The Crocodile – big appetite for B2B marketing

Archive for September, 2011

The surprising role of technology and data in creativity

I was intrigued recently to come across an idea that has been used by an English school in Brazil that asked children what they wanted to be when they grew up.

They took the responses and created photo business cards for the children. The result – more kids had a clearer focus of their aspirations and their parents were more enthusiastic about them learning English and signed them up at the English school.

Applying a creative approach to the information available, and making it personal, made all the difference.

With all the different ways marketers can collect and use data these days – it’s when we team it with clever creative thinking that we see the most effective results.

You should never overlook genuine creativity if you want to truly capture your audiences’ attention. Here are two ideas I’ve seen done recently that have managed to surprise, and achieved results.

Intel made it personal brilliantly with their museum of me. What a thrill to walk through your own gallery that is simply all about you. With your permission, they collect all your photos, friends and information from your Facebook account and turn it into your very own personal gallery. Then they take you on a 3D journey through your gallery room by room. All your pictures and thoughts are used to take you on a compelling journey of your life.

(Take a look)

With a more down to earth approach, KLM caught our attention recently delighting passengers with little acts of kindness to brighten a traveller’s day. Using Twitter and Foursquare the team were able to find passengers travelling with KLM, and from their public profiles they could find out a little bit about their life to help them choose an appropriate personal (carry-on sized) gift to brighten up their day. Like an apron for the passenger on route to a food blogging conference, a Spanish dictionary for the traveller on his way to Spain, or the Dutch souvenirs for the couple going back to Singapore. This creative way to reach audiences proved a real smile is better than a virtual smiley icon….oh, and it generated 1,000,000 Twitter impressions!

There may not be much that feels genuinely new these days. But there are certainly new ways of doing things to surprise and delight – it just requires a bit of creative thinking, something we at The Crocodile have a bit of an obsession with!

Key social media marketing trends for 2012

No. 1 – Localisation.

Over the next few weeks and months we will be searching out and commenting on the outlook for social media marketing in 2012. This post will be looking at The Crocodile’s own prediction that localisation will be a key trend.

Localisation means moving away from a one size fits all global approach and adapting social communication to suit different audiences. An example would be targeting a specific offer or discount at customers based in a certain region. You wouldn’t advertise a great offer available in Spain to a customer in the US so why treat social communications any differently?

Localisation can also mean the consideration of different social tools and approaches for different countries and cultures. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are by far the most popular social networking sites in the Western world but barely register in China where sites like QZone and Baidu dominate.

In Japan, Facebook lags behind sites like Mixi and Gree but Twitter is hugely popular, perhaps because in Japanese it is possible to express the equivalent of 260 English characters, an increase of over 85% on Twitter’s 140-character limit. Conversely, in the Philippines a staggering 93.9% of the country’s online population (roughly 25% of the overall population) has signed up to Facebook but only 16% have embraced Twitter*.

Something else to factor in is the different ways people use social networks. Understanding different behaviour profiles is key to the effective planning and delivery of social marketing activity. This infographic from GlobalWebIndex gives an overview of the global state of social networking in 2011 and shows how users differ in their use of social networks around the world.

What’s great about localisation is the focus it puts on the individual. Ultimately social media is all about the individual and the key to success is to engage with people on a personal and meaningful level. In this new hyper-social world what’s needed is a totally organic and flexible approach that can be adapted on an almost a case-by-case basis.

This might seem daunting, particularly to any time poor B2B marketer lacking resource and struggling to define success metrics, but there are plenty of tools out there to help. The key is to spend time getting to know your audience – wherever they may be – and to adapt your communications accordingly.

Have you got your own forecasts for social media marketing in 2012? If so we’d love to hear them. Watch this space for further predictions.


Why ‘The Cluetrain Manifesto’ is still relevant today

In 1999 a group of authors, intellectuals and journalists came together to write a thesis on the need for businesses to adapt to a more communicative network of customers. The Cluetrain Manifesto, written by Rick Levin, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls and David Weinberger is a set of 95 ideas and observations on the way businesses and their consumers interact.

The manifesto’s call to action was for all businesses operating within a “newly connected marketplace” to stop faking it and start talking to their consumers as individuals and humans. The authors took a predictive look at how businesses could use the Internet to focus on their customers’ real needs rather than deploying marketing for purely financial gain.

Over ten years later and The Cluetrain Manifesto is still impressively relevant, yet many B2B organisations still struggle to realise the importance of many of the fundamental ideas put forward.

The most successful marketing is now gained through the implementation of free flowing, personalised strategies. The focus has moved away from campaigns aimed at ‘target markets’ and onto communicating with individuals. Consumers are looking at marketing in a different way too, focused on the value of communications to them and not necessarily the product being sold.

