by Francine Carb, President
Many of today’s marketing tactics are focused on gaining immediate feedback—and with very good reason. We all want to know if: Our email marketing campaigns are being opened? Being read? Recipients are clicking to our websites? And to which page or pages? Believe me, I’m all in when it comes to metrics; however, most B2B companies are struggling with the real value of those metrics. Yes, they are numbers—just like GDP or the employment rate—but also like big numbers, we struggle to find relevance behind them, and furthermore, how to turn those numbers into actionable plans that can make a difference in our businesses.
Market Research, even the name, implies a lengthy drawn-out process, with questionable results. Research seems like something we had to do in college that took up an entire semester—and that we’re still trying to forget. I’d love to invent a new name for it, but in the meantime I’d like to speak out in favor of market research.
Done well, it can at minimum take the pulse of a particular audience relative to a particular product, service, or trend. At most, it can identify customer issues; find those willing to volunteer for a case study or testimonial; and help drive the future strategy of an organization. Let’s further investigate the ‘at most’ scenario.
The question you should be asking yourself is: Do I really know and understand my customers at a deep level?
Sure, I know my customers are tech, science, and engineering firms who launch new products and services, but that’s just a description. You may know that your customers are facilities managers at health care institutions, IT managers at large corporations, constructions companies in the mid west, or builders of pharmaceutical plants—to name a few; however, those are descriptions not personal characteristics, and certainly not buying criteria.
I’ve mentioned our strategic planning process, Markitecture™, many times in my blogs, but have not focused on the primary research portion for a while. Primary research, in this case, refers to one-on-one interviews with “ideal prospects and ideal clients”. It is only through the interview process with multiple companies that one can begin to hear a “voice of customer” emerge and therefore adequately describe an ideal client—real or imagined.
Let’s explore one set of results learned through primary research. As an example, my ideal clients:
- Are referred to my business or are former clients from other companies
- Have a long term marketing issue or lackluster performance they are actively trying to resolve
- Launch new products and services somewhat regularly, but do not have a marketing process in place to support that
- Use outside services, agencies, advisors, and other consultants in one or more capacities
- May have internal resources, but either not at a senior level, or not well-versed their industry
- Have some room to grow, so are either in a growing market, offer a product where there is increasing demand, or have a innovation with high potential
- Have a sponsor of marketing issues who is an owner, investor, and/or executive
- Are willing and able to spend money to solve their marketing issues
Our ideal sponsors (the person supporting and growing marketing):
- Usually come from a business or sales background
- Intimately understand their business, and the industry as a whole
- Have a good handle on the competitive landscape
- Want to put effort (thought, in addition to money) to solve their issue
- Are problem solvers
- Are colorful characters with big personalities
Now, I think you definitely have a picture developing in your mind. While those are quite a few criteria, they are truly the characteristics of our ideal clients.
In the world of market research, there are various methods to gain voice of customer knowledge. I’m going to explore these in my next blog. They include: surveying industry members (at conferences or via associations), taking customer feedback mechanisms to the next level, and purchasing ultra-qualified lists. I’ll also cover online surveys, telephone surveys, and focus groups as methods to conduct primary research, as well as best practices when combining several methods.
Philadelphia, PA – (August 7, 2015) – Markitects is proud to co-sponsor SEMPO Cities Philadelphia in collaboration with local WSI affiliate, Vinkler Internet Enterprise, as part of SEMPO’s outreach initiative for local networking and learning. The event will take place on October 6th, 2015 from 7:30 AM to 11:00 AM at the Pyramid Club in Philadelphia. It includes breakfast, networking, and both local and nationally recognized speakers covering a variety of digital, social, and mobile topics. Registration is now available and can be found, along with information about sponsorships, at http://www.sempo.org/event/cities_philadelphia_2015
The keynote presentation will be given by nationally recognized speaker Dan Monaghan, co-founder of WSI corporate, who will discuss future trends in his presentation, “Harnessing Digital”. Following the keynote, Francine Carb, President & CEO of Markitects, will lead a panel discussion, called Digital Marketing in Action, covering how digital marketing is integral to the success of regional businesses. Panelists include Chris Schalleur of Christo IT, Justin Pizzi of Saxbys, and Kevin Crowley of Tozour Energy Systems. Shannon Rompala, Partnership Development Specialist, from Likeable Local in New York, will present “Using Social Media to Connect, Convert and Create Customers for Life”. Marketing professionals, company owners, and others interested in how digital and mobile marketing can grow their businesses are encouraged to attend.
According to Francine, “This event kicks off our fall season of customer-centric education and outreach programs. Our entire client base benefits from integrating digital, social, and mobile activities into their marketing mix.” Nancy Vinkler, President of the local WSI affiliate adds, “We’re excited to take the lead for SEMPO Philadelphia and look forward to developing future digital marketing programs for new clients.”
Founded in 2002, SEMPO, or Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization, is a global non-profit serving the search engine marketing industry. Sponsored by Google and Baidu, the organization provides a foundation for industry growth through building stronger relationships, fostering awareness, providing education, promoting the industry, generating research, and creating a better understanding of search and its role in marketing. For more information, visit http://www.sempo.org/.
WSI is the world’s largest digital marketing agency. Specializing in digital marketing solutions, the company serves over 80 countries. WSI helps clients get found on the Internet and experience increased revenue by aiding in search engine optimization (SEO), social media, paid search, and email marketing. For more information about WSI’s local affiliate, visit http://www.wsisimplyroi.com.
Markitects is a long-standing strategic marketing, branding, public relations, and communications agency servicing growth-oriented companies that market regionally, globally and internationally. Since 1994, Markitects has introduced and positioned over two hundred products, services, and companies through its unique blend of content marketing, visual creativity, and communications know-how.
Our specialties include launching engineering, technology, and science-related products and innovations worldwide. Through our proven Markitecture™ strategic branding process, Markitects has been a catalyst for growth and realignment, allowing companies to successfully differentiate themselves and capitalize on new opportunities.
By Amanda Plavner, Summer Marketing Intern
Being a marketing intern at Markitects has taught me an incredible amount and I have no idea how to repay them. I have enjoyed every moment of this internship and will remember certain moments with the employees at Markitects as well as with different clients. There was never a dull moment and I am very thankful for that. Accepting a summer intern is a bit of a hassle for companies, especially depending on the intern’s personality. While I never missed a day or said no to any assignments, I am sure that at times I was not the most helpful and was just in the way.
This was the first summer that I really stepped out of my comfort zone. I have held other jobs and internships, but for the fifteen summers prior, I have spent the full summer at Arrowhead Day Camp. I began my journey as a camper, made it to the highest girls bunk, became a Junior Counselor, and eventually made it to the coveted Head Counselor position for my final summer. While a day camp is not considered a marketing powerhouse, I did do a lot of event planning and learned many other skills that I have brought to this internship and will carry with me into my future. Not knowing what a summer was like without my special camp, after saying farewell, I was very nervous to enter the Markitects world. Little did I know, Markitects would become its own kind of home and family in my heart.
The exposure that I have had since my first day here is incredible. Coming from the University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business as a Marketing major, I did not have any specific public relations knowledge. Marketing is housed in the business school, while public relations is not considered business, but rather a track in Communications. Markitects has taught me all that I know about press releases and Google Alerts, while also enhancing my marketing knowledge.
Markitects has allowed me to see marketing in the real world – a classroom just does not compare. Doing a lot of market research, I have honed my skills to make me a better researcher in the future. I am truly an expert email address finder now and researching competitors is just not as scary anymore. From prospecting to writing content for websites, I feel like I have experienced a plethora of marketing tasks. I was even able to help with some of the creative content for mail campaigns while creating slogans for different mailings. Marketing includes so many different things and here, I feel I was exposed to it all. Many other companies would not have been able to show me as much as Markitects has made visible for me.
While I was able to contribute to many projects, my favorites include a lot of the creative work as well as analytics that I played a role in. Since I was little, I have always had a strong passion for data. Working with websites and social media have allowed me to use Google Analytics, which has encouraged my strong data desire even more. Many people would think spreadsheets of numbers are boring, but to me, it was like a dream come true. I also enjoyed browsing iStock photos, which I was never told about in school. In my final week, I even attended a photo shoot, which was probably one of the biggest highlights of my internship. Watching the photos and the content come together was like magic to my eyes. Since I had worked on a lot of biographies for the people in the pictures and felt as though I knew them, the experience was even more fascinating.
I have come a long way since my first few days at Markitects when I got lost trying to find the post office, which is about a block away from the office. I have also mastered the skill of getting coffee, even in torrential downpour. While everyone jokes that these are intern tasks, these skills are a foundation for my future. An internship teaches you more than what is just expected and applicable to your major or field. All students should participate in an internship if they are able to as there is just so much to learn; each person and company have their own story to tell.
Some skills that I have learned and expanded on while at Markitects:
- Phone, email, in person communications
- General business rules and norms
- Market research (master LinkedIn searcher)
- Website content
- Excel Spreadsheets
- Social media marketing
- Writing blogs
- Choosing and purchasing promotional material
- Data analytics
Overall, I am so thankful for everything that I have learned at Markitects. I have met so many people and learned about many different companies, for which I am also thankful. I only wish the best for all that I have interacted with during my time as a marketing intern at Markitects. Thank you, Markitects.
Wayne, PA, July 31, 2015 — Markitects, Inc. was recently re-certified as a National Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC). This certification affirms that Markitects is a woman-owned, operated, and controlled business. WBENC’s national standard of certification is a meticulous process including an in-depth review of the business and site inspection. The certification process is designed to confirm the business is at least 51% owned, operated and controlled by a woman or women. This coincides with Markitects’ celebrated twentieth year in business.
Francine Carb, Founder and CEO of Markitects, owns 100% of the business and is an award-winning member of the business community, where she is affiliated with many organizations throughout the Philadelphia region, including Entrepreneur’s Forum of Philadelphia, Mid-Atlantic Diamond Ventures, Greater Philadelphia Alliance for Capital and Technologies (PACT), and the Forum of Executive Women.
Markitects, Inc., founded in 1994, specializes in strategic marketing communications and product launches. The agency, known for its long-standing expertise in B2B technology marketing, has served over 200 clients in the technology, science and engineering fields since its inception. A two-time Philly 100 award winner, the agency provides market research, advertising, public relations, visual communications, outsourced marketing, social media, and digital marketing services to its clients. Learn more at www.markitects.com.
The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council is the nation’s largest third party certifier of businesses owned and operated by women in the United States. WBENC is a resource for the more than 700 US companies and government agencies that rely on WBENC’s certification as an integral part of their supplier diversity programs.
I am excited to announce that Markitects will be a sponsor of SEMPO Cities Philadelphia in an effort to expand the region’s knowledge of Search Engine Marketing (SEM).
SEMPO (The Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization) is a global non-profit organization serving the search and digital marketing industry. The organization aims to increase education and awareness of this emerging and growing field. Funded by Google and Baidu, the organization has recently revamped their programming to allow for local networking and learning.
October 2015 will be the first-ever SEMPO Cities Month. Twenty cities around the world—including Philadelphia—will host an event that is unique and relevant to their individual location. Here, the event will take place in Center City and feature several top Search Engine Marketing experts, yet to be announced.
We will keep you updated as the event details are finalized. Philadelphia will soon be officially on the map for Search Engine Marketing. See you in October!
More Information on SEMPO
Press Release: http://www.sempo.org/?page=pr_20150416
SEMPO Website: http://www.sempo.org/
By Amanda Plavner, Summer Marketing Intern
It is common knowledge that businesses need to reach those outside of their company to actually do business and reach a revenue goal. A website is a great way to do that! Why then, do companies make it so difficult for Internet users to learn about their company? Recently, I have been searching for prospects in the engineering field, and while they may not be primarily focused on marketing themselves, I find it hard to believe that they do not even list a contact email on their website. My research has consisted of countless hours of Google and LinkedIn searches trying to make up for what many companies’ websites lack; most prospects, suppliers, and referral sources would not spend the time trying to find out more information and would give up.
Although in today’s world electronic communication is very prevalent, a mailing address is also helpful when doing business. A mailing address allows one not only to send something through the mail, but also to determine the location of the business. While finding addresses of companies is usually simple online, older websites will display a location different from that of the one posted by Google or stated in the meta description. I question which address I should be sending information to and often come to the conclusion that it depends on the size of the company and how recently the website has been updated. Ultimately, I get confused and discouraged to reach out to the company, let alone visit them.
Deciphering who should be the contact person leads to more issues. The first issue is that many websites do not even offer information about who works at their company; they lack an “About Us” page or some variation of that. More often than not, the information about the employees of the company is hidden. I understand that companies do not want their employees to be hired by a competitor, but how else can you qualify a professional services firm? After searching for a while and coming to the conclusion that a website does not offer any information on leadership or employees, what am I to do? Occasionally you can find the name of an employee of the company on LinkedIn, but LinkedIn searches are limited. Some industries may not even be listed on LinkedIn, as a company or as employees, leading to a failed search and no possible communication with the company.
Sometimes you get lucky and the website lists a contact name. That’s when I get a little excited, until I realize that there will still be mountains to climb in my desired path. Many websites that list contact names do not list the associated emails and instead offer an email@example.com email. When I see this type of email I question who will even see my correspondence and in fact, if anyone will check the account at all. Will the person who opens it forward it to the person who should have received the message? I highly doubt it.
Other websites do not even list an informational email and just offer a form to fill out and submit. This type of contact page is the worst because you cannot even add their email to your list; they remain anonymous. On top of that, once again the questions of ‘will anyone read this?’ and ‘who will actually read this? pop into my head.
Overall, the reasons behind why businesses make it so difficult for Internet users to find simple contact information is puzzling to me. Businesses want to interact with those outside of their company to provide their service and succeed financially, so why make that interaction so complicated?
Here are a few suggestions:
- Always list member of your leadership team, along with contact information. I doubt a competitor will steal them, just because you mention them.
- Check and verify all of your contact information, including a physical address.
- Make sure Google has that same physical address.
- Update (or create) your company LinkedIn page to align with your website information.
- Make sure that whatever employees are on LinkedIn display consistent company information.
by Francine Carb, President
You would think that creating and implementing marketing programs for technology companies would be easy. After all, they understand the advantages of email marketing, CRMs, and how news is disseminated in today’s digital age, so it should be a snap. Well, not so, and here’s why:
- Isn’t everyone like us?
Technology companies tend to think that everyone uses technology as adeptly as they do. The reality is that while their buying audience is getting younger and using more technology, technology isn’t the only, or necessarily, best way to reach buyers. Even twenty-somethings like to first meet or get a personal introduction to a service provider (see our last blog post), as a way to familiarize themselves with a company and get to know the person they’ll be working with. While electronic communications in the follow up stage are welcome and preferred, that first impression is best made in the flesh.
- Not all buyers are created equal.
I’ll be the first one to talk about consistent messaging; however the content—and delivery method—should be tweaked, depending on the audience. For instance, an ROI message might best be suited to the C-Suite; while the fewer headaches message is best for the administrator or manager. In addition, the C-Suite might only be receptive at high-level conferences and panels, while those overworked, under-appreciated managers might prefer webinars, followed by a Q&A session.
- We’re moving quickly, so our marketing should too.
There’s no avoiding it – marketing is an art and a science. The “answer” in terms of marketing may take some time, trial and error, and refining to do its magic. The most expedient method may or may not be the best. Furthermore, just putting it out there may cause irreversible harm. That’s not to say, overthinking is the answer, but thinking through a solution definitely helps, even if it takes a little time.
- Our competitors are doing it.
It seems that all industries, not just technology, are guilty of wanting to blindly follow their competitors—especially when their competitors have a great idea. The problem is that a particular idea may become associated with another company, not yours. Bottom line: there is no substitute for original thinking, so try to work with your creative team, agency or consultant to brainstorm an approach that’s uniquely yours. A better idea may be to “borrow” from another industry and tweak that idea appropriately for your company.
