Friday, January 29, 2010

5 Ways Apple’s iPad Will Impact B2B Marketing

I really liked this take on the Apple iPad launch which comes from blog. It looks at the impact of the device for maketers and sales from a B2B perspective, rather than the much preferred consumer perspective. I really didn't have too much to add, so have reposted the article in full. Hope you enjoy it too:

5 Ways Apple’s iPad Will Impact B2B Marketing
Posted: 27 Jan 2010 04:57 PM PST

Before you come through the computer and smack me, yes, I am adding to the endless amount of blog posts all dedicated to Apple’s newly released iPad. With this tablet device Apple is trying to create a new category of portable computing device. How will this device impact your planning as a B2B marketer?

Initially this device won’t be a major factor to B2B marketers, because even if it is very successful, it will take 6 to 12 months to have enough devices in use to warrant attention. The device, which won’t even be out for a couple of months, offers users the ability to consum all types of media on the go using a software interface that many people are accustomed to due to their use of iPhones and iPod touches. Starting this summer B2B marketers need to begin looking at their web analytics to determine how many people visiting online sites are using this device, as well as the iPhone.

5 Potential Impacts Of The iPad On B2B MarketingNew device and adoption aside, in the future this device, or one similar, could have several important impacts on digital B2B marketing. Now is the time to think ahead and position for these possible changes in your business.

1. Improve Product Demos – The iPad will likely be most utilized in the business world for demonstrations. If you are a B2B company, especially a software company, this will be a great device to show off products and demonstrate new features. The iPad’s ability to display keynote presentations will also make it easy to shift from up-close demos or product sheets to slide presentations. I could see sales teams using this type of device to go over pricing and calculating business impacts of a product in real-time.

2. Trade Show Info Capture – Speaking of sale people, I would imagine that we will see iPads in the hands of savvy B2B sales people at a variety of industry tradeshows. A device like this removes the need to get people into a booth and have them in front of a computer to get their contact information into a CRM tool. I can see companies developing internal applications for the iPad that can easily add people into remote CRM systems and enter them into giveaway contests at the booth.

3. Less Flash Ads – An issue that some people have about this device is that it does not support Adobe Flash, a software that enables us to view many of the videos and advertisements on the web today. If devices without Flash like the iPad increase in popularity, it could motivate B2B marketers to produce less flash advertising, as it would be invisible to iPad and iPhone users.

4. More Multimedia Content – Regardless of its success, the iPad reinforces a trend that shows the way people consume media is changing. People are becoming more accustomed to a multimedia experience. For example the New York Times on the iPad includes video clips in articles that are viewed on the device. As B2B marketers strive to remain effective story tellers, becoming multimedia focused will be key.

5. Need For Customized Customer Experiences – With this new category of device, Apple has create yet another user experience to go along with the iPhone and traditional personal computers. The ways in which people interact with information on this type of device is different. Subsequently, B2B marketers need to plan digital experiences that are different for each device.

Cool new gadgets don’t replace boring online content. Take time to ensure you are telling a compelling story online now, because as digital information consumption changes, so will your marketing executions.

What do you think about the role of tablet computers in B2B companies?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Is PR giving ‘Social Media’ a bad name?

Here is my article that was published in the December / January issue of Marketing Magazine.

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts!

The bell has rung: social media play time is over.
Digital media is now a way of life for most, becoming a fundamental element of brand reputation management, yet the PR industry is still having trouble getting to grips with some of the fundamental basics. Play time is over and the industry needs to recognize the importance of digital communications.

Given that PR people have always been experts at building advocates, much more so than other disciplines, this creates a huge opportunity for PR agencies. However, agencies must upgrade their staff skill sets if they are to capitalize and survive in the future. Agency bosses must take digital communications seriously by investing in the right staff and training existing staff so that social media is ingrained into the fabric of the agency.

The social media pie is still relatively small in terms of revenue, but the pie is growing and clients are seeing it as a priority. A recent Forrester study, entitled ‘Global Social Media Planning Survey’, found that 53 per cent of marketing managers globally plan to increase their investment in social media. Bear in mind this was during a recession year! Furthermore, research conducted by Weber Shandwick across six major European markets, entitled ‘INLINE Communications’, found that online advocacy – defined as online user reviews and recommendations – has replaced recommendations from friends and family as the most influential source of information. Anectodal research confirms that Asian audiences are also relying more and more on internet dialogue for their information(while this isn’t Asian focused research, Weber Shandwick is working on this!). Therefore, creating an environment where conversations about your brand is encouraged and rewarded can play a key role in building your brand reputations.

