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The Awesome 10: Our All-Time Most Popular Blog Posts Ever

Posted by Wendy Marx

Mar 23, 2017

The Awesome 10- Our All-Time Most Popular Blog Posts Ever 

 

We're celebrating!

After some 800 blog posts, 800,000 words, and we hope some insights and knowledge shared within our 8-years of blogging, we're unpoping the cork.

To help us toast our triumph, we've crunched the numbers and determined our most popular blog posts ever-- the 10 posts that year after year generate the most attention.

During our 8-year run, our B2B blog has covered everything from content marketing, content strategy, PR tactics, media relations, SEO, social media, influencer marketing, facebook marketing... and everything and anything else affecting B2B.

So accept this 10-pack as our way of saying thank you for being a loyal reader. It's a quick ride through the most popular parts of the B2B journey. Enjoy!

5 Ways to Create a Successful, Integrated B2B Marketing Campaign

Posted by Wendy Marx

Jul 27, 2016

 

How to Use Your B2B Blog to Promote Your Press

Posted by Wendy Marx

May 24, 2016

How to Use Your B2B Blog to Promote Your Press

Lately, on the B2B PR Sense Blog, I've talked about how to extend the life of your B2B PR Campaign. Most recently, I detailed how to optimize your own press

10 Simple Strategies To Boost Your B2B PR Campaign

Posted by Wendy Marx

Oct 27, 2015

10 Simple Strategies To Boost Your B2B PR Campaign 

(Updated: December 21, 2016)

What do you want from your B2B PR campaign? The answer to this basic question is at the root of your PR success.


Nine out of ten times, a business considers successful PR to equate to quotes in the press, and a level of this success is even judged by the prestige of the publication. For example, the head of a company may expect to see himself or herself quoted  in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, or the #1 trade publication in the corporation’s field. The executive might also like to receive a little bit of social media spotlight as well. Yet are these always beneficial in terms of PR?

 

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Although there’s certainly no problem with any of the above, it’s simply an incomplete understanding of B2B PR. Arranging for the CEO to be mentioned in the Times or praised in a trade publication does not mean that you, as a PR professional, can hang your hat. It could even be totally wrong for a particular type of business and its goals.

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I’ll explain.

B2B PR is commonly thought of as being all about news placements.

Let's look at the big picture for a moment. In truth, media coverage is a relatively small part of the PR formula. If media mentions is your singular goal, you're turning a blind-eye to all the extras that come afterwards -- not to mention everything else you could have done.

In reality, media coverage on its own doesn't take you very far -- it may last a few days. In terms of PR, that's just not enough. On the other hand, there are simple but essential ways to refuel your PR and drive it a lot further.

B2B Communications: Confusing Jargon & Branding Challenges of B2B Companies

Posted by Wendy Marx

Oct 27, 2015

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This post originally appeared under a different title on Fast-Company-logo

Why do so many B2B companies, especially those in the fiery ad-tech space, talk as if their mouths were stuffed with chewy caramels? That is, their websites and marketing copy, laden with jargon, require a mega large cup of java to get through.

Now, I know these companies are filled with lots of highly intelligent people who can walk circles around the average person when it comes to technology. In fact, they may be too smart for their own good. They don’t know how to write about what they do in a way that’s easy to understand…that stands out…that engages…that begs you to want to know more.

I thought I would have a little fun and took a look at some of the websites of ad-tech companies on the famous Luma Partners landscape. That’s the ever expanding diagram of the ad-tech space popularized by Luma Partners Chief Executive Terence Kawaja that gets more and more difficult to read as more companies enter the space. Names here have been purposely omitted since the purpose of this is not to point the finger but to demonstrate an endemic problem.

Here are examples of how a few ad-tech companies talk about themselves on the homepages of their websites:

"We don’t just press a button and let the technology do the work. We drive media campaigns with intelligence and finesses to reach your targeted media objectives. And, ultimately, help brands reach consumers smarter and more efficiently."

"X enables advertisers and agencies to Build, Run, Measure and optimze retargeting-driven display campaigns from a single platform. Now that’s efficiency."

"Do Better Advertising. Do X.
X’s mission is to help brands execute better advertising. Better advertising starts with good customer insights and X provides the tools to make those insights actionable."

Part of the problem, in my experience working in B2B communications, is that B2B companies are often insular. They are so accustomed to talking about themselves one way that it sounds perfectly normal. It reminds me of what my husband says about his Queens accent. He never realized that he had an accent until he left Queens and people informed him he sounded “funny.”

There is also the mystique of jargon and highfalutin’ language. Creating your own nomenclature and acronymns like DSPs, SSPs, RTB, DMPs, and DDM, as the ad-tech world has done, provides a veneer of arcane magic that intimidates the outsider. Ultimately, however, it makes everything more complicated than it needs to be. And in a world where social media rules, keeping it simple and entertaining is key to great branding. 

On the other hand, B2C companies sometimes indulge in jargon, but it's jargon everyone gets. It’s all part of the fun. After all, how difficult is it understand Starbuck’s Tall, Grande, and Venti designations for the size of its coffee? In that case, it’s good branding and differentiates Starbucks from its competitors.

 

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The best B2C marketing companies also have memorable slogans. Think Nike’s "Just Do It" or Apple’s "Think Different." They simplify while defining the product and ethos. B2B companies, especially ad-tech firms, would be well advised to take a lesson or two from their B2C brethren, and Just Do It!

B2B PR: The Importance of Repetition...The Importance of Repetition...

Posted by Wendy Marx

Oct 16, 2015

B2B PR: The importance of Repetition... The Importance of Repetition

 

(Updated: December 13, 2016)

B2B PR tactics are all about getting your name into people's minds. For example, what pops into your head when you hear such phrases as "Just do it," or "Breakfast of champions"? No doubt specific brands come right to mind. Why? Repetition. 

The same is true of plays, movies, and books. Think of the simple lines, "Show me the money," "Elementary, my dear Watson," or even "Wax on, wax off." These can't help but conjure up cozy scenes and even familiar emotions within us. Why? Repetition.

New Call-to-actionThis is not limited to big sports brands and Hollywood. If you want to be among the top B2B companies and garner more B2B leads, repetition needs to be part of your PR tactics toolkit. 

repetition in b2b pr
I was reminded of the importance of repetition when I read an interview in Newsweek with former president Bill Clinton where he talked about the need for the Democrats to practice what he called “relentless explanation” to cut through the fear and confusion sown by the Republicans.

Now whatever your political persuasion, there is something powerful about the term “relentless explanation.” We see it all the time throughout political campaigns, which are in essence marketing campaigns -- with a brand (the candidate) and a message. We saw a prime example of this in the recent 2016 election. Amid everything that happened, we will probably never forget Donald Trump's campaign slogan, "Make America Great Again!" How many times did he say it? You can't deny that repetition of his key message worked in his favor.  

In marketing, this idea is known better as effective frequency. Whatever particular phrase you might use, the process is the same. You hear it a couple of times in the background, and you may even be oblivious to it at first -- but as it continues to return, it sinks into your subconscious, and becomes a part of your mindset.

 

 

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Now, I'm not talking about brainwashing. Rather, this is a reasoned argument that cuts through the clutter and noise of day-to-day life, and leads to an "Aha" moment. In essence, you're left thinking, "So that's what it means."

Recommended Reading: 5 Important Changes to the B2B PR Rule Book, and Why It Matters

If you’re a would-be athlete, as I am, you would have had the experience of being given instructional tips that initially don’t quite make sense but eventually, through trial and error, sink in and become part of your own tool set. As an aspiring tennis player, for example, pros have serenaded me with instructional tips like “low to high,” “brush up on the ball,” “twist." And while my body seems to want to do everything but, I at least now think about the terms as I’m hitting and they have become internalized.


All of which brings me back to marketing. Here we get into how repetition works effectively for some of the best B2B companies. Just as repetition works in teaching, it’s also one of the most influential PR tactics to keep on hand. Now I’m not just talking repetition for repetition’s sake. But repetition that is packaged into clear, coherent statements. When it encapsulates what you do and why it matters, that is the right kind of repetition.

Let me explain.

How to Use Repetition In Your B2B PR and Marketing

Create a Memorable Message

B2B PR prospects often ask us how we begin work with new clients. Our answer is that we spend time learning their business, and as part of that process, conduct a messaging workshop. In the workshop, we drill down and create the words and phrases that best define what the company does and what differentiates it from everyone else. Out of the workshop come the words and phrases that are relentlessly used – we couldn’t resist – in all the client’s communications.

 



Even though there may be several possible phrases or words that fit what the client does, it's important to whittle it down to the best two or three as to not overwhelm your potential B2B leads. The power of repetition is most potent when you use a few phrases frequently in your PR tactics, as opposed to using so many different phrases that it becomes an incoherent mess. 

Take, for example. State Farm insurance, with its memorable jingle, "Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there." We see these words everywhere -- we could probably sing it on cue. Why? It's catchy, and with the repetition, it has wormed its way into our heads. And these simple words embody what State Farm is offering : reliability. We hear that jingle, and we feel like we can trust the company.

 

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This messaging doesn't just include the words of your message. Research shows that color has an incredible impact on memory recall. Make sure that your brand's colors are all represented repeatedly throughout your message -- in text, image, or video form -- to make an even more memorable impression.

Capitalize on what sets your brand apart from competitors, and don't get complacent about emphasizing those characteristics. --Daniel Newman

Recommended Reading: How to Improve the Performance of Your B2B Content

Repeat It Enough Times...

By now, you probably understand the importance of repeating your message. But the question now remains -- what's the magic number? How many times should you repeat your message before you see results? As advertisers know, you typically need to see an ad five to seven times to remember it. It's what advertisers call the rule of 7.

Back in 1885, one of the great influencers and early pioneers of marketing, Thomas Smith made a similar observation. In fact, he specified that most people need to see or hear an advertisement about 20 times before they're compelled to make a purchase. His formula worked something like this:

1. The first time a man looks at an advertisement, he does not see it.
2.  The second time, he does not notice it.
3.  The third time, he is conscious of its existence.
4.  The fourth time, he faintly remembers having seen it before.
5.  The fifth time, he reads it.
6.  The sixth time, he turns up his nose at it.
7.  The seventh time, he reads it through and says, “Oh brother!”
8.  The eighth time, he says, “Here’s that confounded thing again!”
9.  The ninth time, he wonders if it amounts to anything.
10.  The tenth time, he asks his neighbor if he has tried it.
11.  The eleventh time, he wonders how the advertiser makes it pay.
12.  The twelfth time, he thinks it must be a good thing.
13.  The thirteenth time, he thinks perhaps it might be worth something.
14.  The fourteenth time, he remembers wanting such a thing a long time.
15.  The fifteenth time, he is tantalized because he cannot afford to buy it.
16.  The sixteenth time, he thinks he will buy it some day.
17.  The seventeenth time, he makes a memorandum to buy it.
18.  The eighteenth time, he swears at his poverty.
19.  The nineteenth time, he counts his money carefully.
20.  The twentieth time he sees the ad, he buys what it is offering.

A recent study from Microsoft confirms Smith's original findings, noting that depending on the person, it takes between 6 and 20 times of repeating a message before you achieve your desired result.

Yet, do you hold back for fear of sounding like a broken record, and scaring off B2B leads? In reality, it sounds more like that to you because you're surrounded by this message on a daily basis. For your audience, this could be the first time they hear it. And when they do hear it repeatedly, it only serves to lend an air of credibility to your message. Because of this repetition, you ascend the ranks in listeners' minds and secure a spot as one of the best B2B companies they know.

Take, for example, the ever-popular Verizon Wireless commercial, with its message, "Can you hear me now? Good," used upwards of seven times in just one commercial. I don't think that actor ever said anything except those six words -- and it worked! Verizon became known and trusted as the "everywhere" network of cellular phones.

And In Multiple Ways  

So now that you've determined what the key words of your message are, your customers need to keep hearing what you do. Years ago, you were limited to print publications, television and radio to get your message out. The digital age has made brand messaging more far-reaching and diverse than ever before -- meaning that wherever you are and whatever you are doing, a brand can reach you with its message. 

It’s helpful not only to repeat the words but to say them in multiple venues – be it in a video, podcast, article, or white paper. People have different learning styles and may prefer one medium over another. In short, make it accessible to everyone, no matter their preferences. 

Think of popular brands and how they reach you. Do you see them on social media? Do you read their blogs? Do you see them in print publications? How about native advertising? It just goes to show you how it pays to be in multiple venues. In one venue, an audience may be oblivious to you, while another venue absorbs them into your message.

Your content can be universally appealing to your audience while trying a different approach. --Neil Patel

Recommended Reading: 3 Easy Ways to Use Video to Explode Your B2B Content Marketing


So I won’t be accused of not practicing what I preach, here’s a quick summary of my key points.

Stand Up, Stand Out: 7 Ways To Make Your Startup Get Noticed

Posted by wendyama

Jul 17, 2013

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This post originally appeared in a slightly different version onFast-Company-logo.

A press release no longer cuts it. Here's what to do to cut through the noise.

Once upon a time, a startup could issue a press release and get the word out.

If it were only that easy today . . .

Just like everyone else, a startup is confronted with a never-ending information stream from Twitter to YouTube to Yelp to Facebook and on and on. It becomes a challenge to rise above the noise, not to mention controlling the message across all media channels. Add the need to cost-effectively manage its communications, and you have a perfect recipe for startup agita.

So what’s a startup to do? Here are 7 ways a startup can raise its profile without breaking the bank:

Take an unorthodox approach. Remember Dollar Shave Club’s breakthrough video that caused the company to get 12,000 orders in the first 48 hours?

Why was it so effective? “The video is irreverent and funny, the CEO likeable and also the chief evangelist sales officer--and is everything an officer could be,” says Maha Ibrahim, general partner, Canaan Partners, a global venture capital firm.

Obviously, most new enterprises won't benefit from the initial bonanza of a Dollar Shave Club. However, anyone can exercise creativity and a little boldness in marketing.

Accentuate the difference. One example is Kabam, a late-stage gaming company that issued a press release detailing its financial performance. Normally private companies shy away from opening the kimono. But by doing so, Kabam sharpened the difference between itself and some of its better-known, yet poorly performing competitors, like Zynga, according to Ibrahim, whose company is an investor in Kabam. Rather than differentiating by focusing on an obscure feature no one cares about, draw attention to a feature, benefit or expertise that matters to customers.

Founders need to evangelize what they do. Often lacking the budget to employ a full-time marketing or PR person, founders need to assume the marketing mantle. Marketing and PR must be incorporated into a startup’s culture so they are “talking up the company to everyone they meet and ingesting ideas,” advises David Beisel, partner at early-stage investors NextView Ventures. Cross a politician's zeal and charisma with a business person's product knowledge, and you get some idea of what's required.

Avoid stealth mode. Avoid stealth mode. Startups can’t afford to be in stealth mode where everything is kept hush-hush. Doing that deprives them of valuable feedback, ideas and support when they need it most.

Time and control the message. Wait to throw a launch party until you’ve launched your product. Who will care, especially if three months later the first product launched is a dud? “You need to be sure you have a viable product and a few customers before you launch,” counsels Ibrahim.

Determine who your customer is and how to get the customer’s attention. “There is not one company that doesn’t struggle from the get-go to identify who the customer is and its message, and how to get the customer’s attention,” says Ibrahim, whose firm helps its clients better define their messages. A unique challenge is having both to explain what they are today and their future vision. “Specific to startups is a trade-off between what you’re doing today and what you’re doing six months, a year even, 10 years from now, what your grand vision will be. You need to pack all of that into a story,” says Beisel.

Excite people with a compelling picture of your company that has a story's plot elements--a beginning, middle and end with a challenge or conflict thrown in.

Don’t bash the competition. Startups need to have a compelling enough story to stand on their own without roughing up the competition.

Ultimately, these efforts more than pay for themselves. They become a way to raise your profile among customers, prospects, investors and the media. Done right, startups will be better positioned for success for both now--and in the future.

[Image: Flickr user Lee Stacey]

How PR Can Help B2B Start Ups

Posted by wendyama

May 22, 2013

butterfly.WendyMarx5.15.13



This post originally appeared in a slightly different version on Fast-Company-logo



PR Done Right Makes a Difference, From the Start

Recently, I attended NY Tech Day where 400 hungry startups sought to garner some love, along with media and VC attention, at their respective booths.

The zealous self-promotion raises an interesting issue: How do you make your business stand out in a sea of entrepreneurial energy? How do you get people to care about your company?

Consider these facts:

- A survey of CEOs found startup companies that engage in PR are 30 percent more successful in securing early funding than those that don’t.

- Well-known VC firms are diving into the publicity game, with firms like Kleiner Perkins, Andreessen Horowitz, and Sequoia hiring in-house PR talent.

One simple reason startups and their financial backers are entering the PR arena? Publicity done right works. Over the years, my B2B PR firm has launched many startups. We’ve found PR can truly make the difference in attracting new customers, increasing revenues–and catching the ultimate brass ring–funding.

Don’t for a second, however, think PR for newcomers is a slam dunk. No one cares about the latest whiz-bang product or service released by an unknown company unless it does something amazing. And most new products or services won’t knock your socks off. This is where public relations shines. A good PR person can properly position your product or service–or yourself–so people care. Great PR–and yes, there is such a thing–transforms a product or service into something meaningful.

Consider the term “Certified Pre-Owned Car.” I’m old enough to remember when the term didn’t exist. You simply bought a used car. It didn’t give you a lot of bragging rights. The geniuses who created the terminology “Certified Pre-Owned Car” turned the negative connotation into a positive. Suddenly, a used car had to meet certain standards and criteria. Better yet, it often came with a warranty. Of course, all those goodies were folded into a car’s price. But at least you received something solid for your money. You didn’t worry that the car was a clunker, and you could take pride in your “like new” car.

Let’s look at another example–this from a startup called lettrs (a client of my agency, incidentally). The company recently launched an iPhone app it positions as a “post office in your hand” that lets you write and send digital and postal letters directly from your phone, turning the iPhone into a mobile writing desk. The positioning and analogy turned what could have been just another app into something immediately understandable and compelling. Most of the press coverage highlighted the digital-post office positioning, as this Mashable piece illustrates.

So before you start hawking your new venture, develop your messaging and positioning. This will help you stand out and help make your product memorable and engaging. After all, you can be just another has-been company, or you can Think Different.

 


Surprising B2B PR Survey Results + Infographic

Posted by wendyama

Apr 11, 2013

survey-checklist

The results are in for our survey of B2B PR practices. The key takeaway: Social media is taking a big bite out of traditional PR methods.

The informal survey, which was conducted online in March 2013, showed that social media is far and away the favored news distribution tactic with the press release lagging far behind.

  • 94% of those surveyed said they use social media to promote announcements vs. 71% who report using press releases.  Seventy five percent said they post a release on a company website while 68% send a release directly to reporters.



  • 45% said they would use social media if they could use just one promotional vehicle vs. 24% who said they would issue a press release.



  • 49 % report using an online distribution service  like PR Web, while 40% report using  one of the traditional services like PR Newswire, Business Wire or Marketwire



  • 45% said LinkedIn was the most helpful social media tactic; 35% favored Twitter, 13% Facebook and 2% Google+.


While the respondents are not necessarily representative of the PR practice universe, they are typical of a rising generation of social media-savvy PR practitioners and open a door into the future direction of B2B public relations: It is more and more becoming a socially-driven world. This can have large implications for B2B company PR practices. Going direct to customers and prospects via social media can be one of the most effective ways to get the word out.  The survey also has potential implications for traditional PR distribution services with lower cost distribution services overtaking the traditional channels.

However, don't assume you should completely abandon established PR practices.  What the survey reinforces is that news announcements can be amplified through multiple free channels including social media, free PR distribution sites, company websites and reaching out directly to reporters. It also suggests that the days of simply sending a press release over a wire service are over. In our experience, a traditional wire service such as PR Newswire, Business Wire or Marketwire, can amplify a message particularly if you are a publicly traded company and need to get in front of analysts and investors. The online distribution service PR Web provides its own version of this via its financial service package. However, if you are not a publicly-traded company you may do just fine using free press release distribution services along with social media, your website and your own media outreach. We urge you to test it yourself.

What have you found to be most effective in terms of promoting your company? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below. But first, check out our infographic with the survey results!

Click HERE to make larger

My Infographic_79

2013 B2B PR Practices Survey - An infographic by the team at MarxCommunications

 

Man Vs. Machine: The Brave New World of B2B Content Marketing

Posted by wendyama

Jan 21, 2013

There’s something ironic happening in the world of B2B PR. Sometimes it seems that just about everyone is hopping on the bandwagon of creating engaging, individualistic content. Other times, it’s as if there were tons of folks lining up to hand their content generation over to mass automation technology.

Here’s the latest point in favor of the techies, pulled from a post by Scott Redick in Forbes predicting the rise of automation:

“News writing will increasing become the domain of automated software programs…PR firms will hire technical experts to manipulate code on content farms, search algorithms and copywriting bots.”

The end result: public relations professionals will function as “truth engineers,” to use Redick’s terminology, spinning the truth to suit their client’s wishes.

Some cynics may believe that’s what PR professionals do now, albeit with words, instead of code. Yet there’s a major discrepancy between putting your best foot forward - something most B2B PR professionals strive for - and explicit deceit. This form of complete distortion has no place in any PR pro’s toolkit.

In the meantime, let’s return to technology and content.

Content can definitely be machine-manipulated to dupe search engines. In addition, content automation companies like Automated Insights excel at writing data-driven stories, though they reportedly have people touch up the work when necessary. Considering the caliber of some human-written (so old fashioned!) press releases, I’d imagine a machine could produce better work than some of those lengthy, terminology-intense mounds of jibberish.

With that being said, there’s much more to content marketing than simply writing articles. Content, in order to be distinguished among the deafening roar, should have a bit of idiosyncrasy--a smattering of whimsy or artistry. As Joe Pulizzi says,

“Epic content is all about stories that inform or entertain, that compel people to action and truly makes a difference in people’s lives. It positions the company as a trusted leader. It makes the buying process easier.”

Beyond riveting content, B2B content marketing must be structured around a strategy. If it isn’t, it’s simply copy, not marketing with goals and deliverables.

It’s great when technology serves our goals and makes processes more convenient or better. However, the “marketing” in content marketing--and in many cases the “content” aspect too-- depends on the qualitative judgments of real people. A machine might be spectacular at processing data but it can’t make the subtle distinctions (not to mention witty rhetoric) that we can.

A classic Winston cigarette ad had a grammatically incorrect word, using "like" instead of "as." It went: “Winston tastes good like a cigarette should.” A logic-driven machine would make the sentence grammatically correct and by doing this, lose the rhythm of the phrase.

By the way, I wrote this post on my own -- entirely without the aid of a computer, a machine, or a droid from Star Wars.

I’d love to hear how you are using technology to enhance your content marketing. Please tell us about it in the comments!
 
 
 
 

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