- Don’t stop getting to know your audience.
While your technology product or service was most likely designed to solve a particular set of problems, your audience is evolving. Whether that is due to familiarity with your product or other companies entering the market and solving those same problems, the way your audience responds to marketing is most likely to change over time. Speak to them, meet them, attend their events and conferences, take their pulse through casual meetings and formal surveys, and just engage— however and whenever possible. What you learn will help inform your marketing, keep it relevant, and contribute to more and happier customers.
These five points are especially relevant for technology companies; however, much of it applies to other industries, as well. If you need to bounce your marketing ideas around, please give us a call.
by Francine Carb, President
My clients who are in professional services industries, like engineering, architecture, and construction, often ask about determining their marketing budget. How much should they be? What should they include? And does our firm even need one?
After seeing my clients struggle with these issues for many years, I’ve devised a very reliable, widely accepted formula. Try it and I think you’ll be satisfied, or maybe even happy, with the process and the answers.
First, take your forward-looking year’s forecasted revenue projection. For this example, let’s use $25 million for fiscal year 2015. Much literature has been written about what percentage to use—typically from 3% in manufacturing to 20% in the software business, but neither really makes sense until you dig deeper. So let’s continue.
Then, take 10% of that number (which is really an overall average from multiple industries), so that would be 2.5 million dollars. Stay with me—that’s not your budget number. The 10 percent number is the baseline upon which to “normalize” it for your specific firm. It gets a little more complicated, but worth the effort.
Now, take a weighted average of the margin for each business unit. For this example, let’s try the following:
Business unit 1’s margin is 50%, but only contributes 10% to the business
Business unit 2’s margin is 10% and contributes 50%
Business unit 3’s margin is 25% and contributes 20%
Business unit 4’s margin is 15% and contributes 10%
Business unit 5’s margin is 20% and contributes 10%
Do the multiplication and add the results:
5% + 5% +5% + 1.5% + 2% = 18.5%
Now you can apply this realistic weighted average margin to the $2.5 million dollar baseline above, which gives you $462,500. Now, that feels like an appropriate budget for a $25M engineering firm with the margins depicted above, doesn’t it?
So, how should you allocate that budget? Here’s where the “art” comes in. First of all, do not allocate it by the contribution from each business unit. In fact, using the example above would put 50% of the budget to Business Unit 2. That would be a mistake because that’s the part of the business that pretty much runs on autopilot—it doesn’t need marketing.
First, look at the foundational marketing elements of your firm and see if they need an upgrade or refresh. For instance, if you need a completely new website, you likely want to apportion a sizable chunk of that budget to get your digital brand back on track.
Next look at trade shows and conferences, those usually consume a big portion of the budget. Now, with what’s left, you should look at those business units, initiatives, or innovations and are likely to attract the most new business and create campaigns around them—whether they take
the form of advertising, email marketing, thought leadership programs, blog series, microsite, or others.
This is just the beginning, but I hope this helps you get off to a great start. And if you need some help determining your marketing budget or implementing those new marketing initiatives, do not hesitate to give us a call.
by Francine Carb, President
It’s time to realize that changing demographics in the workplace are causing a change in leadership. Millennials, who have been acknowledged as being the most educated, tech-savvy, connected, thrifty, and socially conscious generation ever, are becoming the prime candidates for promotions at every company whether entrepreneurial or corporate. So as a B2B Marketer, you likely need to change your approach to reach these individuals.
The IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) has released a report summarizing this new change, titled “To buy or not to buy: How Millennials are reshaping B2B Marketing”. This study looks at a subset of 700+ survey respondents from the Millennial, Gen X and Baby Boomer generations and how their decision-making processes differ. To successfully reach Millennials, it is important for marketers to alter their approach.
- Analytics drive decisions
According to the study, more than half of Millennials depend on analytics to help them make better business decisions. Today, people are used to the accessibility of data with just a click of their phone or tablet. Readily available data will speed up the buying process, and give your product or service the authenticity needed to be credible.
