
health & safety training
company events
case studies
discussions around industry topics
crisis management

We would love to hear about how you have been using video in your PR campaigns too.


No such thing as bad publicity?

Bad Press
This post was written by The Think Tank’s PR Director Samantha Dawe as part of our on-going sponsorship of B2B Marketing’s PR knowledge bank.

I was asked this question again recently, is there any such thing as bad publicity?

We once worked with a client who was very outspoken; this client knew what he wanted to achieve and went out to make it happen, which was appealing. But opening up about some surprising behaviour, in a newspaper interview, backfired. Some who knew him chuckled when they read it, but most people including some suppliers and employees thought differently, it felt unprofessional.

Being quoted out of context is one thing, which can also be made immediately clear with a response, but a gaffe tends to stay with you, particularly with the long-tail effect in social media channels.

It’s a tightrope to be walked carefully. Think about what the presenters of the BBC TV programme ‘Top Gear’ get away with, how much is this part of the irreverent, ‘laddish’ tone of the programme itself? When does what they say become unacceptable?

A hard part of managing reputation is making the judgement of what is acceptable or not.

Many organisations are wise to have a code of conduct and draw the lines between public and private spheres. But no matter how much you prepare, something will go wrong at some point.

It is essential when someone has strayed off message that the brand or organisation portrays a clear, consistent message. Make sure all your spokespeople are kept fully informed and know what position you are taking.

Moving into Russia

Russian MagazineThis post was written by The Think Tank’s PR Director Samantha Dawe as part of our on-going sponsorship of B2B Marketing’s PR knowledge bank.

Having supported a client’s PR campaign in Russia from London for a while, we are now extending the support to work alongside a partner agency in the country. We will manage the agency on behalf of the client to ensure consistency through the PR programme.

It’s been interesting to see how the various agencies we have been approaching have responded. With a Russian speaker on our team we can converse easily, but assessing the empathy the agency has with what we need to achieve is still down to how the people at the agency actually respond.

One team has been keen and efficient, another contact rather evasive as to how they actually might work with us, and another supremely confident in their ability but only want to work on a project basis.

PR is very much a people business, and I anticipate several more conversations are needed to come up with a truly workable solution. Will keep you posted.

Being an award winner

B2B Awards 2012This post was written by The Think Tank’s PR Director Samantha Dawe, as part of our on-going sponsorship of the B2B Marketing Knowledge Bank.

Just been having a chat with a good contact on a key industry magazine for the architect and design sector, and the subject of that magazine’s annual awards came up…

Now I know how passionate B2B Marketing magazine is about its very own annual awards…and rightly so, but it made me reflect on why we enter and why we encourage clients to enter industry awards.

We have worked with one of our clients for almost a decade. Certainly for the past four years have prepared entries with them for a European-wide series of awards that are seen as particularly prestigious. This year they won one. They are over the moon, and so are we. The press release about this Award is going to be issued globally by the various communications teams.

Entering, being shortlisted and hopefully winning awards can help achieve press coverage certainly.

But winning an industry award can also boost staff morale, attract new business, impress potential investors, gain prestige and recognition from peers and respect from customers, and raise awareness of a new product or service.

It’s worth considering an entry for a local business award for these reasons too – usually in the UK organized on a county by county basis. A local platform for celebrating the very best business successes, they will not only cover how well your business is doing, but aspects like customer service, environmental awareness and staff training and development.

For staff to see their organization recognized within their immediate community and can be really motivating.

It’s also a great way to stand back a bit and assess what you’ve been focusing on and to celebrate any innovations and efforts that are making a real difference to how you do business, or in the services and products you provide.

Of course much depends on the time and resource you have to devote to preparing entries. So set a realistic, tangible goal, for example, entering at least two different Award schemes this year. And if you don’t win the first time, don’t give up… next time you might be that winner.

Whitepaper – PR in a changing media landscape

whitepaperAs part of The Think Tank’s sponsorship of B2B Marketing’s Knowledge Bank PR Channel, our PR Director Samantha Dawe has produced a Whitepaper titled ‘PR in a changing media landscape’.

The whitepaper looks at the need for a new mindset in a changing media world. Many commentators have spoken about the basic model for media and marketing being broken. While media fragmentation is seen as a challenge, an expanding range of media options is also an opportunity.

