Marketing is important in building customer relationships as well as creating product awareness. Without an effective marketing strategy you stand to not gain customers or lose customers which equates to revenue loss and growth. For a company to grow, marketing is the vehicle.
Bolaji - Doing media relations well, as you describe below, is certainly an important part of marketing on a shoestring. Staying well connected with media people who help form perceptions in your market, in this case the editor of EBN, is part of the mix of actions that can carry great weight while not costing a lot. You'll certainly get my vote for no-BS, straight-shooting public relations as the cornerstone for strategically powerful, cost-effective tech business communications. It doesn't have to be costly or difficult but it does take the right kind of talent to consistently execute it.
Ford, One of the best examples I have of effective PR is also a testimony to how a single individual can make a huge difference in how a company is perceived, warts and all. I have for years worked with a corporate PR guy with a top 10 chipmaker who has always been forthright in dealing with me and candid in answering every question I have had about his employer.
He is still at the job. He doesn't try to snow me under each time I had a question about the company. He tries hard to make executives available and when this is not possible, he does his best with background and sometimes on-record information. Before you ask, no, not all the PR folks at the company operate at the same level. In fact, his boss drives me crazy with blatant corporate promotion that's not anchored in truth. I avoid her.
Yet, the company gets "good" press from me and when negative news break about it (which sometimes happen) I am able to be as objective as possible knowing my contact at the company would try to provide no-BS perspective (He's told me before on a particular subject that the company "dropped the ball") and when possible, get a senior executive to explain the company's position. I consider this one of the fundamentals of great PR.
All - Thanks for your comments. This item http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?R=1008881 - relates to ONE of the objectives of social media involvement/engagement...the positive referral by a customer/user of your brand to another person traditionally known as word-of-mouth (WOM). I believe this is what many marketers are hoping will occur in addition to just helping maintain some degree of brand awareness and positive regard. What's unfortunately missing from this recent research is a breakdown of the level of B2C vs. B2B social media brand advocacy. The points that (consumer) technology products are most referred and that email is still most used as the online WOM medium, I believe are most interesting.
To Tioluwa - MANY B2C tech brand are heavy social media users. The gaming companies are perhaps most notable among them. Both B2C hardware and software brands heavily apply a social media component to their marketing efforts. Sony's recent "challenges" with hacked access Playstation customer account is but one of the potential downsides to social media. The upsides of surveying and maintain close, consistent contact wtih your customer base, including discovering use case info, cannot be ignorred.
As with nearly any marketing tactic, its value depends on the brand's market situation and the competitive environment. Social media, and the degree of its application to your marketing, sales, customer service and perhaps investor relations are situationally-dependent. I'd suggest ALL B2B brands ought to be tracking and periodically commenting on relevant blogs in their market, just as they would be regularly reading trade journals like EBN and EETimes, which obviously also have active blogging components. That's a great staring point for staying in touch with your market. You can build on that if it makes sense.
Scott - Suggest considering the difference between consumer and tech business purchasing decisions when discussing what's viable using social media. There's typically a vast difference between the two in what needs to occur to trigger sales. Number of touches, decision periods, budget availability and other factors all come into play in a B2B purchase. It can get even more complex with a technology purchase. For a B2B tech brand creating a social media community following, it must develop and push interesting content very cosistently to maintain community interest. Its kind of like maintaining a Web site on steroids. It can certainly be done but at what cost? On way of keeping costs lower is reusing content. However, the content must still be relevant to the audience and the purchasing stage a person may be in. Are they considering a category or already focused on your brand (engaged and considered prospect)? What I'm suggesting is that selling into the EOM sector is really nothing like selling records to teens or 20-somethings.
Futher still on the use of social media, which is currently considered so cool, I wonder about the investments in social media marketing made by some large B2B brands like Cisco and whether they have ways of tracking sales of products costing tens of thousands of dollars back to their social media activity. That promotional investment appears similar to the spending that used to occur on corporate (pure brand) print advertising. Such promotion may aid in raising broader awareness but is there any direct correlation to customer behavior? In either case this certainly isn't low budget marketing. Big brands spend lots on social media. My point is social media community building and maintenance is not necessarily cheap. It can quickly become a full-time job for one or more people within a company and take away time from other perhaps far more effective promotional activities. Social media's always-on nature and expectation of nearly instant responses by a brand to its community's behavior can be daunting and expensive, as well as potentially valuable and also fraught with hazards. However, I'm NOT suggesting that companies ignor how their brand is being discussed online. Blogging and commenting on relevant sites is not costly and is an area where nearly any brand, regardless of its size or budget, can play effectively.
Your points regarding white papers are right on - when I read them, I am looking for helpful technical information to either learn about the topic, or solve a problem. Of course, it is helpful for the company providing the paper if it highlights the technical benefits of their product, but the presentation has to be accurate. From a marketing persprective, white papers certainly take a supporting role, but are probably not the front line of marketing tools.
One only needs to look at what is happening in the music industry to witness the power of grassroots low budget PR. Many artists are using the internet and social media to promote their music and that does not cost a lot in dollar terms.
This is a very interesting and informative article Ford. Thank you for sharing.
You have touched on some key tools/methods on using online resources for improving the effectiveness of marketing and I totally agree. Especially, creating backlinks and generating as many references as possible to a product is a key method to enhance the exposure in the virtual world.
I would also recommend using Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) to improve the effectiveness of online marketing. Knowing what search engines look for and how they provide search result rankings is a great way to get ahead of the game. SEO is all about doing things systematically rather than randomly to achieve tangible results on marketing.
EBN Dialogue enables and encourages you to participate in live chats with notable leaders and luminaries. Not only editors and journalists, but the entire EBN community is able to comment and ask questions. Listed below are upcoming and archived chats.
Thailand Stages a Comeback Join EBN contributor Jennifer Baljko on Thursday August 23, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. EST for a live chat on how electronic manufacturers in Thailand have shored up their supply chain to reduce the impact of future natural disasters.
Microsoft Surface: Potential Winners & Losers What are the implications for the electronics industry supply chain of Microsoft Corp.'s decision to launch its own tablet PC? Join industry veteran and EE Times' systems and OEM expert Rick Merritt on Tuesday, July 3, at 12:00 pm EDT for a Live Chat on this subject.
Join EBN contributor Jennifer Baljko on Thursday August 23, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. EST for a live chat on how electronic manufacturers in Thailand have shored up their supply chain to reduce the impact of future natural disasters.
Peter Drucker famously said "Trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window." Yet in the razor's-edge world of electronics—with a lean supply chain and just-in-time demands—the need to know the future is vital.
While no one really can accurately predict the future, we can take guidance from another Drucker saying which is the best way to predict the future is to create it.
You've heard the saying "the No. 1 supply chain risk is your people." That hasn't always been the case. But today's complex global supply chain requires a new type of multitalented employee. It's one who understands, finance, marketing, economics, is savvy with technology, graceful with relationships and can think analytically.
Where are these people? Are universities properly preparing the next generation supply chain professionals? How do train your existing workforce for these new, demanding positions?
Brian Fuller, editor-in-chief of EBN, will lead a 60-minute Avnet Velocity panel discussion that will ask and answer these and other questions swirling around today's supply-chain talent challenges.