Image from Athena's Pix used under CC license.
October is a time for pumpkin-flavored everything, changing foliage and haunted houses. For B2B marketers it’s also a frightening time. What’s haunting them? Scary marketing monsters have been lurking.
Video and Creative: It’s been a whirlwind year, and the demand for greater amounts of substantive, diverse content has never been greater. For many short-handed B2B marketers this is downright scary. Content development has already tested the mettle of most marketers, and now they being asked to do more. They are being asked to develop videos that appeal to target audiences and create animated GIFs, memes and infographics that your customers will notice and share.
Don’t be afraid: This kind of content does not have to be scary. It’s Q4 — time to spend that extra 2015 budget you have socked away. There are only a few weeks left to make something happen. Work with an integrated marketing communications campaign to design a program to make this happen.
Earned Media: Attaining and keeping the interest of the media that covers your industry is always a frightful proposition. It requires a constant output of creativity, energy and continuity. And this time of year, it’s typical that more companies are announcing more news, so competition for earned media is high. Fewer editors and reporters compound the problem — there is simply not enough of them to go around. Yet your company’s CEO wants to know why your news is not capturing the interest of the media. Scary to B2B marketers because it’s an objective they are being measured on.
Don’t be afraid: There’s more than one way out of this frightening conundrum, so don’t hide. First, as noted above, the demand for content has never been higher. Online media needs to provide a constant stream of content on their sites to keep their traffic engaged. Offer up bylines and other contributed content to key online media in your industry. You’ll get the credit for getting your company name out there as a thought leader. Or you can look to drive more influencer engagement. Influencers are often overlooked by your competitors. Use social media like Twitter, LinkedIn and SlideShare to share and comment on influencers’ posts and own content. This engagement with influencers will tie your company‘s brand to an influencers’ POV and, if done right, will create a two-way dialogue with that influencer; the influencer will include your brand in their content.
Talk to your PR firm about how to make this happen. Leading agencies keep tabs on industry influencers. Ask them to create an influencer program for the last part of the year and your potential for capturing earned media will grow.
That Crisis Plan: As a good marketer, you know that every brand should have a crisis plan. It’s been a nagging thought in the back of your mind some time. A crisis can sound like something that is completely random and sudden, but often today’s crises for B2B marketers can be far more subtle. It’s the customer that tweets that he is dissatisfied with your brand’s product or service or the senior executive who inadvertently exposes company IP online or your servers go down and you suffer an outage. A crisis management plan is necessary, you know — but you haven’t had the time or inclination to think about it and prepare it.
Don’t be afraid: Work with a PR agency to develop a crisis plan and practice a response to crisis. Do this in Q4 and then plan to update it each year. Identify potential crisis scenarios and anticipate responses. Figure out who your spokespeople are and arm them with tools and approaches for handling media. Crisis plans are like wills — a surprising large number of people don’t do them;. It’s time to change that and, if necessary, bring your agency on board to help.
Unmet 2015 Goals: How many B2B marketers have said this to themselves: “Yikes—that year went by fast—and I still have all these goals to accomplish”? Well, it happens to a lot of us. Things get busy and some monster tasks you set out at the beginning of 2015 have sat on the back burner for a while. And now you have only 10 weeks to make them happen. Now, that’s scary.
Don’t be afraid: Start by prioritizing your remaining 2015 marketing objectives. Are there any that can be given to your integrated marketing communications agency? Should you go to your socked-away budget to help make that happen? What goals, if achieved, will have the most impact and set the stage for your brand in 2016? Some of these goals may need to be sacrificed.
2016 Planning: Scariest of all: You have to come up with a novel, innovative marketing plan that moves the needle for your brand for the next year.
Don’t be afraid: Get outside help from your agency — they can be Scooby Doo and help unmask this scary monster. Set aside some time with your PR team to brainstorm ideas. Review what worked in 2015 and what didn’t and use it as a benchmark for improvement in 2016. Think outside the status quo, today’s marketing and PR tools and assets provide marketers with options for creativity like never before. Look at your competitors and plot their place on the landscape. What do you think are the gaps in your PR and marketing program, and where are the opportunities?