Social media smoke and mirrors?
There is a great deal of hype without any real social media proof points within the industry. Part of the blame lies with those agencies that have no expertise but pretend they do. Sadly, social media expertise is increasingly being ridiculed coming a bit of a joke as so- called ‘experts’ do not understand the relationship between social media and a brand’s business outcome. The ‘fakers’ are making money consulting brands about engaging customers and brandishing buzzwords like ‘transparency’, ‘authenticity’ and ‘blogger engagement’. But they are failing to demonstrate how social media channels can really help businesses achieve theirits goals, and as a result, causeing serious damage to the reputation of our industry.

In addition, advertising, digital, media purchasing and PR agencies are all vying for ownership of the space. Of course, different disciplines will approach social media from different angles, but we need to consider which tactic/tool/platform/application in our toolbox will best help the client achieve its objectives. Agencies from different disciplines need to work better together to clearly define the use of social media for different objectives – whether it is to drive brand awareness, build communities of advocates, internal communications or to drive sales. By ceasing the bombardment of noise about social media and better aligning it to the overall strategy, clients will be clearer about how it will benefit them.

Digital communications should not be about campaigns or projects, but an approach that requires long- term planning and commitment. The real benefit of digital communications is that you can build communities of advocates that genuinely like a brand. These advocates have their own network of communities that in turn learn about a brand in an organic way, which may influence them to become customers and advocates themselves. Most importantly, as advocates for a brand, they are engaged and are not just viewers.

Social media in PR
From a PR standpoint, social media should not be considered in a silo, but rather an additional weapon tool in our PR arsenalkit. We should not be talking about an online or offline approach, but rather an inline approach; a strategy that utilizes tools and tactics that best helps a business achieve its goals, whether it is online or offline. By adopting a response-oriented and lead generation approach to social media, we can help brands build communities of advocates, increase their customer/follower database, increase search traffic and, thus create more brand awareness, thought leadership, and all those things that help make brands exceptional.

However, to do this, the PR industry as a whole, needs to build its own credibility to convincingly own its share of the pie. Agencies must develop expertise in PR and Digital – they are not mutually exclusive.! This year saw PR agencies taking the first step on the ladder by recruiting digital specialists. But this is just the first step. Agency bosses must continue to embed digital communication skills into the fabric of the agency, ensuring PR consultants are sufficiently trained in the new skills available to them and helping them to consider integrating digital channels as part of the work they are already doing. For example, let’s say a team is working on crisis communications on behalf of a client. Rather than just using traditional methods, they should also be thinking about the impact of online media and how social media channels can be used strategically.

To all those PR agency heads, here are three suggestions you may wish to adopt as your New Year’s Resolutions:
- Eat more pie: Build the agency’s digital communications expertise to better consult clients
- Be more truthful to clients: Don’t be a social media faker. It harms the credibility of the industry as a whole, not just your agency
- Invest in staffHelp my staff more: PR as it was will be no longer.! Arm employees with the knowledge and skill- sets they need to consult clients in this ever evolvinge new world of communication

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Happy New Year

This is my first blog post in five months, and for this I am both ashamed and apologetic. I won’t be making any excuses, but rather will say that this year I will try much much harder.

The second half of 2009 was very interesting, wasn’t it? Social media related enquiries continued to soar from all sectors and some were even spending some marketing dollars on it. Traditional PR programmes started to embrace digital communications, with many organizations now incorporating an element of social media tactics into activities. On the other side of the fence, bloggers and social media platforms became more savvy and better understood the potential influence they have for brands and as such changed the way they work.

I won’t try and pretend I know what will happen in 2010, but a few things are clear in the world of PR. Below are my top three observations on the way things are moving:

1. Any agency or PR consultant who still does not want to, or cannot, embrace social media to some degree will be out of the job within 5 years (probably less). PR is about creating, communicating with and influencing advocates and more than ever this is moving towards digital.

2. Any journalist who does not, or cannot, embrace social media to some degree will be out of the job within 5 years (probably less). Most of them already have done, using social media platforms for research, networking, raising their profiles etc.

3. Any media outlet that does not, or cannot, embrace digital communications will cease to exist within 5 years (probably less). Most publications now have some sort of online presence whether it be a standard website or a fully fledged online only version, but some smaller publications are still in the dark ages, and for them I fear.

On a final note, I just wanted to say that my background is in traditional PR and I hoped my blog would reflect this. But more and more, I write about digital communications. This is due to the way my role has been evolving, but I have not forgotten my roots!

Till next time….