The whitepaper is free to download either from the B2B Marketing web site or by clicking the link below:

PR in a changing media landscape.pdf (254 kb)

Sponsorship of B2B Marketing Knowledge Bank

B2B Marketing and PR

The Think Tank is proud to be the sponsor of the PR channel on the B2B Marketing Knowledge Bank, the UK’s premium resource for B2B marketing advice and best practice.

As part of our sponsorship we will be issuing a range of articles, white papers and web casts over the coming months, focussing on Public, Press and Media Relations.

To kick off this sponsorship we have issued the following ‘How To’ guides, case studies and white papers (click on the titles to view):

HOW TO: Survive a press interview

HOW TO: Manage your brand online

CASE STUDY: Permasense turn to The Think Tank to launch new company in risk-averse sector

Whitepaper: PR in a changing media landscape

We hope that you find these interesting and if you would like to discuss any of them in detail please contact Samantha Dawe, Director of PR, The Think Tank at samanthad@thinktank.org.uk or by calling 020 7831 2225.

How to survive a press interview

InterviewThis piece has been written by Samantha Dawe, The Think Tank’s PR Director.

Working with the press can be a great way to get stories about your products and your organisation across. But before you leap in for a chat take a few minutes to think through what you are going to say.

Using the press effectively to get your point across is a skill. In most cases, you only get one go at this in an interview, so you need to get it right first time when you are speaking to journalists directly.Whether you’re speaking at a planned face-to-face interview, a quick chat catch up at an industry event or a short briefing over the telephone, you will be in the spotlight. Here’s a short memory-refresher on the dos and don’ts of dealing with a press interview.

Prepare, prepare, prepare
Wherever possible build in time to do some preparation before you meet the journalist. Read the publication they are writing for. Ideally find out what the journalist wants to cover in advance so you can be ready with the right sort of information for them. If you don’t know this in advance, ask them when you meet or speak to check. This will also give you time to collect your thoughts. Have you had some media training? It’s worth it if you are in any type of marketing role.

Know your facts and figures
Remember you can talk to a journalist about any information that has already been announced, and bringing in other examples as context can often help illustrate a point. Again, have facts and figures to hand (be prepared wherever possible) so you can refer to them.

Be succinct
Try to speak in short sentences and repeat key points that convey your view. This helps to minimise the risk of being quoted inaccurately. Resist the temptation to go on and on about your favourite theme unless this is the only subject to be covered in the interview.

Raise points that you feel may be of interest
The journalist may have done some preparation but you are also able to raise points on a subject too. Make sure they that are relevant to the journalist’s train of thought; showing them you are trying to give them as much information as you can is usually perceived as helpful as long as you don’t go overboard.

Be interesting
Bring in how you see the industry or your sector developing, if appropriate. This sort of insight also shows that you and your company are continuing to keep track and responding to change. Don’t speculate though unless you are happy to see your speculations in print.

Don’t talk about areas you don’t know about
Don’t make forecasts about products, markets or sales, unless the information has been agreed beforehand and you can produce the data to back it up. If you don’t know much about a subject, say so. And wherever possible get someone in your company to speak to the journalist who is an expert.

Don’t gossip
And don’t be derogatory about the competition; it’s unprofessional. Just give factual information to the journalist, and let them make their own comparisons. Talking too much about the competition actually helps to sell it, so you may want to avoid that.

Don’t be evasive
If you don’t know something (see point 1 above) or you feel you need to get more information in front of you, say you will find out for the journalist and get back to them; check the deadline they are working on. This can also be used to ‘buy some time’ while you formulate an appropriate response to a tricky question. But if you promise further information, make sure it is followed up, even if it is to say that you need more time.

Use colourful phrases with care
Avoid the use of particularly colourful phrases unless you are absolutely sure you want them used. Otherwise, they may appear out of context or as headlines. A sub-editor may well select the juiciest quote from a journalist’s copy just for this purpose: “Widget Ltd’s Marketing Director Paul Smith says that they are murdering the competition”. Enough said.

Don’t go “Off-the record” unless you are really, really confident
This can be a dangerous trap – you are giving information ‘off-the-record’ for a journalist’s guidance, they should not publish it under any circumstances.

