FIR B2B podcast #154: SMS Texting for B2B With Barbara Casey

Earlier this month, Nate Nead wrote this screed on ReadWrite (a site where David once managed an editorial team) about how marketing is getting more difficult. We both think that this isn’t true and that with the right automation and tools it is getting easier to target audiences. Nead says, “Effectively persuading and reaching customers in the modern world requires a more nuanced, organic approach.” Did he miss that memo about 10 years ago? If you aren’t already doing that you’re out of a job. Nate also wrote that “It’s incredibly tough to stand out and you’ll probably have to spend a lot of money to do it.” Again, we don’t think money is the answer. Being more effective at telling a compelling story is.

Let’s move on to our conversation with our guest. With social media proving less and less effective at generating and converting leads, small business owners, in particular, are looking for better ways to create dialogues with their customers. Well, have you thought about SMS text marketing? Barbara Casey is CEO of Mobile High 5 and she says a text campaign, combined with a loyalty program, can yield three- to five-fold traffic spikes when a text goes out. The company works with retailers, restaurateurs and service providers to build custom mobile marketing programs that drive customers to shop or dine more frequently. We spoke to her about how to be effective at integrating SMS with loyalty programs, ways to mix online and bricks and mortar retailing, and why you should know the text code 7726.

FIR B2B podcast episode #153: How to Build Your “Voice Brand”

David CiccarelliPaul Gillin and I talk with David Ciccarelli, the CEO of about how to build a stable of voice and sonic branding for your business. David C. has created an online marketplace for voice actors and believes audio is the most underused asset B2B marketers have. 

We discuss how to build a brand with the voice actors. This means deciding on what your organization “sounds like” and how you want to connect with your customers. The choice of a voice actor matters. Should you go with a commanding narrator or an approachable expert guide? Your sonic brand is the unique soundscape that drives home the tone and personality of your brand voice,” he says. The company has created a guide to becoming a voice actor and also produces an annual “State of the Voice Over” report.

David says visual media has become crowded and notes that nearly one-third of people are primarily audio learners. “Marketers have saturated the eyes and we have to move on to the ears,” he says. “They have found that audio presents an opportunity to tell their story in a deeper, more meaningful way.”

He shares several podcast tips for B2B marketers. Commit to a small number of initial episodes or set a threshold and evaluate, but once you commit, stick with it. Decide if you want to primarily be a guest on other podcasts or host one of your own; those are very different strategies. Prepare show notes in advance, and make sure to tell a story with a beginning, middle and end. He has found that 20 minutes is the ideal podcast length as it’s the average duration of a commute, walking the dog or a daily exercise routine.

David has appeared in numerous media outlets, including Business News Network and The Globe and Mail TV, and is a frequent guest speaker at industry conferences.  He is also a great resource for all things audio, such as this online recording studio and this streaming production service.

You can listen to the 24 min. podcast here.

Tech and Main podcast: Let’s talk about passwordless

I am back on Shaun St. Hill’s Tech and Main podcast, this time talking about the benefits and frustrations of using passwordless technologies. There are some signs of hope, particularly with new tools that don’t require you to type in one-time codes but can recognize your smartphone’s intrinsic hardware to help authenticate you. Of course, this means you need a smartphone for every employee.

The Verge: How to recover when your Facebook account is hacked

Hopefully the day will never come when you find your Facebook account has been hacked or taken over. It is an awful feeling, and I feel for you for the world of hurt that you will experience in time and perhaps money to return your account to your rightful control. Let me take you through the recovery process and provide some proactive security pointers that you should follow to prevent this awful moment from happening, or at least reduce the chances that it will.

In this post for The Verge, I explain the three different scenarios (a friend borrows your account, someone uses your photo on a new account, or you truly have been hacked) and how you can try to get your social life back. It isn’t easy, it could cost you a lot of time and a bit of money, and there are steps you should take to protect yourself now that will reduce the chances that your account will become compromised — such as removing any payment methods that you may have forgotten about, as shown above.

And if you would rather listen to my descriptions, my podcasting partner Paul Gillin interviewed me on this subject in a recent 16-minute episode.

FIR podcast episode #151: How Akamai rebuilt its website and drove customer engagement

Few of us get to have as much influence over a more public website than Annalisa Church, VP Digital Technology, Insights & Operations for Akamai.  She has built a career on converging marketing and technology to drive better experiences for customers and build long-term value for enterprises. She is devoted to transforming marketing into a data-driven organization through actionable insights and ensuring the voice of the customer. Prior to Akamai, she worked for eight years in Dell’s marketing department.

Annalisa recently led a massive overhaul of the Akamai website, which is available in nine different languages, with more than 1,200 pages in English covering 18 different products.  The site has tremendous customer engagement, with one million monthly visitors, and almost two-thirds of them become customers after visiting the site.

The diagram below shows some of the changes that Church implemented during her redesign to make it more effective and more relevant to visitors. These efforts have paid off in terms of more engagement, more conversions from visitors to customers, and wider impact.

