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There are a lot of executives in B2B companies who wouldn’t count themselves among early adopters of social media. Many have educated themselves on how to monitor or connect with their kids on Facebook, and they might post the occasional picture or micro-thought. Some have a Twitter account that goes largely ignored, and most have a LinkedIn account with a fair number of connections.

Are these executives deeply immersed in the realm of social media? No. But they aren’t newbies either. They have just enough personal experience to intuit that there is more they could be doing to promote their brand in the social media space, but business-to-business marketing seems to present a unique set of challenges. How and where to begin?

The most practical place to start going deeper is LinkedIn. If you are thinking to yourself, “I already have a profile,” then you are missing out on a whole world of opportunity. LinkedIn is more than just a place to post a bio and make some connections; it’s a place where you can demonstrate thought leadership to a very targeted audience of potential customers. The easiest way to get started is to join (or start) a LinkedIn group.

LinkedIn groups are forums where people of similar industries share information. If you are a newcomer to groups, your first inclination might be to join groups formed by those who do what you do. (I am a business-to-business marketer; therefore, I will join a business-to-business marketing group.)

A subtle shift in thinking is the key to opening the world of LinkedIn. I am a business-to-business marketer that does business with transportation clients; therefore, I will join transportation groups. I don’t want to blast them with sales information that will be ignored and diminish the value of the group. I want to provide keen insights on their industry with regular frequency so that they start to see me as a go-to resource for information. Providing content of value to selected groups and regular frequency is the best way to demonstrate thought leadership in these forums.

Beyond content and frequency, there is one additional factor that can mean the difference between a good LinkedIn group strategy and a great one: engagement. Imagine a LinkedIn group as a cocktail party. You wouldn’t walk in to a cocktail party and start shouting factoids at other guests. You would engage in conversation to find similar-minded connections. The same is true within groups. Sometimes, asking a thoughtful question says more about the depth of your industry knowledge than a bold statement ever could. The discussions (and connections) that arise from a carefully crafted question may surprise you.

If you suspect that making a foray into the realm of social media should be a part of your marketing strategy, then mastering the art of engagement within LinkedIn groups is a great place to start. Not only can it elevate your brand, but it can pave the road to success on other social media platforms.

When I attended my first communication theory classes in the 1970s, the name Marshall McLuhan loomed large. He’s the imaginative scholar who proclaimed “the medium is the message” and referred to media as “the extensions of man.” Was he talking nonsense, common sense or sixth sense? “I may be wrong,” he said, “but I’m never in doubt.”

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If you ever walk the streets of Detroit during the dead of winter – as I have – you’ll shudder at the thought of spending an hour sleeping outside. And if you ever had to endure the entire night that way, you’d surely want to wrap yourself in the coat-bag featured below (see full story here).

The Detroit Empowerment Plan

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Have you ever thought about why customers buy your product? Is it because of your brand name or the product features and benefits, or maybe the persuasive copy written in the catalog? Or is it price?  Read the rest of this entry »

Day after day, B2B product manufacturing companies discuss the best way to increase their top line sales and improve their brand penetration. Often the discussion ends around the product improvement, a new business blitz, or on how they can move into new market segments to attract new customers. As the old proverb goes: the first place to look is at your current birds or customers.

Let’s look at increasing customer equity as a tool to enhance sales. In plain terms, customer equity is the sum of the lifetime value of the customer. An existing customer is much more valuable than a new customer; in fact, it costs four to seven times more to replace a current customer than to keep one. It is also very typical that a customer that is exceedingly satisfied with your product and their customer experience will promote you and your brand to his peers and contemporaries tenfold. Yes, a Bird in the hand is worth 2 in the Bush.

Okay, so your loyal customers are more valuable, they favor your company and product, they will pay a premium, they are much less receptive to competitive advances, and they often forgive your mistakes more quickly. So why do we spend so much of the budget on customer acquisition and practically nothing on retention? There certainly must be some way to enhance customer equity. Tune in later; we will talk about that another time.

We all know that content is king. For B2B marketers, it’s especially true.

Good B2B marketing content can help to draw potential buyers through the ever-lengthening buying cycle. And allow them to do so on their own terms.

But how can you ensure you are delivering relevant and valuable content? Content that will (hopefully) ultimately drive potential buyers to action with you?

Here are 5 pitfalls to avoid when developing marketing content:

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