- Introduce Yourself to Millennials
During the research process, what really matters for Millennials is determining if a vendor is a good fit for their organization. Since most basic research can be easily found online, the addition of authentic and personalized in-person interactions allow Millennials to better envision what it would be like to work with another organization.
- Hook, Line, and Sinker?
The Sales Cycle has begun, so now what, more in-person meetings? Nope. IBM states that even though Millennials prefer personal introductions with vendors at first, once the sales cycle starts, it’s a completely different story. Millennials desire interactions that are quick, easy, and virtual as they decide on an answer. For example, emailing and interacting through social media would be the best way to keep in contact rather than calling to set up in-person meetings. The less work they have to do, the better!
- Family and Friends Are Key!
Once it’s time to make a decision, Millennials are seen to rely heavily on the influence of family, friends, and peers. They believe that if others within their circle see the product or service as beneficial, they will feel the same way–even for B2B businesses. Neither Gen X or Baby Boomers use this strategy for decision-making; their own experiences and impressions are the most important.
As a B2B Marketer, understanding the attitudes and decision-making process for this new generation of leaders is key for success. Many marketers have been using the same strategies for years, and yet they’re wondering why they are falling short when working with Millennials. Understanding and implementing these tactics in your business may be challenging at first, but once mastered, they will provide marketers with a competitive advantage that will last for years to come.
by Francine Carb, President
Hello, all software, network, integration, migration, and training firms. It pretty much doesn’t matter where your expertise lies; Marketing is your lifeline, if you’re in IT. View our marketing for IT tips:
Let’s start with your relative position in your specific, defined niche—we marketing folks like to call it mapping. Gartner Group calls it the “magic quadrant”, although there’s hardly ever any hocus pocus involved. Even if you are an emerging growth company, you’ll need to figure out where you fit in the ecosystem, so take the time to seriously consider your competitors, as well as those you would like to emulate and create a 2-D visual. We like to put “industry reputation” or “market share” on one axis and “ability to deliver as promised” on the other as one suggestion of an eye-opening view, but you should select and compare those parameters most relevant to your niche.
Are you a thought leader? If so, how might you communicate your expertise with customers and prospects? There is a good chance that you have certain individuals in your company who can solve any problem, sooth any customer issue, or unravel any puzzle. They may not be in the spotlight, but they represent gold, in term of marketing potential. When carefully nurtured, these experts can be the sources of the most sought after blogs, white papers, webinar content, press coverage, and more. If they are timid about writing content, especially for marketing purposes, take the approach of interviewing them and letting them be the “VOC” or Voice of Customer. That should make them feel more comfortable and give you the insight you need to create some powerful marketing content.
How about showcasing your clients? Many companies have challenges getting a case study program off the ground. It’s usually because the client doesn’t want their name mentioned or their technical issues exposed publicly. No one can argue with that; however, if presented in a positive light, most will go along with the idea, especially if they are not blatantly promoting your company or its products. For these clients, you should have an excellent example, in hand, to show them. Also, don’t be afraid to write testimonials on behalf of your clients. As long as they are professionally and respectfully written, most will approve them on the spot.
Let’s move onto imagery: photos, illustrations, info-graphics, videos, and the like. All are extremely helpful to a prospect trying to visualize your technology offering. Videos are best because you have the opportunity to tell an entire story; however, many times, info-graphics can be extremely powerful and long lasting. In today’s increasingly visual world, you may need to stop and consider the visual messages you are sending your prospects, and refocus on the impact that fresher, or more streamlined, images can offer. They can also enhance your content by making it more relevant and interesting to those viewing it.
Finally, I’d like to talk about bragging—specifically touting your companies achievements and successes. It’s not only OK to do so; it’s imperative to building your company’s reputation capital. If you are “award winning”, “leading”, or otherwise “tops in your field”, please say so, consistently and with confidence.
Having trouble getting your marketing and PR programs off the ground? Look no further than the marketing experts at Markitects. We’ve been launching new products and services, building brands, getting our clients noticed, generating leads, and other cool things for technology, engineering and science companies for over 21 years…and loving it. View our services!