FIR B2B podcast #130: Don’t be fake!

The news earlier this month about Mitt Romney’s fake “Pierre Delecto” Twitter account once again brought fakery to the forefront. We discuss various aspects of fake news and what brands need to know to remain on point, honest and genuine to themselves. We first point out a study undertaken by North Carolina State researchers that found that the less people trust Facebook, the more skeptical they become of the news they see there. One lesson from the study is that brands should carefully choose how they rebut fake news.

Facebook is trying to figure out the best response to fake political ads, although it’s still far from doing an adequate job. A piece in BuzzFeed found that the social network has been inconsistent in applying its own corporate standards to decisions about what ads to run. These standards have nothing about whether the ads are factual and more to do with profanity or major user interface failures such as misleading or non-clickable action buttons. More work is needed.

Finally, we discuss two MIT studies mentioned in Axios about how machine learning can’t easily flag fake news. We have mentioned before how easy it is for machines to now create news stories without much human oversight. But one weakness of ML recipes is that precise and unbiased training data need to be used. When training data contains bias, machines simply amplify it, as Amazon discovered last year. Building truly impartial training data sets requires special skills, and it’s never easy.  (The image here btw is from a wonderful movie starring Orson Wells “F is for Fake.”)

Listen to the latest episode of our podcast here.

FIR B2B podcast #129: We’re Pleased and Excited to Tell You What People Don’t Know About Social Media

My podcast with Paul Gillin examines three different articles that touch on various B2B marketing aspects in this podcast. The first one from Digiday and documents what the BBC went through to establish its fifth content vertical it calls Future. The channel deals with health, wellness and sustainability, and it took a lot more effort than you might think to create. Branded content is driving a lot of page views at the Beeb, as the Brits lovingly refer to it, and the reason is because of all the work that the media company puts into their creation, working with ad partners, their marketing teams and editors. An article on whether eating eggs is healthy brought in a million page views and had an average dwell time of five minutes, which is content gold.

The second piece is from Chris Penn, who does excellent marketing research. He came up with analytics that show several “happy words” — such as “pleased,” “excited,” “proud” and “thrilled” — litter the press release landscape, offering nothing in the way of real information. Does anyone really care if your CEO is having a good day because you just announced version 3.45 of some product? It might be time to eliminate these words entirely from your marketing lingo, have the language reflect reality more closely and perhaps get more reporters’ attention too.

Finally, we found this Pew Research survey that shows exactly how little the average adult knows about the digital marketing world. Pew gave more than 4,000 adults a 10-question quiz that asked things like what the “s” in “https” stands for, who owns Instagram and whether ads are a significant source of social media revenue. A huge chunk of respondents either answered incorrectly or didn’t know the answer.  Listen to our podcast here.

FIR B2B podcast#128: More SEO Secrets with Charley Spektor (Part 2)

This is the second of our two-part interview with Charley Spektor, principal at Saratoga B2B Group. Charley and his business partner, Paul Desmond, combine SEO and quality content to produce sustainable lead generation for B2B clients. In this second podcast, we discuss some of the practical tools that marketers can use to improve their SEO operations, common mistakes that marketers makes when trying to improve their SEO results, how to provide the best content mix to deliver solid leads and how to stay ahead of the constantly changing technology.

You can listen to part 2 of our interview here:

You can find part one of the interview here.

FIR B2B podcast #127: B2B SEO Secrets With Charley Spektor – Part 1

For the next two weeks we talk with Charley Spektor, principal at Saratoga B2B Group. Charley and his partner, veteran tech writer Paul Desmond, bring clients the one-two punch of SEO and content expertise for B2B lead generation. Charley was formerly lead managing consultant at Stone Temple Consulting for Home Depot, which has been one of the few great success stories of a brick-and-mortar retailer embracing e-commerce. In these two podcasts, we discuss what are the elements of success in a discipline that changes constantly, how B2B buyers use search differently than consumers and how even small companies can dominate search results if they pick their targets carefully. Read this this blog post about two recent Saratoga B2B customer success stories for further background on the case studies we discuss.

Listen to part 1 here.

FIR B2B podcast episode #126: unintended consequences

This week Paul Gillin and I discuss three examples of unintended consequences for B2B marketers that showed up in recent business marketing literature. Our first piece, which appeared in B2BMarketing.net, highlights recent survey by Acoustic that found a jump in email open and click-through rates in the past year – and in some cases a pretty substantial jump – thanks to new privacy regulations in the EU and elsewhere. The rules have forced marketers to hone their messages and to produce more precise email campaigns, which has resulted in better engagement with recipients. Talk about silver linings!

Next, we found a year-old survey from the British Marketing Week that found the influence of the marketing organization drops as brand value grows. This could be caused by several factors, including not understanding how customer acquisition and retention work or the fact that many marketers are still loath to employ data-driven technologies.

Finally, Inc. looks at a Harvard study about the unintended consequences of doling out awards to your staff. The researchers found that awards can have the revenge effect of actually de-motivating employees. Reasons include the unintended social cost of being singled out or employees slacking off once they realize they’re exceeding expectations. Businesses need to consider the reason people do the things they do and dig deeper to find out rewards that have more than just recognition value.

This could be an underlying reason why Facebook is thinking about hiding the “Like” counts on its posts, according to TechCrunch. Facebook says it wants to protect users from envy and dissuade them from self-censorship.

You can listen to our 13 min. podcast here.

Channel Futures webinar: Should you sell SOC-as-a-Service?

For MSSPs, offering security operations centers as a services can be a very profitable proposition — enough to offset the high cost of staffing and software. Given that a recent ESG survey showed 53% of enterprise IT pros have “a problematic shortage” of cybersecurity skills at their organizations, demand for SOC expertise is strong.
In this webinar, I will explain how MSPs and MSSPs can approach this opportunity from a variety of directions, such as combining managed security event, threat detection and endpoint security. I’ll look at what services are required and how they can be packaged, what the existing marketplace looks like, and the best vendors to partner with. (reg. req.)

During the webinar, I also mention a Ponemon study that has some additional data about SOC usage and the problems with retaining trained staffers, one of the many reasons why companies are looking to outsource their SOCs.

 

FIR B2B podcast #125: Buyer Personas: Why They Matter; How to Create Them

We’re joined by Matthew Naffah, VP of Strategy at International Data Group, who has has been involved in developing buyer personas for many B2B clients. Personas have been around almost as long as the web itself, but lately they are taking on a more important role, particularly as buyers become more empowered in the buying decision.

Matt tell us about how to get started with building the right personas and understanding the level of details that are ideal, and you can err on the side of including too much or too little detail. He also talks about some of the more common mistakes marketers make in creating them.

Personas are most useful when used in conjunction with buyer journeys and content mapping. You need to nurture, adapt and grow all three elements interactively to optimize the experience for your potential customer base. You’ll also want to heed his advice when it comes time to get your management involved to renew and refund your marketing project too.

Here are some resources to check out:

You can listen to our podcast here:

FIR B2B podcast episode #124: How to supercharge your website content

In today’s episode, we examine different ways you can supercharge your website content by using some time-tested strategies that we may intrinsically know but don’t always talk about.

The first reference is from an article in Entrepreneur Magazine about three big mistakes one consultant made when building a new site. The mistakes all revolve around not understanding a basic tenet: B2B requires quality, not quantity. He chose AdWords keywords that were too general and ended up spending money on clicks that didn’t generate any real leads. He didn’t understand that buyers need prompting to get further into his content and needed ways for potential customers to actually talk or chat in real time with someone who can get them more engaged and further up the marketing funnel. We suggest all sorts of improvements, including having a FAQ and using different content types, to increase engagement.


The second piece is from Michael Brenner, CEO of Marketing Insider Group, who was our guest way back on episode 12.  He talks about the importance of using serialized content to capture more attention. We need to understand that generating demand is all about cultivating and nurturing your potential customers. Start with a content audit to see what material you have that can be collected and serialize. Also examine some of the leading sites that Brenner talks about in this post. Paul has plenty of other great suggestions that he mentions in this episode, and you might want to also buy his book to get further details.

You can listen to our 14 min. podcast here.

FIR B2B podcast episode #123: The differences between B2B and B2C marketing

This recent article in Forbes caught our attention because it neatly sums up some of the biggest differences between B2B and B2C marketing. Unlike many B2C decisions – which are based on emotion, preference or impulse – B2B decisions are practical, thoughtful and undergirded by data, or at least they should be. Among the implications of that:

  • Know the who, the why and the multiple decision makers in the chain;
  • Tell how you will make the business better;
  • Sell solutions, not features; and
  • Use personas and create a path to the purchase

Paul co-wrote a book a while back called Social Marketing to the Business Customer that touched on some of these points, and you might want to pick up a copy as they are still relevant.

One suggestion is to build an emotional attachment to the product, which isn’t always easy to do in B2B scenarios. However, buyers have a lot on the line, and that can give you an emotional connection.

ChiefMarketer.com tells how Caterpillar did that. Just because you sell big tractors doesn’t mean you can’t create a story that resonates with the community. People who drive tractors care about their work, so Caterpillar focused on the pride they take in what they do. Decisions aren’t just about features.

This story reminded us of this brilliant video Volvo produced several years ago to promote its tractor trailers. The appearance of Van Damme is unexpected, powerful and memorable, as evidenced by its 93 million views and the fact that we both recalled it eight years later.

Finally, one item that has nothing to do with trucks is the spillback a year after the implementation of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation. A piece in eConsultancy talks about how the rules have benefited B2B marketers by helping them weed out bad practices, improve lead quality and better focus their companies’ marketing efforts.

Listen to our podcast here:

FIR B2B Podcast Episode #122: Why techies make for great speakers

For technology companies, the conventional wisdom is wrong when it comes to pitching a conference or webinar session. Instead of having your CMO or other C-suite executive tell your story, trust the technical people in your shop. Your audiences will thank you for it.

Here are some of the reasons:

  • Audiences want black-and-white issues. CMOs usually see the world in nuance and infinite shades of gray. Techies value certainty. Think Sheldon Cooper’s character.
  • Facts are an endangered species these days.  So who better to deliver facts that a techie?
  • Audiences want to hear stories. First-person experience from people on the front lines can deliver authenticity and credibility that the audience relates to.
  • Techies steer clear of self-promotion, which is the fastest turnoff for an audience.
  • Techies can be more effective at reaching potential customers precisely because they don’t try to promote or sell.
  • Techies can be trained to be good and sometimes great speakers. We have some tips for how to do it.

I wrote more about this for Sam Whitmore’s Media Survey. It is normally gated, but today you can read the post here.