What is interesting about this personalised style of marketing is that consumers are increasingly aware of their power as an individual, demanding so much more. Consumers can insist on answers to questions from people that previously hid behind a hierarchy or marketing mask. Simply being told by a company that their product is the best just isn’t enough, and if a product isn’t living up to expectations then get the product designer out to talk about why!

Over the last 100 years advertising and marketing has shouted at consumers, insisting their product is a necessity. However, as the Internet has opened up conversations, consumers have been able to find more value and openness in talking to each other. As these communities formed they began to unravel business jargon and speak to each other in their own, more accessible voices. The Cluetrain Manifesto established that in order for B2B marketing to succeed in this world of honesty they needed to drop their jargon and corporate mystique. Thesis 15 of The Cluetrain Manifesto states:

In just a few more years, the current homogenised “voice” of business – the sound of mission statements and brochures – will seem as contrived and artificial as the language of the 18th century French court.”

~ from Thesis 15, “The Cluetrain Manifesto” (1999)

The reason that even today this approach is still not being fully embraced by B2B companies is perhaps that this seemly-disorganised way of marketing cannot be controlled. The success of this style of marketing is in the freedom of its voice. By tentatively – rather than wholeheartedly – moving towards this method of marketing, companies are in danger of unwittingly stifling its success, leading to even more of a reluctance to proceed, creating a cycle of ineffectiveness.

In order for B2B businesses to flourish through evolutionary and fast-paced marketing they must have transparent and credible values that are not there to hide behind, but are there to shout about. Instead of worrying about potential customers seeing the inner workings of their business they should have great pride in their companies, employees and products, sending them out into the world to be advocates of the brand.

The communities are out there and they want to talk. This open communication cannot be stopped and B2B companies can truly be invigorated by grasping the opportunity to fully open up and join the conversation.

Our top five Cluetrain Manifesto ideas to boost your marketing:

  1. Converse with your customers, don’t just talk at them
  2. Deliver communications in a human voice – drop the jargon
  3. Try not to control the conversation – its power is its freedom
  4. No tentative toe-dipping – go for it and open up your business!
  5. Be accessible, proudly allow your employees and products to be brand advocates

Taking the pain out of planning

We’ve all caught ourselves repeating the age old cliché ‘where does the time go?’ – and if you’re like us you’ll currently find yourself planning Christmas campaigns despite it being only the tail end of a (somewhat bleak) UK summer outside. Yes, thinking ahead can be painful when there’s still this year’s plan to get through – but it mustn’t be ignored.

With the not so distant memory of a nasty global recession, marketing spend is still under close scrutiny. In order to secure prosperous marketing budgets the savviest marketing departments will be already thinking about 2012 plans. But with Q4 projects not even out the door, incomplete results still coming in, and the usual amount of future uncertainty, it’s hard to know where to start.

Here are 5 tips to help you get the most from the planning process. Unsurprisingly (or surprisingly to some) it’s back to basics:

1. Make sure every marketing activity, and every penny attached to it, is linked to a specific business objective. Engagement and awareness are nice but contributing to the bottom line is much more valuable! This is something we live by – we call it the Slide One Principle (you can read more about it here).

2. Be realistic – look at what you did and didn’t do in 2011. Ask yourself why activities weren’t executed. Be critical of what was in and out of your control. With this insight, make sure you aren’t going to fall into the same traps again next year. A plan is no good unless everyone believes in it and is committed to it.

3. Get the right people involved – all too often we see marketing departments almost competing with sales teams or customer service departments. If your organisation is serious about leadership – you should all be working towards the same business goals, so your plans should be aligned to maximise impact. Resist the silos – work together to pool expertise and create a plan that really delivers for your organisation! (For advice on aligning marketing with sales, click here).

4. Look ahead – big events could help make your marketing efforts more relevant and amplify their impact. This year we had an epic Royal wedding and next year London hosts the biggest sporting calendar event! Map out any key dates important to your industry – awards dates or technology releases for instance – and think about how you could use heightened awareness to get a conversation started. (You can check out our tips on winning with the Olympics in 2012 here).

5. Be flexible – try to think reasonably of things that could de-rail your plans (do you suspect head count is under threat? Are there any new regulations or laws posing a risk?) and have a plan for them. We have already been through quite a lot in the recession so we can all appreciate how crucial it is to accept (and embrace) change in order to succeed.

Putting in the time now to agree the direction you are heading, assess where you are now and decide how you will advance will stand you in good stead to ensure your 2012 story is remarkable and profitable, instead of stressful and regretful.

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