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SM4B2B

SM4B2B? That’s social media for business-to-business, and yes, it absolutely exists. Social media has grown from a person-to-person, or business-to-consumer voice and is now a top channel in any integrated, strategic communications plan. With social media driving brand awareness, boosting your website and company’s SEO rankings, platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are tools that cannot be ignored. Ready to get started? Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Identify your audience.

Even as a B2B company, remember that you’re talking to a person. There are typically a few folks who weigh in on any purchase decision, so make it a point to know who those people are, what they like, what they’re interested in, and what channels they are on. Once you know who to target, take it a step further by using nominal advertising dollars to target your message so it is seen by those decision makers. By putting some dollars behind key posts, you can be sure that your message is being delivered to the people who need to see it.

Reaching your customers on Facebook.

If your business plans to maintain a Facebook page, it’s important to keep in mind that the platform has evolved into a pay-per-play channel, and you’ll need to invest in “Like” campaigns to grow your following. Additionally, Facebook’s “EdgeRank” algorithm heavily sensors business page content and delivers only about 1% of published content to a fan’s timeline. The lesson here is that your company will need a mix of organic (nonpaid) and sponsored (paid) content. That is, in addition to engaging, incentive-focused organic content, a consistent cadence of promoted posts will guarantee that content will be seen in your fan’s timeline.

Using Twitter correctly and effectively.

Now that you know who your audience is, get your Twitter page up and running. Whereas targeting people on Facebook can be viewed as intrusive (because it’s a lot harder to do as a business page), Twitter makes it easy to find, follow, and engage people in a more professional way. In the beginning, find, follow, and listen to your target audiences and industry thought leaders’ tweets. Jumping in right away without fully understanding your audiences will turn them off. Re-tweet content relevant to your brand or business to get on their radar without a direct introduction.

Think about it like dating. Initially, you need to get to know each other first before you introducing him or her to your parents. So long as you have fun, engaging content, you’ll build a following (see below), but even though the ultimate goal is closing a deal, don’t forget to be human.

Using LinkedIn as a resource.

A strong network on LinkedIn can go a long way toward building relationships between businesses and employees, and businesses and potential customers/clients. B2B marketing is built through word of mouth; therefore having shared connections makes it that much easier to establish new online relationships. Ask customers and clients for reviews and reciprocate. Post blogs and relevant third-party articles a few times weekly to populate your newsfeed. This way, when prospects come to your page, they will see an active, engaged, and referred business.

LinkedIn Answers is a place where your sales team executives and reps can establish authority in your field by answering questions from prospective clients and/or customers. You’ll quickly build online rapport and relationships as you have more discussions. Many businesses have seen success in the form of sales leads after continually engaging in discussion and offering business services via LinkedIn.

Content, content, content.

Similar to the “location, location, location” real estate mantra, content is king online. Until your business has reached an iconic state on social media (i.e., millions of followers), simply posting content about your products and services will only achieve one thing: alienation. We all follow that one person on Facebook who posts about the same stuff over and over. It’s annoying and we probably hide their posts. At Martino Flynn, we generally recommend an 80/20 ratio of content: 20 percent original, branded content and 80 percent other (lifestyle, industry trends, etc.). Ask questions, provide data and insight, create original content like product videos and blogs, and offer incentives. Give your fans a reason to come to your page. Think about the business pages you follow. What gets you to type in those businesses’ name in the search bar to see what they’re up to?

Monitor, measure, and follow up.

Are people responding to your content? Social media monitoring is a full-time job. Not only is staying up to date with what’s being posted everywhere online incredibly important from a content and relevancy perspective, it’s also vital to be in the know on what people are saying about your company, industry, and competitors. Set up alerts using a search engine or media monitoring service, cater your content to what’s popular, and monitor engagement on your social channels. Respond to everyone you can and build those relationships.

Once you’ve figured out a posting and monitoring strategy, set benchmarks to work toward. Using website analytics, you should start to see when your social communications make a difference. Trackable (and shortened links) help to monitor traffic, and ad platform analytics on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn will show you what’s working and what isn’t.

Does it still seem like a lot to handle? Martino Flynn’s team of social gurus can help get your social pages up and running, and we have the capacity to fully manage your platforms.

