Monday, October 27, 2014

B2B: It’s Not Just Robots Anymore

Gary Slack Keynotes AMA Regional Conference

 +Gary Slack from Slack and Company was our keynote speaker at Aurora University’s +American Marketing Association Collegiate Conference last Friday October 17th at Aurora University.  The event attracted over 300 students from 35 Universities nationwide to network, compete and learn about marketing and career options in marketing.  +Aurora University now has the largest Collegiate Conference in the country. Gary is the Chief Experience Office and founder of Slack and Company, which in 2014 received awards for best B2B Marketing Agency from both Ad Age and the Business Marketing Association.

b2b marketing, american marketing association, slack and company
Gary Slack, CEO of Slack and Company, Addresses AU AMA Collegiate Conference on "B2B Rising"
To kick off the meeting, Gary said that over two-thirds of marketing is B2B (I have heard it is closer to 80%) and that he hoped to encourage students to go in to B2B Marketing.  He said it is a great space to consider working and that there is a lot of opportunity in B2B.  B2B in the past was considered bland compared to B2B, but that is no longer true.  For example, Google is a B2B company, making most of its revenue off of business advertising.

Gary said what really has changed is that B2B marketers have assumed in the past assumed they are marketing to robots. Marketers assumed that the decision was only rational and that there was no emotion.  Therefore, the marketing approached had to be cut and dried and factual.

B2B Marketers Suffer from FUD

However, Gary said that B2B Marketers have a lot of FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) and that the fear is that a person will make a bad decision and ruin their career.  The prices are higher in B2B and the stakes are higher if you make a bad decision.  Impulse items at the grocery store carry little risk or fear.  The old adage use to be:  “No on ever got fired for buying IBM,” indicating IBM was perceived as a rational choice.

Half the Searches on YouTube are B2B

However, times have changed.  B2B marketers are using emotional appeals, particularly in video form. Video is so important in marketing the YouTube by itself is the second largest search engine. In fact, HALF of search in YouTube are B2B related.  It’s not surprising that B2b marketers have jumped on this video explosion. 

B2B Buying IS Emotional

If we realize that 42% of b2b buying is emotional, then we can use documentaries, films, music and original lyrics and photography to make an impact.  Gary showed videos from Cisco, Caterpiller, GE’s Predicitivy (Creative and predictive) and other campaigns to illustrate his point.  Scott Forge is a technical company that creates, among other products, parts for the Mars Rover.  

Scott Forge used real people and dressed in plaid (the company logo) to show that the company works as a team and is not just about technology technology. The Case Construction Company used an original song by country star Kip Moore to create an anthem for construction workers.  Of course the personal appeal of Kip Moore did not hurt the campaign. 

The Internet of Things Hits B2B

Gary highlighted what he called industrial marketing or the ‘internet of things.’ The internet is now embedded via sensor in industrial products.  A great example is large locomotives.  When they break down in the middle of nowhere, they send data back with diagnostic information to speed repairs.  The example of the is the  RailConnect 360 program from General Electric.

LinkedIn is a Must for Networking

Gary ended by showing a commercial his company made for LinkedIn, using fast talker John Macheta which presented the LinkedIn message humorously.  

On a serious note, Gary ended by saying that 55% of Fortune 500 companies now use LinkedIn.  Companies use LinkedIn for higher level executives as well as entry level.  He suggested students get on it sooner rather than later.  I can attest to that as my students in social media class are doing well with LinkedIn.  One of them has been on four job interviews from LinkedIn, just from more fully completing her profile and using the Mobile Job App.

We thank Gary for his talk and the AMA student volunteers who made this event possible. The students also enjoyed breakout sessions with career tips and marketing insights and participated in three competitions, including the first-ever Internet Marketing Competition sponsored by +Stukent, Inc.   I hope the students enjoyed Gary Slack's talk and do go in to B2B marketing. 

Many students said they would consider the career after hearing the talk.   It was a great career path for me in industry and I continue to study business and how they can organize well to manage their ‘big data’ in my research and teaching career.

By Debra Zahay-Blatz.
You can find Debra on  and Twitter as well as LinkedIn.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Warning: The New Reality of B2B Branding in the Digital Age

Introduction to Keynote on Computer Graphics and Media Design Conference

On July 9th I will be presenting a keynote address at the OMCIS Computer Graphics and Media design conference on the role of Digital Marketing Technology and B2B branding.  Certainly, as digital technology is increasingly used to facilitate the B2B buying process, the role of the salesperson in B2B branding appears to be diminishing.  Instead of leading sales, marketing and branding conversations, the field sales force now responds to a customer who has used digital technology to replace the information-providing role that person or group formerly provided. In fact, today’s  B2B buyer/customer has the ability to conduct much of their pre-purchase search for solutions to their product needs and requirements without the need for sales force inputs or even minimal personal contact.   This new process is illustrated below.  B2B buyers conduct research online and compare vendors before even contacting the salesperson.

Control of the Sales Process Has Shifted.

A Shift from Personalized Transactions to Digital Relationships

Business to Business (B2B) marketing has traditionally been based on an Industrial Age model where firm develops products and services, produces, and promotes them through various external resources.  The goal of this process has been to find interested and willing customers who will generate revenue for the company. In this approach, the relationship between the buyer and seller has been viewed myopically through a transaction-relationship rather than through a relationship-centered orientation. With such a transactional approach, the inherent belief was that persuasive selling was the key element for success in B2B marketing. However, there is increasing evidence that digital relationships are rapidly replacing the individual salesperson contacts that have been the hallmark of B2B marketing for the past century.

Buyers Work More on Their Own

A recent report indicates that buyers are at as much as 90% of the sales cycle by the time they contact a sales representative (Glass, 2014). In this new era, information transfer often occurs through customer seeking out information through search, vertical websites and consortia of like-minded purchasers. Such pre-purchase activities commonly result in the buyer’s recognition of alternative suppliers.  With the B2B brand salesperson no longer occuping the role of ‘trusted advisor,’ the salesperson becomes just another persuasive force that has no monopoly on product and service information.  This change in importance and focus of the sales force focus has an impact on how sales forces are sized and structured and the roles they play in the B2B buying process, the role of the salesperson in customer service and the increasing use of digital marketing technologies to manage customer contact.

Branding Activities are Impacted

Branding activities in a business-to-business (B2B) setting, formerly conducted primarily through face-to-face interactions by the field salespeople are now being conducted electronically.  This dramatic change in sales, marketing, and communication activities between B2B organizations is the result of the development and implementation of digital and interactive technologies. In this presentation, I discuss how the  historic ‘seller dominated’ B2B marketplace, where the marketing organization controlled the flow of information, has changed dramatically to one of ‘buyer control.’  This shift in power means the seller now responds to, rather than leads, many of the sales, marketing, and branding conversations.  My research colleagues and I (Dr. Don Schultz and Dr. Archana Kumar) suggests a radically different B2B marketing and branding framework based on digital technology as a way to understand and manage these new buyer-seller relationships and issues.

To join me at the conference,  and join in the discussion on these and other important issues, just select one of the workshops and you can register online for $295.00 for all three days.  I hope to see you there.

By Debra Zahay-Blatz.
You can find Debra on  and Twitter as well as LinkedIn.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Transform Yourself into a Digital Marketer this Summer

According to Adobe, 40% of marketers want to reinvent themselves for the Digital Age only 14% know how to do it.  If you think you have room to improve in digital marketing, at +Aurora University  we can help.  As we launch our Digital Marketing and Analytics Master's of Science degree, we are focusing on creating graduates who understand principles of digital marketing management and are aware of the basic tools to not only implement digital marketing but measure the results.   The first steps in the program are staring this summer.  I am teaching Digital Marketing Management, a three credit course on Tuesday and Thursday night from July 8 to August 7th from 6:00 pm to 9:45 pm in Aurora.

search, social, email, web design

Four Foundations of Digital Marketing Form Focus of Summer Class

Learn the Four Foundations of Digital Marketing

The course will focus on the four main foundations of digital marketing.  These 'pillars' are Search, social, email and web design.  We will cover material from a new book I am writing on Digital Marketing Management for Business Experts Press and we will practice our skills with a student simulation from Stukent.  This simulation allows the students to create paid search campaigns for a company telling Tablet PCs and to create customize landing pages for the campaigns and associated email marketing programs.  My students in the day program are testing the simulation right now and it is working well.  

Learn How to Plan AND Implement Digital Marketing Programs

Students will also present a digital marketing program for a company of their choosing.  We will also cover current topics from the news, especially the Wall Street Journal Technology section.  After taking this course you will have a solid foundation for planning and implementing a Digital Marketing program.

I hope some of my readers who have been asking for years if I would teach a night course so they could take digital marketing from me will be interested.  To sign up for the course you must have an undergraduate degree.  Apply to be a student-at-large in the program at this link.  I hope to see you soon!

By Debra Zahay-Blatz.
You can find Debra on  and Twitter as well as LinkedIn.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Cross-Device Marketing Tips and Challenges

SEMPO Chicago Cross-Device Marketing Panel Hosted by Microsoft

On Wednesday March 26 I attended a networking and informational event sponsored by +SEMPO Chicago and held at Microsoft's +Microsoft's local headquarters.  The topic was "Why Cross-Device Marketing is Important & Charting the Course for Success".   Panelists were Matt Maroon, James Colborn, Felicia Gardner, Rebecca Keen and Bob Tripathi. The moderator was +Josh Dreller SEMPO Chicago VP.  The panelists each offered a unique perspective on the state of implementing mobile technology for marketing purposes.

The group consensus was that although responsive web design, design that is available and accessible to the user across all platforms is important, typically budgets are still in 'silos', often making it difficult to free up the funds for mobile marketing.  Most of the attendees said that only about 20-30% of their traffic was coming from mobile usage, so perhaps the issue of responsive design will be more pressing in the future and force departments to work together.  The bottom line is still to make it easy for your customers to access your web site and to dialogue with you.

cross-device marketing, responsive web design, mobile marketing
SEMPO @Microsoft Cross-Device Marketing Panel

Responsive Web Design is Just the Beginning

Cross-device marketing isn't just about responsive web design.  For example, people search differently on mobile devices than desktops.  Mobile devices tend to be more social so when customers search for 'hood' on a mobile device, they mean their neighborhood.  When they search for 'hood' on a desktop device, they often mean 'hoodie' or an article of clothing  This difference has implications for web design, search and social media marketing. 

Analytics Enhance Effectiveness

Cross-device planning is greatly enhanced by analytics.  Rebecca mentioned that when marketers are reluctant to create applications for a certain device, she returns to the data and shows which devices and operating systems are driving traffic to the web site.  Usually data helps overcome any reluctance to develop for a particular platform.

Challenges Abound

Many marketing challenges remain in the mobile world however.  One of the audience members thought that too many marketing channels meant she could not be as nimble in response.  Certainly marketers will b e continuing the cross-device and cross-platform juggling act for many years to come.  Devices will continue to proliferate and marketers must meet the challenge.

By Debra Zahay-Blatz.
You can find Debra on  and Twitter as well as LinkedIn.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Secrets of Search Marketing from Practice

+Thom Disch, President and CEO of Handi-Ramp, spoke in my Internet Marketing classes this week at +Aurora University about pay-per-click (PPC) and search engine optimization (SEO).  Internet Marketing is a class in our Digital Marketing Minor.

The timing was great as this is the week that the students are really getting into their PPC campaigns for the +Google Online Marketing Challenge (GOMC). The day students have prepared their pre-campaign reports and are ready to submit to Google next week.  Evening students are just starting their eight week class but have already picked their candidate companies.  Students will receive a $250 budget to create a campaign for a company and will have three weeks to optimize their campaign using the marketing analytics available in AdWords.

Search Marketing is Top Lead Source

Thom talked about using paid and organic search as key forms of digital media to bring leads to his small business. He bought Hand-Ramp about a decade ago on a 'shoestring' budget.  The company sells wheelchair and van ramps to assist entering vehicles, among other products.  The firm specializes in products for accessibility but can also help people get their dog in their van more easily with its pet ramp line.

SEO, PPC, digital marketing, marketing analytics, digital media, SEM
Thom Disch from Handi-Ramp Helps Students Optimize PPC Campaigns for AdWords

Research and Plan Before Implementation

Thom emphasized the importance of planning before developing the AdWords plan and encouraged the use of tools like Google Trends and the Keyword Planner to understand search patterns before bidding on key terms.  He also warned that certain industries have terms that are quite expensive. The term "mesothelioma," for example, is bid on by plaintiff's attorneys in personal injury cases. The payoff from these cases can be quite high and therefore the search terms can run in the hundreds of dollars per click.

Monitor and Adapt to Optimize

Thom also said that keyword prices can change as the campaign progresses.  He urged the students to monitor their campaigns carefully and make good use of the marketing analytics tools in AdWords.  If possible, he suggested using a specific landing page for each campaign and linking Google Analytics to AdWords to get more insight into the results of the campaign. Thom also suggested the students set their budgets at a lower rate in the first week and then spend more money as they learn about what is working in their campaigns.

We thank Thom Disch for visiting our class and wish him continued success at Handi-Ramp. Thanks for making yourself available to the classes for future coaching. We look forward to working with you.

By Debra Zahay-Blatz.
You can find Debra on  and Twitter as well as LinkedIn.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

How to Take Charge of Multichannel Metrics

Multichannel Marketing is Multidimensional

One of the challenges of multichannel marketing is measurement. The reason measurement is a challenge is because the multichannel experiences occur across a variety of dimensions. It is difficult to capture in just a simple chart or matrix everything that is going on in the multichannel process. In this post I want to focus on the firm's capabilities versus customer preferences using consumer marketing as an example. For example, the customer base has a certain communication channel preference, such as email or mobile.  We have certain channel strategies in place and our priorities are reflected by the resources we allocate..

Customer Preferences vs. Our Strategy

The first step in measuring a channel strategy is to take an honest look at our channels versus those preferred by the customer to ensure that there is a match. The first question to ask is are we spending our money where our customers are spending their time?   If the customer is primarily focused on mobile devices and we communicate rarely over that channel, then there is a mismatch of resources that the analysis will highlight. The overlap in customer channel preferences and our strategy in the figure below represents an opportunity to develop our communications in those preferred channels.

Multichannel marketing, customer preference
Take Charge by Aligning Channel Preference with Channel Strategy

For example, recent studies indicate that consumers are spending more time online but that advertising budgets are still focused on traditional media. This chart illustrates the time spent versus total ad spend for a variety of channels in 2011. There is a clear disconnect between the time spent on mobile devices and ad spend. This trend is only going to be more prominent as users have been flocking to mobile devices in even greater numbers since that time. Our suggested analysis would show the time spent on channel by the consumer and and the corresponding resources we have allocated to that channel.
ad spend, multichannel

Maximizing Channel Strategy:  Don't Overlook Emerging Channels

Another  example of an opportunity for maximizing channel strategy could be tablet devices.  Tablets are rapidly outperforming mobile devices for shopping. The screen sizes are larger and allow for easier shopping. Not surprisingly, average order values, retail traffic, and conversion rates are higher on tablet.  Yet again the spending on tablets lags the activity on the tablet by the consumer.  So the first step to developing multichannel metrics is to develop a strategy that is consistent with customer preferences.  Only by understanding first where the customer is spending time and how they like to communicate can we hope to develop an effective multichannel measurement program.

By Debra Zahay-Blatz.
You can find Debra on  and Twitter as well as LinkedIn.

Monday, January 27, 2014

The True ROI of Search and Display Advertising

Paid and organic search can work together

In Internet Marketing class this week we are talking about paid and organic search.  I have noted in the past that paid and organic search work together.  In classes, we have seen that overall interest in a company increases when they start running paid advertisements.  Phone and other inquiries increase after a few weeks and then stop when the paid search campaign ends.  I have also seen information on this effect presented at practitioner conferences.  While I have not seen a good study that is able to measure the offline impact of search, there is also some academic evidence that paid and organic search work together.

From Harvard Working Paper, Do Display Ads Influence Search, by Kireyev, Pauwels and Gupta 2/9/13

Paid and display ads can influence each other

This graphic from a Harvard Working Paper indicates that the paid search and display ad budgets can also work together to create results. I found this reference to a recent academic study in a Search Engine Land blog post by +Greg Sterling.  The authors are Pavel Kireyev, Koen Pauwels and Sunil Gupta.  These academics found some interesting results using data from a U. S. bank that used display advertising to obtain new checking account customers.

Appropriate metrics are complex, indicate high ROI

The display advertising generated more search volume, clicks and conversions but the effect took about two weeks.  The authors were also able to make some attributions regarding budgeting decision.  According to these calculations, a dollar invested in display ads returns $1.24 and a dollar invested in search ads returns $1.74, which would suggest a far larger investment (36% increase) in search advertising in this context.

As the authors note, standard measurements such as Click-through rate CTR and Cost per acquisition (CPA) are static measures that don't take into account what may happen over time.  This study suggests that managers need to step up their game in terms of metrics in order to capture these search effects accurately. The metrics are beyond those normally used in practice.

By Debra Zahay-Blatz.
You can find Debra on  and Twitter as well as LinkedIn.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

What You Wish You Knew About LinkedIn Marketing

Social Media Marketing Classes Learn How to Market Themselves

Last semester in my social media classes at +Aurora University  my students developed LinkedIn Profiles with the goal of helping them in their job search upon graduation or to improve their careers if they were already employed. LinkedIn is the leading business networking site and is rapidly becoming THE clearinghouse for job applications.  We employed best practices in LinkedIn Marketing to achieve extraordinary results for the students.  I taught two sections of the class, one that was primarily adult learners and the other that was primarily traditional undergraduates.  This photo shows +Eric James  presenting his personal social media marketing plan to our class.

Linked in, social media marketing
Eric James Presenting his Personal Social Media Plan
December, 2013, MKTG 4610

Search is Strategy:  Know Yourself

In both cases the students based their LinkedIn profiles on the principles of Melonie Dodaro, acknowledged expert in LinkedIn marketing.  Ms. Dodaro suggests, what I also believe, that search and strategy are 'linked' together.  Therefore, in developing the LinkedIn strategy, the first step is to go online and see 'who am I' and what message you present to the world.  You really need to figure out who you are, what your strengths are and then put those keywords in your LinkedIn profile.  Ms Dodaro suggests that keywords describing yourself and what you do should be favored over job descriptions in the first section of your profile.  Then these keywords should be used throughout your profile so you come up in the searches of those looking for people with your competencies and so LinkedIn can make suggestions about jobs that would be a good fit.

Results Came Quickly

The results in this case were striking.  Not only did my day students report that they were seeing more possible jobs and internships served up to them that were a fit with their interests, but the night class, adult learners, were actually getting contacted by possible employers.  The first week after we improved our profiles, several students reported getting calls for jobs.  As we continued to improve our profiles as the class progressed, one student actually accepted a job interview for a position with a Fortune 500 company. Another student reported that a her manager's manager saw her profile on LinkedIn and said that the company needed to bring her in to talk about upward mobility!  I also got contacted for several possible consulting and teaching projects.

Just by understanding who you are and what you do and putting keywords to reflect those competencies in your profile can lead to extraordinary results on LinkedIn.  This is just the first step to creating a great LinkedIn profile.  As an educator, this approach also allows me to reinforce strategic concepts in class and help the students understand how to market themselves for career success.

By Debra Zahay-Blatz.
You can find Debra on  and Twitter as well as LinkedIn.