You have to tell the journalist the information is ‘off-the-record’ before you give them the information. The phrase should not be used retrospectively.

You should then say when the information you are discussing is ‘back on the record’ that means they can write up what you are saying.

A general rule of thumb is not using ‘off-the-record’ at all. In exceptional circumstances with a journalist that can really be trusted and you know – for example a trade press journalist you are in regular touch with and you know writes in a fair and informed way, and above all will respect this convention, you might be OK. But why chance it?

A Director I knew went ‘off the record’ with a journalist to say that he expected the privately-owned company he worked for would be floated in the next six months. It was a great story and appeared in print. You can imagine the fall out that happened when it was published.

This piece was written as part of The Think Tank’s sponsorship of the PR Section of B2B Marketing’s Knowledge Bank, and forms part of a series of guides, blog posts, case studies and a white papers.

The state of B2B social media

InfographicB2B Marketing has produced an infographic on The State of B2B Social Media 2013, built from the data included in their 2013 B2B Marketing Social Media Benchmarking Report.

From the infographic we can see that Twitter is the most popular platform for B2B businesses, however there looks to be an increase in the prevalence of Google+ in the B2B market.

We also see that a lot of companies don’t calculate the ROI from social media.

Click on the image to see the full Infographic, or click here.

Do you know any Rising B2B Marketing Stars?

B2B marketing
Following on from last year, The Think Tank’s client B2B Marketing are searching for Rising Stars for 2013.

The initiative is for people in B2B marketing to nominate a colleague who they feel has made a stand-out difference or special contribution to the world of B2B marketing in the past year. There are no special requirements for entry, they are only looking for talented B2B client-side marketers who are rapidly rising through the ranks in their respective organisations and showcasing real talent.

Some of the 20 featured entrants from last year even became shortlisted for the B2B Marketer of the Year.

James Farmer, publishing director at B2B Marketing, said, “Levels of sophistication in business marketing are growing exponentially, this is down to individuals in the profession.”

“There has never been a better time to reward and reveal those at the top of their game, driving the industry forward”.

If you know anyone that deserves to be held aloft as one of B2B Marketing’s rising stars for 2013, nominate them now.

The secrets behind Email Marketing revealed

B2B Marketing, the online community for B2B marketing experts, has unveiled its latest Benchmarking Report on email marketing.

The report, which is produced in association with Circle Research, provides a comprehensive insight into the trends, attitudes, metrics and investment in email marketing by B2B brands in the UK.

The research polled 250 client-side marketers on methods of email marketing that provided the best results to boost the performance and success of emails.

Joel Harrison, editor of B2B Marketing, said, “Despite the growth of social media and concerns over inbox overload, our latest benchmarking report has found that email still continues to be a critical weapon in the armoury of B2B marketers.”

Results found that the three key factors that influenced success were Subject, Subject Line and Data.

The research looks at various areas including usage and frequency of email marketing; email marketing budgets and allocation,database relevance and accuracy, ROI and measurement; as well as use and performance of email marketing.

You can download a report summary by clicking on the link below or click here to go to B2B Marketing to puchase the full report at a cost of £150 – it looks like invaluable reading!

B2BM Email Marketing Benchmark Summary.pdf (1461 kb)


Google to charge businesses for Google Maps APIs

It was announced yesterday that Google will begin charging app developers and businesses who host Google Maps APIs on their website if they exceed 25,000 visits a day. In its blog post announcing the changes, Google said no site exceeding the limits will stop working immediately but it does offer three firm solutions: reduce usage limits, pay for the excess or upgrade and buy a Maps API Premier license.

The excess usage charges, reported in the media to be around $4 per 1000 users, will be enforced in early 2012. Thor Mitchell, product manager of Google Maps API said in his blog post, “We understand that the introduction of these limits may be concerning. However with the continued growth in adoption of the Maps API we need to secure its long term future by ensuring that even when used by the highest volume for-profit sites, the service remains viable. By introducing these limits we are ensuring that Google can continue to offer the Maps API for free to the vast majority of developers for many years to come.”

It is thought that the fees will only impact around 0.35 per cent of user accounts. To read Thor Mitchell’s full blog post click here, or visit the B2B Marketing website

Google Maps.gif


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