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Cultivating Brand Ambassadors with Social Media

Regardless of the industry, the evergreen goal of a B2C company is to leverage its brand amongst consumers. In an age when traditional advertising isn’t a two-way relationship, targeted social media has become so forced that it’s not genuine; there’s a gap in communication with the consumers. According to Marketwired, 68% of millennials are unfazed by celebrity endorsements, while 93% read reviews prior to purchase. Brands need to start thinking like consumers and understanding how their customers are sharing and consuming content.

Influenster, a third-party, product discovery platform, has recognized this need for engagement for both consumers and brands. The platform’s success is evident with revenue in the first quarter of the fiscal 2015 year, which started in April, matched its full year of revenue from 2014. This online community gathers savvy social media consumers who love to give opinions on products and experiences and makes them brand ambassadors to Influenster’s already established and trusted network.

For the consumer, it’s simple:

  1. Create a profile: link to all social media accounts to potentially earn a high social impact score
  2. Diversify your profile by obtaining expert and lifestyle badges through quizzes and surveys
  3. Take a pre-qualifying survey with no knowledge of up-coming campaigns to possibly be eligible to receive a brand box (brands can target groups specifically based on survey questions and consumer profile and impact)
  4. If you receive a brand box, you may begin to share your opinion on the product and brand with the Influenster community

I recently joined Influenster with the interest of learning more about the platform and what I thought was an unlikely chance of getting free products to review. Luckily, in my first month, I was selected for not one, but two branded box campaigns. The boxes were vastly different; one contained a new coffee maker, while the other one included sports apparel. In order for me to win the coffee maker brand badge, I needed to register my product on the brand’s website, tweet and Instagram about it with specific hashtags provided, and write a review on its website- all about my opinion of the new product – all while stating that I received the product for free testing and reviews. For a consumer who is on social media frequently, that was easy. For a brand that doesn’t reach its target audience with traditional advertising, and who just enlisted hundreds of brand ambassadors, it was easy.

To put it simply from the standpoint of a success story: Goody Hair targeted a female community with an interest in fashion to help launch its new QuikStyle Paddle Brush. Janki Gambhir, director of marketing, Rubbermaid, said her primary goal was to ramp up the company’s social presence. The results? A 40% increase in Facebook fans, and 26% increase in Twitter followers – all while sales of the product increased by 40%.

Search Engine Optimization

The Importance of Medical SEO Marketing

Why does search engine optimization (SEO) work well for medical device companies? It’s really pretty simple. Typically, the sales cycle is longer and search engines play a significant role in the research and evaluation of products.

With a strong medical SEO campaign, a medical device company can distribute its brand message and showcase product offerings using an increased visibility in search engines in order to:

  • Shape perceptions in the buying cycle
  • Target qualified prospects from the beginning of the cycle
  • Position itself as one of the premier solutions

According to the 2013 State of Digital Marketing report, SEO has the biggest impact on lead generation. With business-to-business marketing, approximately 60% of decision makers say that content helps them make purchase decisions. With an effective SEO program, a company can expect:

  • A lower cost per lead than traditional channels
  • Long-term lead generation from existing website content
  • Visibility in the marketplace with appropriate keyword targeting
  • Qualified prospects visiting its website

In order to thrive, stay ahead of the competition, and ultimately grow its business, a medical device company needs to ensure that SEO initiatives are top of mind and that it is working closely with its marketing communications partners to maximize this effort.

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Pet Products: Made in the USA Goes Beyond the American Flag

Look on shelves in any pet retailer and you will see multiple products marked, “Made in the USA” or “Ingredients sourced in the USA.” And with recent foreign-sourced ingredient scares, American-made products quickly are becoming a powerful sub-segment of the pet marketplace. Here’s what you need to know about this trending segment and its impact on your pet care brand.

Buying American isn’t just good for their pets, it’s feel-good for their owners too

When consumers buy pet products that are marked “Made in the USA” it makes them feel like they are impacting the greater good as well. 75% of consumers believe that buying products made in the USA is socially responsible[i], believing that buying American-made products helps to create jobs and contributes to economic recovery. As the U.S. economy continues to rebound from the Great Recession, buying American-made will continue to give consumers that “feel good” boost.

Pets are valued family members – and owners are willing to spend accordingly

Nearly 2/3 of all pet owners consider their pet to be part of their family[ii] – and do not hesitate to purchase specialty products, many of which cost more. And while brands may hesitate to produce products in the U.S. due to higher manufacturing costs, to today’s pet owner, Fido is “worth it.” Many pet brands are further capitalizing on this key fact, offering human-grade ingredients or even giving their products humanized names. Dogswell, which makes a variety of functional treats, recently launched an “Artisan Meats” line. The Artisan Meats line is made in the USA, and has product descriptors that you would see on many American menus, like “Deli Slices” and “Sliders.”

Labels are a key information source

Since 2007, the FDA estimates that it has received 3,600 complaints regarding foreign ingredients and pet illnesses, mainly around rawhides other pet food treats from China. In 2013, the FDA formally issued a warning against any pet food treats made in China[iii].

As a result, consumers are paying close attention to what is on pet labels and looking for key call-outs, such as, “Made in the USA.” In fact, pet owners cite product labels as the most-often used source of information when purchasing new pet products. Pet brands can capitalize on this fact by prominently featuring, “Made in the USA” on their labels and packaging, if the claim applies.

So what does this mean for your pet brand? “Made in the USA” claims are just one part of a strategic product marketing plan, and brands should keep in mind that it is not the only factor that will guarantee success. And while it is mainly being used in the pet food and treat space currently, we expect it to quickly pop up in the toy and durable goods area, as consumer sentiment continues to favor American-made pet products. By monitoring this trend, pet brands can stay well-informed and make strategic decisions on their sourcing and manufacturing locations.

To learn more about pet and animal health care marketing, and how Martino Flynn can make your brand a success, please contact Rose Feor at rfeor@martinoflynn.com, or 585.421.0100.

[i] MINTEL, American Made Matters, October 2012

[ii] APPA National Pet Owners Survey, 2011-12

[iii] MINTEL, Pet Supplies, U.S., June 2014

The Role Of In-Home Use Studies In Marketing Communications

In-home trials have long played a part in the product development process, but only recently have they been conducted with the main goal of informing the development of marketing messages. What a manufacturer has in mind is often different than what occurs in actuality. That’s why it’s important to ask these basic questions:

Who is using the product?

The female shopper who is traditionally responsible for making household purchase decisions is typically targeted for in-home use studies, but she is often not the person actually using the products. For that reason, it’s important to verify that you are engaging the right individual. For instance, do you want to reach the mother who purchases acne medication for her teenager or the teenager who is suffering from the breakout? While efficacy will be key for both, other messages will vary significantly for these audiences.

What are they using the product for?

Consumers are far more inventive about product usage than monographs allow. While learning about off-label usage will not enable you to make claims that regulations prevent, it can help identify new areas for product development or prompt the need for clinical trials that would allow you to pursue a specific claim.

When is the product being used?

In-home trials usually come with a prescribed or suggested usage protocol. Whether it’s because a person has his or her own routine, thinks he or she knows better, or identifies a different time to use the product, consumers seldom follow usage instructions to the letter. Don’t let this nullify your trial. Instead, you should learn from it. For example, arthritis sufferers told us that they limited their use of topical pain relief products containing menthol to evening hours because they were too embarrassed to go to work smelling like “medicine.” This led to a creative execution that promoted the product for nighttime use.

How is the product being used?

Consumers are inventive about their product usage and application. In food and beverage studies, people often share information about preparation, food pairings, and even where they sit down to eat. This information can drive photo selection and more. Product application may also come into play. In some cases, people have logical reasons for the ways that they apply products, but often it’s as unscientific as an old wives’ tale. The application of vapor rub to a child’s feet is a perfect example of this. While this application can’t be found on the label, it has been positioned as a “tip.”

In-home use studies can vary in their size and complexity. Because their use is qualitative and not quantitative, even small samples can yield big results. For more information about in-home research to drive messaging and claims, contact Beth VanVliet, director of client services, at 585.641.4531 or bvanvliet@martinoflynn.com.

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