Listen to our podcast here:

FIR B2B podcast episode #150: Marketing truths from Ruth Stevens

Ruth StevensThis episode brought us together with Ruth Stevens, whose consulting firm, eMarketing Strategy, helps clients build customer acquisition and retention strategies along with other marketing programs. Ruth has had a distinguished career. She has taught marketing at the NYU Stern School, the Columbia Business School and the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore. Before that  she held senior marketing positions at Time Warner, IBM and other firms.

Back in the early 1990s Ruth headed up marketing for the Ziff Davis Computer Library, an early – and highly profitable – business that repackaged content from Ziff-Davis’ portfolio of publications and delivered it on a CD-ROM, if you can believe it. Ruth is an unabashed fan of B2B marketing with a wide scope of interests. As a blogger on, she has lamented the often toxic relationship between sales and marketing organizations and described tools for connecting with your website visitors that even our hosts were unaware of.

Ruth is past president of the Direct Marketing Club of New York and was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Marketing by Crain’s BtoB magazine. She has written a number of books, the most recent being B2B Data-Driven Marketing: Sources, Uses, Results, which was co-authored Theresa Kushner. In a recent presentation, she talked about ways to plan your content marketing library.

Among the topics we touch on in this interview is the value of account-based marketing, the importance of understanding the difference between lead quantity and quality, the mistakes that B2B marketers make that still drive her crazy and why B2B marketing is more complex, difficult and fun than B2C marketing. You can listen to our 20 min. podcast recording below.

FIR B2B podcast episode #149: Cutting out the middleman in B2B PR

For years Paul and I have used Help A Reporter Out. The service — now owned by Cision —  aims to eliminate the gatekeeping middleman role of corporate PR, and put sources directly in touch with the journalists that want to quote them. HARO, as it is known, has been less useful as of late, but there is a new, venture-backed startup called Qwoted that is making some important inroads. We spoke to its CEO and co-founder, Dan Simon. He told us Qwoted had close to a thousand inquires last month and is growing. The service has a free tier (individuals can make three monthly requests, agencies five) and a paid tier.

Qwoted flips the PR paradigm on its head by letting journalists initiate the conversation and cutting out the need for pitches.

Simon has lots of pointers to help PR and marketing staff get the most out of his service. He is deeply steeped in the field, having been president of Cognito, a New York financial services agency, among other roles. Simon recommends that you use the tools he provides to search on previous successful match-ups and examine the job titles more carefully, as well as to fill out the profiles to make your expertise more transparent and compelling.

You can listen to our 16 min. podcast here:

Speech: Using NetGalley to Promote Your Self-Published Book

One of the best ways to promote your book is by reaching new readers with pre-release copies, and thanks to a service called NetGalley, you can add this to your toolbox.

I have been using NetGalley as a reader for the past several years: the idea is that I can read new books that interest me for free, provided that I review them and post my reviews on Amazon and other book selling sites. In this presentation, I will show you the author’s point of view. Yes, it does cost to make your pre-release “galleys” available—but the fee is a very reasonable $450 per book, or $200 if you are a member of IBPA. In this presentation, I will show you how NetGalley works, what kinds of books are best for the service (including audiobooks) and the best time to take advantage of it as part of your book marketing efforts. 

This speech will be given to the St. Louis Publishers’ Assn September 8.

Here is a copy of my presentation slides

FIR B2B podcast #148: The Changing Landscape of B2B Discussion Groups

A new report on social media usage by the channel by Jay McBain of Forrester Research finds that the groups people use and the way they use them is changing amid a 13.2%, 490 million-user surge in social media use in 2020.

The report lists major tech channel groups that both managed service providers and channel managers should know about for each social network. McBain’s informal research found that Facebook Groups have replaced LinkedIn as the place to talk tech. He claims many LinkedIn groups have become ghost towns overrun by spam. Half of his respondents to his survey were disappointed with engagement levels on the platform.

The report prompted me to realize that he belonged to more than 50 groups and couldn’t remember the last time he posted — or even clicked on content on any of them. McBain has identified more than 40 FaceBook Groups that IT folks should take a closer look at. 

One of the more important lessons of this research is that social media groups aren’t an ad medium but a way to engage potential partners on a grassroots level. Too often we both have seen plenty of spam or vendor posts that don’t really encourage discussion. The speed at which channel firms have apparently abandoned LinkedIn groups shows how quickly attitudes can change if group members don’t believe their needs are being respected.

McBain also reviewed several other social networks, some of which we hadn’t heard of. Up-and-comers include the audio- and app-oriented Clubhouse and Discord, which was originally for gamers but which has broadened its scope. McBain rates Twitter the second most popular spot for tech content, even though it really doesn’t have the community engagement tools to match Facebook or LinkedIn. And he advises B2B companies to keep an eye on Reddit, which had 52 million daily active users worldwide at the end of 2020, up 44% year-over-year.

Although the report is aimed at technology channel companies, it’s a useful way for any B2B marketer to take a fresh look at the social groups you use to get your message across.

You can listen to our 14 min. podcast here: