If you can’t be #1 or #2 in a business, you need to be sold or shut down—that was the approach “Neutron Jack” applied to General Electric when he took on the responsibility to streamline operations. The youngest CEO and Chairman of GE at 44, Jack Welch took over the role in 1981 and changed forever the benchmark of how corporate America should run a profitable organization. Undoubtedly, he must have made more than a few enemies; over 100,000 employees of GE were either laid off or their business units were shut down or sold. But, he also earned the respect of many millions more and is still considered one of the greatest, most visionary leaders in business. He brought talented stars to the forefront, made GE a truly all-rounded e-business and took quality to the highest levels of Six Sigma. Yes, he got nicknamed “Neutron Jack” after the Neutron Bomb that leaves building structures intact but kills people—and that’s not the most flattering nickname. Yet, he is among the most respected business leaders of our time. And I quote his inspiring message: “Change before you have to.”
Over the past 5 years or so, marketers have largely been obsessed with ways to drive more traffic online. Get more website hits, build bigger subscriber lists to their RSS blog feed, attract more fans on Facebook, expand network of connections on LinkedIn, find more followers on Twitter—it’s all about quantity, numbers, traffic. It’s still like that for a majority of companies even in the B2B space where demand generation is a completely different beast than it is in B2C. Effective and long-term B2B lead generation success, however, can only come from consistently adding value to your target audience. That is the only way to build relationships, increase engagement and ultimately, impact conversion. Organizations that don’t get this, and don’t get it now, will pay heavy penalties—there is no mercy in the kingdom of Google nor is there any sympathy among B2B buyers who have just about had enough of in-your-face sales talk and meaningless, irrelevant content. If your online marketing activities, social media campaigns, content marketing strategy don’t aim to rise above the noise and stand out, you will stand to lose, or let’s say, you may get Neutron bombed. You need to change…because now you have to.
Here are some pointers for B2B companies to change tactics and start implementing the new way of marketing, the way that brings engagement and conversion, not just traffic.
- Identify relevant themes and topics, not just the right keywords. The days of keyword stuffing are long over. It just won’t work anymore. Instead of conducting extensive keyword research, it’s time to really get to know your audience and find out what topics they are interested in. You can build traffic too, eventually, as your interested audience starts to share your content and drive more traffic to your online properties. Remember these Key Steps in Your B2B Content Marketing.
- Be original. And if you must use content such as news releases which have appeared in other places, make sure you embed “nofollow” links. That way, the search engines can see that you aren’t generating voluminous content just for traffic purposes but instead sharing news that is interesting to your audience. There are some Surprisingly Simple Ways to be The Next Demand Generation Superstar.
- Earn links. Those link farms, online article directories and other link baiting techniques are not just passé, they are now damaging to your online presence. You need to start earning links from high quality sites and online publications that your audience trusts and wants to read. The best way to establish thought leadership is not through thousands of spammy links but instead through links appearing on leading online publications, industry forums, third-party blogs and news sites. Simplify Your Content Marketing in 10 Easy Steps.
- Show your personality and be true to your image. If you say you are a leading technology company that helps companies save costs and save the environment, it’s not enough to talk about it online. And you can’t just keep talking about it over and over. Your prospects and customers need to see words translate into action. Share your environment-friendly initiatives online and encourage others to follow suit. The fans and likes you earn by doing this will be of much greater quality and will go further than the sheer numbers you may have built without the matching engagement and conversion. Try these Simple Ways to Grow Customer Engagement.
- Choose the right platforms and build the right presence. It is of no value to be seen and heard on every possible online platform, especially when it comes to social media. Read 7 Easy Wins for Successful B2B Social Media. You want to be where your customers are and you want to establish thought leadership with content that resonates with them. If your customers are not going to be on Pinterest, for example, or Instagram, why waste your time building elaborate photo galleries there? Instead, start meaningful discussions on LinkedIn Groups, create valuable presentations and post them on SlideShare, make compelling, engaging videos that will go viral on YouTube by virtue of the awesome ideas they bring to your audience. Struggling to get your management team to support your social media strategy? Download a free copy of this useful eBooklet: 10-Point Checklist to Get C-Suite Buy In for Social Media.
What else can you do to start building an engaged audience online? Feel free to share ideas and strategies that have worked for your B2B lead generation. I look forward to your feedback—do leave me a comment.
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